Today we had Rory, a professional gaffer come into our class to physically introduce us to some important pieces of lighting equipment and share his expertise with us. Like all Scot’s he was a very practical, honest, assertive, no bullshit kind of person – which me being a fellow Scot quite appreciated. I could see how such an attitude would get you far in the gaffing industry. He quite literally had a truck load of stuff, which was very interesting to see. Alike much of the film industry it seems that he has a preference for LED lights and being a practical man who’s had to work with this equipment for decades, I can see why. He first took us through some of the old-school lights like the Inky – used mainly in the 1960s’ – which are extremely emotionally compelling, albeit inconsistent and much harder to adjust and less energy efficient than their modern LED counterparts. When you see a light like an Inky in person and you realise that people had to rely on those inconsistent and hard to adjust units to light their sets, you develop a greater appreciation for the work of cinematographers and gaffers alike. All lights need numerous amounts of equipment to adjust the actual light source themselves, LED’s included – such as cutters and cuculoris’. But when you see a light like the Arri Sky Panel where you can simply turn a nob to dim the light or press a button to change the colour rather than grab another diffuser or another gel it really hits home how far we’ve come, but also how lazy we’ve gotten. In the hands of great people, such finely tuned equipment would make for a better lighting setup. However, it is this ease of use, that creates a culture wherein people no longer need to understand how such an effect could be achieved and how to intricately manipulate such an affect. Reflected by Robin in his musings on how modern camera’s lack of requirement for an exposure has to lead to a lack of attention to detail, when it comes to how films are actually lit. This modern invention that was meant to make life easier – the digital sensor – has indeed made us lazier and less knowledgeable on the art of lighting for film.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson