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Movie vs Theatrical Lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Tyler, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Tyler

    Tyler Member

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    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  2. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Wow, I don't really know of any good sources other than my old lecture notes. I will tell you there are a HUGE variety of differences beginning with who is in charge of the lighting in each forum, continuing with how lights are set, and ending with their use with everything in between.

    Mike
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    A good resource is find pictures of movie sets from the set looking out. That can tell you a lot. Biggest thing is, as long as the lens does not see the light, you can put it there. There are plenty others, do some googling. I don't know of any legit resources however.
     
  4. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    1. Frenels are more versital than ERS's in Movie lighting.
    2. Barndoors are used to hold color.
    3. Gel slots are used to hold the screens that dim the lights

    There's more but I can't think of them right now.
     
  5. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Use the search button. This subject has been hit a few times here. I think you can reliably quote a poster from CB in the bibliography of your paper. As stated there are HUGE differences in lighting for Theatre and lighting for Cinema.
    Fixtures names, fixtures sizes, Geling techniques, < very rarely do you use 1/4CTO in the theatre>. Power consumption / total loads, In theatrical setting you have 100's of lamps each running at 575 watts, In cinema you might 3 lights running at 5.75 K each. Cabling, and distibution, Theatre you can use a SOCA cable about 1 1/2" in diameter and power 8-16 fiztures. Cinema you run 5 wires of 2/0 to a panel and provide power for fixtures, motors, SPFX, and craft services:grin:.
     
  6. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    That heavy cable is still going into a theater, you just don't see it in the conduit.
     
  7. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Exactly my point. In the Theatrical setting you are not usually responsible for providing all you own Big Distro, with the exception of traveling shows, and Concerts < but then I said Theatre didn't I ? > In the Cinema world you are typically Required to provide your own distro in addition to often having to provide your own power, i.e. a Gennie of some sort.
     
  8. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Just to touch on some differences

    - As others have stated, movies tend to use a ton of temporary and portable power, as the electrical department may well be providing electricity to every user on the set - catering, makeup, construction and painters, all before the shooting crew arrives at the location. I vividly recall seeing the electrics staging location for Spiderman I, when it shot in NYC, at the Nat'l Guard armory in Brooklyn, a 360x 190ft interior space with 4/0 feeder cable stacks, all about 3-4ft high, filling the armory. That's a whole lot of feeder cable.

    - Theaters, as stated prior, also uses a lot of power, it's just part of the building infrastructure, so is out of sight, out of mind.

    - Film is a lot of "as you go" lighting, I.E., the gaffer and the electricians, in consultation with the Director of Photography, discuss how a scene should be lit, the Gaff and the Elec's rig the gear, often limited to ground based stands and they light away. Rarely is anything on a dimmer, as dimming changes the color temperature of incandescent lamps. Lot's of fresnels, HMI's and open faced gear is used, soft lights, chinese lanterns, etc... Intensity changes are made with metal netting (scims) that reduces intensity without changing color temperature. After the scene is shot, all is struck and you move on to the next scene, with a different rig and equipment setup.

    - Theater is a lot of rig in advance from a plot prepared from a Lighting Designer, who has gone to rehearsals, consulted with the Scenic and Costume designers, as well as getting direction from the Director. The LD then prepares the plot, arranges rental of gear, gets all delivered to the theater (if renting) where it is rigged. Then a plotting session is run, levels are set on a console controlling dimmers and movers, scrollers, etc... rehearsals are run, etc... with a stage manager calling cues to a console operator. Works for legit theater, musicals, opera.

    - Film and TV lighting is a slave to the needs of the cameras and is less about providing for a "concept" that has a total image composition. The requirements of the film and/or TV cameras, dictate certain lighting levels be maintained, as well as appropriate color temperature of the lighting sources, so the CAMERA can capture the image, and with choices made for camera usage (camera movement, lens choices, angle of shot, duration, etc..) and subsequent editing, allow for for a mood to be established on-screen.

    - Theater has a live audience that sees everything, so it's up to the designers to establish a "Concept" of the location, time, mood, etc... as (a) complete composite image(s) including changing of scenic and costume elements, sound effects, as well as lighting cues that changes what the audience thinks is the time and location and keys the audience attention to particular area's on the stage, all things a close-up on a camera does as directors choice, as example.

    Hope this helps.

    Steve B.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Movies are a "just throw something at it" type of thing. To cover most shoots, most production houses carry grip trucks. These come by the ton, and the heavier the truck, the more crap you get.

    Truck Packages - DR&A, Inc. - (615) 256-6200
     
  10. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, good responses so far, and no one has even talked about "lighting" outdoor shoots.

    There is a reason why lighting for movies was a seperate course in college.

    Different techniques, different tools. Another example no one has said is that spill is not even thought about on movie sets most of the time. Also when was the last time you saw an LD on a theater show walking around with a photometer?

    There is enough differences to... Write a paper on!

    Mike
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I was on the CNN Studio Tour downtown last weekend and I was suprised at how theatrical those studios lighting was. Strand 520 consoles, socapex, tons of ARRI fresnels, lots of Source 4's, Zipstrips, parcans, and all kinds of other stuff. Of course they still had soft boxes and stuff like that, but the theatre stuff was in there.

    The fact these guys cram 25-30 different looking studios in a room the size of my black box still blows my mind.
     
  12. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    You actually can... for MLA the correct citation for this post right here would be:

    :legalstuff:

    L., Justin. Re: Movie vs. Theatrical Lighting. Controlbooth. 5 March 2009. Lighting. 5 March 2009. <http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/11563-movie-vs-theatrical-lighting.html>

    Chicago Style would be a bit easier:

    (footnote number) L, Re: Movie vs. Theatrical Lighting. Controlbooth.com.

    You would need to find out the real name of poster in order to cite them correctly.

    Your English lesson today has been brought to you by the letter J and the number 6. :discoball:
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  13. Landon2006

    Landon2006 Member

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    When I directed a short film a few year back, the lighting was entirely different from theater. As other have said here, there are major differences between a lighting package for theater and film.

    Here is a short comparison:
    #1: Fixtures - In Theater, Mainly makes use of floods, or "cyc's" for background and general wash, uses lots of leko's for lighting the acting area. May also make use of PAR can's to some extent. Film sets on the other hand depend on what your trying to light. The MAIN fixtures used on film sets are ARRI Fresnels and HMI Mega lights. The HMI lights are used when the director or director of photography wants a "Daylight" wash. Fresnel's are used when you want the more traditional, "indoor lighting".

    Film also makes use of Florescent lighting, although not very often. You might see open face, or "work light" type fixtures on set as well, both almost always they are covered with a "Soft Box".

    #2: Intensity: In Theater, you need enough light so that the human eye can see what you want it to see. General, it takes much less lighting intensity than it does in film. With film, you have to compensate your lighting for the camera's iris, which may be to be adjusted depending on what frame rates your shooting at, what film stock you're shooting on and if the camera "pans" or not.

    You'll notice on a movie set, that while less lighting instruments are used, the ones that are used are usually stronger (1,000w +) than theater fixtures.

    For the tour we are doing of our theatrical show, we have over 150 lighting instruments. On the short film that I did, we had, I think around 15 or so.

    #3: Dimmers: As already is pointed out, dimmers are never used on a film set. Dimmers will cause lighting to change color temperature, which we don't need. If we need to dim a light, we use whats called a "Scrim".

    #4: Gels: Rarely does a film set use a "gel" on a light. We mainly use "Filters", which go over the lens of the camera. Even then, its usually only an ND filter, or polarized filter. "Colored Gels" are hardly ever used, as we do almost 100% of color in post. It's much easier to fix it if it was shot "plain" and then colored in post.

    In theater, this is not possible.

    #5: Power: Generally, Power requirements for films are a lot smaller than theater. At any given time, you only have maybe 5 lights going on one scene (depending on the scale of the scene your lighting). Most of the time, the fixtures can be plugged directly into a power strip, and then into the wall socket.

    The only time you really make use of "distro boxes" is when your using a large number of really powerful lights.

    There are of course many other differences, which one could write an entire book about. But those are some of the basics.

    In order to fully understand the difference, get a book on "lighting for theater" and a book on "Lighting for film or photography". You will then be able to compare techniques pretty well.

    Here is a little article on the subject. Not very complete, but it may help you some. http://www.campbell-shaw.com/downloads/Video_Stage_Lighting.pdf
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
  14. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    One of the main differences between location shooting and studio shooting, especially in a studio that is constantly set up, is the fact that location shooting requires it to be portable easy to setup and tear down in a day.

    It really doesn't surprie me that the CNN Studio is set up more like a theatre because they're using the same setup constantly.
     
  15. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Landon,

    Be careful with definitive statements as this:

    "#3: Dimmers: As already is pointed out, dimmers are never used on a film set."

    A better phrasing might be:

    "Dimmers are not usually used on location shots, due to the complication of set-up and strike, as well as less local power, and sometimes no need for that level of control (or no space for the gear). It's common though, to see consoles, dimming systems, socapex cabling, etc... on large indoor settings where the control is desired and there's a lot of gear on an overhead rig".

    There was a whole thread from an electrician on Salt, a major budget film shooting at the defunct Grumman aircraft assembly plant on Long Island. They seemingly have multiple systems in use, as the post was about wanting to purchase a number of Expression consoles, and the use was for everyday control, not specifically special effects. Think as well the movies Chicago, The Producers, The Birdcage, among others, that have very specific concert lighting requirements and often time use a Theatrical Lighting Designer (Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer are very busy in the film business) for the theatrical scenes, which makes it a blend of disciplines.

    SB
     
  16. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Steve, Glad you hit that one I'll hit the other.

    #4: Gels: Rarely does a film set use a "gel" on a light. We mainly use "Filters", which go over the lens of the camera. Even then, its usually only an ND filter, or polarized filter. "Colored Gels" are hardly ever used, as we do almost 100% of color in post. It's much easier to fix it if it was shot "plain" and then colored in post.

    This one isn't as bad, since you did limit your use of absolutes. I've seen gels used on any number of film sets. Everything from CTO/B to R54.
    Post is a get place to tweak things but you're never going to do all you coloring in post, especially in some of you more Arty or Edgy films.
    I absolutely hate absolutes.
    :mrgreen:
     
  17. Landon2006

    Landon2006 Member

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    Steve B:
    I was mainly going to my experiance of film sets, aka: location shooting. The only time it seems practical to have dimmers is in a situation like a news rooms, etc. Somewhere where the lighting stays the same from month to month, and were lighting is out of reach.

    Even films shooting in a "Studio" setting, or sound-stage, will rarely use dimmers. As had been said, Dimmers cause color temp fluctuations, and then the camera's white balance has to be set for every fluctuation. Its so much easier to just throw a "scrim" over your lighting.

    I'm not saying film sets don't use them, I'm just saying that its not practical to use them on a film set.

    Van:
    While there are a few "gels" used for color correction, may main term was "color gels"... such as a dark blue or dark green or red. Again, I'm not saying films don't use color gels at all, its just not common on film sets, especially for a drama or comedy.

    As to the "musical films"... yeah, I'm sure they would use dimmers and gels, but they also of course use a more "theatrical" setup than most films do. So the use of dimmers is understandable.
     
  18. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    To expound a little on what Van said......

    #4 just isn't true. Most DP's I've worked with use a lot of gel in addition to filters on the camera lens. But they aren't using things like R80...they're using color correction. The use is dropping a little with advent of HMI lights on set but it hasn't been completly removed from the industry.
     
  19. Landon2006

    Landon2006 Member

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    I should have made it clearer, but when referring to gels, I meant color gels. Color CORRECTION gels are another story.
     
  20. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    True...especially in this day and age when more and more color correction is being used in theatre. There are a few designers and design proffessors out there who live on nothing but color correction. Which is a shame in my opinion, you can't cut one or the other out of theatre.
     

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