View Full Version : Setting up a basic 3 point lighting system


alexo
07-13-2009, 08:10 PM
I have been lately looking at different options for lighting on a drama I`ve been producing.

Was wondering, equipment wise, what is a good starting lighting set up to consider purchasing.

Will be lighting for mostly indoors and have also have been looking up lighting outdoors, learning how to add diffusion so it looks like the lighting is coming from the sun.

Advice on lighting equipment would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Brooksy
07-14-2009, 08:40 AM
There is a lot of stuff in your post that you probably didn't even know. First off, there is a ton of different pieces of equipment that would be great and terrible for lighting depending on what your scene calls for and what the DP wants it to look like. Not to mention, if your lighting for indoor you need to have different lights for day and night depending on what you would like to show. You might be competing with the sun which calls for some really big lights. OR... you could buy some neutral density filters to put on the windows. This would make it so you don't have to buy really big light set ups but then it takes time to cut and tape all the filters to fit correctly.

Diffusion is another issue you would have to deal with. First off diffusion isn't added to make lighting look like it is coming from the sun. Diffusion is added to soften the light and keep shadows from the lights from being really harsh. If you want the shot to look like it is coming from the sun then you would go with no diffusion, but I wouldn't recommend that unless that is the look you were going for. Lighting outside is a lot more difficult then one may think. If it is a sunny day out and all you want to do is add an edge to your actor/actress you are going to need a lot of equipment and some really big lights.

For your indoor scenes I would figure out if it is going to be night or day and then study the light as it enters the room and is in your shot. Then I would get some lights to work around it. You could use the sun through a window as your key, a bounce card as your fill and then all you would need is a light with a blue gel for your edge. In indie filmmaking it is all about using what you got.

For outside I would say use a series of bounce cards and maybe shoot in the shade if you can. I am not sure what look your going for or how much light you need for each shot, but I hope I was able to help you. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

directorik
07-14-2009, 01:01 PM
I have been lately looking at different options for lighting on a drama I`ve been producing.

Was wondering, equipment wise, what is a good starting lighting set up to consider purchasing.

Will be lighting for mostly indoors and have also have been looking up lighting outdoors, learning how to add diffusion so it looks like the lighting is coming from the sun.

Advice on lighting equipment would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Lowel makes nice kits. Tungsten lights with stands, barndoors and
hard case. Britek makes nice light kits - cheaper than Lowel and
not as durable, but very usable. You can also check Arri lights - more
expensive and worth every penny. I have a Lowel 4 light kit with
the Omni’s and Tota’s that I bought new in 1990 and am still using
it 19 years later.

For a nice beginning light kit I recommend:
A couple of work lights (http://www1.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNSRIT?PMPXNO=9401794&PMT4NO=0"target=) with stands from any home improvement
store.

Five or six “scoop lights” - those clamp on work lights (http://www.doityourself.com/invt/u239921) with the
silver reflector.

Three or four pieces of Foamcore (http://www.artsupply.com/brand/foamcore.htm) from any art supply store to use to
bounce the light.

Two or three paper lanterns (http://www.cherryblossomgardens.com/paper_lanterns.asp) that you can get at Ikea. I hook each one to a
dimmer (home improvement store again) to get better control.

Some colored gels (check on line or if there is a small theater in your
town they often have extras) and some black wrap. Check Studio Depot (http://www.studiodepot.com/store/)

This example (http://www.darkcrimes.com/images/lowbudgetlighting.jpg) kind of puts all the following links in perspective.

http://www.darkcrimes.com/images/lowbudgetlighting.jpg
http://www.darkcrimes.com/movies/lighting%3Aexample.mov

Here's a do-it-yourself Croney Cone (http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e377/adakinprods/Croney.jpg) made from foamcore and gaff tape.

Zensteve
07-14-2009, 01:06 PM
Britek makes a bunch of relatively inexpensive lighting gear, including whole kits. There are several Britek resellers you can find online; I buy from Skaeser.com

If you need something even cheaper, use the forum search-box to look for "home depot lighting". You'll find a tonne of info on what you can do with parts from your local hardware store.

For lighting outside - for about $60 you can get a versatile reflector from pretty much any camera shop. A round one (that folds up like a collapsable winshield sunshade) that acts as a handheld diffusion screen; it also has a zip-on sleeve that turns it into a reflector, with silver on one side & gold on the other. Forgot the exact name, but really handy.

If you need something cheaper, you can get large foam bounce boards from your local craft/hobby store. White on one side, and a selection of colours for the other. About $3 for a 2'x3' board.

Godchoo
07-14-2009, 01:45 PM
Is a croney cone basically a soft box?

alexo
07-14-2009, 10:07 PM
One last thing,

have been looking at this lighting kit, how do I tell which lights allow me to control the brightness or not?

http://www.briteklighting.com/tw600colikit.html

directorik
07-14-2009, 11:22 PM
You control the brightness of the light with filters, gels,
scrims and the cameras f-stop.

alexo
07-15-2009, 09:42 PM
Have been looking through some good starting gels, any other colors of gels I think about?

Trying to cover the basics at the moment


http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&parent=&id=6180

http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&parent=&id=6383

http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&parent=&id=6251

http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&parent=&id=6306

http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&parent=&id=6203

http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&parent=&id=6239

http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&id=6197

-Thanks

Zensteve
07-16-2009, 04:04 AM
Those seem pretty expensive, but I've never bought new gels before.

I pick up used rolls for about $2 - and they're much larger than the 2' squares you've found.

As far as useful colours - amber & blue (for colour-temp correction). Everything else is just gravy. :cool:

alexo
07-16-2009, 07:40 AM
For your gels, how do you choose to attach them to the lights, I` m using a softbox. Should I just have someone hold the roll steady with gloves on, or something other way works better?

directorik
07-16-2009, 10:09 AM
For your gels, how do you choose to attach them to the lights

http://www.aeroconsystems.com/electronics/electric%20match%20making/clothespin.jpg

Kosh
07-16-2009, 02:59 PM
I use this kit, http://www.eoslightingllc.com/filmmakers/tungstenkits/3250/.

If I may...good lighting incorporates things like color temperature (in-door/out-door), lighting ratios (high key/low key - this is to your question of using diffusion) and exposure. But most importantly to achieve good lighting one must also always be aware of the intent, or to put it more accurately, the motivation of your lighting.

When talking about 3 point lighting people tend to get wrapped up in the whole "you have a key, a fill and a back light". I used to be obsessed with where these three lights should be instead of considering the most important aspect of lighting, which is getting the lights to do their job without them being noticed. Regardless of the tools used (i.e., natural, Home Depot DIY, bounce cards, professional lighting kit, or a hodge-podge of any number of the above) your goal is to make your lighting appear as natural as possible. By natural I mean, your lighting should be able to replicate the effects of the sun, a light fixture or a given practical without being noticed all while providing you with enough light for your desired exposure settings, mood and subtext.

Also remember to maintain continuity with your coverage. Make sure your lighting ratios, angles and shadows remain consistent as you move in with your shots. Sometimes some cheating will be involved (moving things around on the set as you move in for coverage) but as we all know continuity is a must, that is if you want to have an easier life during the edit.

In conclusion my ramblings all come down to this, regardless of the tool (light source) and technique (3 point, head-on key, side lighting, etc.) remember that your goal is to have your lighting appear to be natural and consistent from shot to shot.

I hope this helped.

alexo
07-16-2009, 07:23 PM
Thanks.

I have spending most of my time on filters and gels lately, trying to focus on having a variety of looks to choose from, and not obsessing about "THE 3 point light system" as much

Brooksy
07-16-2009, 09:41 PM
I wouldn't "obsess" over the three point lighting system, HOWEVER, it is very important and I would learn the system very well. There is a reason it is a standard in the film industry. It is utilized in nearly every single film in the world. I do agree that you can do other things with lighting and I am a firm believer that you should. But you have to learn to walk before you can run. Good luck.

indietalk
07-16-2009, 10:36 PM
Before you break a rule, understand the rule you are breaking. Then, you will be breaking it for a reason (creative decision) instead of acting out of inexperience. ;)

Kosh
07-16-2009, 11:37 PM
I didn't intend to throw off the conversation with the word "obsess". It has been well stated in this thread that the 3 point lighting system is very important and I did not mean to play it down. I just wanted to state that whatever the system or tools used, good lighting is not just about the system or the lights but also includes some other broader aspects and considerations that tend to get overlooked.

I have learned so much from here and wanted to give something back. Good luck with your light search and your projects.

indietalk
07-16-2009, 11:40 PM
No, you are right, there are plenty of scenes that do not call for it.

Brooksy
07-17-2009, 09:09 AM
I will also agree there are certain scenes that don't call for it and can really make the movie.

indietalk
07-17-2009, 09:02 PM
Think Film Noir ;). A whole genre of high contrast crisp lighting with shadows.

2001 Productions
07-27-2009, 12:16 PM
http://www.aeroconsystems.com/electronics/electric%20match%20making/clothespin.jpg

LOL :lol:

These, BTW, are "spring clips" or "C-47's". I know they look like clothes pins, but they're really high-tech studio-grade lighting equipment. ;)

Must never call them "clothes pins" on set; it's a dead giveaway that you're a greenhorn.