As I sit here contemplating my takeaways from the 2019 National Association of Broadcaster’s show in Las Vegas, a few things bubble to the surface, but one stands out the most for me; video production lighting.
I’m the Director of Photography at Uptown Studios and am responsible for the camera and lighting crews on our photography and video productions. I’m also responsible for making all the artistic and technical decisions related to the image. That being said, keeping up on current video production trends like camera techniques, lighting styles, camera gear, lenses, the list goes on.
I do a lot of interviews and utilize many different looks depending on the client’s vision and subject matter. I love the soft light of an LED soft light panel. I made it a point to stop by every lighting booth this year to see the advances in this technology.
First, I had to visit ARRI, the leader in this technology. It’s true, the SkyPanel is the best and to have a few of these on my set would be awesome, but who has 50K just lying around?
As I moved from lighting both to lighting booth, I discovered there are a lot of very good options out there. Kino Flo and LitePanels (Gemini) are my two runner ups in this category and cost a lot less than ARRI. They also produce a beautiful soft light indiscernible from SkyPanels.
Although, every video production is different in it’s look, feel and approach, I often find myself using soft light LED panels for my key and fill lights. I love the way the light wraps around the subject and produces really soft shadows. I also really like the accuracy of the color temperature. Most of the well known brands have a rating of 95 CRI or higher now, so the playing field is leveling out.
LED panels are pretty versatile, but they do have their limits, so having many types of lighting in your arsenal is important.
Alongside my LED soft light panels, I have my tungsten lights and rent a couple HMI 1200’s, so I can rake some pretty sunlight through a scene.
The future in video production is bright. Hold fast to the tried and true techniques, but if you haven’t tried LED soft light panels, you’re missing out on an opportunity to create some stunning looks.
I’m also excited that clients are seeing the value in skilled crews that can deliver content at the highest level and will pay what it takes to set their companies or products apart from their competitors.
Although all parts of a video production are important, lighting design is something that truly makes a video sing or fall flat.
A good DP friend of mine says it’s like painting with light, and it really is. There is something so satisfying about lighting a subject, and creating this stunning image, yet when analyzed, you might say it doesn’t even look like it’s lit. There is an art to being able to place and light your subject naturally in its environment.
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