If you’re on the set and someone wants a baby, what are you going to do? Give your sister-in-law a call and tell her to bring her newborn? Well, before you make that call, you may want to read on.
It seems like everything on a movie set has a name plucked out of thin air, and lights are no exception. My first day on the set was a huge learning experience, just learning the names for all the lights and equipment. But then I didn’t have this guide to movie lights to help me learn the names of common lighting instruments used in filmmaking.
Basic Lighting Terms
Fresnel – a focusable light that can go from spot to flood with a simple turn of a knob.
Barn Doors – the classic black doors on the outside of a light, used for shaping the light.
Scrim – a round wire mesh screen, similar to what you’d find on a screen door. These are used to lower the intensity of a light by half or full stops.
Snoot – placed on the front of a light to create a small, narrow beam.
HMI – daylight balanced fluorescent light that requires a ballast. Ideal for outdoor use.
Basic Incandescent Closed-face Lights
Midget – As the name implies, this 200 watt fresnel light is tiny and ideal for use in tight spaces.
Betweenie — This is a 300 watt fresnel light. It is a small light, often used for a back-light or kicker.
Inbetweenie – This 100/200 watt fresnel light is often used as a backlight. This light is often hung above a set.
Tweenie – This is a 650 watt fresnel light that is often used as a key light or back light. It is a medium sized light.
Baby — With all due respects to your sister-in-law, this is a 1000 watt fresnel light is one of the work horses of the film industry. This light is relatively lightweight and maneuverable.
Junior – This is a 2000 watt fresnel light that’s standard on most film sets. Larger than a baby, this light packs quite a punch for a relatively small lighting instrument.
Senior – This fresnel light is usually referred to as a 5K. As the name suggests, this is a 5,000 watt Large (14 inches in diameter) and powerful, this light is commonly used on film sets with broad lighting needs.
Tener – This light is commonly referred to as a 10K. With 10,000 watts of power this light is one of the big guns on the set. Moving and mounting this behemoth is usually a two-person operation.
Baby Baby — This is a 1000 watt quartz light a bit smaller than the standard baby. Ideal for hanging, this fresnel light is extremely versatile on the set.
Baby Junior – This 2000 watt fresnel light is the lightweight cousin of the standard junior light.
Baby Senior – This is another 5,000 watt light designed for increased portability as compared to a typical 5K.
Open Faced Lights
Teenie – This is a 650 watt quartz light that is often used for television.
Teenie Weenie – This open-faced 600 watt light can be focused from spot to flood. It’s compact and can be hand-held if necessary.
Mickey – This is a 1000 watt open faced light. It is compact and focusable.
Mighty – This is a 2000 watt open faced light. This light packs quite a punch for an inexpensive light.
Softlite – This light is ideal for creating a broad, soft light. It is shaped like a scoop with the light shining up onto a reflective surface to eliminate hard shadows.
Joker – a 200 watt HMI light.
While this list is certainly not complete, these were the lights most commonly used on the sets where I worked.