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GregBest

SITCOM Lighting info?

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I've googled and read, and watched a few sitcoms....  does anyone have any great info about the best way to light sitcom stage for TV, Netflix or any of those?  I'm launching a project beyond my knowledge and want to LEARN.   thanks!

-gb

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You got me curious so I looked around myself. These 2 pictures were okay in helping me understand how they take care of it.

cover-1000x576.jpg

seinfeld.jpg

These BTS pictures were taken in similar eras. It appears many Tungstens were hung overhead and bounced downward. As well as some additional sources closer down to the talent's level, but still out of shot obviously.

While the type of light might not necessarily need to be the same, you'll absolutely need a set with high ceiling.

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yes, they seemed like a crap ton of lighting overhead.  your pics confirm that for sure.

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It depends entirely on the nature of the shoot. For sitcoms (like Seinfeld) that were recorded on-stage, in front of studio audiences, on multiple cameras. There was really no way to have any units on the floor. So an overhead grid was essential.

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More and more sitcoms are tending to single camera shoots. These are lit the same way as anything else and don't have "sitcom" lighting, just film lighting. Depending on the look can be achieved with minimal lighting units. 

At the lower budget range this is the way to go. To do a proper multi-cam sitcom you need a lot of resources.

I directed a multi-cam sitcom when I was an MA student at the NFTS. The logistics were not for the faint of heart. We built an office set which took 4 workers about 3 weeks to complete. The set took 2 days to pre-light. We went fully tungsten on dimmers about 80 to 100KW worth of fixtures. Giving a nice bright look that was like filming in a blast furnace. We had a couple of image 80's on floor stands that could be moved around as well. 

Its quite difficult to pull of an interesting cinematic look this way, ours ended up looking a bit flat and sitcom. 

If I was remaking the script I'd be looking for a location, shooting single camera and pushing the look darker.

The main advantage of multi-cam is the speed. With well rehearsed actors and good crew you can smash through an episode in about 3 hours to shoot.

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The general approach is lighting that from center camera position is cross-keyed from upstage (3/4 cross backlight) and a lot of front light, so that from the side cameras, the faces are 3/4 keyed by what is a cross backlight to the center camera.  Then accent lights for furniture, window lights, etc.  And a day and night scheme.  Smaller areas on the set like a kitchenette in the corner might just get a soft box overhead, plus any acting areas that are so close to the walls that they can't be cross backlit and are too deep upstage to get enough of the front light.

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Thank you Max, Mark, Phil, and David.  Great great,helpful info.  I'm definitely aiming at the flooded FRIENDS/SEINFELD/FRASIER look, so this is perfect info.  Whether we get close on a modest budget remains to be seen.  :)

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Part of sitcom process is the have the lights on dimmers controlled via a desk. This lets you dial in a look very quickly.

Also its nice to quickly dim the lights between takes to limit heat build up if your using lots of tungsten

 

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