The Value of Lighting


If all the world’s a stage, you should ask for better lighting!

If there’s one thing that can make a difference in improving the final perceived value of a video, TV commercial, photograph, or movie - it’s lighting. Certainly, there are a lot of other very important technical aspects of a project that affect the finished product - like music, camera angle, script, etc. However, lighting is essential. Without it, all you get is a black image. And yet, it always seems like lighting is the most misunderstood and undervalued component of an endeavor - often being one of the first items cut from a budget. This is a grave mistake and I’ll explain why.

Lighting is a very important aspect of communication that influences the subconscious perception of what you’re showing. Why do blockbuster movies have that film ‘look?’ Yes, the fact that it was shot on film is a factor. But if you pulled one frame from the movie and examined only that, you would probably still know that it was from a movie. Similarly, if you flip channels on a TV and come across a soap opera, you can almost immediately tell it’s a soap opera. Why? Lighting!

I believe that lighting is a true art. It visually controls the mood of a setting. If you’ve ever attended an event where the room’s cold, bright, fluorescent lights were turned on immediately after the event concluded, you know how much of a difference lighting can have on the appearance of a situation. There is almost a physical shock to your system when those lights get turned on!

This same concept is applicable to video. How each scene is lit affects what people think about the images that they see. For example, look at the following four photos and consider what the lighting is trying to convey – or what you think the scene is about.

As you can see, the position of the light as it hits the subject and the color that it projects can have a dramatic impact. Did you notice that the upper left and lower right photos were taken from the same location and camera position?

Now, to bring it closer to home, here are a few more examples of environments that we have lit. The next time you find yourself in a doctor’s office, hospital, classroom, or even in your own living room, take a moment to compare the difference between “what it is” and “what it can be.”

It is surprising how much difference taking control of the lighting can have on an everyday situation. Even something as simple as an on-screen interview or ‘talking head’ will look significantly better with a few well-placed production lights. The following three scenes were shot in a church Sunday School room, a small exam room, and a school district’s board room respectively. Lighting turns the ordinary into extraordinary.

As a company that understands the importance of lighting, we have a significant investment in lighting equipment and have the expertise to use it. We have over 100 lighting fixtures with a combined power capacity of almost 75,000 watts. (That’s the equivalent light output of 1,250 sixty-watt household bulbs.) And although we have never needed all of this capability at a single time, we maintain this inventory to make sure that we are always prepared to be able to make the scene look its best. This is our commitment to the value of lighting.

If you want your product, your office, your staff, or whatever you’re showing off to look as good as it can, you must invest in the value of lighting. Yes, it will add to the time required to set-up and shoot the scene. AND, you will receive an immediate return on that investment by having locations, products, and people that ‘look’ better than the competition.

Ben Price Production Department Manager Agama Advertising