At the March 2002 meeting...

Lighting Boot Camp

Or: How to throw those lumens around!

By Paul Beck

If you are anything like our "editor", SMPTE Manager Bob Lamm, you are probably sick of reading our meeting reports that start "If you missed this meeting, you really missed a great meeting, etc..." Well, in the case of our March Lighting Boot Camp, it really is true.

It was our first creative production, as opposed to creative engineering, meeting in a little while. Since lighting is what separates movies and television from radio, it was probably an overdue subject. And, rather than just show the gadgets that make today's lighting "interesting", we decided it should be a training meeting, not just another dog & pony show.

86 SMPTE Members and Guests braved a First Day Of Spring In New England Snow/Rain/Sleet Storm to attend "Lighting Boot Camp" at WCVB-TV^Os Studio C (Needham, MA). Award-winning Lighting Director (& New England Section Chairperson) John Gates, led the "students" through a discussion and demonstration of the five basic lighting choices available to all image makers who create and manipulate images: Selectivity, Angle, Brightness, Color & Quality.

Almost half of Basic Training was devoted to using quality (how shadows appear) by creating and controlling soft light; both for dramatic intent and to control under-exposure and contrast. Various methods were compared so those attending could see the differences. Modifying existing light to change the shadow casting properties of light sources was explored in detail. Everything from putting diffusion in front of the light, or bouncing the light, or using Chimera soft boxes, or K5600 & Arri Soft Tubes, all the way up to the Chimera Pancake Lanterns replacing the paper China Balls,etc. Then a wide range of color accurate fluorescent sources and systems were explored, from the very small pencil size tubes from Kino Flo, to the Balcar & Fluo-Tec direct alternatives to traditional incandescent soft lights, to the very large Kino Flo Blanket Light, and a lot of other fluorescent systems in between. Some of these lights or their accessories had not been demonstrated in New England before.

Thanks to Gilles Galerne at K5600, we even had a pre-NAB premiere of the new K5600 "Black Jack". This very compact, 400 watt, HMI fresnel uses a different approach to the fixture housing design to keep the "traveling" size as small as possible, while still allowing a very large spot to flood range and a lens large enough to provide a very smooth and even field.

Lighting Boot Camp had the very generous support of Barbizon Light Of New England and High Output, Inc. These two Massachusetts based vendors worked with many equipment manufacturers to provide the extremely wide range of equipment available to support the many demonstrations and comparisons during Lighting Boot Camp. Thanks to SMPTE New England Section Manager Mike Keller, Heart-Argyle Television's donation of their large production studio provided a most appropriate and realistic venue for this meeting. Members of IATSE Local 481 (New England Studio Mechanics) donated their time and their expertise to set-up and operate all the equipment used in Lighting Boot Camp to provide those attending some sense of working on a real set. Boot Camp was preceded by a one hour Equipment Expo to allow everyone attending the meeting an up close and personal time with the lighting and related equipment.

Submitted by Paul Beck, New England Section Secretary-Treasurer

Posted April 4, 2002.

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