Lighting and Grip.


Lighting and Grip are often spoken as if they are one item, inseparable and complete. However the clue is in the phrase lighting AND grip. So let’s start by separating them.
Lighting covers the instruments that provide the light.
Grip covers the instruments we use to hold and control the light.
Lighting
There is a huge range of lights, luminaires, projectors (or whatever you want to call them) available which have generally been produced for specific requirements within the film, video, TV and photographic industry. In an article such as this it would be impossible to cover them all but they are basically formed from a type of source and how that is housed. To confuse matters you could have mixtures of the following in all variations possible.
Sources available
Tungsten also known as incandescent, Quartz Halogen, conventional or hot lights etc
HMI also known as MSR, daylight, discharge or energy efficient etc
Fluorescent also known as cool lighting or soft lighting etc
Ceramic – also known as CSR
LED a relative new comer with improvements happening on a fast scale.
Source
Advantage
Disadvantage
Tungsten
Dimmable, Full colour spectrum
Only around 10% of the energy is light
Short lamp life (approx 200 hours)
HMI
Efficient
Good colour spectrum
Not fully dimmable
Larger unit (1.2Kw and above) require an external ballast
Fluorescent
Very efficient
Good colour spectrum
Long lamp life
Not focusable
Careful selection of tubes required to achieve full colour spectrum
Ceramic
Efficient and able to change between tungsten and daylight colour temperature easily
Not fully dimmable
LED
Small bright source
Very efficient
Currently not widely available as focusable
Emerging technology so changing rapidly
Housing styles
Open face such as Redheads .
HMI PAR’s which are similar to open face heads but for safety reasons they must have a protective glass cover between the lamp and the user.
Fresnel Lens which are generally focusable
Profiles which have two movable clear lenses for hard and soft focus
Housing Style
Advantage
Disadvantage
Open Face
Provides the most light output for the size of the lamp fitted
No immediate control of the quality of light (other than spot and flood)
PAR
Drop in lenses allow great control
As above – you need to carry a lens set with you.
Fresnel Lens
Gathers the light and produces a more direct beam
Reduces light output slightly
Profile Lens
Excellent for controllable focus
Produces very hard edges or soft edges with “fringing”
Some combinations work excellently such as Tungsten Fresnel – one of the most common lighting units used in TV & Video. Others would not work very well if at all and hence are not seen such as fluorescent profile luminaires.
Further classification and grouping is found in the main use for the lighting. For example it is not common to find HMI lighting used extensively in TV studios. It is not unheard of but the lack of dimming makes it undesirable. Similarly open face heads such as redheads are also not usually the main source of lighting in TV studios. Whereas Tungsten Fresnel’s with the excellent dimming ability and good control of the light beam are a natural choice. The heavy weight, due to the inclusion of a lens and usually metal bodies, make them undesirable for ENG or “on the road” use which is more commonly covered by the open-faced Redheads.
HMI is ideally suited to outdoor shooting particularly when trying to combat natures own light source. A common question with regard to outdoor shooting is why do I need a light when the sun is so bright? This is fine so long as there are no clouds and you can do your shot in one take or over a short period. Imagine the problems on the average summers day when you set your camera and begin recording a piece to camera, all faces nicely sunlit and visible when along comes the cloud and suddenly your talent is replaced by a dull shape! For this reason and a few others it is desirable to have control of the light on your subject. Tungsten, whilst easily controllable, is also the wrong colour temperature at 3200K and would give a very orange light. Natural daylight can vary from as low as 3000K as the sun sets to as high as 12000K on a bright sunny day at noon.
For film, TV and photography lighting it is widely accepted the 5600K is a sensible medium. It could just be that this is the colour temperature that HMI’s naturally produce and therefore a useful point to agree on, I am not sure on that but it is the case never the less.
The main disadvantage with HMI for outdoor or location work is the weight and the need for an external ballast or power supply. For this reason open-faced Redheads and Blonds (800W and 2kW) are commonly used. Being open-faced means you can add a daylight conversion filter if required and still have control of the beam and intensity.
Grip
If we thought the choice for luminaires was large the choice for grip is enormous.
Items that fall with the “Grip” category range from small items such as wooden clothes pegs to enormous flying truss sections such as most major music performances would use.
In a nutshell anything that is used to assist the placing or quality of the light produced by the luminaire can be considered as grip. So the wooden clothes peg that is used to hold some black wrap or colour filter gel onto the barndoors of a luminaire is grip just like the trussing that the light hangs from is grip.
Grip itself can be subdivided into items to hold a light or items to change the light. A lighting stand upon which we place our luminaire is obviously within the first category and a scrim placed in the path of the beam to diffuse the light is in the second. So here is a list of common grip types along with a brief description of use.
Stands – use to hold luminaires or other grip equipment.
Flags – Placed between the light source and the subject to cut off the light.
Nets & Scrims - Placed between the light source and the subject to reduce or soften the light.
Reflectors – Obvious really, used to bounce light (often sunlight) onto a subject.
The entire range of grip can be large and confusing. Many grip companies have their own names for products and the English and American names can be very different. However I have found the Matthews Grip web site to be useful to me when someone asks for some grip I have not heard of before. http://www.msegrip.com/mse.php?show=griptionary&num=1

Taking the above four very broad categories lets look a little closer at the sort of things you can find.
Stands – As previously mentioned there are predominantly two types of stands, Lighting stands and grip stands. Lighting stands can be anything from a small tripod capable of housing a light weight head such as a redhead – the Manfrotto 052 compact stand is an ideal example of this small end and at the other end of the scale you have the Matthews “MAX” which will hold a weight of 80Kgs.
In between are a complete range of lighting stands with manual or windup adjustment, air cushioning to prevent accidental collapse, sand bag or metal weights to counter balance or steady the load. In short there is almost certainly a lighting stand available to get the light you want where you want. You just need to have some floor space available.
Grip stands, whilst less impressive, are none the less carefully engineered to allow close positioning of many stands so you can have flags, scrims and reflectors all close together should you desire.

Flags are used to prevent light falling on a particular subject – for example you may wish to have a hard edge to the beam of light hitting a picture. This can be achieved in a number of ways but a simple one is to put a flag between the light and the picture to “cut” the beam where required.
Nets (silks) & Scrims can be thought of as mechanical dimmers and diffusers. So if you can’t dim your HMI simply put a single scrim in the way and cut light transmission by 33% and you have a dimmed source. If your source is too hard (casting a harsh shadow) then put a net or silk in the way a spread the light around a little.
Finally Reflectors not only reflect but can add some colour into the beam so you can use a soft gold to warm up the light a little.
So there you have a brief potted description of “Lighting & Grip” The names for lights and associated grip is different for each company, different for TV versus film versus Photography and different for USA versus Europe but the general outlines mentioned above should at least help you get through some of the confusion.

Tags: lighting | grip | iss024 | tungsten | hmi | fluorescent | ceramic | led | redhead | fresnel | par | open face | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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