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Do you change your lighting designs for video?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by DHSLXOP, May 29, 2009.

  1. DHSLXOP

    DHSLXOP Active Member

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    Hi Everyone -

    We did the musical "Big," which has the final scene in a dark warehouse. I decided to light the scene with only side light...it gave a really nice look due to the shadows from the front. After watching the show once, the video production people asked me to add front light into the scene so that they could actually see the actors on video.

    So I thought about this question - do you change your designs for filming purposes? Or do you leave the show the way it is so that the audience constantly gets the same product, even if it causes the video to not see the actors?

    Personally, I would have rather left it the way that it was supposed to be - since I had 500 paying audience members who came to see the show, and they should get an equal quality performance as all the other shows. But what do you think?
     
  2. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I usually put a lot of lumens into "dark" scenes and use contrast, colours and angles to help produce the illusion that it is dark, rather than having a complete absence of light. Nothing says "dark" better than having a highlight somewhere for the audience to compare the rest of the stage to. For the same reason I've been known to put some reds (plum) or ambers into a night scene since it reacts well with the skin tones in actors' faces.

    Unrelated to the question of design, I would be careful posting about videotaping a particular production to a public website unless you are sure your organization secured the rights to do so from the publisher. If you did, then consideration for videotaping should be part of your design. YMMV
     
  3. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Short answer: it depends.

    Long answer? Most production companies I work with can tape even at extremely low light (just a matter of the iris setting). For the ones that can't I usually talk to the Producer and set up a special video performance. This can get hairy when you are working with AE, but usually something can be done. Finally, if nothing else can be done, it is the producers call. If they want it to happen I will tell the board op to add front light. Personally? I think the video guys shold adjust.

    Mike
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    First off, as has been said, unless you have filming rights, you shouldn't be filming the show.

    If you have the filming rights and you are trying to produce a video to sell or distribute then you should schedule a time to film without an audience. This will allow you to adjust everything to benefit the filming. If you have to film with an audience present then you should NOT change the show. If the video crew can't adapt then you hired the wrong people. Even the producer or board of directors can't tell you to change the show without the permission of the lighting designer. Especially when union designers are involved, changing things without asking can lead to bad things. In general the only times that it is OK to change something a designer did (after a show opens) without asking is if the integrity of the show is threatened or there is a safety issue. I don't think that filming falls into either of those categories.

    So the short answer is: not without permission from the LD, and preferably not in front of an audience.
     
  5. DHSLXOP

    DHSLXOP Active Member

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    Just to clarify...
    Since I'm a high school student the faculty can tell me whatever they want and I have to do it, even though I was the LD. And of course, since we only get 4-5 days for tech rehearsals in the theatre, it is more than impractical to take a day to film without an audience - it would be a waste of a rehearsal night. And of course, the video team is not a professional group...they are the video production class students, many of whom are doing a live show (we do 3-camera mixes) for the first time.

    And, as far as I know, we had a license to film the show.
     
  6. midgetgreen11

    midgetgreen11 Active Member

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    4-5 Days for tech rehearsals is quite a bit. We have 1 cue-to-cue and 2 dress rehearsals. Thursday dark. Weekend show.
     
  7. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Well, in a situation like yours I would first take the issue up with the head of the Theatre Department. If they tell you to make changes, then you really have no choice. On the other hand, if they tell you that it is your show and you don't have to change it, you can tell the film students to suck it up and deal! If whoever is in charge of the theatre is a good person, and listens to his/her students then you can try politely reminding them that it isn't fair to a paid audience to change the show, and you would rather have your art preserved on tape the way that you intended it to be. It might work.

    In general, film people will always ask for more light, and if you intend to preserve your art, you can't give in to them. Cameras cans see far less dynamic range than the human eye, so even dim light on a black stage can be problematic. It can be overcome if you have goo operators, so maybe this could be turned into more of a learning experience for your student film crews.
     
  8. RonaldBeal

    RonaldBeal Active Member

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    Generally, in the professional world... If the "Producer" of the show wants the lights changed for video, it is changed... In fact 90% of the time large "add-on" lighting packages are brought in to light the house and audience for wide angle and reverse camera shots. Additional key lights are used to keep keying levels constant, and many times a separate LD is brought in to control the lights for the video/film. Of course if the producer isn't involved, then it's a whole other story.
    just my $0.02
    RB
     
  9. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Even big budget shows here in Vegas will add light for video shoots (with paying audience members in attendance). If you are recording the show for archival purposes, then I would probably not change the look of the show, but offer a video rehearsal so that they are able to get the settings they need to set the cameras (you wouldn't need the whole cast or show crew for this). I say that with the caveat of what the purpose of the archival footage actually is. If your program is highly actor based, they may be doing different camera shots that would require different lighting.

    The challenge of video recording, especially with multiple positions, is attemting to make the transition from one camera to the next absolutely seamless. If you are using the McCandless method, the camera that is capturing the action from the front will have an extremely different POV from the cameras on the sides. Also, the colors that you choose will greatly affect how the cameras see the actors from different positions. For this reason, many professionals resort to using different filters on the cameras to compensate for different lighting as opposed to changing the lighting itself. Lighting for video is considerably different from lighting for the human eye. So if you are only lighting for live performance, I would attempt to stay with your original design as much as possible, but remember that you are part of a team.
     

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