HotTips on how to be an even better lighting cameraman HotCam's Alistair Cameron has more than 30 years experience as a DoP. In this special guide he reveals the secrets of how to be a better lighting cameraman. 1 don't worry too much about HD First up, For most of my early career I shot with film, not video, so I usually approach things from a film point-of-view. This means I don't see an awful lot of difference between SD and HD. In my opinion, the extra definition has more of an impact on the make-up team and the set designers because, regardless of what lighting techniques you use, every detail will show up, especially backgrounds and facial details. As an example, when we helped to take The X Factor to HD this year, the judges needed more attention from the make-up team for their shots than they did from the lighting department. 4 For interviews, give it some shape... If you're shooting an interview scene, the basic 3-point lighting design comes into play. This is based around a key, a fill and a backlight. For some interviews though, you can key it from one side or the other to give shadow to the face but you may not need a fill light. Instead, use a reflector and bounce the key light which is still the main light source - back onto the person as a fill. This helps to give even more of a shape to the subject's face. 7 the colour temperature When dealing with a fixed light source such as office lighting for example if you can't change the lights themselves the first thing to do is work out their colour temperature. (NB/ The higher the colour temperature, the bluer the light. The lower the colour temperature, the more yellow to red the light.) The video camera will tell you what it is or you can use a colour temperature meter if you have one. Then you need to try and match it with your own lighting set-up. So, if you have a tungsten light giving you 4,300 Kelvin you'd put a half blue on it and this would give you approximately the same colour temperature as the ceiling lights. Don't forget to check it on the camera monitor though. Check 2 add some light With HD, Having said that, you should add a bit of extra light if you can because HD cameras are less sensitive to low light than the old Digibetas used to be. We used masses of light on The X Factor. If you're old school, my suggestion is to treat video like it was reversal film which was also fairly unforgiving and had little latitude. 5 ... and use soft lights. 3 For LE, keep it flat Soft lights are very much the vogue these days. We use Kino Flo Diva Lites a lot, particularly for close-up interviews as they are soft, have a low voltage and are cooler compared to tungsten lights. They put out a broad soft wash of light and drops off like the light from a bounced source. LED light tiles such as Gekko's Kelvin are also good for interviews as you can dial in the colour temperature, saving you the bother of changing the bubbles or adding gels. The general rule for Light Entertainment lighting is to keep it very flat and light everybody in the studio from the front. Remember, the older the talent is, the more front lighting you'll need to give them. 6 Get up close If you are using soft lights, whether it's for a documentary, an interview or a commercial, make sure you keep them close to the subject. I've often used Kino Flo Image 80s on commercial shoots because they give a lovely soft light but they don't have a terrific amount of punch or range. >> Page 46