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Lighting Techniques: Using a theatrical light to save time, decrease crew size and save on grip gear

  • August 12, 2015
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Lighting Techniques: Using a theatrical light to save time, decrease crew size and save on grip gear


@shanehurlbutasc

I wanted to continue my instruction on shaping light techniques with using specific theatrical lights. Hold on, how does a light shape itself? Well, the ETC Source 4 Leko light is like having a grip and flag package inside your light.

Tungsten 500 Watt ETC SOURCE 4 Leko
Tungsten 500 Watt ETC SOURCE 4 Leko
Tungsten 750 Watt ETC SOURCE 4 Leko
Tungsten 750 Watt ETC SOURCE 4 Leko

I am not talking about barn doors that control a little, but more like having a whole flag arsenal at your fingertips. Not many people understand the power of these lights. They are not movie lights; they are meant for theater and stage plays, right?!

WRONG!!!!!

Hard Light

As we have discussed in the past in this post on Shaping Hard Light, hard light can be controlled with a series of flags and c-stands.

Shane shaping hard light
Shane shaping hard light
The light has no “light control” around it and light is spilling around the room
The light has no “light control” around it and light is spilling around the room
Notice the bottomer, topper, lamp left sider, and lamp right sider
Notice the bottomer, topper, lamp left sider, and lamp right sider
View from the opposite side
View from the opposite side

But what if you do not have a crew to deploy it, or a truck to carry all of it?

The Source Four Leko is a powerful tool. The leaves here allow you to shape and control your light.
The Source Four Leko is a powerful tool. The leaves here allow you to shape and control your light.

Have I got you yet?
Just because a light is made for the stage doesn’t mean it should not be one of the most powerful tools in your lighting kit.

What is a Leko?

A Leko is a theatrical light that uses a series of different lens barrels to project a beam of powerful light to exactly where you want it. The lens barrels come in differing degrees where the higher number means that it will spread the beam wider and a smaller number will be less of a spread.

5 Degree Leko
5 Degree Leko
10 Degree Leko
10 Degree Leko
19°, 26°, 36°, 50° Lekos
19°, 26°, 36°, 50° Lekos
Different lens barrel lengths and light spread
Different lens barrel lengths and light spread

A 36° lens barrel will give you more spread than a 19°lens barrel.

We used four different source 4 Leko barrels set up twelve feet from a wall, measured the spread, and made light meter readings at 800 ISO in the center of the light pools for them so you can see the difference between the barrels. The barrels we used were: 19°, 26°, 36°, and 50°.

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What is a Leaf?

This light is powerful. You can use the lens barrels to control the width of the beam. You can also shape it with leaves that are like having a grip and flags inside your light. Because this is an ellipsoidal light, it projects the light through a lens like a movie projector and that can be shaped internally with these four leaves that can cut the top, the bottom and both sides of the beam. This is not a soft cut. Well, let me rephrase that. You can make your cut soft if you would like or you can make it very hard. With a Fresnel light, the barn doors will only deliver a soft shadow, where the Leko can give you whatever softness or hardness you would like.

Fresnel light with barn doors
Fresnel light with barn doors
Fresnel with barn doors, light pool on wall
Fresnel with barn doors, light pool on wall
Source 4 Leko Light with 26° Barrel
Source 4 Leko Light with 26° Barrel
Source 4 Leko light with 26° barrel light on wall. Notice the sharpness of light created with leaves.
Source 4 Leko light with 26° barrel light on wall. Notice the sharpness of light created with leaves.
leaf handles
leaf handles
Looking into the barrel at the four leaves, making a square here
Looking into the barrel at the four leaves, making a square here
Close up of the Leko leaves
Close up of the Leko leaves

What is an Iris?

Not only can you use the leaves to control the light pattern, you can also use an iris that comes with the Leko to shape your pattern of light. These are awesome tools to create pools of lights in bars, clubs, highlight works of art on walls, statues, create shafts of lights, etc.

Leko Iris
Leko Iris
Notice the small pool of light created by controlling the iris
Notice the small pool of light created by controlling the iris
The iris gradually opens to increase the size of the pool of light
The iris gradually opens to increase the size of the pool of light
The iris is almost all the way open.
The iris is almost all the way open.
The iris is all the way open here. Notice the size of the pool of light.
The iris is all the way open here. Notice the size of the pool of light.
Notice the blue pools of light on the floor from overhead Lekos.
Notice the blue pools of light on the floor from overhead Lekos.
Notice the pools of pink and green light on the floor.
Notice the pools of pink and green light on the floor.
Notice the pools of pink and green light on the floor. Also notice that the spot of light focused on the table is lit by a Leko overhead.
Notice the pools of pink and green light on the floor. Also notice that the spot of light focused on the table is lit by a Leko overhead.
Leko light and smoke from The Rat Pack
Leko light and smoke from The Rat Pack
Notice the Leko light pool on the ground and the use of smoke in this shot from The Rat Pack.
Notice the Leko light pool on the ground and the use of smoke in this shot from The Rat Pack.

What is a Pattern Holder?

Not only can you use the leaves, an iris and a donut to control the light beam, you can also use a pattern holder to project images, shapes and even logos. I have used this many times to put hot patterns out of focus in backgrounds that deliver beautiful bokeh or patterns to emulate tree dapple, or venetian blinds. You name it, Rosco has a pattern for you.
Rosco pattern library

You can send a logo to Rosco and they will make you a pattern to project on walls.

Rosco Gobo - Venetian Blinds
Rosco Gobo – Venetian Blinds
Rosco Gobo - 3x3 Tall Window
Rosco Gobo – 3×3 Tall Window
Rosco Gobo - Leaf Breakup (Small) Pattern
Rosco Gobo – Leaf Breakup (Small) Pattern
Rosco Gobo - Stucco Leaves
Rosco Gobo – Stucco Leaves
Rosco Gobo - Stippled - Blue Red Lavender
Rosco Gobo – Stippled – Blue Red Lavender
Rosco Cool Ink HD Gobos
Rosco Cool Ink HD Gobos

 

2014 Hurlbut Visuals Versatility in Filmmaking Educational Event with our logos projected on the wall
2014 Hurlbut Visuals Versatility in Filmmaking Educational Event with our logos projected on the wall

What is a Donut?

No, it is not a delicious treat. It is a device that helps create even harder shadows out of a Leko light. It slides in the front of the lens barrel and helps define the beam better out of the light and eliminates the wall, the person, or the bounce card from seeing the whole face of the lit lens barrel.

Here is a Leko light without the donut.

26° leko light without donut
26° leko light without donut
Inserting the big donut into the front of the Leko
Inserting the big donut into the front of the Leko

The big donut is being slid in front of the light beam in the below picture:

Close up of the donut being slid in front of the front of the barrel
Close up of the donut being slid in front of the front of the barrel

Once the donut has been put in, the beam is defined.

Front of the Leko barrel with the big donut
Front of the Leko barrel with the big donut
Side by side comparison of light with and without the big donut
Side by side comparison of light with and without the big donut

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Here is a picture of the small donut being put in front of the Leko barrel:

Small donut being put in front of the Leko barrel
Small donut being put in front of the Leko barrel

Below is what the front lens barrel looks like with the small donut placed in. Notice how the beam is now defined with the smaller space for the light to go through.

Front of Leko barrel with the small donut in place. Notice the smaller space for light
Front of Leko barrel with the small donut in place. Notice the smaller space for light.

Below are images showing the Leko without the small donut, and with the small donut. The small donut also creates nice sharp edges in the light:

Side by side comparison of no donut on the light, versus the light with the small donut.
Side by side comparison of no donut on the light, versus the light with the small donut.

Here is a picture of the light without the donuts, with the big donut, and with the small donut so you can compare the sharpness:

Side by side comparison of no donut, with the big donut, and with the small donut
Side by side comparison of no donut, with the big donut, and with the small donut

I am going to use black wrap instead of buying the expensive donut. A little DIY solution here.

We also took light meter readings of the 26 degree Leko without the donuts, with the big donut, and with the small donut so that we could find the F-Stop loss.

The three light meter readings from left to right: No donut, big donut, small donut
The three light meter readings from left to right: No donut, big donut, small donut

The DIY donuts can also be used when projecting custom Gobos to sharpen the image.

Hurlbut Visuals Gobo projected with a Leko without a donut
Hurlbut Visuals Gobo projected with a Leko without a donut
Hurlbut Visuals Gobo projected with a Leko and a big donut. Notice the increased sharpness.
Hurlbut Visuals Gobo projected with a Leko and a big donut. Notice the increased sharpness.
Hurlbut Visuals Gobo projected with a Leko and a small donut. Notice the sharpness in comparison to the projection without any donuts.
Hurlbut Visuals Gobo projected with a Leko and a small donut. Notice the sharpness in comparison to the projection without any donuts.

All videos were edited on HP Z840 workstations using HP Z24x DreamColor monitors.

How much does this baby cost?

Well, that is the beauty. You can pick these lights up very cheap. Just over 1 will get you set up for success with all the bells and whistles I described above.

SHANE’S LEKO PACKAGE

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In Conclusion

There is not much that this light cannot do. You can clearly see how this light will save time and increase your lighting speed exponentially.

Shane’s Inner Circle members got to see  how I use this theatrical tool in tungsten as well as its new LED form to light with in many circumstances. Don’t miss out on articles like these – sign up today!

New LED ETC SOURCE 4 Line

My 25 years of shooting movies in many different environments has given me the experience to share these tips with all of you. This playbook will propel you ahead of your competition.

Learn even more tips and tricks in Shane’s Inner Circle.

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