Southern Methodist University – Spring Term 2007
117 Umphrey Lee, Mondays 9:00-11:50am
Robert Flowers, Instructor

Lighting Styles

High-Key – Bright light, no shadows. Few areas of underexposure

Low-Key – Shadows


Hard – unfiltered, direct, hard shadows

Soft – Bounced, filtered, diffused, gelled

Angle – height of light suggests mood

Color – Tungsten 3200 vs. HMI (daylight) 5600

Shadows – caused by distance from subject. Shadows are UNDEREXPOSURE.

3 – Point Lighting

Key light – main light source (e.g. the Sun)

Fill light – Fills in shadows created by key light

Back light – Separates background from actors (adds 3-D) (probably omitted in low key)

Additional lights

Kicker – Low to floor opposite the Key light

Eye light – usually mounted on camera

Set lights – illuminates walls and furniture

Practical – lamps that are part of the scene

Effect light – special effect

Light Types

Incandescent (Tungsten 3200) Quartz bulbs

Arc or HMI or Xenons (Daylight 5600) 1000 – 20,000 watts

Fixture Types

Fresnels – lens, bulb and reflector moves, lens is stationary. Most common.

e.g. Jr., Baby, Baby Baby, Baby Jr.

Fresnels typically range from 50 – 20,000 watts

Open Lights or Open Face – no lens, bulbs are exposed. E.g. Scoops or Soft-lights

PARs – sealed beams, look like car headlights, sometimes have replaceable lenses

Fluorescents – do not flicker

Lightbulbs – household brands are generally around 2400 to 2800 degrees

Photofloods – ECA 250 watts, ECT 500 watts both are 3200 degrees

Buy at Wolf Camera, etc.

Sun Guns

Soft lights


Manufacturers: Mole Richardson, Lowell, ARRI (Arriflex), LTM, Dedo-light, Kino-Flo


1. Use leather gloves to avoid burnt fingers
2. Use different circuits (check breaker Box) for each light if possible.
3. Turn off all unnecessary electric devices e.g. TV, household lights, stereo, refrigerator, air conditioner, heater.
4. Never leave any switched-on light unintended.
5. Make sure light stands are set-up correctly e.g. locked in position and standing flat
6. Let lights “warm-up’ for at least 5 minutes, so they can attain the correct color temperature.
7. Keep extension cords (use heavy cage) out of the way
8. Using Photo Floods in an ordinary lamb will eventually melt the power cord and become a serious hazard.
9. Use grip-clips, metal clamps, clothes pins to attach gels, diffusion to barn-door
10. Overloading a circuit will “flip” a circuit breaker

Gaffer or Chief Lighting Technician: coordinates the lighting on set

Best Boy: gaffers assistant

Key Grip: The boss

Grip: handle all of the equipment not directly attached to the lights