Grip and Lighting

Lesson From:
The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking, "How to make a professional looking film or video when you have limited resources", RIck Bell, ISBN 9780615457000

Time Frame: Week Two
Grade Level: Beginning Students Grade 6-12

Unit Summary: This unit is designed to introduce the students to grip and lighting equipment. It will talk about what types of light they may encounter while shooting, tricks and techniques for how to manipulate light and how the quality of the light affects the look of their final product. Students will also learn about grip equipment and ways to inexpensively make support materials to be used for lighting setups.

Student Objective: “Today I will illustrate how the color temperature of a light affects the video image.”

Essential Questions: Lighting is more than just illumination, it can express a mood, establish a tone, create drama. It can direct the viewer’s eye to a subject or reveal only that which needs to be seen. It can create a veil, or expose everything. Students will learn to evaluate how they want to present material, and how they wish the viewer to perceive the material.
What emotion do I want this message to express and how can lighting enhance that emotion?
How can I take control of the light?
How can the lighting help to focus the viewer’s attention?

Core Concepts: Color temperature is measured as a unit of Kelvin.
Film/video records light as a hue on a scale from warm (orange) to cool (blue). Students will learn to control the aesthetic of the light so it can then be used as an emotional element to help express their message.

Content Area Standards: Get AASL standards.

Assessments: How students will be assessed based on AASL standards

Key Vocabulary:
Hard Light
Soft Light
Key Light
Fill Light
Grip Gear
Kelvin (K)
Grip Clip
Righty Tighty Lefty Loosy
Soft Box
Ambient Light Level
Hollywood a Light
Tabletop Photography
Party Gel
Bounce Card

Instructional Strategies:

Day 1:
Present an overview of grip and lighting.
Lecture about the different types of light, daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, halogen, etc. Explain the way light is measured (units or degrees of Kelvin) and how the color temperature then translates to film/video.
Introduce the students to the equipment they will be using for grip and lighting—procedures, expectations, and responsibilities.
Use a camera connected to a monitor to demonstrate how to use light to your advantage.
Set the camera’s internal filter to Daylight.
From inside the classroom set up an example by shooting a person against a window. It should be difficult to hold the ratios from the dim inside light to the bright outside light, and the color temperature may also look a bit odd. Now swing the camera around to the window side and shoot back at the person using the soft daylight coming through the window as your key lighting source. The person should be lit evenly with consistent color. The background lighting may be on the warm side, but that should not be critical. Also talk about applying the same technique when shooting outside in bright daylight.
Referring to the “show up at noon, shoot a raccoon” book example--shooting at noon outside will give you a light source that is directly overhead, causing the eye sockets to be dark in shadow. By finding a shaded area with a background in shadow to even out the ratios, position the person facing a sunlit area. This will help even out the light source for a much better image. If the person needs to be a little brighter, use a bounce card (silver or white) to bring up the light levels by reflecting sunlight onto the person.
Use a hard silver reflector in the classroom with just the overhead lights to demonstrate how much light can be reflected.
Set the camera’s internal filter to Tungsten.
A note right of the top, it is better to shut off all the overhead lights and close all the window shades before starting a tungsten lighting setup—you will have much more control over the image.
Using the camera connected to a monitor, first show examples of hard light vs. soft light. Soft light can be filtered through diffusion or bounced off of a white card. Have a discussion about the quality of the light and when it might be most appropriate—soft when shooting an interview, hard for more drama.
Show how moving the light will help control the light levels, the closer the light is to the subject the brighter it is. And how, if possible, moving the light while it’s on will tell you when it is in it’s most flattering position.
Demonstrate how to contain light by using a snoot, a soft box (if you don’t have one, you may want that to be a project for the students—build one), a cookaloris (if you don’t have one—make it with foil, black wrap or cardboard). Then show how to use them to direct and vary the light. And remember, a cookaloris requires a hard source light to be effective—the closer the cookaloris is to the light the softer the pattern being projected.
The light can move in the scene—a backlight that pans across the set, a spot light that comes on illuminating a product, encourage creativity.
Put different party gels on lights to show how color can change the scene.
Use a student as a model to demonstrate 3-Point portrait lighting with a soft key, a backlight and a soft fill. Show how moving the lights (especially the key—up, down, more frontal, more to the side) changes the look.
Show how making the key a hard light changes the look.
Emphasize the importance of the quality of the light in the eyes, the eyes (the windows to the soul) help tell the story and therefore need to be seen to help communicate the message.
Homework: Review GRIP AND LIGHTING section of The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking

Day 2:
Set up two tungsten lighting stations, one as a tabletop scenario and one as a portrait scenario.
Combine teams so there are five teams with six students per team. Assign one person on each of the combined teams as the
director--that person directs the discussion for what the ‘look’ will be and then uses the other five team members as crew (and collaborators) to accomplish that look.
Have each team rotate through each station giving them ten minutes at each station (and only ten minutes—time is money) to play with light and roll off a ten second sample of what they come up with.
There is also a third station, which is outside but not designated. The team must find a place that will give them a good image. If weather is a factor, have them find a place where they can use natural light as their source (a window) to create a nice looking image.
Assign homework: Review the GRIP AND LIGHTING section of The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking

Day 3:
Continue shooting until all images have been gathered. Once all the images have been gathered, they should return to their editing stations and load the footage. If there is time, show each team’s footage and discuss how they approached their lighting solution.
Assign homework: Read the CAMERA section of The Guerrilla Guide To Moviemaking

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