Four Elements of Light

(Cinematic Lighting Lesson 03)

Summary: Ryan covers the four elements of light: color, angle, intensity and quality. He then shows you how they can be used to better craft your images, gives you practical tips, and questions to ask yourself as you light your scene.

Length: 5:18 minutes

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8 replies
    • Tim
      Tim says:

      The light is a 1,000 kilowatt tungsten light, abbreviated 1kW and often called simply a “1k.” It has double and single wire scrims in it. A wire scrim is a wire mesh mounted to a round metal frame that you insert in front of the tungsten lamp that reduces the amount of light output. The single reduces the amount of light by about half stop, and the double by about a full stop.

      The 2×3 doubles in front of the light are fabric nets. These are doubles so they each reduce the amount of light by about a full stop.

  1. eneal24
    eneal24 says:

    Can you tell me if there is a need to gel bi-color led panels? Does this provide a different look or do the changes in Kelvin adjustments on the panel simulate their look appropriately?

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      That’s a very good question, one that not many people think about. While bi-color LED lights can change the Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), such as between tungsten balanced to daylight balanced, it doesn’t mean that their light output has the best color quality. Some LEDs still might have a green or magenta tint, or another problematic color. This is true of single color LEDs as well as bi-color LEDs.

      I recommend checking out our article on how LEDs might be ruining your project. We now use LEDs almost exclusively, so I’m not knocking LEDs at all. You just want to be selective with which ones you use, and be sure to test them ahead of the shoot day.

      Another resource that we’ve created is the LED database. I’m currently finalizing data from over 160 LED lights that I sampled at this year’s NAB. The list includes around 80 bi-color lights, and give values and graphs for CRI, TLCI, CQS, and TM30-15 for everything on the list. It should be posted in the next two weeks. Until then, check out last year’s LED database.

      Also remember that bicolor only changes which version of white your camera is white balanced to. If you want to purposely create an effect with the light — such as a steel blue for moonlight, and Urban Sodium gel to make it feel like a sodium-vapor lamp, etc — you of course will have to use gels. (Note: there are a few RGB LEDs on the market, that let you create light that is more than just a version of white. Since those are not “bi-color” I didn’t mention them. With some of these lights, you can actual add or remove magenta or green tints so as to balance with lights that have that issue or to create an effect.)

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