Arri lighting handbook

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Text of Arri lighting handbook

  • How to Get The Most

    From Your New ARRI Kit

    LIGHTING HANDBOOK

    b y B i l l H o l s h e v n i k o f f

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  • I m a g e s a n d T e x t 2 0 0 0

    b y B i l l H o l s h e v n i k o f f

    For more detailed information about the

    lighting techniques for the images used in this

    booklet, please go to www.power-of-lighting.com

    ARRI USA, INC.

    617 Route 303, Blauvelt, NY 10913

    Ph: 914-353-1400 Fx: 914-425-1250

    600 North Victory Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502

    Ph: 818-841-7070 Fx: 818-848-4028

    e-mail: lighting@arri.comwww.arri.com

    LIGHTING HANDBOOK

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  • 1ARRI LIGHTING HANDBOOK

    LIGHTING THEORIES AND TECHNIQUES:

    There have been dozens of books throughout the pastdecades that have discussed "standard" lighting setupsfor interviews, talk shows, dramas and countless otherproductions. This handbook is designed to help you createthe best possible images with your new Arri Lighting Kit.It is intended to help you to use these tools to light a varietyof setups for location or studio productions.

    CHOOSING A LIGHT SOURCE:

    Arri Kits contain a variety of lighting fixtures. The twobasic types of instruments are the open-faced instrumentand the Fresnel-lensed instrument. Both types of lightsources provide a focusable, even beam field of light thatcan be used to create a wide variety of light qualities andmoods for your productions.

    ARRILITE OPEN-FACE

    ARRI FRESNEL

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  • LIGHT QUALITY can be characterized by how "hard"or "soft" the shadow produced by an instrument appears.The quality of light produced by an instrument is deter-mined by the physical size (not the intensity) of the lightsource used. In general, the larger, more diffused the lightsource, the softer the light quality. Typically, a diffusionmaterial, such as frost or a silk, might be placed in frontof a lighting instrument to increase the working (physical)size of a light source. (When light transmits through adiffusion material, the illuminated diffusion material thenbecomes the acting light source.)

    A sharp, well-defined shadow edge (hard light), like thatwhich is produced by the sun, is most often produced bya small light source, such as one of the instrumentscontained in this kit. A softer, less-defined shadow edge (soft light) like that ofa cloudy day, is most often produced by a larger, morediffused light source, such as a Lightbank (available withsome Arri Kits).

    2 ARRI LIGHTING HANDBOOK

    ARRILITE WITH FROST

    ARRILITE WITH LIGHTBANK

    2000_08_Lighting_Handbook.QXD 04.09.2000 16:11 Uhr Seite 2

  • If you do not have a Lightbank, there are many otherways to create softer light qualities with the instrumentscontained within this kit. Attaching frost to the barndoorswill soften the light quality slightly. Placing a large diffu-sion panel (silk) in front of the source, or bouncing thelight off of a white wall, ceiling or white card, willproduce a dramatically softer light quality.

    Again, the physical size of the light source is directlyrelated to the quality of light produced. So, ideally, oneshould consider the appropriate light quality for a shot orscene prior to setting up the lighting. For example, hardlight may not be considered a natural light quality formany interior scenes (such as an office with four whitewalls and overhead fluorescent lighting).

    3ARRI LIGHTING HANDBOOK

    HARD LIGHT SOFT LIGHT

    ARRILITE BOUNCING OFF OF FOAM CORE BOARD

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  • HARD LIGHT VS. SOFT LIGHT:There is no hard-fast rule as to when to use hard or softlight for a shot or scene. Creating a particular lightquality is a judgment call, and there are no wrong orright answers. There are, however, characteristics that areinherent to both hard and soft light, and one mustconstantly weigh the pros and cons of each prior tolighting a scene.

    In general, hard light is easily controlled through the useof the barndoors on the fixture, and it can be used toproduce dramatic shadows and attractive lighting effectsfor film or video. When lighting people for interviewswith hard light, one must carefully consider the placementof the light source in order to produce appealing resultson camera. An ill-placed Fresnel or open-faced instrument can produceunkind results on even the most photogenic persons.Fresnel-lensed lights produce an attractive light qualityand an extremely even field of light, and are the mostpopular instrument choice when hard lighting is requiredfor studio and location work. While Arrilites also produce an even beam field, theseinstruments generally are not used to light people directly.The Arrilite instrument is most often used to create a filllight source, by bouncing light off of walls, ceilings orbounce boards (on location), to use with diffusion frost orbehind a Lightbank, or to light background areas. Whenused as a direct source (no diffusion), the glass lens on aFresnel produces a more pleasing quality of light than anopen-faced instrument.

    The use of softer light sources can be more forgivingwhen lighting people, but softer, diffused sources can bemuch more difficult to control. Diffused light disperses inmany directions, and although the light quality may bedesirable for a particular shot or scene, the uncontrolledspill light from a diffused source can ruin even the best ofshots. Much of lighting has to do with directing theviewer's eye around the screen, and when spill light fromyour main light sources contaminates the background ofyour shot, the lighting can appear haphazard and losevisual impact. Once again, careful consideration of your

    4 ARRI LIGHTING HANDBOOK

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  • light placement can dramatically improve the results ofyour lighting.

    When working with a Lightbank, control of the diffusedlight can be achieved with a product called a Soft EggCrate (manufactured by LightTools). This product is acollapsible fabric egg crate that can be quickly attachedto the front of a Lightbank. The use of an egg crate on alightbank provides the user with instant control of spilllight with little light loss.

    5ARRI LIGHTING HANDBOOK

    SOFT EGG CRATE ON LIGHTBANK

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  • 6 ARRI LIGHTING HANDBOOK

    SOME BASIC DEFINITIONS:

    THE FOUR PRIMARY LIGHT SOURCES: KEY, FILL, SEPARATION & BACKGROUND

    IN THIS SECTION, THE "LIGHTING EVOLUTION" OFIMAGES SHOWS THE SINGLE EFFECT OF EACH OFTHESE FOUR SOURCES IN A TALKING HEAD SHOT.

    KEY LIGHT: The key light is the primary light source forthe subject area of the image. The key light is the mainsource of illumination and often establishes a lightquality, whether hard or soft, for the shot or scene.When lighting people for on-camera interviews, theobject of the key light is to illuminate the person in anattractive manner and reveal the shape of the personsface through shadow form (modeling). An Arri Fresnel isoften the choice for a key light source (due to the easeof use and light control). Lightbanks also are a popularkey light source for interviews.

    Position of the key light can range from directly abovethe camera lens to completely behind the subject,depending upon the desired results. Seeing the effects ofthe key light shadows on the subjects face will help youto determine the best height and location for this light.When lighting for multiple cameras, it is usually best toplace the key lights for optimal results on the close-upcamera positions for each subject. Regardless of thequality of light you choose, the light from the key sourceshould be confined to the subject area if you hope toachieve a dramatic lighting effect for the image. If a lessdramatic effect is desired, the spill light from the key

    KEY LIGHT ONLY

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  • source can be allowed to illuminate the background areaas well.

    FILL LIGHT: The fill light is an additional light sourcedesigned to fill-in the shadow areas created by the keysource. Ideally, the fill light source is a larger, diffused softlight source that will fill in the shadow area to the desireddensity (light level) without producing a second, opposingshadow on the subject(s). Think of your fill lighting asambient light for the shot or scene, and as your visualmood indicator. The less fill light, the more

    dramatic the lighting. Regardless of whether your keysource is hard or soft light, using a hard light source for afill light can create an unnatural double-shadow effect onthe talent/subjects. Use of a large silk, a Lightbank, densewhite diffusion material on the barndoors, or bouncingthe light off of a white surface (wall, bounce board, etc.)can produce a natural and effective fill light source.When shooting only a close-up of a single person, oftenthe spill light from your key source can be directed at alarge, white bounce card for a soft, shadowless fill light(see examples). The position of the fill light can varygreatly, but normally fill light sources are set either nearthe camera lens or at a position opposite the key lightsource.

    7ARRI LIGHTING HANDBOOK

    KEY & FILL LIGHTS

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  • SEPARATION LIGHT (HAIR LIGHT): The separation light, orhair light, is designed to help visually separate thesubject(s) from the background. A separation light is notalways necessary, but without the use of this light, it ispossible that the subject could