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Old August 5th, 2007, 12:14 PM   #1
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Teaching Lighting Course

Hey guys,

I will be taking that 'big first step' this semester and reintroducing a lighting course here at Ball State. For one of the highest-rated TV schools in the nation, it was a real shocker to discover a lighting-specific course wasn't part of the curriculum. So I designed a syllabus for a Field Lighting course and will teach it this fall at an upper-sophomore level. As luck would have it, I ended up with an even distribution of students from freshman to seniors and even a PhD candidate will audit. I can't exactly teach to the lowest common denominator nor can I make it so hard as to scare the underclassman away so I've had to discover a happy medium.

We will be using John Jackman's Lighting for Digital Video & Television as our reference text along with videos and whatnot.

Here's my question for you: If you were a junior in college and preparing for the real world...what lighting techniques would you find most valuable in an early career?

On a note, it will be taught over four five-hour Saturday sessions for one credit hour.

I will teach a Studio Lighting course in the Spring if this goes well.

Thank You,

Brian
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Old August 5th, 2007, 01:16 PM   #2
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Hi Brian,

Sounds like you're putting together a great class.

One of my favorite learning resources to date has been Doug Jensen's "How to Setup, Light, & Shoot Great Looking Interviews." Here's a review if you're not familiar with with it...

http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage...ght_shoot.html

What I think sets it apart from many of the others is that it focuses entirely on what can be done with a very basic, but versatile lighting kit put together with about $1500.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 06:55 PM   #3
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I'd spend the first hour of the FIRST class - AND the first half hour of every class after that reinforcing the fundamental concepts of the physics of wave phenomena.

Focus on the inverse square principlal - and the effect of the ratio of illumination surface area verses distance from the illuminated object and that ratio's effect on the aparent softness of of the light falling on the subject.

If they remember NOTHING else from the five weeks, they'll be MILES ahead of most people in lighting (and if they paid attention to the simple wave physics stuff - sound, for that matter)

FWIW
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Old August 5th, 2007, 07:31 PM   #4
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Thanks for the comments guys!

I'm going to see if I can get a rental version of that video to check it out before I have the dept spend the cash.

I think my first class is going to focus a lot on Safety, Ohms Law, Types of Lighting Instruments, Eye vs Camera on Contrast and Saturation, Color Temperature and finally Inverse Square ... not in that order but you get the idea.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 07:32 PM   #5
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and bill, I like Jackman's analogy of a shot gun at close vs long distance. It's grim, but maybe they'll remember.
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Old August 6th, 2007, 11:31 AM   #6
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One demonstration I saw in a class on Inverse square law was very simple, visual, and I've always remembered it. The professor took a slide projector, without a slide in it, pointed it at a small area with a 2x2 grid drawn on it. The light from the slide projector fit neatly into one of the squares. He then doubled the distance from projector to screen and naturally the light filled all four squares, clearly illustrating "double the distance=1/4 the light."

Just a thought on a demo I saw that has always stuck with me.

FWIW...
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Old August 6th, 2007, 11:59 AM   #7
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I think some of the "lights on" exercises in chap 7 of Matters of Light and Depth by Ross Lowell (prob. in the college library) are pretty good because the help students learn how to see what's going on with light in very basic ways. There are so many variables that it's easy for students to get overwhlemed and confused about what they are trying to do.

The most important "technique" is to be able to evaluate a location and adapt to the situation.
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Old August 6th, 2007, 11:38 PM   #8
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"I'd spend the first hour of the FIRST class - AND the first half hour of every class after that reinforcing the fundamental concepts of the physics of wave phenomena"

huh , i'm confused ... i've yet to somebody on a set use any mathmatical inverse law equations to choose a light ...
now i have seen theater lighting persons use them ...

yea it all looks good on the chalk board but how much did they learn about doing lighting ?
lighting is DOING , hands on - what works and what doesn't ... you use a 200 watt light 4 ft away from subject .. you then move the same light 20 ft away = bingo the students gets it ...
also IMO stick to field lighting that they have access to ..guessing they are NOT going to be using any of the schools 12k HMI's so no need to go into putting a light 80 ft into the air or examples of mathmatical's of setting a light 100 ft away from subject ...

IMO make sure they learn ( hands on ) something NEW each week ...
remember adding light ( turning ON ) is just as important as taking away light ( turn off ) ....
i've seen too many students come away from lighting classes that only teach adding light and forget about taking away light ( shaping ) ....
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Old August 8th, 2007, 11:22 AM   #9
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bump: any more thoughts?
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Old August 8th, 2007, 11:46 AM   #10
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Not really, just a second to Don's comments.
Be sure to cover all the lighting control stuff (flags, nets, silks, etc.), the importance of bounce and reflectors, and why the shadows are as important as the light.
And be sure to have time for hands-on exercises.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 11:55 AM   #11
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To throw an idea out there...

For the first assignment you could get the students to do interview setups, and have them ask questions like:
A- What is your name. When you look at the footage after, it will help you learn the students' names.
B- Why did you sign up for this course, what do you hope to get out of it, are there any particular topics you would like to see, what kind of lighting they are most interested in (narrative, EFP, studio, tabletop, commercials, etc.), etc.

Some teachers like to ask B anyways so that they can get some feedback about what students want from the course.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 08:05 PM   #12
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Brian,

Have a read through Light, Science & Magic.
By Fil Hunter and Paul Fuqua

Bill
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Old August 8th, 2007, 10:00 PM   #13
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Light, Science and Magic... I'll second that sugestion and kick myself for not making it myself.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 11:25 PM   #14
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Taking a stand on things to teach

How to fold, carry, and set a C-stand w/o embarassing yourself. Why we use sandbags.

How to hang a roll of grid cloth on a C-stand w/extended Gobo arm, shine a light through it and make a handsome motivated window source.

Where to find and store scrim screens. Why we white balance first, THEN add theatrical gells.

Not to use a 1K open face bounced off the ceiling in an office interview scenario, and placed so close that it burns the ceiling tile. Or pops off the thermal release on the little blank plates used to cover recessed sprinkler nozzles.

Oh yeah, the light-under-the-chin Ghoulish face thing. I like that. And that you can never have enough stingers. And that soft light may be pretty, but hard light is powerful. And that you shouldn't laugh out loud when a client wants to to "add some pools of darkness" to your carefully planned plot.

And how to change a bulb. And to distribute the load to multiple breakers on location shoots, not just plug into a room's four walls and think that's spreading the draw.

And setting the desired exposure to the talent, then lighting the rest of the room to appropriate ratios. And stuff like that.
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Old August 9th, 2007, 12:06 AM   #15
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The Chiaroscuro techniques has been the foundation of lighting since it was created by renaissance artists in the 15th century. 600 years later it's still the most widely used technique in photography and cinematography. Understanding this technique will give students true understanding of the purpose of lighting.
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