Lighting the Video Shoot: Learn That Last 20 Percent
Experience is the best teacher in our world, but that doesn’t mean you should not do your research and benefit from the experience others have already gone through.
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Video shoot lighting, live broadcast lighting, stage lighting, worship lighting, corporate lighting… It seems like every time the church lighting designer turns around these days, another ministry is asking for something.
And of course, it’s something completely different from what you’re used to doing.
In the church world, I would say that I probably work on around four different styles of lighting per week, and sometimes it’s hard to switch gears and think about the current situation I’m in and to then adjust accordingly.
As someone who studied theatrical lighting in college and then moved into concert style lighting before landing in the church world, I would definitely say the hardest adjustment for me was being able to switch over into the video shoot mode.
The first time I was asked to do it, I grabbed my laptop and went straight to Google looking for as many articles as I could, so I could get my first shoot just perfect. Of course, it turned out to be a total flop, and the video director was struggling to be nice while having to become the lighting gaffer for the shoot to land with the look he actually wanted. After that, I went back to the internet, trying to figure out what I had done wrong; I found some more articles and learned more, only to make very little progress on my next shoot.
Over time, what I discovered is that I was trying to light everything to the “standard” three point setup each time:
Key light – the main light for your talent that provides most of your intensity
Fill light – the supporting light for your key light that fills in shadows by mirroring the angle of your key light and softening your subject
Back light – the light that separates your subject from the background of your video, and focuses mainly on the back of the head and the shoulders
Now there’s nothing with doing simple shoots like this, and I have done more than my fair share of these shoots and lighting setups, but sometimes that’s just not what the shoot calls for.
A former boss of mine told me something I’ll never forget, something that has changed the way I train everyone I work with now. He told me, “Anyone can learn 80 percent of what we do in a matter of a few months, but it takes years of getting into strange situations to learn the last 20 percent.
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