Before lighting anything, you need to determine what
type of video camera to use for your event capture. The
two most logical choices would be a DSLR with video capability or a standard video recorder. When using a DSLR
camera with higher ISO ratings, your lighting choices
can be smaller and lighter with less power required.
You’ll need more light when using a conventional video
recorder, since you can’t choose a higher ISO (more on
this later). When shooting lower-light situations with a
video recorder, you’ll increase the gain—or power to the
sensor—to keep a good exposure, which will result in a
grainy-looking image. This is generally not acceptable for
a professional-looking product.
Light is the basis of all types of imagemaking, but
harsh light is ugly, so no matter what type of lights you
use, make sure that you can diffuse the light source. If
you have no lights at all, and the sun is your light source,
bring a large diffusion panel or disk to place between the
sun and your subject. This will help create a softer, more
pleasing lighting effect. Video setups outside generally
involve large 12-by-12-foot or 20-by-20-foot frames covered
with “silks” or diffusion and supported by huge stands
and sandbags. This is no circus tent—it’s the basis of all
outdoor video shoots.
Hot lights, also called tungsten, are the traditional—
and most affordable—choice for shooting motion. This
type of lighting can range in size from a lightbulb to a
huge, 20K movie light, which requires a large truck to
move. When using hot lights, extra bulbs and gloves are
necessities on the shoot, as are fireproof flags or diffusion. As its name indicates, hot lights produce extreme
temperatures and can draw a lot of power, so it’s essential
to make sure you won’t blow any fuses or cause a fire.
Another light source to consider is LED light panels,
which are easy to work with, produce no heat and can be
battery powered. With higher-end light panels, you can
decrease power to the unit while remaining at the same
color temperature, (so you won’t have to reevaluate white
balance). While the most popular size for production
work is one-by one foot, these light panels come as small
as an on-camera flash.
Next on the video lighting list is fluorescent-based
lights. One advantage to fluorescents is the ability to
achieve the proper color balance by changing tubes.
Fluorescent lighting systems produce no heat, but they
can be big and heavy, so sturdy light stands and sandbags
are a must for proper support and safety.