Lighting Techniques: Using a theatrical light to save time, decrease crew size and save on grip gear
- August 12, 2015
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
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.
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?!
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.
But what if you do not have a crew to deploy it, or a truck to carry all of it?
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.
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°.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The big donut is being slid in front of the light beam in the below picture:
Once the donut has been put in, the beam is defined.
Here is a picture of the 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.
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:
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:
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 DIY donuts can also be used when projecting custom Gobos to sharpen the image.
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
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!
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.