Thoughts on lighting issues

10 replies [Last post]
Peter Groom
Joined: Apr 2 2008

HI All
Im sure everyone who has ever shot a wedding has found themselves in a poorly lit function room for speeches etc (or even the ceremony)
Id be interested on anyone thoughts about how you minimise the effects of this.

Is it really feasible to whack 2 redheads into the eyes of speech makers to light them. And sometimes thats not allowable (such as in a marquee where theres a real risk of fire from a hot lamp)

Recently I had a wedding in a castle. It was very dark. Only candle style lights, and no window light available. The resulting footage is
1) dark
2) quite noisy
even with the iris wide open as clearly video cameras need light to operate well.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how they handle this problem at the recording, and after the event, any plug ins for AVID or FCP that might help.



Memories On Film
Joined: Feb 4 2011

I think that anyone that has shot more than a couple of weddings would have found themselves at some point in a venue with poor lighting.

Of course it's not "feasible to whack 2 redheads into the eyes of the speech makers" but there is no reason why you can't use a softbox or bounce them off the ceiling.

You are employed as the professional, and as such if the room (in your professional opinion) needs light, then light it.
If you feel the need to explain the presence of lights to the couple, then do so, in a professional confidant manner.

There's no use whinging about poorly lit footage at home when you're too shy to turn a light on during the event.

A top tip for lighting a room is to have the lights already on when the guests walk in or to slowly bring them up with a dimmer so that people don't realise they're on.
Also, get taller lighting stands so that the lights aren't at eye level, get them up high.

Other alternatives are of course a 5D2 and a f1.4 lens, but if you're really stuck try the Neat Video noise reduction plugin, it needs a bucket load of rendering, but looks amazing.

Peter Groom
Joined: Apr 2 2008

Which para do you interpret as whingeing?
That wasnt my intention, merely to ask about how other people attack these situations and any helpful fixes in post.

Joined: Nov 6 2001

One aspect that needs consideration are the clients wishes for the dimly lit room.
If you explain the video will look darker than the naked eye sees it and if they're happy to keep 'the mood' then that's fine.
If they understand the problem and can raise the lighting levels a little it all helps, but personally having filmed in many dark castles I never go below f2.8 or above 9db of gain.
A bit pointless trying to raise the look to near normal when the room was meant to look very dim.

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

Memories On Film
Joined: Feb 4 2011

The whinging part was more of a generalisation aimed at people who want to believe that everything can be fixed in post.
If the quality of your (not you personally, but everyone) footage is suffering then do something about it at the time.

Of course if you're trying to capture the ambience of a room then that's a different game, but for things like speeches, you want to see who's talking.

colin rowe
colin rowe's picture
Joined: Dec 16 2000

You may like to try one of these.
I purchased a second one after using one of them at a couple of weddings. I have tried many lights, but none as efficient as these, particularly at the price. For the speeches, I have 1 light, on a stand at either end on the top table. And as has been mentioned above, the lights are turned on in advance of the speeches. They are also used for the first dance, again on stands. and on camera for any other needs. One battery covers the day with ease.

Colin Rowe

Ben Longden
Joined: Jun 10 2009

The Redheads are always in the car for the black hole venues....

If the venue owner cant light them, then I get the lights out.... but not after a word in the brides ear.

Its funny how explaining to them that they wont be seen on the video turns things around.

Joined: Jun 2 1999

This time of year, speeches seem to be almost all in a dimly lit room. I find that using 1/25 shutter speed helps a lot. I've also got a couple of low light profiles that lessen the use of gain I can turn to if need be. Wish my cams had a 9db setting Branny (XH-A1) mine go from 6 to 12db. :( Why oh why can't gain be set with a wheel the same as exposure? :rolleyes: I'm sure my old PD150 could?

Memories On Film
Joined: Feb 4 2011

Spot on Ben

Joined: Mar 31 1999

In the days when I did weddings in dimly-lit venues I would often light the speeches using one or two redheads. However, I used each of them with one of my small single-channel dimmers (each about the size of a paperback book) so that I could introduce the increased lighting slowly. The redheads would be softened with a layer of scrim and the gentle increase in light levels to what was effectively an extra 1600watts of light in the hall (or Baronial Hall in the case of Penshurst Place) produced no complaints.


Joined: Mar 8 2007

You can get 250w bubbles for redheads and they may be more people friendly at weddings, also this may be one application where fluro lights add enough but don't take over the occasion.