Video and lighting – an uneasy truce

Good lighting can make good video. Bad lighting can
ruin good video. Good lighting doesn’t rescue bad video…

Even if you have the best video equipment and the
right crew, your live video will still stand or fall, depending on how good the
lighting at the even is.

There is a
fundamental dilema here: Cameras need LOTS of light to work at their best.
Projectors need as little light as possible to work at their best. You have to
find the right balance, and generally that means finding the right person – a
lighting designer or operator who will work with you, understand your needs and
find a balance of your needs and his. This is especially true at music or other
events that use more theatrical or rock n roll lighting.

The lighting designer’s job for a live
video event is to make sure that there is enough (i.e. LOTS) of light on the
subject of the live video when needed, and as little as possible falling on the
screens.

If they are good they will know how
to do this.

Here are some
tips:

– preparation is everything.
Don’t turn up to a gig, never having checked what lighting there will be, or
never having contacted the LD to check he knows there will be live video and
what your plans are.

– Go in expecting
to compromise. You may have to sacrifice some key shot you really wanted for a
good reason. You may have to adjust camera positions, you may have to give them
space to do their thing. That is all fine, if, in return, you get an
understanding of how much light you need and some consideration in providing
what you ask for.

– If you have comms,
use it. Get the LD or operator on comms and tell them what you are trying to do,
what shots you are likely to want to go for, when a shot is too dark, too
bright, when they are helping and when they are hindering your
work.

– remember that light goes up as
well as down. Watch your screen positions to make sure there is no reflected
light hitting the front (front proj) or back (back proj) of the screen. Watch
for distracting reflections from chairs, music stands, cymbals, guitars
etc.

– be creative – use the lights
themselves as a video effect. Pointing a camera directly at lights can produce
some interesting effects, especially if there is smoke or hazing being
used.

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