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Which Fixtures Should You Use?

How do you know which fixtures to use to light a scene?

I love being able to share solid, useful advice with you all, but sometimes lighting can be a little more art than science.

And just like any creative process, it helps to have boundaries to work within and a list of requirements to meet. The biggest limitation to creativity most filmmakers face (myself included) is budget.

It’s important to remember that each type of light is a tool designed for a specific function, and it’s good to be familiar with the tools available if you’re feeling limited by your options and need to find some creative solutions.

Tubes, par cans, soft panels, point sources, light mats, space lights, spotlights, etc-- they’re all really good at one or two tasks. Some are best as a key, others are better for fill, practicals, or specials.

I think some of the most versatile units on the market today are point source LEDs (don’t @ me) You can push them through windows for sunlight, bounce them for ambience, attach spotlights or soft boxes to modify their qualities, dim them to your liking, program effects, and even dial in HSI values to make for some interesting colors 🌈

After some time on set, you’ll start to understand the quality of light each unit produces, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and become familiar with their output. In short, if you have a good balance of technical skills and an eye for lighting, muscle memory will take over and you won’t think twice about it 😎

For this shot we wanted a big soft toppy key. No room to rig a frame overhead in this location, so we put a Hudson Spider on a menace arm. A 4’ Quasar Rainbow evenly filled the frosted glass in the door behind the subject and gave us the flexibility to dial in the right hue and saturation. A B7C played reflections on the metallic decals on the wall. A Luxli Timpani in gel mode blasted some steel blue for an edge. And that’s a stylized brand video in an office 🤌(big art department energy)

Production @livalittlevideo

Director Nick Ross

Art Assist @jaimezurzolo

Tyler Kaschke is a freelance gaffer with a grip truck based in Lafayette, Colorado serving Boulder, Denver, Golden, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and the Rocky Mountain region at large.


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