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Old October 7th, 2007, 07:29 PM   #1
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Lighting for an award show

Hey guys,
I am hoping to produce our school's annual broadcasting award show, and need some advice on show lighting. Basically the event would be held in our gym and have a stage, several "VIP" tables and then chairs in the back, the entire event is being videotaped by our Mobile TV Truck, with the hope of pitching it to a local network to air later on. With not much experience lighting something like this I'm a bit overwhelmed lol... basically we want it to look good sitting in the gym, as well as on TV later. If anyone has any experience with this type of thing and can offer me some advice, or point me in the direction of some good advice that would be awesome. I can post some drawings/photos of the location and set design if that would help.
TIA
Nate
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Old October 7th, 2007, 07:37 PM   #2
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What's your budget? Do you have any existing lighting equipment? For instance, if you have a decent budget, why not check in with some local outfit that rents out equipment to rock concerts because to do it right you may need some temporary over head trusses with light hung on there. Maybe best to leave that kind of stage setup to some people that do it often.
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Old October 7th, 2007, 08:22 PM   #3
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Our budget, is probably about $500 for the lighting, hopefully we can work out something with that... do we need to worry about colour temperatures? for example all the lights in the gym are fluorescent, will that mess with our white levels on tape?
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Old October 9th, 2007, 01:06 AM   #4
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Given the limited info it's hard to give you too many tips up front. But a good starter tip-find out from the people putting on the show what's going on during the show. Are the main gym lights going to be on the whole time? Are the people putting on the 'stage' show going to bring any additional lights? Are lights going to be dimmed, say, in the audience, during the show?

Next, take a video camera, either the model you are going to use, or one similar, and shoot some test footage in the room. This can help you find deadspots, 'raccoon eye' issues, color balancing problems, etc., beforehand.

Site surveys, especially for a multi-cam shoot, are vital. If you are going to bring in extra lights, make really good friends with the schools' electrician/handyman. Find out where available power/outlets are, remembering that some might be used by others during the show. You'll also need to establish where/how the cameras' CCU cable runs will be placed from the truck to their positions.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop for the moment. Good luck.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 12:07 PM   #5
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From my experience with taping stage shows on a relatively low budget, the main problem is not the stage lights. A few fresnels (600-1000W) on a truss are good for the stage (depending on the size of the stage I'd say 3 to 6 on a truss in front, something between 2 and 4 on the sides for side fill and/or lighting the background. Par cans on the back of the stage look nice when you shoot them from the floor up for accents on the background. If you can't afford fresnels, pars/open face should do for the stage light as well. If there's a truss in the back, backlights/kickers are nice.

The main problem is to light the audience appropriately so that it doesn't look too bright, the audience isn't blinded but it's still bright enough to take shots of the audience. When the only light in the audience is the fluorescents, then the shots will look crappy as hell (greenish-blueish-darkish).
The best solution I have ever seen to light an audience was at a big gala dinner this year (many round tables for 8 people each, stage in front). The production company had set up dozens and dozens of par64 cans on the ceiling which lit the tables from a steep angle so no one was blinded. It looked like a candlelight dinner (in the picture I attached it looks a bit brighter than it did to the naked eye) but it was perfect to shoot at f2.8 without gain.
You can see the truss with all the silver Par64 on the ceiling in the background, I imagine this setup wasn't cheap.
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Lighting for an award show-k-k-p1000788.jpg  
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Old October 16th, 2007, 09:57 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies so far guys!
To add a bit more info, we've got a very basic layout drawing to give you an idea of the set-up we're going for. Also we found out that we have access to a balcony area above the entire gym to use however we need. The set design is basically some flats decorated to look like store-fronts. We're planning on a long set accross the front of the stage facing the audience, which will house the projector screen, and then some angled set backdrops on either side. The house lights will most likely be off, and sorry if it wasn't clear in the first post I'll be the one in charge of the entire thing, so nothing is set in stone at all.
Thanks again,
Nate
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Lighting for an award show-show-layout.jpg  
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Old October 17th, 2007, 04:28 AM   #7
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"Also we found out that we have access to a balcony area above the entire gym to use however we need."

My guess is that unless you want a big truss over the stage you will be taking advantage of the balcony. Make sure to clamp AND use safety cables on any lights up high.

I imagine the setup Heiko showed is way out of your budget, but there seems to be an important point in there. Keep the lights up high so as to not blind the audience. You probably can count on reflection coming up from the tables to help fill the audience a bit if you have pars aimed down at them from up high.

Have you scouted the location to see what electrical service is available? It looks like you need a lot of juice.

Can you include a drawing of the balcony?

I'm guessing, for cost purposes, that a big cluster of lights above (maybe a bit in front of) the camera on the right is the best place to put the key, especially if the balcony is over that area. A smaller cluster on the left above that camera can fill that side and the middle cam should have plenty of light.

I like that idea of putting lights up high behind the stage, but is that in your budget? If not, maybe one big one behind and to the left to act as fill for that camera over there would also give a tiny bit of accent/rim light for the stage. If the balcony is above your side cameras, that will save the cost of renting a big truss and all you would need to put on a stand would be a par or open face behind and left of the stage.

I don't know how much it costs to rent equipment in your area, but a 1K fresnel and a stand are about $40 here. That would get you about ten lights which sounds about like what Heiko says you need for the stage if you don't put many in the back. The last $100 isn't much for audience lights, but you can get stands that each hold a few lights so you could save a few dollars by not renting one for each stage light. Hopefully, you have a stage lighting company that is cheaper than the film rental company here.

Have you called the lighting companies in your area to see what is available and for what cost? They might also hire lighting guys and they could help you match your location/budget with the available equipment.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 12:54 AM   #8
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Nate, $500 for the kind of coverage you're talking about is probably going to take some creative thinking. If I were facing such a situation, one of the first things that's different from a 'typical' shoot is that the lights have to be placed not only for the cameras' benefit but also the audience. Truss does seem to be a good answer but doing the real thing-with heavy theatrical truss, is probably too expensive. I'm thinking if you have a 'music store' in the area that rents out "DJ" gear, they might have the lighter truss and par cans you can get for dances/parties. As a package deal, that might give you the instruments, coverage and solve the mounting/placement issues you face.

3 quick caveats. First, unjelled pars will probably clock in at around 2700 degrees Kelvin, a bit lower than the 3200K of tungsten. Just white balance to that and you should be fine. Second, you will probably need to find 2-4 completely unused electrical circuits for the systems dimmer pack. (You'll need to find power anyway.) And par cans are ok for general wash but you might have to work a little harder to control the spill of light that could screw up your projector screen image.

Anyway, it's one way. Please keep us updated.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 10:53 PM   #9
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Trees...

I forgot about trees. Steel pipe, app 3" in diameter and various lengths, threaded at at least one end to screw into a 50 lb base. With clamping hardware, you attach a shorter piece crosswise at the 'top' and hang you instruments on that. One on either side of the audience, about 15'-30' back from the stage with fresnels and even leikos for the part of the stage that has the screen to control spill. Add a tree behind the stage that reaches over the top of the flats for some backlights and some audience lights. A fairly cheap option.

They're all 'hard' light instruments, but any light from 15 plus feet away is going to start to be pretty hard anyway. Just another thought.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 01:33 AM   #10
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What about gel'ing the fluorescents either to change color temp, or to just give some different colors to the audience? maybe reds and blues alternating to give a nice purple wash? Sure it won't look as nice as the dining room shot (does anyone else wish they could've attended that event besides me?! ;) but it might help out and gels are pretty cheap compared to gear rentals and the lights are already in place, so extra circuits won't be a problem. :)

Eric
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