Join James Ball for an in-depth discussion in this video Lighting strategies for multicamera productions, part of Multi-Camera Video Production and Post.
- When we're doing a traditional video production, it's often easy to hide the lighting, you just frame it out of the shot. But with multiple cameras spread out all over the place, it's really easy to start seeing things like light stands. How do you approach multi-camera lighting, Jim? - Well, a lot of cinematographers will say that the best lighting is for a single camera. I mean, if you're coming up with the best lighting angle, the best quality lighting for one camera angle, very likely, very often, where a second camera placement is, it's not ideal. I mean, it's just sort of the way it works.
But having said that, that's just the way things are, and if you can develop the skill of placing lighting for multiple cameras saving time, enhancing performances all the reasons that we do that you're going to be a lot more marketable a lot more employable. So it's a good skill to work on. Now, having said that, that means there's a little more work in terms of creative and practical. Creative, in terms of how it looks. Practical in how do you hide all the stuff that's not supposed to be in the movie.
- So this means you just have to think things through. Now, in a studio environment here, we have the ability to put lights up in the grid, this will make it easier to keep them out of the shot. They can essentially be above the frame, and that's great but you're not going to always have that grid. Sometimes, you're going to have to work with available lighting, other times you're going to have to work with stands. Now, I think the fastest way, when we're starting out with lighting, Jim, is just to keep the lights on the stands and move them and figure out the right position first. - Well, it's all about efficiency because usually, you're going to have a limited amount of time, so, hanging lights are for a very good reason.
Hanging lights are to get them out of the shot, give you more shooting angles, gives you the flexibility of moving around without a lot of stands, and grip and lighting junk on the floor. Now, having said that, working up in a ceiling off the ground, on ladders, is slower. I mean, you can throw more people into the mix, but invariably, it's just slower. So if you're in the creative, blocking, practicing process, the experimentation process of where you want to put the lighting and how it looks, a lot of times, I will do it from stands and not worrying about hanging anything and not worrying about them being in the camera shots because if I'm going to be moving and discussing and adjusting and experimenting and finding the right feel I don't want to take a lot of time doing adjustments.
So you do it on the stands, you find what you like, you look at it, you evaluate, you sign off on it and then you start hanging things. - Now, if you're on a budget, another thing to think about is working with the light you have. A lot of times, locations are going to have practical lighting sources or things to use, and if you're really tight on money, and you don't have the ability to hang 20 or 50 lights for a big production, you might be working with smaller budgets. Things like a China Ball can really come in handy, or a soft light with diffusion, so that you just spread out the light, a lot of times, we just try to raise the overall lighting level in the room by using soft diffused lights.
- Yeah, I mean, you're evaluating what the shoot is about. If it's a documentary where you're really trying to get content and it's supposed to be naturalistic and you're also trying to get a lot in a little bit of time. You're making what you might call a compromise on the lighting, but efficiency is actually just as important in that case as beautiful lighting. So you find the middle ground and a central soft source is a good solution for something that you have a lot of camera angles, and you're seeing a lot of backgrounds, and you just can't take care of all of it with multiple units.
So, that's a good solution. Other cases, it's all about how it looks and then you take more time, and then you find you take more time to find solutions and it's a different animal, completely. So, I'm using the fist here to simulate, basically, a head, a human head. Since I don't have a face or I can't see this face, I'm using the fist to just see where the light's falling, what's spilling, you know, I can get a sense of the backlights, I can get a sense of the key lights and the fill.
So it's just a little simple check to help me visualize what a face is going to look like when it's in here. - Now remember, as a producer or director, particularly, if you don't have a lot of experience with multi-camera productions, the lighting budget and the amount of equipment that you use for a single-camera shoot is just going to get exponentially bigger. You're not lighting for one camera, maybe it's three or five cameras, this is going to add to the complexity and of course, as we've said time and time again, you're going to need to have a rehearsal day or maybe a pre-light day where you figure this all out.
You'll learn essential preproduction strategies to get the right gear and place it in the right position. You'll also learn techniques for syncing the visuals and audio captured from each camera. Rich and James offer advice for directors running shoots in the field, as well as strategies for crew members who are building sets and logging footage. Finally, in chapters 7 and 8, they share techniques for multicamera postproduction with Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro. In these chapters, you'll learn how to create multicam clips, apply color correction, color match angles, switch between angles, and refine and master your edit. By the end of the course, you'll have a thorough start-to-finish understanding of the multicamera production process.
- Planning the multicamera production
- Evaluating the location
- Creating camera diagrams
- Selecting the right equipment
- Communicating with crew
- Lighting multicam productions
- Matching and syncing cameras
- Directing a multicamera shoot
- Editing multicamera video