Beyond Lighting Breakdown

In 2013 I worked as a Unit Assistant for a 3rd year UWE production based in the TV Studio. This was an hour-long student programme focusing on all things UWE, including interviews, competitions, and live performances. The idea was to broadcast simultaneously on TV (via UStream) and radio (via Hub 1449AM) on March 12th, so the challenge was creating something that would work both on radio and television.

Seeing as this program was broadcast using our TV Studio and equipment I suggested it to Beth as something we should all watch and critique, helping us to make early considerations during pre-production. Beth (Director/Producer), Jordan (Head of Sound), Nathan (Camera), Joe (Vision Mixer) and I (Lighting Director) all met up and watched the show through to discuss it and relate it to Bristol Vibes. I think the main point we took away was it the concept was good, but the technical side wasn’t well executed. I grabbed stills out of the film and have critiqued them concerning my department.

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The blue lights in the background add depth but aren’t anything interesting in terms of set design, just seem out of place. The television screen is exposed incorrectly, but the concept of having the graphic on the loop is good. Too much front lighting makes Minty appear very flat, the heavy downlight also casts ugly shadows on his face from his glasses. The background appears very plain, overall a flat shot due to the lighting. The emphasis needs to be on side and backlight in order to make the subject pop out of the frame.

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Still using the same existing studio light, hasn’t been adjusted to accommodate to the increase in subject size. The three subjects in the middle are lit well (maybe a tiny bit overexposed), whilst the two on the side of the shot are lost into darkness. Once again the light comes across flat due to a lack of back or side lighting.

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The set/props are generally starting to be lost into darkness as the focus shifts onto the hotspots on either couch. Unfortunately neither subject appears to be placed in their hotspot. The right hand subject’s face is lit well whilst Minty is lost from the light, most of his face is illuminated from the iPad he is holding. Once again a lack of back and side lighting.

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I really like the set design here, it comes across very simplistic and this is the style I would like to adapt for the acoustic/soloist sets on Bristol Vibes. The slight stage for the drum kit allows for floor lighting adding a little more interest into the shot. The tungsten studio lights work well in relation to the lanterns on the background maintain an overall warmness to the shot that is almost a reflection of the acoustic guitar. I feel like the set needs to be adjusted slightly, but the overall theme is apparent. The bassist, 2nd guitarist and drummer are not well lit and get lost into the background, the fact two of them are wearing black doesn’t help the cause. The set really needs a few more lights, it almost feels like they are squeezed into too small a staging area.

Overall the main point I take away from this production in terms of lighting is focus on the back and side lighting and reduce the front light. Most of the shots appear very flat because no depth is established through lighting. I know you generally light for the staging areas in a studio, but more consideration can still be taken into account. The fact that nobody really appeared to be lit properly on the couch, sitting next to the hotspots is a prime example of this. I do respect this piece of work and was proud to have been involved, but I feel technically it can be improved dramatically. Nevertheless critiquing these shots has definitely highlighted what I need to be aware of, and knowing this can be achieved with exactly the same equipment makes me safe in the knowledge I am equipped with the lighting rig.

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