Lighting People – On Location: New Course with Paul Atkins & Stephen Lighthill, ASC, only on MZed

We’re proud to launch another course on MZed: Lighting People – On Location. Read on to learn more about this unique online course entirely focused on practical lighting solutions both indoors and outdoors.

In this 4-hour course, master cinematographers Stephen Lighthill, ASC, and Paul Atkins, ASC, share different tips and tricks for on-location lighting, both indoors as well as outdoors. This is, of course, particularly relevant for documentary filmmakers who often have to live with what’s available in terms of location. Having worked as DPs in the industry for many decades, Paul and Stephen share a wealth of experience and knowledge with a diverse group of filmmakers, and the MZed audience has an exclusive chance to be part of that workshop. 

The Lighting People course was filmed in Austria as part of the Jackson Wild Summit – you can watch the other course with Stephen and Paul, the Wildlife Filmmaking Workshop, for free on MZed as well. 

The course is available now for free for all MZed Pro subscribers who also have access to over 500 hours of content in over 55 courses and close to 900 lessons. The course can also be purchased separately, to be owned forever, for only $39.

Lighting People – On Location by the ASC: lesson overview

Lesson 1 – Indoor Lighting with Paul Atkins, ASC

Paul Atkins, ASC during his indoor lighting session (Lesson 1 of the Lighting People – On Location workshop on MZed). Image credit: CineD/MZed

In Lesson 1, Paul Atkins, ASC, one of the most renowned wildlife cinematographers in the world, teaches indoor on-location lighting of people to a diverse group of young filmmakers. He talks about camera angles and positioning, catchlights, the direction of the light, and achieving lighting that is natural looking, depending on your location. He experiments with the positioning of the key light and how it changes the look of the subject in front of the camera, including how shadows fall. Paul talks about big light sources vs. small ones and shows the effect of reflecting surfaces as well as spill light, how to control it with black floppies, and so much more. At the end of the session, he answers lots of student questions on lighting and shooting interviews. 

Paul Atkins, ASC during his indoor lighting session (Lesson 1 of the Lighting People – On Location workshop on MZed). Image credit: CineD/MZed

Lesson 2 – Outdoor Lighting with Paul Atkins, ASC

In Lesson 2, Paul Atkins, ASC, transfers what he taught in Lesson 1 into a very simple and everyday outdoor situation during harsh sunlight. He deals with getting an acceptable image and explains why he recommends always shooting into the sun outdoors. Paul touches on how to adjust for various skin tones in outdoor lighting, and how to get more contrast even on light skin tones when the sun is out. In conversation with the students, they delve into adapting to overcast conditions and adjusting the setup accordingly. The significance of maintaining catchlights is highlighted, and guidance is provided on achieving it in various situations. Diffusing sunlight is shown in practice with frames and diffusion. The students ask practical questions about documentary shooting outdoors – how to shoot interviews on a boat, for example. Paul also goes into practical considerations like choosing the right time of day for an interview, the right location, the right clothing for interviewees, and so on. Lighting is also creating shade when needed to create contrast, especially outside, and using reflectors to create a natural-looking image without artificial light (or as a fill light). 

Paul Atkins, ASC during his outdoor lighting session (Lesson 2 of the Lighting People – On Location workshop on MZed). Image credit: CineD/MZed

Lesson 3 – Indoor Lighting with Stephen Lighthill, ASC

In his first indoor lighting session of the workshop, master cinematographer and former ASC president Stephen Lighthill, ASC, challenges the students to tell him what their plan is to light a room and then gives his comments to the suggestions. He talks about the problem of working under existing fluorescent tubes in a room when you are shooting an interview on location, and how to manage different circumstances – lights you can swap vs. lights you have to live with and how you can modify their look. Stephen talks about how to tackle different challenges when working with windows – in-shot and off-shot. They talk about working with multiple cameras in an interview and what compromises that would mean for the lighting setup. They run through various focal lengths and show the different effects they have on the face in front of the camera in combination with the lighting. Towards the end of the lesson, Stephen shows how to light a setup at a bar.

Stephen Lighthill, ASC during his indoor lighting session (Lesson 3 of the Lighting People – On Location workshop on MZed). Image credit: CineD/MZed
Stephen Lighthill, ASC during his indoor lighting session (Lesson 3 of the Lighting People – On Location workshop on MZed). Image credit: CineD/MZed

Lesson 4 – Outdoor Lighting with Stephen Lighthill, ASC

In his outdoor lesson, Stephen starts by advising the students to look at the direction the sun is moving and plan for that. He then proceeds to talk about the sweet spot of various lenses and how to find it – and what not to do with them. Stephen shares his rule of thumb that you should reflect the key light to get a natural-looking fill light. He talks about the importance of catchlights and shows his favorite positioning of a key light – in this case, a large white bounce board. They then swap to a strong LED light and show how easily a portrait shot will look “lit” outside if not used correctly. Stephen talks about the importance of consistency in lighting, framing, and lens selection within one production and much more.

Stephen Lighthill, ASC filming Terry McCarthy (ASC CEO) during his outdoor lighting session (Lesson 4 of the Lighting People – On Location workshop on MZed). Image credit: CineD/MZed

Other ASC content on MZed

We’re very proud of our partnership with the American Society of Cinematographers, and if you are interested in more ASC content, I can highly recommend that you watch the ASC Clubhouse Conversations, which bring to screen some of the most renowned cinematographers and directors in the world to talk about their productions. We have over 150 episodes on MZed, and the list is ever-growing. Here’s a recent article on the latest addition of new episodes in the run-up to this year’s Oscar celebration. The latest episodes are free to watch with a free MZed account, and you can watch all 150+ episodes with an MZed Pro subscription.

Talking about free access, our original ASC Wildlife Cinematography Workshop is also free to watch for anyone with a free MZed account. As mentioned above, that workshop was recorded together with this Lighting People workshop and also features Paul Atkins, ASC and Stephen Lighthill, ASC. They give tips and tricks regarding filming wildlife.

What else do you get with MZed Pro?

As an MZed Pro member, you have access to over 500 hours of filmmaking education, including The ASC Clubhouse Conversations. Plus, we’re constantly adding more courses (several in production right now).

For just $30/month (billed annually at $349), here’s what you’ll get:

  • 55+ courses, over 850+ high-quality lessons, spanning over 500 hours of learning.
  • Highly produced courses from educators who have decades of experience and awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award.
  • Unlimited access to stream all content during the 12 months.
  • Offline download and viewing with the MZed iOS app.
  • Discounts to ARRI Academy online courses, exclusively on MZed.
  • Most of our courses provide an industry-recognized certificate upon completion.
  • Purchasing the courses outright would cost over $9,500.
  • Course topics include cinematography, directing, lighting, cameras and lenses, producing, indie filmmaking, writing, editing, color grading, audio, time-lapse, pitch decks, and more.
  • 7-day money-back guarantee if you decide it’s not for you.

Full disclosure: MZed is owned by CineD
Join MZed Pro now and start watching today!

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