Vector animation of a hierarchy pyramid

First Things First (Lighting Production)

May this serve as a constant reminder...

To create better lighting, invest in the first things first.

Use this simple visual formula to align your priorities and focus on what matters most.

Let's break it down...

Hierarchy of Lighting Production - Skills

Skills

A tool is only as good as the hands that wield it.

Never stop learning.

Never stop teaching.

Nobody is too good or too old to be better.

It is difficult. It requires intentionality and patience. But, it ultimately reaps priceless rewards.

Above all else, invest in yourself and others.

Hierarchy of Lighting Production - Content

Content

Content is a sum of many parts...

  • Script
  • Talent
  • Props
  • Wardrobe
  • Location
  • Movement
  • Pacing
  • Colors
  • Mood
  • and more

Content doesn't require fancy equipment to be compelling.

And fancy gear rarely, if ever, makes poor content better.

Start at the source.

Hierarchy of Lighting Production - Control

Control

There are two ways to approach lighting: start from total darkness or work with existing light.

Starting with darkness is often the easiest way to achieve desired results.

Working with existing light might call for different tools and considerations, like matching color temperatures and intensities.

Either way, controlling the environment is an important first step to setting yourself up for success.

It often requires masking, minimizing, or manipulating existing light before any fixtures are considered or used.

Hierarchy of Lighting Production - Fixture

Fixture

Choosing the proper, and best, tool for the job is critical.

The wrong lighting fixture can make your job arduous and stressful.

The right lighting fixture can make your job easy and quick.

Most of all, choose a fixture with the adequate amount of light.

A lot of this goes back to skills and knowledge, so here are a few Wikipedia resources to help you get started:

Hierarchy of Lighting Production - Position

Position

Fundamentally, light travels in waves at various wavelengths.

However, it's best to think of visual light as traveling in a straight path that originates from the light source.

Because of this simple characteristic, the position of the light source plays a key role in how object(s) are illuminated.

There is a lot of opportunity alone with light source positioning.

Angles, diffusion, focus, shadows, and intensity are all important terms here.

Hierarchy of Lighting Production - Modifier

Modifier

Manipulating light is often what makes good lighting great.

Lenses, reflectors, diffusion, shutters, flags, scrims, gels, and other modifiers can easily be the better half of the light source.

And they can be part of, or independent from, the lighting fixture.

Learn to control and shape light to achieve different looks and results.

Pro tip: Light coming from a large surface area, like a diffusor or reflector, will often look more pleasing than a small light source when lighting people. Just remember how the inverse-square law affects light intensity.

Vector illustration of the Hierarchy of Lighting Production

Details

Congratulations, the critical work is done!

Everything else is in the details.

Learn, create, evaluate, then repeat.

Go make something great! 💪

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