Need help lighting an Orchestra

Nikolaiewert1

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Location
Chicago, IL
Hey y'all,

I'm videotaping a children's orchestra rehearsal and wanted some advice on how to light it. There will likely be three cameras going, one focused on the conductor, one focused on the entire orchestra and the conductor, and one getting closeups of the musicians.

Here's a picture of the rehearsal


I love the natural light, and I'll have around 3 hours of natural light before sunset during filming, but if things run late and there's more to film I'll be stuck with a fairly dimly lit set up.

Through a local university I have access to some equipment and I'm trying to figure out 1) If it's worth it to use artificial light and 2)If so, how would I use this equipment?

equipment list



I've done a bit of research, summed up by this diagram, so I was planning on just trying to emulate this using light kits and the highest light stands I can find. https://onstagelighting.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/concert-lighting-angles.jpg

Let me know what y'all think, thank you!

Best,

Niko
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hey y'all,

I'm videotaping a children's orchestra rehearsal and wanted some advice on how to light it. There will likely be three cameras going, one focused on the conductor, one focused on the entire orchestra and the conductor, and one getting closeups of the musicians.

Here's a picture of the rehearsal


I love the natural light, and I'll have around 3 hours of natural light before sunset during filming, but if things run late and there's more to film I'll be stuck with a fairly dimly lit set up.

Through a local university I have access to some equipment and I'm trying to figure out 1) If it's worth it to use artificial light and 2)If so, how would I use this equipment?

equipment list



I've done a bit of research, summed up by this diagram, so I was planning on just trying to emulate this using light kits and the highest light stands I can find. https://onstagelighting.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/concert-lighting-angles.jpg

Let me know what y'all think, thank you!

Best,

Niko
Good morning;
Do you have sufficient power available, and suitable extension cords, to power all of the lights available to you?
If not, how many can you power??
Keeping their music sufficiently lit will be important; lighting their music even and shadow free without blinding the players so they can still see their conductor.

Do you have any options for SAFE support overhead, preferably positioned so it would light ALMOST straight down, slightly forward of straight down; forward enough to light their faces for your camera without shining in their eyes???

If not directly overhead, do you have options from high sides, both sides????

Are the windows opaque or transparent enough to consider lighting from outside the windows; this would potentially offer three plusses:
The lit windows would provide a better background than a row of black holes.
If, horror of horrors, anyone knocked over one, or more, of your TALL stands they wouldn't fall on the players (unless they crashed through the windows).
I used this technique to light a choir once using scaffold outside rather than individual TALL stands. Fortunately it didn't rain.
We had to light one rehearsal and three or four performances. The church owned the scaffold and normally used it to change overhead lights within their church.
We were able to leave the scaffold outside for the week and brought the lights in nightly; the church was in a poor area where overnight theft was a concern.
Edit #1: @Nikolaiewert1 Initially I didn't see your second photo.
Further thoughts on lighting from outside:
- The window glass will act as a diffuser and hide your stands and sources from view.
- Neither patrons nor the players will be distracted by your unattractive lights on their stage.
- Any rattling / resonances / annoyingly noisy sympathetic vibrations, will be outside disturbing the bats and birds.
- Position your lights and throw distances to mimic the angle of the sun; light from both sides and ignore the fact there's only one sun in our sky and it can't be shining in from both sides simultaneously.
Adjust your throw distances to cover as much of the glass as possible while wasting as little light on the outside of the building.
- Pile on sand bags and ballast at the bottoms of your stands; wind will be your enemy.
- Come back someday; let us know if you've read any of this, and if it was of any use to you.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
Last edited:

Nikolaiewert1

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Location
Chicago, IL
Good morning;
Do you have sufficient power available, and suitable extension cords, to power all of the lights available to you?
If not, how many can you power??
Keeping their music sufficiently lit will be important; lighting their music even and shadow free without blinding the players so they can still see their conductor.

Do you have any options for SAFE support overhead, preferably positioned so it would light ALMOST straight down, slightly forward of straight down; forward enough to light their faces for your camera without shining in their eyes???

If not directly overhead, do you have options from high sides, both sides????

Are the windows opaque or transparent enough to consider lighting from outside the windows; this would potentially offer three plusses:
The lit windows would provide a better background than a row of black holes.
If, horror of horrors, anyone knocked over one, or more, of your TALL stands they wouldn't fall on the players (unless they crashed through the windows).
I used this technique to light a choir once using scaffold outside rather than individual TALL stands. Fortunately it didn't rain.
We had to light one rehearsal and three or four performances. The church owned the scaffold and normally used it to change overhead lights within their church.
We were able to leave the scaffold outside for the week and brought the lights in nightly; the church was in a poor area where overnight theft was a concern.
Edit #1: @Nikolaiewert1 Initially I didn't see your second photo.
Further thoughts on lighting from outside:
- The window glass will act as a diffuser and hide your stands and sources from view.
- Neither patrons nor the players will be distracted by your unattractive lights on their stage.
- Any rattling / resonances / annoyingly noisy sympathetic vibrations, will be outside disturbing the bats and birds.
- Position your lights and throw distances to mimic the angle of the sun; light from both sides and ignore the fact there's only one sun in our sky and it can't be shining in from both sides simultaneously.
Adjust your throw distances to cover as much of the glass as possible while wasting as little light on the outside of the building.
- Pile on sand bags and ballast at the bottoms of your stands; wind will be your enemy.
- Come back someday; let us know if you've read any of this, and if it was of any use to you.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Thank you so much Ron! If I were to light it from outside, what lights would you recommend?
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Thank you so much Ron! If I were to light it from outside, what lights would you recommend?
Good afternoon;
Throw everything you've got at it, as much as you can power.
There's no such thing as too much, the sun's far FAR FAR brighter than anything / every thing you have.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
Last edited:

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Thank you so much Ron! If I were to light it from outside, what lights would you recommend?
@Nikolaiewert1 If you have the luxury of time, and I hope you do; do a trial set up one day while it's still light outside.
Figure out:
- What you don't have.
- What else you need to beg, borrow, steal.
- How much time you'll need to do your set up.
- If you really have enough power.
- (And the biggy) Are the results worth the effort?
Do one side, wait until dark, then look at your results; better yet, let the conductor and orchestra see it and if they like it / find it workable.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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Nikolaiewert1

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Location
Chicago, IL
@Nikolaiewert1 If you have the luxury of time, and I hope you do; do a trial set up one day while it's still light outside.
Figure out:
- What you don't have.
- What else you need to beg, borrow, steal.
- How much time you'll need to do your set up.
- If you really have enough power.
- (And the biggy) Are the results worth the effort?
Do one side, wait until dark, then look at your results; better yet, let the conductor and orchestra see it and if they like it / find it workable.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Thank you Ron! The client is the only one who has access to the rentals, so I'll see if we can arrange some tests before the shoot.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hey y'all,

I'm videotaping a children's orchestra rehearsal and wanted some advice on how to light it. There will likely be three cameras going, one focused on the conductor, one focused on the entire orchestra and the conductor, and one getting closeups of the musicians.

Here's a picture of the rehearsal


I love the natural light, and I'll have around 3 hours of natural light before sunset during filming, but if things run late and there's more to film I'll be stuck with a fairly dimly lit set up.

Through a local university I have access to some equipment and I'm trying to figure out 1) If it's worth it to use artificial light and 2)If so, how would I use this equipment?

equipment list



I've done a bit of research, summed up by this diagram, so I was planning on just trying to emulate this using light kits and the highest light stands I can find. https://onstagelighting.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/concert-lighting-angles.jpg

Let me know what y'all think, thank you!

Best,

Niko
@Nikolaiewert1 To get a little more serious about this:
Do you have any companies in your area that rent WW2 style searchlights, the type used during the war to illuminate marauding squadrons of bombers for gunners waiting to blow them out of the sky with their cannons?
The high-powered searchlights are usually mounted on a truck with their associated generator and often used post dusk to call attention to car dealerships and malls having really SPECIAL sales events.

Possibly your orchestra members parents have friends in the right places?
Three of these trucks, one aimed in each side window + one more up center for good measure:
Don your sunglasses, add appropriate color corrector, and enjoy the show.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hey y'all,

I'm videotaping a children's orchestra rehearsal and wanted some advice on how to light it. There will likely be three cameras going, one focused on the conductor, one focused on the entire orchestra and the conductor, and one getting closeups of the musicians.

Here's a picture of the rehearsal


I love the natural light, and I'll have around 3 hours of natural light before sunset during filming, but if things run late and there's more to film I'll be stuck with a fairly dimly lit set up.

Through a local university I have access to some equipment and I'm trying to figure out 1) If it's worth it to use artificial light and 2)If so, how would I use this equipment?

equipment list



I've done a bit of research, summed up by this diagram, so I was planning on just trying to emulate this using light kits and the highest light stands I can find. https://onstagelighting.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/concert-lighting-angles.jpg

Let me know what y'all think, thank you!

Best,

Niko
@Nikolaiewert1 To get even more serious: Three of the truck=mounted WW2 searchlights would definitely provide enough fire-power. They'd need to park a few hundred feet away from each of the windows in order to spread enough to cover the windows on their side.
You wouldn't need to worry about rain, &/or securing the trucks in position.
Your video minions can likely white balance to the searchlights negating any need for color corrector.
Please do let us know what you end up doing and how well it works for you.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Nikolaiewert1

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Location
Chicago, IL
@Nikolaiewert1 To get even more serious: Three of the truck=mounted WW2 searchlights would definitely provide enough fire-power. They'd need to park a few hundred feet away from each of the windows in order to spread enough to cover the windows on their side.
You wouldn't need to worry about rain, &/or securing the trucks in position.
Your video minions can likely white balance to the searchlights negating any need for color corrector.
Please do let us know what you end up doing and how well it works for you.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Thanks Ron! I'd love to use something as heavy duty as those lights, will definitely ask around. I might have around a budget of $300 to rent something, so I might look into a really tall light stand of sorts to use in the Church. The gig isn't till the end of March, but I'll let you know if I have any lighting revelations.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Thanks Ron! I'd love to use something as heavy duty as those lights, will definitely ask around. I might have around a budget of $300 to rent something, so I might look into a really tall light stand of sorts to use in the Church. The gig isn't till the end of March, but I'll let you know if I have any lighting revelations.
@Nikolaiewert1 Ask your orchestra members to ask their parents; you'll never know if / how many of the WW2 spotlights you could've had if you don't ask. Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

ruinexplorer

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Location
Las Vegas
If you are registered for the virtual USITT, next week, there is a session that would be right up your alley. Monday, 3/8, from 4:00-5:00 Eastern, Lighting Live Broadcasts.
 

DrewE

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Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Location
Vermont
Is this a rehearsal or a performance (perhaps a performance depicting a rehearsal, as for a TV show)? In other words, is the video production the main goal, or is practicing the music and pedagogy the main goal, with the video production secondary to that?

For an actual rehearsal, I'd think lighting for video should be secondary to lighting such that the players and conductors can see and practice effectively, and no sane person would really care if things don't look super pretty in the video. If the ceiling is white or nearly white, a lot of indirect/bounced light might be a good approach to take in getting a good amount of light without blinding people or casting shadows on their music, etc. It's not clear from the picture what the ceiling looks like, though, but I'm kind of guessing it's not really white....
 

macsound

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Joined
Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Not sure how the room is being lit during this rehearsal photo. Is it only lit from the windows or are there light on inside?

I honestly think Ron's idea is brilliant. Renting searchlights is usually far cheaper than renting a 10k from a grip rental house, including delivery, and the effect will appear to be just like daytime.

Alternatively, I echo Drew, bounce something bright and spotlight off the ceiling, unfortunately, nothing on your list is particularly bright or spot-y. Without knowing how tall the ceiling is, you could rent 1 or 2 VL3500 with no controller and just shoot it straight up with no color.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Not sure how the room is being lit during this rehearsal photo. Is it only lit from the windows or are there light on inside?

I honestly think Ron's idea is brilliant. Renting searchlights is usually far cheaper than renting a 10k from a grip rental house, including delivery, and the effect will appear to be just like daytime.

Alternatively, I echo Drew, bounce something bright and spotlight off the ceiling, unfortunately, nothing on your list is particularly bright or spot-y. Without knowing how tall the ceiling is, you could rent 1 or 2 VL3500 with no controller and just shoot it straight up with no color.
Another plus for searchlights: You could have them sweep the sky for 45 minutes to an hour pre performance to drum up interest and attract paying customers (to sit spatially distanced and wearing masks of course).
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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Ben Stiegler

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Aug 3, 2017
Location
Sf Bay Area
@Nikolaiewert1 To get a little more serious about this:
Do you have any companies in your area that rent WW2 style searchlights, the type used during the war to illuminate marauding squadrons of bombers for gunners waiting to blow them out of the sky with their cannons?
The high-powered searchlights are usually mounted on a truck with their associated generator and often used post dusk to call attention to car dealerships and malls having really SPECIAL sales events.

Possibly your orchestra members parents have friends in the right places?
Three of these trucks, one aimed in each side window + one more up center for good measure:
Don your sunglasses, add appropriate color corrector, and enjoy the show.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
careful not to melt the silver flutes with all those excited photons, tho!
 
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RonHebbard

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Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
careful not to melt the silver flutes with all those excited photons, tho!
@Ben Stiegler The easily over excited photons have been known to become distracted, distraught, disheveled, and despondent upon sensing their potent, parallel, concentrated, rays being bent, warped, and split asunder by the polished, convex, surfaces of the silver flutes; they've been known to become quite broken up by the flutes, some have been driven to the depths of despair disappearing into the bells of euphoniums and tubas only to spiral out of control never again to be seen sans paying rescue and resuscitation fees to their local AF of M.
A sad, SAD, SAD, way to go.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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Ben Stiegler

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Location
Sf Bay Area
@Ben Stiegler The easily over excited photons have been known to become distracted, distraught, disheveled, and despondent upon sensing their potent, parallel, concentrated, rays being bent, warped, and split asunder by the polished, convex, surfaces of the silver flutes; they've been known to become quite broken up by the flutes, some have been driven to the depths of despair disappearing into the bells of euphoniums and tubas only to spiral out of control never again to be seen sans paying rescue and resuscitation fees to their local AF of M.
A sad, SAD, SAD, way to go.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Now THAT explains why I get sunburned lips playing Fr. horn at outdoor solstice concerts!

PS - back in reality, OP: One mistake I've made in lighting orchestras is to ignore the downlight that musicians need to read their sheet music. Semi-pros and up often bring our own battery powered stand lights, but a youth orchestra's members are probably not so well equipped. So either downlight or slightly off-vertical back light (also helpful for cameras), else there may be more sour notes than usual. Also, don't forget to light the conductor so her face/hands are visible to the musicians. Conductors often silently mouth instructions to musicians ("don't slow down") and use facial expressions and even eyebrow gestures in addition to their hands.
 

Kelite

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Sep 23, 2005
Location
Fort Wayne IN, USA
Perhaps a kind benefactor could purchase a few of these to ensure proper music illumination:

Mighty Bright Hammerhead Music Stand Light | Sweetwater

I played trumpet with our local pep band for a number of years while volunteering there and found when they killed the lights for the National Anthem, we all set our smartphones on the stands with the flashlight pointing up. Worked great for that one tune!
Playing the high notes!.jpg
Playing the high notes!.jpg
 

Nikolaiewert1

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
Location
Chicago, IL
Perhaps a kind benefactor could purchase a few of these to ensure proper music illumination:

Mighty Bright Hammerhead Music Stand Light | Sweetwater

I played trumpet with our local pep band for a number of years while volunteering there and found when they killed the lights for the National Anthem, we all set our smartphones on the stands with the flashlight pointing up. Worked great for that one tune!View attachment 21711View attachment 21711
That's a really good idea!
 

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