Master The Three Challenges Of Location Lighting

(Cinematic Lighting Lesson 09)

Summary: Shooting on location has it’s drawbacks when setting up lights: supplying power, rigging the lights, and various access issues. In this video Ryan takes you through these challenges then gives you ways to overcome them so they don’t slow you down.

Length: 6:34 minutes

Video Lesson

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Transcript

Introduction

Before we get into location lighting, it’s important to be aware of three challenges you’ll face any time you shoot on location: power, rigging, and access. In this video I’ll show you how to master those three challenges so that you can walk away with cinematic images and still make your shoot day.

Challenge #1: Power

Limited Electrical Service to Location (LC109)

The first challenge is of course power. When you’re out on location, power is usually limited to what the location provides. In the US, houses can range from 100 amps to 200 amps of service, and that is broken down into either 15 amp or 20 amp circuits. While that may sound like a lot of power, its distribution throughout the location can greatly impact the production.

Other Appliances Also Plugged In (LC109)

Typically, the electrical department will take care of routing power to the lights. But if you’re on a small crew and you’re responsible for running power, then know the how much power your lights draw so you don’t overload a circuit. Don’t forget: when you’re out on location, there is a good chance other things are plugged into the circuit you’re using. Account for this as you’re doing the math. If you’re not familiar with the math, or circuits, then hop on over to the lighting foundations series where we walk you through it.

If you don’t have enough power or circuits available to you at a location, here are three solutions...

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Lighting Diagrams

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Tools We Used

11 replies
  1. hcraigbass
    hcraigbass says:

    Hi Guys,

    Just curious to know what camera you shot the interview with Ryan in this episode on? Really like the skin tones.

    Also, great episode, love the “director’s chair” tip.

    Craig

    Reply
  2. Tim
    Tim says:

    Hey Craig, For all of the Cinematic Lighting series we’ve been shooting with a Sony A7S with Canon glass. (We listed all of the gear we use for each lesson in the fourth tab, labelled Tools We Used.)

    For the Camera Foundations series, we mostly used a Canon C100, along with a Canon 60D when we needed to film the C100’s screen.

    Reply
  3. hcraigbass
    hcraigbass says:

    Thanks for the info! The A7S has nice skin tones, which is not something I find with my FS100, so I was a bit surprised to see that was the camera you are using here. I might have to look into picking one of these up! Bit weirded out by the fact, according to a friend of mine, that the camera cannot shoot lower than 3200 ISO when in SLog mode. Any thoughts on this?

    Reply
    • Ryan E. Walters
      Ryan E. Walters says:

      Yeah, it is a bit of a bummer that the camera can’t shoot lower than ISO 3200 in S-Log. But if you look at our lighting diagrams, you’ll see that we don’t typically shoot in S-Log. We’ll use either the Cine 4 setting (if we are going to do a bit of grading) or Cine 2 if we want to leave it as is out of the camera.

      Getting good skin tones is more than just the camera (although that plays a big part). Your lighting and post processing also have a LOT to do with the final results. If the lighting and post processing isn’t done with an eye towards keeping good skin tones, then it doesn’t matter what camera you are shooting on…

      Reply
  4. Cgroom93
    Cgroom93 says:

    Hey Ryan,
    Just signed up yesterday really loving all the tutorials! A major problem I’m having is finding a portable diffusion frame that I can fit into a small car. Do the 4×4 frames breakdown, or what other options do I have?

    Reply
    • Ryan E. Walters
      Ryan E. Walters says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you love the tutorials. 🙂

      Yeah, portable diffusion frames are tough for sure… the ones we use are ones that I made myself and break down small-ish. They are four 1 inch tubes that are 4 feet long. When collapsed, they probably take up about an 8″ x 8″ x 4′ space including the bag they are in. I’ll be releasing a tutorial on how they are built in the article section. (They are super cheap to make.) You can also buy them from companies like Westcott (The DP Kit).

      Hope that helps, and stay tuned for the tutorial. 🙂

      Reply
  5. price76
    price76 says:

    Hi guys 🙂

    Just wondering at 3:30 when taping bounce to ceiling what type of tape is that, keen to try this at home don’t want to ruin the ceilings 🙂

    Cheers
    Dave

    Reply
    • Tim
      Tim says:

      Thank you!

      Right now we don’t yet have a lesson on the math involved in calculating electrical loads for film sets. We will be including that in our Foundations of Lighting series later this year.

      Reply

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