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Light it Right

Victor Milt Lighting DVD Reviewed By Stephen Schleicher

In the todays market where crews, equipment, and time are ever shrinking, yet production values are expected to grow, it is difficult to be a master of all aspects of production.  One area that is constantly shorted and ends up affecting the quality of the video is lighting.  Light it Right from VASST is the latest training DVD to hit the market to offer help to those wanting to improve their skills.

Light it Right is one of the few training videos on the market today that takes a direct approach to lighting DV material.  In fact, the entire video was shot on DV to prove the point that you dont have to be an expert with hundreds of thousands of dollars in gear to make your shot look good.  Instead, all one needs are some practical tips on using the equipment they already have access to from someone who has made a living in lighting.  That someone is Victor Milt.

Victor Milt has shot thousands of commercials (many of which are instantly familiar), and it is clear from the start he has a wealth of information to pass on.  Throughout the video he does a great job of explaining what he is trying to accomplish and why, and even gives some every day tips that work not only during the shoot, but can be applied in ones everyday life.

Besides getting great advice from someone who has a very solid background in film and video lighting, the best part of Light it Right is the section of building your own Nano-softlight.  For years videographers have been told to avoid fluorescent lights like the plaque.  It has only been in the last few years that innovators like Walter Graff and Victor Milt have demonstrated, quite effectively, how a few bucks at the hardware store can create lightweight, cheap, and effective ?flo lights using common everyday objects.

The Nano-softlight is no exception.  The instructions presented on the DVD show you step by step how to create a professional looking light kit for around $75 using foam core, duct tape, and off the shelf energy saving fluorescent bulbs.  This section alone is worth the price of the DVD.

Light it Right

There are some problems I had with the Light it Right DVD.  For one, it is hard to determine exactly who is the target audience.  It begins with a tour of the very high end equipment used in film work, then transitions to how times have changed allowing those shooting DV to light high quality shots, giving the impression this is a beginner course.  Some of the information contained in the DVD is aimed squarely at beginners, but then there seems to be a switch in gears with some comments and examples clearly targeted to those who have a couple of years under their belt and are looking for ways to improve.

After viewing the content, I would have to say Light it Right is not the best DVD out there for a novice, but is a perfect companion for those who are actively working in the field and need to improve their shots.

What would I like to have seen?  The same thing I have been asking for in every lighting DVD out there diagrams.  There is only one training video that includes diagrams showing exactly how the lighting set up was accomplished.  This is not only handy for someone wanting to learn the basics, but also gives a good foundation for someone wanting to expand upon an idea or concept. 

In Light it Right, Victor Milt makes the comment that everyone who uses the same set ups are bound to have repetitive and boring videos.  While I may agree that videographers need to break away from typical three point lighting setups; including diagrams of the example shots does help to broaden ones mind.

I would also like to have seen more real world examples.  Light it Right talks briefly about simple product shots, board room lighting, lighting the podium speaker, and factory lighting.  However, when it comes to the section on lighting on location, Victor talks about how he shot a celebrity commercial, but doesnt demonstrate how it was done.  While the results are certainly spectacular, all we see is the final result, but not where the lights were placed what fixtures were used, or, most importantly, why.

Off the top of my head I can name four video lighting training DVD titles on the market right now; Digital Lighting Magic 1, 2, 3, from Elite Video, DV Enlightenment from DVCreators.net, The Power of Lighting by Bill Holshevnikoff, and now Light it Right from VASST.  Each one of provides a different take on how to light effectively some more successfully than the others.  There is certainly one of these titles I would recommend you stay away from, but Light it Right isnt that title.

Light it Right does a good job of demonstrating quick lighting setups for a variety of situations and was the number one selling DVD at NAB 2005.  Those with some lighting experience will find the information contained in this DVD very valuable.  Good content, and the willingness to include the Nano-softlight instructions, earn Light it Right a Good Buy Recommendation.

The Light it Right DVD sells for $125.  For more information, visit VASST at www.vasst.com.

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

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