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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – December 21, 2017

Larry Jordan

Pat Grosswendt, Co-Founder, Senior Sales Specialist, Litepanels
Bobby Finley III, TV/Film Lighting Consultant, VER Enhanced Environments
Tama Berkeljon, Managing Director, Outsight
Joel Lipton, Photographer/DP, Joel Lipton Studio
James DeRuvo, Senior Writer, DoddleNEWS


Male Voiceover: The Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by KeyFlow Pro; media asset management software, designed to meet the needs of work groups at an affordable price.

Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we are looking at lighting; trans technology and tips.  We start with Pat Grosswendt, Co-Founder of Litepanels.  Pat teaches lighting; so tonight he sets the scene with tips on lighting a scene, as well as new lighting technology that will impact us in 2018.

Larry Jordan: Next, Bobby Finley III is a TV and Film Lighting Consultant for VER; specializing in enhanced environments.  This technology replaces traditional green screens with monitor walls, which give the actor something to play against, as well as provide much more realistic lighting.

Larry Jordan: Next, Tama Berkeljon is the Managing Director of Outsight; they make the Creamsource brand of lights.  Tonight he shares the criteria we should use in selecting an LED light and new technology that’s captured his interest.

Larry Jordan: Next, Joel Lipton is a Freelance Still and Video Photographer, known for the quality of his lighting.  Tonight he shares his tips on lighting, both still and video scenes; what he looks for in lighting a scene; and the equipment he uses.

Larry Jordan: All this plus James DeRuvo with our weekly doddleNEWS update; the Buzz starts now.

Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking: Authoritative; one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals.  Current; uniting industry experts.  Production; filmmakers.  Post-production; and content creators around the planet.  Distribution; from the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.

Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry; covering media production, post production and marketing around the world.  Hello, my name is Larry Jordan.  This holiday season, we are surrounded by Christmas lights; hung from trees, houses and just about anything else that doesn’t get up and walk away.  So it struck us that this was the perfect time to talk about lighting.

Larry Jordan: Tonight, we assembled a variety of experts, from the people that make the gear, to the people that use it.  I think you’ll find tonight’s show illuminating.

Larry Jordan: By the way, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at; every issue, every week provides quick links to the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers.  Best of all, every issue is free and comes out on Saturday.

Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo.  Hello James.

James DeRuvo: Happy Holidays Larry.

Larry Jordan: A very Happy Holiday to you and I hope you have some time off this coming week.

James DeRuvo: Well, you know, is there ever really any time off during Christmas?

Larry Jordan: No, we just spend a lot of time doing other things.

James DeRuvo: I need a vacation from a vacation.

Larry Jordan: What have you got for us this week?  What’s our lead story?

James DeRuvo: Well, Canon is expanding the first generation C300; that very first cinema EOS camera they created.  They’re actually finally getting around to upgrading them to dual pixel autofocus.  It was promised back in 2014, but now Canon is offering a hardware upgrade program, so users can send in that first generation C300 to an authorized Canon service center and, for $500, install all the hardware to be able to use dual pixel autofocus.

James DeRuvo: Along with its contrast autofocus feature, both will work in concert to detect a face shift in the subject’s movement and make for more natural autofocusing, while reducing any hunting; so it’s going to be a very nice focus in the future.

Larry Jordan: Who do you see as the target market for this upgrade?

James DeRuvo: Well I think, those who really don’t want to spend more money to buy the mark II will love this, because it’s only a $500 upgrade and I think, those who are going to use their C300s as a B camera, will find it an ideal upgrade as well Larry.  It’ll certainly give those first generations cinema cameras some legs.

Larry Jordan: Okay, Canon continues to make news.  What else happened?

James DeRuvo: Apple finally embraces virtual reality in Final Cut Pro 10.4.  Users will be able to edit 360 degree video with several new tools, including 2D and 3D effects; that are designed to interact in a virtual space and they’ll also have visual controls for adjusting horizons, managing camera bleed from one camera clip to another and users will also be able to interface with the timeline through an HTC Vive headset.  In additional Final Cut Pro 10.4 also provides support for 8K and HDR workflows.

Larry Jordan: What’s your take on Apple’s move?

James DeRuvo: Well, you know, while everyone was going bonkers over virtual reality this year, Apple kind of stood on the sidelines and waited to see how it would shake out.  Now this move into virtual reality means Final Cut Pro X and Premiere are essentially equivalent when it comes to virtual reality editing capability.  Both are use purchased 3D party tools; both support headset interfaces and they display virtual reality to the screen; so Parody is once again the norm between Final Cut and Premiere, making it a more personal preference than a technological advantage.

Larry Jordan: Well we’ve got upgrade news from Canon and Apple, what else is happening?

James DeRuvo: Well, we have another merger.  Remember Disney bought Fox last week and now, LensProToGo and are merging to create this huge presence in the online film gear rental space.  It’s dubbed as a kind of a marriage; the merger between the two companies will enable them both to take advantage of each other’s strengths.  Lensrentals has a huge inventory and, being located next to a FedEx hub in Tennessee means faster shipping worldwide.

James DeRuvo: Meanwhile, LensProToGo has a customer service angle offering unbiased support solutions for customers big and small.  So both companies will still operate, with a separate presence for their existing customers and they also promise not to let go of any employees; so that’s the good news.

Larry Jordan: Well, do you see this merger as good, bad, or just another merger?

James DeRuvo: You know, I think it’s just another merger.  Both companies promise that nothing is really going to change Larry; they’re just get better with the expertise that both bring to the party and with this marriage between the two rental portals, that may be the case.  But, my question is, are customers just going to stay loyal to each of them without exploring the other and how long before the new concern will simply start streamlining where duplication is obvious?  These are the questions that will need to be answered as time moves on in 2018.

Larry Jordan: Alright, well those are our top three stories; what other stories are you following this week?

James DeRuvo: Well, other stories that we’re following include Philip Bloom is leaving his old Mac Pro behind for a PC running Adobe Premiere.  The iMac Pro is available now and Larry can show you how to configure it and an old friend says goodbye to us here at doddle.

Larry Jordan: Yes, we will miss Heath; Heath McKnight is leaving us as the Editor-in-Chief and I wish him great success in his new endeavors.

James DeRuvo: Yes, he’s going to be missed; I loved working with Heath.  He’ll still be around but we’re going to miss him.

Larry Jordan: We will indeed.  For people who want to keep track of these and the other stories that doddleNEWS is following, where do they go on the web?

James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at

Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Senior Writer for doddleNEWS and James, as always, thanks for joining us this week.

James DeRuvo: Happy Holidays Larry.

Larry Jordan: Happy Holidays to you as well; take care.

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Larry Jordan: Its wide range of features are all at a very affordable price and with the new 1.8.3 update, rescanning is up to ten times faster.  Plus KeyFlow Pro is integrated with macOS notifications; enabling you to collaborate faster and smarter all in real time.  KeyFlow Pro is available at a Mac App store, or, get a 30 day free trial at  KeyFlow Pro, simple, elegant and surprisingly affordable.

Larry Jordan: Pat Grosswendt is the Co-Founder of Litepanels, where he now works as a Senior Sales Specialist, supporting their sales teams in the Americas, Asia Pacific and China with technological insight.  He’s also actively involved in new product development and a frequent contributor to the Buzz.  Hello Pat, welcome back.

Pat Grosswendt: Morning Larry, great to hear from you.

Larry Jordan: Pat, I want to divide today’s conversation into two parts; the craft of lighting and the technology of lighting and let’s start with the craft.  One of the hot new trends is 360 degree VR; how do you light a VR set?

Pat Grosswendt: Virtual reality and augmented reality, which are so popular now, both rely on lighting; but not the type of lighting I think that we’re all commonly used to.  Because so much of it is tracking and variable; so I think a base value of illuminants and it may be 15 foot candles compared to 150 several years ago.  But it is more, in my humble opinion, an emphasis on just an atmospheric level; because so much is done digitally, whether it is augmented or virtual.

Pat Grosswendt: If I’m wrong in any regards to somebody that’s listening that does it quite often, they need to get in touch with you and correct my thought process.  But that’s really what I see from the people I meet and talk with; whether it’s gaming companies or other.

Larry Jordan: Well let’s shift back into standard traditional filmmaking.  When you’re lighting a set, when do you use soft lighting and when do you use hard lighting?

Pat Grosswendt: Great question.  I think I’ve said before on your show that lighting is very personal.  I think, for all your listeners, one of the greatest YouTube videos I’ve ever found is a project called 100 Years of Women in Film and it really visually touches to your question, when you use soft and when you use hard light.  Simply because it follows 100 years of image capture of actresses in motion picture and we went from a very high key light with shaping and shadows, maybe you’d have a MiniBrute or a small carbon or clear glass next to the lens to cut a hard shadow on them; to softer, more ambient feel, shading, the faces and how the faces reflect that hard light compared to soft light.

Pat Grosswendt: Because it’s such a personal effect and, you know, the film stock has gone from 12 ASA to 16,000 in itself, the idea is that it’s personal that the story that you’re telling wants to be what gravitates the design of lighting, for the choice of the DOP and Director and, as a tool and being a gap where you’re assimilating that insight into mechanically making it happen.

Pat Grosswendt: In all honesty to the question, it doesn’t really speak to the old days of hard light and a fill to the one ratio; it speaks to what touches the moment.  It may become reflective value as a key or a fill more so than what we traditionally understand.  I think that objectivity is what’s important and what marks the distinction of different DOPS and their crews and how they work to achieve their looks that people hire them for.

Larry Jordan: What questions should a Director or a DP ask when they’re deciding what lighting gear to buy, or to rent?  What are the key questions?

Pat Grosswendt: Rent before you buy; give yourself a chance to understand why you want to buy it; look into leasing before you buy it, because you can buy it all at the end of your least for a dollar and get the tax right off.  I think, again, it’s how you work and what becomes a part of you as far as your package; so you might want to get a set of jokers; you may want to get a light panel; you may want to get a breezy light; you may want to just go in and have them supply everything and not have any needs for lighting, because you’re going to get into filters and lenses as a sub rental ad on to match your package.

Pat Grosswendt: Again, it’s very personal and I think your listeners can understand that.  It’s not like brain surgery or anything to the extreme, it’s pretty much use common sense in what you’re looking to do and how to achieve it.  Then as you proceed to get more involved in bigger projects and reliability, then look at other products that will actually fit that need on a more consistent basis.

Pat Grosswendt: You may start with a clip light from Home Depot and, if that works, that’s a great thing; but eventually you may want to sophisticate your tools and that’s when you can look out at what’s available and try them.  Go to the trade shows, look at what somebody’s got and ask them what it’s about, or what it is.  Just educate yourself on not to be afraid to ask.

Larry Jordan: Which gets me to technology.  Most lighting today, aside from extremely large bright lights, has shifted to LED sources.  Given the fact that the world of light now revolves around LED, is there anything new in lighting technology we should pay attention to?

Pat Grosswendt: I think, what’s new is old and what’s old is new.  Again, there will constantly be the acceptance of LEDs and there will constantly be the acceptance of hue saturation intensity being a good choice in a lighting device.  Whereas, originally, 15 years ago when we started, you know, we had daylight which was so hard to get in a small compact , battery operatable light, that you could put on the camera or hold in your hand and has since graduated up to sophisticated pieces of equipment.

Pat Grosswendt: With that, when I say hue saturation Intensity, the ability to actually pick any color from the color wheel and its intensity or values like that.  You’re starting to see more of that come to the market, as in our own products and also to the advantage that it may work as one tool does a number of different things.

Pat Grosswendt: For instance, if I was going to look at my Gemini, which is a two by one soft light, it’s not just a soft light that can be daylight tungsten plus or minus screen, but it’s also the ability to go into a gel mode, preselected; or I can go into hue saturation intensity and adjust all those variables for one shot and then use it at another location, on another shot, maybe as a background element, instead of a key soft fill.

Pat Grosswendt: Those advantages with the new technology are very advantageous to learn about and, again, that’s what we do our roadshows for is to educate the end users, student, semi-pros, as well as some professionals that are in town and want to see it and have the ability to come and see it, come and look at the equipment and see how it works.  Pretty much most people, just getting in a car, they’re either going to feel comfortable or not comfortable; so those opportunities you give yourself to know more about it by touching and feeling it becomes a better process of you educating yourself and eventually making a decision to buy.

Larry Jordan: Which gets me to the last question I’ve got, what are the latest products from Litepanels that we should pay attention to?

Pat Grosswendt: Well we’re very excited about our new Gemini, which is the two by one soft light and it does a number of things; including daylight tungsten or HSI.  But, as in all light panel products, how we do it is what makes the difference and stands us up amongst the others.  We’re also very excited about the Astra 6X, which has been doing great globally and, with that, we continue to develop products that are touching what’s happening in the marketplace for all users; not just filmmakers, but documentarians, industrialists, educational and medical.  We’re just staying busy, like we always have been.

Larry Jordan: For people that want to go to the web to learn more about Litepanels and its products, where do they go?

Pat Grosswendt: The simplest thing is to go to

Larry Jordan: Spoken like a man that’s done it before and Pat Grosswendt is the Senior Sales Special for Litepanels and Pat, as always, thanks for taking your time today.

Pat Grosswendt: Thank you Larry.

Larry Jordan: Bobby Finley III is a TV and Film Lighting Consultant for VER.  A cinematographer himself, he specializes in creating enhanced environments for feature films and TV.  Hello Bobby, welcome.

Bobby Finley III: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: What’s an enhanced environment?

Bobby Finley III: An enhanced environment is using LED monitor walls to replace blue screen and/or green screen, to give a more realistic on camera look to your scene.

Larry Jordan: What’s the advantage of using enhanced environments over traditional blue or green screen?

Bobby Finley III: Bringing more realistic lighting into your scene, all in-camera effects; so eliminating some of the post, or all of the post and giving your Director and your Actors a much more realistic version of a scene that they’re working in.  We put images on the LED screens, which serve as the backgrounds and also for the light, using the environment that you want to put the Actor into, to create a more realistic look.

Larry Jordan: Because you’re actually projecting the images through the LED monitor, the lights are wrapping around the Actor, making them look like they’re much more included in the environment?

Bobby Finley III: Correct, yes.  One or two screens act as the background and there’s usually additional screens providing 360 degrees worth of lighting, representing where they are supposed to be standing, or sitting, or driving, or whatever it is.

Larry Jordan: What’s a recent job you’ve used this for?

Bobby Finley III: We’re currently using it on a TV show called Quantico and a larger profile light, Murder on the Orient Express.  We provided very, very large LED screens outside the train cars; to provide movement and light along with being a background for the Actors to play against on the train.

Larry Jordan: When you’re creating one of these enhanced environments, who helps determine the look?

Bobby Finley III: Well usually it’s determined by either the Visual Effects Department, in conjunction with the Art Department, along with the Director of Photography; all deciding that they want to bring this look into their project.  Then we have discussions on how to achieve it.  It depends on if it’s a train, or a car, or outside a building, spaceships, whatever the requirement is.

Larry Jordan: Do you need to shoot material that’s going into those projectors differently than if you were just shooting it direct?  Do you have to worry about frame size, or frame rate?

Bobby Finley III: Yes.  You try to shoot the plates as they would be if you were really on location.  That’s the way I approach it; depending on the cameras being used.  Sometimes a production will actually just buy plates that have been shot and then placed on the Internet for purchase.  There’s a couple of different companies that do that.  They were mostly designed for shots to replace green screen and blue screen backgrounds; so they’d be more manipulated in post, where you have a lot more control in dealing with artifacts and issues in the plates themselves.

Bobby Finley III: When we go out and shoot them for specific scenes, for specific requirements, angles and time of day particular scenarios; you know, whether it’s something very specific that they want to see outside, then I try to shoot them, or whoever’s going to shoot them, as close to how we would have shot them if they were shot on location.

Larry Jordan: This kind of technology, which replaces blue screen with actual monitor walls, is this affordable by medium sized productions, or do you have to be a multi hundred million dollar project to afford it?

Bobby Finley III: Oh no, we have them on regular network television shows.  So much of it depends on how they want to use it and how much they want to use it.  Much more creative for the Directors and the Actors like it better, because they can actually feel and see where they’re supposed to be and you actually see them.  When they were doing a car process, when they’re watching the road in front of them, they adjust and turn the wheel and feel like they are driving.  You get a lot of bang for your buck.

Larry Jordan: Bobby, for people that want more information about this kind of technology, where can they go on the web to learn more?

Bobby Finley III:

Larry Jordan: That’s and Bobby Finley is a TV and Film Lighting Consultant for VER.  Bobby, thanks for joining us today.

Bobby Finley III: Thank you.

Larry Jordan: Tama Berkeljon thought he wanted to build robots, instead he got involved with feature films; working on the Lord of the Rings, Happy Feet, Fury Road and many others.  Now, he’s the Managing Director of Outsight; an Australian company that makes LED lighting gear.  Hello Tama, welcome.

Tama Berkeljon: Hello Larry, how’s it going?

Larry Jordan: So far it’s going great.  Tonight we’re talking about lighting, so, to get us started, how would you describe what Outsight does?

Tama Berkeljon: We have a specialty in building high-powered, rugged luminaires for mostly the film and television segments of the industry.

Larry Jordan: What are some of your principle products?

Tama Berkeljon: We have the Creamsource Doppio, which is a 360 watt two by one fixture; the Creamsource Sky, which is 1200 watt five color high DB space light solution and the newly introduced Creamsource Micra, which is 80 watts, high color, water resistant.

Larry Jordan: I’ve been working with lights for a long time and I listen to phrases like 80 watts, or even 1200 watts, those don’t sound very bright compared to the two K and five K and ten K lights that we’re used to.  Is there a direct comparison, or do the numbers mean different things?

Tama Berkeljon: The numbers do mean slightly different things; because LEDs are much more efficient than tungsten and somewhat more efficient than HMI, in most cases.  With tungsten we work on roughly sort of a five to one ratio; in LED source, depending on how efficient it is, it’s typically four to five times more efficient than the tungsten.   A 1200 watt Sky, for example, is equivalent to maybe a five or a six kilowatt tungsten space light.

Larry Jordan: Do we need special electrical circuits to support a 1200 watt light, or can it be powered on a standard house circuit, or what do we need for power for that?

Tama Berkeljon: Very good question.  A standard general purpose outlet will power the light.  A two and a half kilowatt circuit will almost run two of them; on location, without having to modify anything and without having to bring a generator in, in many cases.

Larry Jordan: When we’re picking lights, do we want to pick a light which is color accurate, or that has consistent color across all the instruments?  I read a lot about the color reference or color index of 90%; or 95; or 88, how important do we need to worry about that number?

Tama Berkeljon: Quite a lot till you get over about 90 or 92; beyond that point it gets more and more difficult to discern the differences.  Obviously higher numbers are better, but also beware of the sales speech in part of it and know that the numbers actually don’t mean everything; obviously testing with real people and skin tones and your camera and all of the other elements that you might be playing with.

Larry Jordan: You mentioned the quality of the color is one component.  What else should we consider when we’re choosing a lighting instrument?

Tama Berkeljon: The point that I was making was that the CRI numbers are not necessarily completely indicative of the quality of the light.  It’s actually possible to create a light source which hits all of CRI numbers, but still doesn’t have a very nice spectrum and so, because it’s a sampling system and you sample a number of points throughout tele space, if you hit those points and those points alone, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve produced other colors well; it just means you’ve reproduced the sample’s colors correctly.

Larry Jordan: What criteria, besides CRI, should we consider?

Tama Berkeljon: TLCI is quite interesting and uses a sampling system, as well as a camera model; in order to help solve this issue.  The TeleQuality system, the CQS, is another interesting one.  Beyond that, good testing, understanding what other people are doing with lights, what people are seeing, what people are trusting are all valid ways of verifying that the lights you’re using are good.

Larry Jordan: Seeing as you’re in charge of plotting the strategic direction for your company, what’s the latest in lighting technology?  What trends are you paying attention to, that we should watch for in the next six months to a year?

Tama Berkeljon: There’s a bunch of things sort of affecting the space.  The Adventive’s Microcontroller is now being in absolutely everything; it’s finally really affecting the lighting market as well.  Everything from connectivity and control, through to the … itself is being affected.

Tama Berkeljon:  You mentioned before, matching between different light sources, well, the interesting issue in and of itself, in the past we had fairly analog light sources and no ability to really calibrate them once they left the factory; now we have slightly smarter light sources which can be calibrated in the factory and then can modify themselves over their life; so continue to produce as accurate as possible colors.  These kind of things are I think changing the way that the tools can be used in the future.

Tama Berkeljon: Looking at that kind of thing and trying to think about how customers can have equipment that lasts for a very long time and is actually useable for a very long time; these sort of questions drive the thinking surrounding our deeper research into these topics.

Larry Jordan: For people that want to take a look at the products that you’ve got, or learn more about your company, where can they go on the web?

Tama Berkeljon: They can go to

Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, and Tama Berkeljon is the Managing Director of Outsight that makes Creamsource and, Tama, thanks for joining us today.

Tama Berkeljon: Thank you so much Larry.

Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to,  doddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries.  It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry.  doddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platform, specifically designed for production.

Larry Jordan: These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings provide in-depth organizational tools for busy production professionals.  doddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts community; a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers.  From photographer to filmmaking; performing arts to fine arts and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed.

Larry Jordan: Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals; or requires state of the art online tools to management your next project, there’s only one place to go,

Larry Jordan: Joel Lipton is a Still Photographer Cinematographer who loves a wide variety of subjects and shoots all of them.  He’s been a Freelance Photographer for more than 30 years.  Hello Joel, welcome back.

Joel Lipton: Thanks Larry, good to be back.

Larry Jordan: Joel, tonight we’re talking about lighting and, as someone who shoots both stills and video on a regular basis, how would you describe the differences between lighting a stills shoot versus a video shoot?

Joel Lipton: It is different.  Because people are moving through the frame, I would say that when you’re lighting for video, often times you’re lighting an area where somebody is moving through that space; whereas, when you’re shooting stills, you’re lighting for a moment, for making sure that moment in a still image is perfectly lit for that exact moment.  That would be a very sort of simplistic answer, but that would be lighting something more specific, because it’s not moving in a still image and lighting an area for video.

Larry Jordan: It sounds like lighting for stills is much more precise.

Joel Lipton: Yes, I feel lighting for stills is much more precise.  You know, there may be different schools of thought about that and I think lighting for video is also precise, depending upon what you’re doing.  If you’re lighting people, someone can walk, someone could be a shadowy part of a room, walk through to something that’s brighter; the light doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, because it’s about how that person is moving through that space.

Joel Lipton: If you’re doing a stills shoot, you would never just put somebody in the shadow part of that area, because, what would be the point; so you do have to be more perfect, I would say, yes.

Larry Jordan: Would you change the way you light, if you were doing say a close-up of an actress where she wasn’t moving, versus a close-up of somebody for a still?

Joel Lipton: Yes.  I mean, if you’re doing a wide shot in video, you’re lighting more of sort of a general area, because, you know, somebody’s moving through; but when you do move in for a tighter shot, you do want that continuity to match as much as possible in video or film.  For video, if you’re moving in tighter, you would work on that and try to make it more precise, in the close-up.

Larry Jordan: Let’s focus on video for a moment.  What process do you follow when you’re setting up for a video shoot; lighting, of course.

Joel Lipton: It depends on your location.  If you’re in a studio, we are completely lighting it, like literally in a sound stage, nothing else there; you have one set of facts or rules.  If you walk into a location that is a real location, with some sunlight or some available light in it, then you’re going to do what you can with your lighting to enhance that and let the available light be part of it.  You’re either enhancing that light by using still, or you’re edging the light somehow, or you’re trying to mimic the sunlight coming through and sort of accentuate it.  It depends on the situations.

Joel Lipton: In terms of starting out, it’s really what situation you’re walking into.  It can go different ways.  Also, when you’re lighting for something, I’m not working in a vacuum.  As a commercial photographer, I’m working with clients, so I have to find out what the mood is; what we’re selling or what we’re doing; whether it’s an interview, a commercial or a music video, those all inform how you’re going to light a specific situation; whether it’s daytime, night time and such.

Larry Jordan: The more I learn about technology, the more I realize, the only answer to any question is, it depends.

Joel Lipton: Yes, that’s true.  I mean, I think the thing about lighting is, as a visual person, everything is lighting; it’s texture, it’s coming up into a scene, or kind of deciding how you want to light something.  Do you want something to be high key?  What’s the mood of what you’re trying to do?  When you were asking me about, you know, when I come into a scene, how do I decide what to do lighting wise?

Joel Lipton: Like I said, some of it depends on a client, what they want me to do, what the product is; whether it’s an interview, whether it’s a commercial, there’s so much to decide upon that.  You would know that as well, as a filmmaker.  But it’s all about how you see it texture, whether you want a hardback light, whether you want something soft, whether you want beauty light and it’s just being able to see that and get to it kind of quickly.

Joel Lipton: I think one of the things I try to do a lot, even when I’m shooting still lights, like we have been doing some still light interiors for clients and they’re all in a warehouse; so there’s no daylight, no sunlight, but yet we try to make it look like daylight, or window light, or sunlight.  If you over light something, there’s something about it that just doesn’t work and so you just sort of have to approach it like, imagine there’s a window here, let’s make it look as much like window light or sunlight as possible.  You usually find, the simpler you do stuff, the better.

Larry Jordan: Do you rent or own your lighting gear?

Joel Lipton: I own some lighting gear, for video and for stills and I rent as well, when I need more; I have like a small package for myself.  Most stuff that covers most of my still work, that’s a smaller space and I will rent when needed; especially bigger production stuff.  From the bigger side LED lights, from the still side strobes.

Larry Jordan: What type of lights do you prefer to use and, again, shift back to video?  Does your preference change upon what you’re shooting?

Joel Lipton: I use more LED, from panel type lights, whether it’s light panels or Kino Flo lights are very, very nice sources of light.  Usually using something to control or modify that light; whether it’s diffusion, whether you’re mounting.  But generally, nowadays, the quality of LED lights is really exceptional and you get a lot of bang for your buck; because the output of a light and the color and the quality that you get are great and it doesn’t take a lot of power; so, you don’t need a lot of generators.

Joel Lipton: You can often run off house power, you can run off battery and so they’re convenient, they mix with daily light.  A lot of LED lights also have bicolor lights, so you can match them with tungsten lamps or with daylight.

Larry Jordan: What lighting technology currently interests you and why?

Joel Lipton: Well, definitely along the lines of LED.  There’s some company that I use their lights, it’s a company called BB&S Lighting; their phosphorescent LED light, their quality of light and their output of their light is very high-powered for the unit that they have.  There’s a lot … and it’s a real nice punchy light, but you can control it with soft boxes and even bounce it.

Joel Lipton: They also make a very small light that is called a pipeline light; which is a tiny, maybe one foot long by an inch or so and it’s very, very powerful.  It makes a beautiful eye light over the camera, if you need it.  You can also tuck it away into small places, if you’re shooting in a car or, you know, in a desk; you know, in a scene where you need to hide something, it’ll kind of give you a nice soft light.  It’s controllable, dimmable and super portable.  The smaller lights with digital cameras these days I think are where things are going; smaller and smaller.

Larry Jordan: Joel, I’ve had a chance to visit your website and look at some of the images you’ve posted there and they are stunningly beautiful.

Joel Lipton: Oh, really appreciate that; thank you.

Larry Jordan: Here’s my question.  How do you decide when an image is good enough to release?

Joel Lipton: It’s a good question Larry and I’ve got to think about that.  You know, I’m my own worse critic, so I think I have to really feel that it is impactful, that people will like it and what contemporary it speaks to me.  I think, if it speaks to me, then I think others will appreciate it.  It’s hard to talk about your own work like that.  But yes, I would say, if I’m proud of it; and there’s a lot of imagery I’m proud of and there’s a lot of stuff that I probably should release, but haven’t gotten to it.  We’re all very busy.

Larry Jordan: Joel, for people that want to admire your work and hire you for their next gig, where can they go on the web?

Joel Lipton: My website is  Plus, you can see my work around in magazines and stuff and for various clients on the web.

Larry Jordan: The website is  Joel Lipton’s a Freelance Photographer and, Joel, thanks for joining us today.

Joel Lipton: Thanks so much Larry; great to be here.

Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, lighting and audio are my two favorite technical areas of production; both try to establish a mood, an emotional feel for a scene.  Lighting does it for the eye, while audio does it for the imagination.  While I enjoy lighting a scene, what I really enjoy is watching someone who lights on a regular basis light a scene.  Their ability to use some of the most arcane hardware used in production; to create an environment for the Actors, borders on the magical.

Larry Jordan: When I started in this industry, we regularly used four 2,000 lights and a generator to cover a simple talking head interview.  Today we use the same four lighting positions, but with LED fixtures that plug into the wall and don’t require special air-conditioning.  I will never forget, as one of my first commercial gigs, putting so much light on a bottle of perfume that it exploded; forcing the evacuation of the studio, because the smell was overwhelming.

Larry Jordan: As we heard in tonight’s talk, light instruments today are getting lighter, brighter and small and the risk of exploding perfume bottles diminishes with every day.  Just something I’m thinking about.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Pat Grosswendt from Litepanels; Bobby Finley III from VER; Tama Berkeljon from Outsight; Joel Lipton, Photographer; and James DeRuvo of doddleNEWS.  There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at  Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online and all available to you today.

Larry Jordan: Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday.  Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at

Larry Jordan: Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner; with additional music provided by

Larry Jordan: Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription; visit to learn how they can help you.

Larry Jordan: Our Producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.

Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is Copyright 2017 by Thalo LLC

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