Lighting for Film and Television

By Paul Dexter
Film and television, from my perspective anyway, is probably the most exciting to work on. The work isn't really work because we're driven by passion for the business of creating with light. From pre-production to arriving on location to hearing the director say "action", is the most fulfilling fast-track day of any profession out there. It's usually over relatively quick, leaving a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and pride.

The Camera's Eye
lighting for filmUnlike a live stage performance, whereby visuals of light or darkness, color and movement can accent, motivate or enhance the mood of the performance, the only thing that really matters in film is what the camera's eye ultimately sees as it points to objects and actors.

Film Lighting 101
The naked eye, from an audience perspective sees color and dimension from a much wider perception; the camera eye sees a different color and dimension. For example, light lavender turns blue and light blue or color correction, turns tungsten light pure white. In this instance, the experts know the camera's spectral sensitivities and can adjust lighting intensity and angle to best present the subject being filmed, generally speaking, in order to maintain pure and constant light with front fill (key), subject's back light (kick) and background projection for texture or dimension.

Fixtures and Intensity
The exact instrument for intensity, hard or soft edges, color filter, screens, diffusion, shading and more, are all essential tools to light without changing the light's color temperature. Color temperature is altered when dimming the light is used as an intensity control method. For the camera, keeping the optical characteristics constant is paramount for interviews and product commercials: simply, to illuminate the person or product for the best possible outcome.

Live Video
lighting for live videoOn the other hand, for live concerts and music videos, little consideration for change needs to be made for background lighting movement and color changes than it would be for a stage concert. The director normally wants to keep a "live" feel in the background that is either active, fills the background with light air graphic or scenery that is lit. However, the musicians need to be treated with constant, balanced-for-the-camera white light, for the best outcome, and this usually can be accomplished with front followspots.

Qualifications by Action, Archived on Film
These Old Broads - lighting the filmMasterworks is no stranger to the craft of lighting for film and has performed in studios from Hollywood to London and various location shoots - once, at the ancient 2000 year old Coliseum in Verona Italy for Elton John in a Sky broadcast to 50 million viewers, all over Europe. Masterworks was also responsible for all of the concert scenes in the cult movie "Rock Star", regularly aired on VH1, about '80's rock'n'roll excesses, starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Anniston.

Check out our Film and TV Gallery, for current and past works.