Most people are surprised to find that the lighting in TV and film studios today is not brighter than it is in most homes and offices.
But, as we will see, the lights that are used are carefully positioned and controlled to achieve the effects desired.
For many years most of the lights used in TV production have been tungsten-halogen lamps (commonly called quartz lamps).
Quartz lamps can get very hot, which makes ventilation important.
Special care must be taken when these lamps are changed (in addition to unplugging the lights and letting them cool down) to make sure that oil from fingers is not deposited on the outer glass (quartz) envelope of the lamp.
Because of the heat associated with these lamps, any residue of this sort will create an area of concentrated heat that will cause the lamp to fail -- and they can be rather expensive to replace.
Care must also be taken not to subject tungsten halogen lamps to jolts while they are turned on, or the fragile internal element can break.
Tungsten-halogen lamps are used in several common types of lighting instruments including the type that has been used for decades, the Fresnel (pronounced fra-nell).
Although Fresnels used to be so bulky and heavy that they were confined to studios, recent versions are small enough to be packed away in lighting kits and used on location.
The Fresnel lens, invented by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, consists of concentric circles that both concentrate and slightly diffuse the light.
Note the photo on the left below. The coherence (quality) of the resulting light represents an ideal blend between hard and soft.
In the studio these lights are typically hung from a grid in the ceiling.
A C-clamp or pipe clamp (on the right, above) is used to attach the light to the studio's ceiling grid.
Because of the safety hazard a falling Fresnel light some 5 meters (17 feet) feet overhead represents, a safety chain or cable should always be used along with the C-clamp.
These wrap around the grid pipe and will keep a heavy light from falling if the C-clamp fails or slips off of the grid.
The distance between the internal lamp and the Fresnel lens can be adjusted with this type of light to either spread out (flood), or concentrate (spot or pin) the light's beam. This adjustment provides a convenient control over the intensity of the light, as well as the coverage area.
recent years LED (Light-emitting diode) lamps have started being widely
used in in TV studios. A basic studio light is shown here.
10. The lighting instruments aren't nearly as heavy as other types of lights, so it's easier to transport and mount them.
Although these are important advantages, especially in this era's
need to reduce energy consumption, LED lamps have some disadvantages
-- most of which can be controlled or accommodated.
Finally, as with most lamps, the output of LED lamps
will start to dim with age.
Scoops produce a softer light than Fresnels. The incandescent (tungsten-halogen) lamps they normally use range from 500 to 2,000 watts, although, again, in studios the higher wattages are no longer necessary with today's sensitive video cameras.
Because there is no lens in scoops, the light is not projected any significant distance.
As we will see, scoops are commonly used in the studio for fill light along with ▲ LED soft lights.
Note that this scoop shown above has a square filter frame attached to the front. Colored gels, diffusers, and scrims can be slid into this frame alter the light in various ways.
The ellipsoidal spot produces a hard, focused beam of light. Used with gels, these lights can project colored pools of light on a background.
Some ellipsoidal have slots at their optical midpoint that accept a "cookie" (cucalorus), a small metal pattern (shown in red in the middle of the drawing below) that can be used to project a wide variety of patterns on a background.
In some cases, a background pattern (see samples on the left) may be all you need in a medium shot or close-up to suggest a complete setting.
For example, a colored stained glass pattern behind a person suggests that person is in a church.
Abstract patterns, or patterns suggesting the theme of a program, can also be used to break up what might otherwise be a blank background.
These can either be in the form of a cookie inside the light as indicated in the drawing above, or a large pattern mounted on a stand.
When a coherent light source such as an ellipsoidal spot is directed at the pattern, a shadow of the pattern is projected on the background.
These large patterns are referred to as gobos, a term which stands for "go between."
Backgrounds, sets, and settings are discussed in this section.
Although Fresnels, scoops, and ellipsoidal spots are the most used types of studio lights, there are also several other types of lighting instruments including HMI lights. These are covered here.
In ENG (electronic newsgathering) where quality is often secondary to getting a story, and where there is not enough existing light available, camera-mounted, LED, tungsten-halogen, or HMI lights (sometimes called sun-guns) are sometimes used as a sole source of illumination.
These lights can be mounted on the top of the camera as shown here or held by an assistant.
Camera lights are typically powered by batteries -- often, the same batteries that power the camcorder.
The camera light shown here is a 24-watt HMI, a fixed output "Frezzi" fill light, with a full spectrum output sufficient to compete with sunlight for many applications.
As we've noted, both tungsten-halogen (quartz) and HMI lamps are being replaced by LED units, which provide a softer light and consume much less power. Plus, the color temperature of some LED camera lights can be varied, which is important when they are used as a fill under different lighting conditions.
When used as the only source of light they provide the same (questionable) quality as the familiar single-flash-on-the-camera does in still photography. As a result of the straight-on angle involved, picture detail and depth are sacrificed.
Because of the relationship between distance and light intensity, the detail and color of foreground objects often becomes washed out, and objects in the distance typically go completely dark. Consequently, camera lights are best used as a fill for a more dominant source of light.
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