Lighting guy effed me over at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Photon Management
Shine an ever-loving light on you.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 5th, 2014, 09:37 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Dayton, OH
Posts: 270
Lighting guy effed me over

Shot a kids dance recital this past weekend, and for some reason the lighting guy spent the first 8-10 seconds of each dance deciding what lighting scheme to use for each 3 minute dance. It's as if he got a new toy, and he was showing off for the audience.
The stage lights were killed in between each act, with just a small blue light to allow the performers to get in position. The music would start, and the dancers would start dancing, somewhere around 8-10 seconds later, the stage lights would come up in some seemingly random pattern.
One dance might be a green scheme, another bright red. Sometimes he use spot-lights from the side of the stage, sometimes there was a single spot over head onto the stage, with the rest of the stage pretty dark.

Now that I am in post, my question is:
1. Should I start each dance at the point where you can finally see the dancers (and thus cutting of the first 8-10 seconds of each musical act
2. Start each dance as the music is cued, but basically have a black screen for 8-10 seconds?

p.s. Mr. Lighting Director - By all means, dazzle us with your lighting, but please get the basics right. Even to the naked eye there were blazing hot spots, and cavernous dark spot. Do your job! The parents came to see their kids dance, not to watch some half-crocked light show.
Vince Pachiano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 5th, 2014, 10:19 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Posts: 2,979
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

I would do #2. Viewers will see that the lights didn't come on. If you do #1, it looks like you missed the first 10 seconds. COnsider putting a warning at the beginning explaining the facility operated the lights etc.
Les Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 5th, 2014, 10:33 PM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

I agree with #2. Use black and/or a title and then fade up. I'd skip the disclaimer though. No reason to make the viewer think about the lighting drama. Put the focus on the kids.
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 02:35 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,126
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

If the lighting guy was given detailed instructions to light for the video, then hotspots and darkness are legitimate components of contemporary lighting design. Total blackouts are the norm for pro shows and the dark setting light is a common safety feature for kids dance shows where spatial orientation for setting is needed. I do dozens of dance shows, hundreds over my career, and only 20% will have been with me doing video, in most cases! my company provide lighting! sound and staging. Side light is dance's staple technique, with revealing body form the main aim. Front light flattens it, so is way down the list. Dance schools usually give the venues (if they are lucky) a list of numbers that says starts on or starts off, or starts in blackout. The stage manager is in charge, not the lighting op, so if the user says start in darkness, then the lighting cue is called by the (in the UK) deputy stage manager. The lighting person does NOT just do it. If the lights should have come up earlier, it is not their fault. Many dance schools are not experienced in theatre, pay no attention to rehearsals from a technical viewpoint, and assume their notes can be followed. As in start in darkness and build lights as music goes upbeat. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes the first upbeat section is fifteen seconds in, and the teachers didn't realise blackout was that dark????

If the lighting, as I continually bang on about, was contracted with no mention of video, then the video guy gets what we have rehearsed. We do not do changes five minutes before when the video guy finally is ready, having not had a requirement to be at the rehearsals in their contract price. I may be able to do some gentle assistance, levels wise, but if it was planned to be dark, the it stays dark. The one spot from above is common in opera and musical theatre, so may well be just what was planned. If you can't cope with it, not our problem, you didn't raise the objection at lighting plotting time so tough. If the person paying the bill requests we change lighting to something the video person likes, we do it - they are the boss. We usually ignore these requests from anyone else. The firm who shoot many of our shows, email me and ask if there are any problem scenes in the rehearsals, which they can't attend. We tell them about the one dance in dark blue light with a follow spot, and he asks if maybe we could throttle the follow spot back so it doesn't burn out, and we do it. He always hands us a cable to go into the lighting ops monitor so we can adjust on the fly. Other than that, the show is lit for the audience. I also agree you should give them each dance from the start of the audio. Even if the picture is virtually black. That isn't your fault. It is also NOT the fault of the lighting people, it's the fault of the director, who is usually the dance school principal.

I get pretty fed up with lighting people slagged off for doing their job. Theatre has very clear historic working practices, and people don't just do things when they fancy it. Somebody calls each sound track start and lighting cue. If the stage manager says sound GO and the music starts before the dancers are not ready, it is not a sound fault. The stage manager is always in charge. If the lighting and sound people take their cues from visual things - like lights out on the dancer in blue's hand clap, or the sound starting when the first dancer turns around, then these cues are still done by stage manager as in. Lx and sound, take this cue as a visual. It's just how it's done. The lighting guy did not eff up your video. He was simply uninterested in it as something not designed in. I really don't have time to keep thinking what it looks like in a distant viewfinder. We usually offer the video people a headset so they can hear what is going on. Many reject this, then have a panic when the house lights drop and the show starts and their little red lights are not on. Video bolts onto dance shows. Few directors pay attention to it in rehearsal. That is not our problem.

EDIT
Just thinking, but if in the sound forum we had a topic that said "Video guy effed me over" and it was the story about how the sound guy turned up to record a choral concert to discover the video people were recording only wide shots, and the sound guys central mic cluster wasn't a possibility because the video planning didn't include it, would the sound guy be able to complain that the video people could have set their cameras up to shoot from the sides, then the mics wouldn't have been in shot. Is that then the video people messing up the sound? Perfectly valid that the sound people want a central position, but would the video people sacrifice their lovely long shot for a last minute sound request. The distant mic position that the sound people had to use compromised their recording - but it isn't really fault and blame - it's lack of proper planning.

Last edited by Paul R Johnson; June 6th, 2014 at 03:12 AM.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 06:22 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Dayton, OH
Posts: 270
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
If the lighting guy was given detailed instructions to light for the video, then hotspots and darkness are legitimate components of contemporary lighting design.
I appreciate you taking the time to answer. This dance recital was nothing like you describe. These are 4-9 year olds dancing LolliPop, LolliPop, or Little Chicks. There were no rehearsals, there were no notes or suggestions from the Studio Owner. It was just the Lighting op deciding on-the-fly how to light each dance. I can also appreciate how lighting can set the mood, help tell a story, etc. This was nothing like you describe. I'm deep in Post right now, so when things slow down, I'll post some examples.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
I get pretty fed up with lighting people slagged off for doing their job.
I'm sorry to be so blunt, but he wasn't doing his job. Even to the naked eye, it looked horrendous. The parents who just wanted to see their little cherub dressed as a baby chick, and he wanted to give them a light show.

Last edited by Vince Pachiano; June 6th, 2014 at 06:39 AM. Reason: Removed unprofessional comment
Vince Pachiano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 07:52 AM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Arlington, TX
Posts: 2,230
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

Vince, your description sounds pretty normal to me. Unless your recital is being held in a union house the lighting can be all over the place. Riding the iris in manual mode is your only way to deal with it during the show.

Your best weapon is to try to speak with the lighting people at the dress or at least before the show so they know there will be a video crew. The trend I see is high color saturation and low subject fill. Some designers will default to this unless you speak with them and ask for more "TV" lighting. Then they will bring the fill up.

As far is what to show, well you filming the event, so show the event. You can not take responsibility for how the show looked. All you can do is document it as best you can.
Tim Polster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 08:47 AM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Milwaukee WI
Posts: 627
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

Hi Vince,

Been there, my friend! I shoot a lot of dance recitals and as you said, it's kids and teens and the venue is a rented high school auditorium and some inexperienced kid is running the lights. You never know what to expect.

I had one studio that for many dances used all red lighting - looked like scenes from Mars!! I could tone it down a bit in post, but always looked terrible to me in the end. Red skin is not fixable. Also, something with the way camera sensors work with red shades, the image came out very flat, no contrast at all even after grading. Just horrid. I asked them year after year to PLEASE quit it with the red business, to no avail. Guess what? I dropped the account.

Cheers

Jeff

PS - then there's the acts with blue lighting, so the talent looks like Smurfs or blueberries.
Jeff Pulera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 09:27 AM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,126
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

I can imagine that he could indeed have been simply a rubbish operator, and that's sadly (at least here) quite possible in the pro venues too. We're not split here into union or non-union in all sizes of theatre. You can have union people in 100 seater places and in the 1000 seater places have people not interested in unions at all - quite different here. I suspect the person was just as bad as you say - and the lighting was illumination. I'm able to understand that - sorry I took off, but it's such a common complaint, it's often kind of the standard video complaint.

Lots of video people here are very anti blue, because some cameras just can't cope - others can. I had to laugh at the recent awards ceremony of the UK Guild of TV Cameramen - we did the awards show live from Oxfordshire, and streamed it, and had 'borrowed' and hired kit all over the place, including the Sat Uplink truck, mobile remote heads and auto cues - guess what colour the background was lit in - yep, LED blue! It looked great on the screens, and on the stream. It looks great live too (watch almost any TV show), but some cameras just blur up and look like they cost $25 at the local discount electronics store.

I'm still 100% sold on the sort it in rehearsal stage. That's when colour problems should be noticed, because saturated colour is exactly what dance benefits from. Pastel it up, and add light and you lose a lot.

If you want good colour on a video, then give the lighting guy a monitor while he is programming, NOT as the audience are taking their seats. Lighting people treat perfectly illuminated even stages as a failure. They like contrast, they like puddles of darkness and they like deep red and blue - now LED lets them have lots of it, then it's going to get more common as venues of all sizes swap out tungsten for LED.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 10:05 AM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 9,068
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

Quote:
Lots of video people here are very anti blue
For me that would be red, I have been shooting danceperformances for the past years, always have been using handicams for it, last years I used my Sony cx730's, never had an issue until this year, they appeared to have changed the lights and to my eye's it looked ok, there was lot's of red but they also used white light, until I get home and see my footage on screen. The footage looks a bit unsharp and oversaturated and I had overexposed whites (particulary if the dancers had white clothings) I always control my exposure manually and expose carefully not to have any blown whites, yet they are. This was also the first time in years I had to do plenty of color correction and I fear this is just becoming the new standard.
Noa Put is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 11:02 AM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Seminole Texas
Posts: 45
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

I do a lot of dance recitals and have the same problems, I never thought that eighteen young kids dancing looked very good with a hot hot spot center stage and dark sides. I used to try and do a little fix on that type of lighting but no more, I just film it the best I can and what you see is what you get. I just finished the edit on a recital and told the owner about the hot spot and she said I never know what we will get as far as lighting. Paul is correct about a knowledgeable lighting person, in my area that is the problem ( no knowledge ). When I tell the lighting guy I will be filming and to light accordingly he just says they want a lot of light. I have two recitals this weekend and have discussed lighting with the studio, they seem to understand so we will see.
James E. Thomas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 12:27 PM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

For 5 years I did a series of annual recitals in a large (>2000 seat) premiere venue for a leading dance conservatory in my old home town. Professional crew.

I used to run in excess of 2000 VHS dubs of the three day event, if that gives you any idea of the scale...

Yes, the slow to bring the lights up IS a sign of a rank amateur operating lights but hot spots and cool spots/black on stage are common (or at least WERE back when I was doing them).

If zero time was allotted for rehearsals (our folks ran rehearsals for at least one day, even for their kiddies) then he/she did the "best" they could for their level of involvement/rate of pay.

Large expositions/recitals require large amounts of cash to pull off OR they can be done on the cheap with volunteers.

Our event sold out with $40 seats for parents and friends who had already invested large amounts of money in their child's dance classes. Do the math - 2000 seats x $40 = $80k GROSS for each recital and there were 4 over three days. I'm sure they made SOME money on the event but I don't think it was staggering.

Expectations on all sides need to be reasonable.
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2014, 12:31 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

As well, I was a performing musician for approximately 20 years - while the venues always told us we has a "sound and light guy" provided, we always assumed that for the most part, we were going to get one look per song in the lighting department unless we nailed our audio early in the set (REAL soundchecks don't often happen in the club circuit - you're lucky to get a line check unless you are a high draw headliner)

Several of my bands whined and complained about this but one band, the one that took the business seriously, started hiring our own light guy.

Everyone was happy.
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 7th, 2014, 06:21 AM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,126
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

It is a problem. If venue operators don't understand - and plenty don't then it may well be lights up at the start and lights out at the end. Something professional Lighting Designers come across too often (there is also the sound equivalent - arrange faders in a horizontal row, then don't touch, they're set!

We had the idea that we'd follow a tribute band around 800-1200 seater venues, then edit the entire thing together. The drummer had a click, so timing was not an issue. We scrapped it very quickly as a working idea. No touring LX op on the payroll, so venue riders in advance - asking for four colour wash and specials for the band. Quite normal really. Some venues would add in their moving lights, and the colours would change in time with the beat of the music - and often with an older operator, you'd get the nice stabs on the "I only want to be with you - gap gap" (guess the tribute artiste?)

However in others each song would just be a static colour wash, and look really dull. Impossible to cut these together.

After seeing how some cameras mess up their exposure with LEDs, I suspect the problem is the very spiky output. If the exposure metering is looking at the whole thing, then the big blue or red spike can be over exposed, while other exposure sensors seem to recognise the big spike and then over compensate by dropping the level too much. So either bright but 'fluffy' colours, or dark murky results seem common. Manual iris does seem to sort most of them - my JVCs cope very well with blue, and do a pretty good job on red. Sony's, but not all of them, seem troubled by blue.

Whatever video people wish for, this is going to be getting the standard problem. Look how video people are dissatisfied with tiny colour shifts in white light from LEDs. Now we have LED lighting that often produces white from 3 RGB spikes - and it's fun to compare white from mixed RGB with a white LED - it's nowhere near the same to the cameras, but quite close to the eye. As some venues now have RGB and others RGBW, let alone RGBA - getting what used to be the standard, is going away very quickly.

As a confirmed lighting guy - I should apologise for the idiots, but they are in every area now.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 7th, 2014, 07:51 AM   #14
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Arlington, TX
Posts: 2,230
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

I am not a fan of the "white" LED look. It is not flattering for skin tones like good old tungsten. I can see all of the benefits for LED, but this look as main fill lacks soul imho. I don't want to white balance to it as it is often mixed with tungsten so it just exists to deal with.
Tim Polster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 7th, 2014, 06:58 PM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,615
Re: Lighting guy effed me over

I film dance recitals and theatricals regularly, usually with no time for rehearsals. I have no expectations that the lighting people are going to do anything for me. Why? Because for most dance/art companies in my area, they can't afford it. They are lucky to get their stage set for a paying audience not a camera person who is only showing up for one performance. Many places have one person doing lights and sound and they can't do a good job if there are a lot of music cues. The audience is a lot more forgiving of bad lighting than bad audio.

A decent lighting person will cover the stage appropriately for the audience which means I can cover it using manual exposure. Sometimes it means going from f5.6 to f2 in a couple of seconds but it usually works. Dance is harder as the lighting tends to get expressionistic which means hot spots or dark areas but averaging it out usually gets me a decent enough exposure so the event is covered. Music venues are the worst unless it's a large house. The small places never have appropriate lighting, for example the drummer is over lit but the lead singer is in the dark. I avoid taking those jobs.
__________________
William Hohauser - New York City
Edit/Camera/DCP production/Animation
William Hohauser is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:44 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network