Production Lighting: How To Do Spot Lighting

Production lighting is extremely important for a number of reasons. First of all, it helps us direct the audience's attention within the frame. Second, it helps establish an overall mood for the audience to experience. As lighting designers, we have a lot of tools at our disposal with one of them being the spot light.

The Spot Light

The spot light is one of the oldest and most recognized lights that a production can use. Basically, it is light projected in a perfect, bright circle. Traditionally it has been used in dark venues, like night clubs, to direct the audience's attention to a performer. It's so well recognized that the phrase 'being in the spot light' has become common in our culture.

Step 1: Getting a Spot Light Effect

In order to get the spot light effect, you need to use a light that was designed to create it. In the film world, those lights are known as Source Fours. They're also called Leekos, which is really just the name of one of the largest manufactures of Source Fours. These lights consist of long barrels that use lenses to turn the light bulb's beam into a circle. 

Step 2: Manipulating the Spot Light

The size of the spot light is determined by the barrel of the light. Some barrels produce huge circles, while others are not that big. The size of the beam can also be controlled by adjusting the barrel closer or farther away from the light. The light also has four cutters built into it. The cutters cut into the circle's shape. 

These lights have a convenient spot where gels can be easily added to change the light's color. In addition to that, there is also a slot where you can insert tools to create lighting effects with your spot light, such as adding an iris. An iris allows you to manipulate the light and create and opening/closing effect.  

Step 3: Working with the Light

Most Source Fours use 750 watt bulbs unless otherwise specified. They use an Edison plug for power and can be hooked up to a dimmer to bring down the light's intensity. There are three ways to mount a Source Four. Attached to the light's yolk is a stud that has a hole in it, which means that it can be used in a 750 receiver. You can mount it to a 750 stand or you can attach it to a pipe clamp. The stud is also large enough to fit into a junior stand. All you need to do is remove the tightening screw.

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