tuesday, i hate lighting

TV Studio

I'm not sure why I insist on intentionally causing myself pain and suffering. I always see it as the need to conquer something I can't do. Which is why I offered to do the lighting in our live News Show today. Apart from the challenge, the other reason I took the role was because lighting is so often neglected and it shows up in the end result. I wanted to see if I could make it better.

I know the vague rule of having the set in levels with a lot of depth to it, partly because this allows you to light different areas correctly: Background, Foreground, Presenter.

I started with the background. The TV studio in Athena has a horrible white curtain all the way round it which makes everything look just that little less professional to begin with. I decided to throw some colour on it. First I tried a very hot red which turned the studio into a brothel.

Lesson 1: Red gel throws a strong colour on white

Red wasn't working. I tried a mixture of blue and green gels. I pointed two spotlights at the curtain and clipped about a million gels on each one because....

Lesson 2: Blue gels are very weak in colour

Lesson 3: Green gels are stronger than Blue gels and weaker than Red ones

Lesson 4: White curtain is HORRIBLE

Thankfully, Lucy turned up with Richard and they brought me a large metal frame thing that stretched across the back of the studio, immediately making the background more interesting. Once that was there the pale aqua lighting looked a bit better.

Lesson 5: Floodlights don't take the colour of gels very well

I shone a floodlight from the ground up on to the horrible white curtain with a couple of green gels over. This was in the hope of making the colours a bit stronger. Nope. It just looked muddy and a little darker. Then Colleen suggested I only put one gel on. We tried that and it worked. Sort of. It was now about 11 a.m and we'd been working on it for just under two hours.

Lesson 6: When you add the key lights to illuminate your presenter, it kills the lovely background lighting you took so long to set up

Trying to arrange the presenters light to light her face properly and not interfere with the background took at least half an hour. The thing is when you shine a white light onto colour lights it immediately weakens the strength of the colour. I was still not happy with the result but I think it was partly to do with how the light were positioned on the ceiling. Plus that evil white curtain.

After that I went into the mixing room and Aaron ran around helping me make little changes to gels, light positioning and adding extra lights so we could see how it all looked on camera. I still think it looked rather amateur. I so wanted it to look professional but I just couldn't make it work.

Would like a class on professional lighting please