lighting advice needed please!

4 replies [Last post]
Frances B
Joined: May 10 2010

Can anyone advise on the following:

I've been asked to video a performance of about 8 singers standing in a semi-circle in a park pavilion. They will be standing with their backs to a large window - in fact the whole wall that side is glazed. I am probably going to use two Sony A1Es from the back of the audience, about 25 feet away from the performers. It will be between 7 and 8 in the evening, still quite light at that time here in the northwest, with no direct sun. There are lights in the room which hang on rails and can be swivelled, but on a recce today I didn't think they were that bright.

Having never used professional lighting before, I've no idea of what to do. The tests I did today showed that exposing for faces not only made the park behind look almost white but also there was bleaching out around the edge of the face. I did the recce at about 5pm on an overcast day.

Are there any kind of lights I could hang on the existing light rails? Bearing in mind they might be above the heads of the audience, possible health and safety nightmare. If I used lights on stands how close would they need to be to the performers? Or could I get by with some sort of large reflector on the floor in front of the performers angled up towards their faces?

Many thanks in advance!

paulears's picture
Joined: Jul 8 2008

If the light is low angle, but not starting to set, then any kit you use that will be effective must be bright - HMIs of 1K at least. They're very heavy, and if the lighting bar is a proper one (48mm O.D.) then it should, in a public place, be ok - but if there's a place where the sun can be reflected from 2 or 3 silver reflectors on stands could help no end by using the sun as source. Once the sunset begins, ordinary tungsten stage lights take over quite quickly - although during sunset, white balance is a real pest. If you can't afford much, then hiring PAR64s (remembering they are 1K each for power supply) will be the best value - they're bright - but you might need half a dozen hung high to do it properly. Stands make them lower which means the performers will squint, they could get kicked over - high lighting stands are rarely stable - but depending on the facilities, you do need nearly 30A of power available?

Focusing the lights that are there, giving the lenses and reflectors a clean, and then bleaching out th background by opening the lens up might be the best you can do without a decent budget?

Joined: May 17 1999

another option might be to see if you can use drapes to provide a background for the singers.

I've used a spun filter before to damp down backlight but some kind of fabric might be more in keeping with the event.

bear in mind that any lights you rig will need to be pat tested and safety chained.

Dave R Smith
Joined: May 10 2005
DAVE M wrote:
another option might be to see if you can use drapes to provide a background for the singers.

That also has advantage of avoiding your own relection and not having reflection of flash cameras from other viewers. Maybe check performers colour scheme for suitable coloured backdrop - say black outfit on black backdrop isn't the best - unless it's a remake of bohemian rhapsody :cool:
May be handy to have some large sheets of card or roll of paper handy to additionally cover windows in case cloth, typically translucant isn't up to job on its own.

..and drapes/backcloth may be acoustically better than 'lively' glass.

Pavillion manager may already have screen/partition on site.

Joined: May 26 1999

or shoot them in 'artistic silhouette'