December 7, 2014

Blind Spot Gear is Creating a Series of Lighting Tutorials: What Would You Like to Learn?

Blind Spot Gear Scorpion Light
If you could learn anything about lighting for narrative and documentary film, what would it be?

Earlier in the year, Blind Spot Gear unveiled the Scorpion Light, an insanely versatile minuscule LED fixture designed with professional filmmakers in mind. Since that time, Billy Campbell, Blind Spot's founder and friend of the site, has been hard at work bringing the Scorpion Light into existence and DPing films for a number of major clients. He's also working on a new educational resource for filmmakers - a series of free lighting tutorials in which the topics he teaches are crowdsourced from sites like ours.

Billy recently put together the first tutorial in this new series - the pilot episode, if you will - and it covers a basic documentary interview lighting setup.

https://vimeo.com/113541332

Now that the first video in the series is out in the world, Billy is reaching out to the online filmmaking community to ask what they would like to learn next. Here's his open letter to readers of this site and others, as well as an overhead diagram of the simple lighting setup from the above tutorial:

Blind Spot Gear Lighting Tutorial Overhead

Dear Shooters,

Here at Blind Spot, we are in the process of developing a series of lighting tutorials to be released early next year. We shot a short pilot last week and were wanting some feedback from all you readers of film blogs. After all, it’s you we’re making these for.

What we’re really interested to find out is what techniques you would like to learn about. Is the demo the right kind of length, is it in-depth enough? We want to make this a free web series and we want it to be as useful as possible, which is why we’re reaching out with the pilot to get your feedback. 

If you're interested in what we’re up to over here at Blind Spot Gear then come and check out our website www.blindspotgear.com We are manufacturing the most flexible lighting system in the world, of course the entire interview was lit using the Scorpion Lights. 

Look forward to hearing what you all think

Billy Campbell, Director 
Blind Spot Gear

While this series is certainly going to be promotional by nature in that it will extensively feature the Scorpion Light, it still presents an invaluable opportunity for the online cinematography community. Not only do we have the chance to grill a professional cinematographer about his lighting knowledge, but we get to tailor the remainder of this lighting series to the exact topics that we're interested in learning about, which is not an opportunity that comes along every day.

There are literally hundreds of potential topics that could be covered in these tutorials. There's the matter of situational lighting setups like the one above. That could be expanded to how to light for any number of scenarios - comedy, drama, noir, etc. Then there are technical and theory-based questions to be asked. How does color theory apply to lighting? Why do some LEDs flicker at higher frame rates and how do you avoid that dilemma when shooting HFR? What are the various factors that determine any given light's perceived sharpness or softness? What are some lesser known tips for light modification in different scenarios?

I, for one, would like to request an episode about motivating light within a scene. Is it important that light appear as if it's coming from a known natural or practical source? What are the best ways to accomplish that? Are there reasons to deviate away from the strategy of naturally motivating a light source? 

What would you guys like to learn about in Blind Spot's upcoming lighting tutorial series? Leave your requests down in the comments!     

Your Comment

26 Comments

I would like to learn how to light a scene of a movie, matching the light of different shots. master shot, medium, close up. Different situation with camera movements. Thanks.

December 7, 2014 at 4:04PM

0
Reply
Massimo Selis
Director
79

Outdoor lighting to get an epic look.

December 7, 2014 at 4:59PM

0
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Jay Lewis
185

I'd also like to know how how to light for night time outside.

December 7, 2014 at 6:30PM

10
Reply
Jared Cheer
Director of Photography, Camera Op, Editor, Lamp Op, Grip
87

Effectively lighting a moving subject.

December 7, 2014 at 7:12PM

2
Reply

Most commercial shoots I've been working on lately are lit with one huge HMI and flags. Light subtraction is often overlooked. Would love to see some of that.

December 7, 2014 at 8:15PM

0
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John Joumaa
Digital Video Editor
48

Might be hard for them to show that since it appears they are only highlighting their scorpion lights.

December 7, 2014 at 9:33PM

2
Reply
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Caleb Price
Director
462

The sun has always been one huge light source since the first humans have been walking the earth, and every light mood in nature comes from that one huge light source plus a lot of "flags" and "reflectors"
That's why one huge light source plus modelling will always look the most natural. It also looks very natural because the intensity of the light doesn't change much when the talent moves towards it or away from it.

December 12, 2014 at 7:19AM

4
Reply

Maybe one showing how to light 3 or more subjects in the same shot.

December 7, 2014 at 9:16PM

15
Reply
Bao
175

Maybe one showing how to light 3 or more subjects in the same shot.

December 7, 2014 at 9:16PM

6
Reply
Bao
175

In all of the scenarios what would change if they are wearing glasses?

December 8, 2014 at 12:10AM, Edited December 8, 12:10AM

0
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How to deal with a typical indoor office scene with a mix colour temps (outdoor lighting through the window, often fluorescent overhead, warm incandescent lamps.) How do you light an interview in that scenario?

December 8, 2014 at 5:28AM

6
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John Sha
director
74

Lighting for slo-mo when using high frame rates, and how to avoid flicker from combining different light sources.

December 8, 2014 at 6:20AM

0
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Lighting a scene for a multicam shoot...2-3 cameras.

December 8, 2014 at 10:31AM, Edited December 8, 10:31AM

0
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Kerrin McLean
Director / DP / Editor
7

I would love to see something on preserving highlights in practicals. In other words, keeping the practicals in a shot from blowing out, while at the same time make the light on the talent look like it is coming from the practicals. Not some flashy Hollywood set up but something that feels natural to the scene.

December 8, 2014 at 6:11PM

0
Reply
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Michael Markham
Actor/Filmmaker
940

ND gels :D

December 8, 2014 at 10:49PM

2
Reply
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Isaiah Corey
Director of Photography
260

Black Spray paint also, front half of the bulb ;)

December 11, 2014 at 3:01PM

0
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Billy Campbell
Cinematographer
168

That makes a certain amount of sense, as you are bringing down the level of the practicals. But how do you then light your subjects as if they are lit by the practicals? Where do you hide your lights? What if there is a lot of movement in the scene so you can't simply set up some c-stands off camera?

December 12, 2014 at 8:08PM

0
Reply
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Michael Markham
Actor/Filmmaker
940

ND gels :D

December 8, 2014 at 10:50PM

6
Reply
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Isaiah Corey
Director of Photography
260

Change the bulbs to 10W or 5W incandescent bulbs or some low powered LED bulbs, and/or bring a dimmer. The dimmer only works for incandescents or halogen though.

December 12, 2014 at 7:26AM

1
Reply

Nice demo. Thanks.

I'd like to see how you do that for a 2 person interview with shot, reverse, shot.
tnx.

December 11, 2014 at 7:21AM

0
Reply
jason tan
Office drone
74

Would be helpful to know camera, lens, ISO, and aperture used during video.

December 11, 2014 at 5:19PM

4
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Noah Ambrose
Ruler of the Wasteland
101

It was a 50mm at around 2.8, iso would have been 1250 and the camera was an F5

January 22, 2015 at 11:45AM

1
Reply
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Billy Campbell
Cinematographer
168

Maybe it's just me, but the first lighting design was much better.

If you're shooting a documentary, you want your audience to feel at ease in most scenarios, so why avoiding a clean, natural look in favour of a fabricated one?

It's 2015 in a month, and we're still using filmmaking conventions from 1990...

December 12, 2014 at 8:13PM

2
Reply
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Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
503

Hey Raph

I think the convention of this technique has been around before the 90s. However, every film is different and the style you craft is depended on the content and emotion of the story.

Documentaries often flex the techniques of cinematography further than drama. Take Errol Morris work dating from the late 70s, his use of the frame was simple awesome. His technique in 'Brief History of Time' 1991 'The Fog of War' 2003 blew my and everyone else's mind. It may seem a conventional technique these days, but at the time to have the subject talk straight down the lens and address the audience. It doesn't put you at ease but it does create a strange intimacy. Heres a couple of clips from Fog of War https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfPwR00HXM0

"If you're shooting a documentary, you want your audience to feel at ease in most scenarios." I don't really understand this statement, why would you want them to feel at ease? Have you ever seen 'Capturing the Friedmans' 2003 or 'Dark Days' 2000, these films are about subjects that no-one should ever feel at ease watching, I think the camera and the sound mimic this. Heres the first 10 minutes from Dark Days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4s78Db5OQ

Just a thought
Billy

January 22, 2015 at 12:01PM

7
Reply
avatar
Billy Campbell
Cinematographer
168

I understand the source of the misunderstanding here. You're taking one part of a whole sentence and isolating to emphasize that it doesn't make sense - and you're right: on its own it doesn't.

What I was saying is simpler than it seems: fiction vs. non-fiction; fabricated look vs. natural. Here we want to go for natural, when my preference - and I admit it's all a matter of taste - for the very first lighting scheme.

March 19, 2015 at 6:39AM

3
Reply
avatar
Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
503

Hey Raph

I think the convention of this technique has been around before the 90s. However, every film is different and the style you craft is depended on the content and emotion of the story.

Documentaries often flex the techniques of cinematography further than drama. Take Errol Morris work dating from the late 70s, his use of the frame was simple awesome. His technique in 'Brief History of Time' 1991 'The Fog of War' 2003 blew my and everyone else's mind. It may seem a conventional technique these days, but at the time to have the subject talk straight down the lens and address the audience. It doesn't put you at ease but it does create a strange intimacy. Heres a couple of clips from Fog of War https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfPwR00HXM0

"If you're shooting a documentary, you want your audience to feel at ease in most scenarios." I don't really understand this statement, why would you want them to feel at ease? Surely you want them to feel a raft of emotions, happy, angry, sad, fear, disgust.

Have you ever seen 'Capturing the Friedmans' 2003 or 'Dark Days' 2000, these films are about subjects that no-one should ever feel at ease watching, I think the camera and the sound mimic this. Heres the first 10 minutes from Dark Days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4s78Db5OQ

Just a thought
Billy

January 22, 2015 at 5:30PM

2
Reply
avatar
Billy Campbell
Cinematographer
168