August 31, 2016

Watch: Here's Everything You Need to Know About Working with Spotlights

Do you know your way around professional lighting units? You will after this.

Whether you're going to be working somewhere in a Hollywood lighting department or shooting a project with a skeleton crew in your backyard, you're going to want to know all you can about lighting—more specifically, the equipment—even more specifically, the lights—to be entirely and unquestionably specific, the spotlights. What are they? What types are there? How do you use them? Let DP Matthew Workman break it all down for you in this helpful video from Cinematography Database.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho4fPUXjiAs

Some of you might have different definitions of what a spotlight actually is, but these are four types Workman talks about in the video:

  • Fresnel Lights
  • Open Face Lights
  • Par Lights
  • Ellipsoidal

Now, all of these do different things when it comes to shaping and emitting light, but, as Workman explains, think of all spotlights in terms of "cones of light," that is, a small "circle" of light that disperses into a larger "circle" (you know, like a cone). He goes on to explain a wide range of important terms and concepts, like how spotlights have an aperture (the opening where the light comes out), maximum/minimum "beam angle", flooding/spotting light, and how spotting (making the beam narrower) makes the light brighter—I mean, technically it's not brighter, it's just that the light is more concentrated, but—anyway.

Those are some of the basics you'll want to know before you start using spotlights, especially when you're renting equipment on a limited budget. You might want to consider the versatility of a specific light before you use it on your project—in other words, a light that has a high maximum and low minimum beam angle might be more beneficial if you don't have a whole lot of lights on hand and need something that can kind of "do it all."     

Your Comment

15 Comments

Wow. Look at me Joe, Im getting smarter. These are 4 types of lights, and they're called...........: "....Spotlight...!"
Geeee. That is solid knowledge there my little pal !
See you in my next video, where you'll learn EVERYTHING about the electric 110v plug. And as extra: a 3D demo on how to use it !
*Jizzzzmypants*

August 31, 2016 at 7:44AM

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Martin Brewer
Director, DOP
455

Why you gotta make an alias on Youtube, but here you are comfortable with the real ID Martin? Don't you know that I AM THE INTERNET?!111 <3

I'm open to a discussion on this, I'm presenting an opinion on simplifying how people think about different classes of lights. If you disagree, that is cool, I'm open to learn and evolve.

Note: the NFS header says "Everything" my video does not claim that though. I said the opposite "Spotlights 101" as in entry level basic overview type of content.

I'd love to learn more about you and your goals Martin as a filmmaker <3 I see a lot of negative comments from you on these boards. Can we hug?

August 31, 2016 at 10:31AM

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Matt Workman
Cinematographer
255

Too bad not everyone was born a AAA DP like you. Why not share your infinite wisdom instead of hate?

August 31, 2016 at 10:32AM

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well if these are all spotlights, whats an actual spotlight called ? :(

August 31, 2016 at 1:53PM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
466

A spotlight, in the US, is likely referring to a theatrical spotlight that is a pretty much a big ellipsoidal. I'm classifying all lights that emit a conical beam as a spotlight, like the 3D mathematical description of light that 3D artists use.

August 31, 2016 at 2:35PM, Edited August 31, 2:35PM

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Matt Workman
Cinematographer
255

that was meant as a satirical comment... and while _you_ can decide to re-classify lights, it pretty much flies against all industry norms. you remind me of this PA that called all light & C stands : tripods. He couldn't be educated to learn proper terms for things, was totally lax on safety, I got rid of him on 3rd shoot because he was just dangerous literally to be around and could never get the right thing asked for.

September 1, 2016 at 12:43PM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
466

You're still an asshole, aren't you?

September 5, 2016 at 9:47PM

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I really like Workman's videos, but this one is a bit too slight and overly long, even for a beginner - a beginner can pause and rewind a video as well as anybody else. There needs to be more information-per-minute / tighter editing.

Workman could learn to employ a little economy in his overall presentation (not just this video). Some of the details are fantastic, but they are often repeated too much, with too little variation to justify it. Thoroughness and tedium – it's a fine line.

August 31, 2016 at 11:47AM

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Point taken, there is wide range of people watching my channel. I would want to dive right into high end, but I get a lot of comments asking for videos like this. But I get your point about the length. TYTY

August 31, 2016 at 2:33PM

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Matt Workman
Cinematographer
255

I think the problem is more with the clickbait and misleading title of this article than with the video itself. I'm glad NoFilmSchool is broadening MW's audience, but this article didn't do anything except type out what Matt said in his video.

The title of the video is Spotlights 101, not "Everything You Need to Know about Working with Spotlights" as the article suggests. About 5 years ago, I was scared to death of working with lights (even spotlights) and a video like this would have been at my level. That being said, I would encourage Matt to make 201, 301, 401 videos as well, or use his "star" system. It would be cool to show people how spotlights are used at different levels. I'm not sure if that could all be packed into one video or would require separate videos for each. This video was definitely below me, but I can see how a beginner would have gotten information out of it.

It would also be nice to have information about calculating light output and how to know how much light will be enough for different situations.

August 31, 2016 at 4:29PM

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Jeremiah Kuehne
Filmmaker
744

No film school should respect copyright and not steal content and then not credit the copyright owner. The picture in the heading of this article is from my lighting blog. The 2k even has my logo on it.

https://filmlight.wordpress.com/author/rupertmac/

August 31, 2016 at 6:16PM

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Well golly, if it's on the Internet it MUST be free, right? ; )

I think I'm going to start compiling all NFS articles into a book, with me as the author. How do you think they'd like that?

September 5, 2016 at 9:50PM

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Funny thing (funny strange, not funny humorous), I wrote directly to NFS about their ripoff of your image and I never received a reply. I'm really starting to lose respect for NFS. However, I now PROMISE I'm going to violate their copyrights now and then.

September 8, 2016 at 1:15PM

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Royal waste of time! Thanks Captain Obvious!

September 1, 2016 at 8:58PM, Edited September 1, 8:58PM

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Great job. Thank you.

September 3, 2016 at 7:26AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
546