Lighting solutions to create right mood and texture for movies

The work that cinematographer Craig Kief does is anything but ordinary. He’s responsible for lighting The Muppets, an ABC single-camera comedy that chronicles the on- and off-set antics of a legendary cast of characters.

Craig Kief ETC Film lighting lighting

Craig Kief, Lighting Director Photo: Craig Kief

The series’ show-within-a-show platform has Kief lighting a typical talk show – concert lighting for band performances, spotlighting for interviews, and effects lighting – with the added complexity of having to light both humans and puppets known for their signature bold colour. It wasn’t easy to achieve the right look with suitable lighting solutions due with the variety of colours on-set.

Having incorporated ETC Selador Desire and Source Four LED luminaries into his work a couple of years before, Kief decided to use it for lighting The Muppets set. The fixtures are based on the philosophy of the x7 Color System, which combines up to seven LED colors per fixture to create the most extensive palette possible from an LED source. “The color is really important for digital cinema cameras, which have a much more limited range of hues that they can see than the naked eye. Strong colors can appear very different on camera, and the subtlety of the seven-color system allows for fine-tuning. Being able to look through the camera and paint the image with whatever color you want – in no time at all – is an incredibly empowering creative tool,” describes Kief.
“Color on The Muppets is extremely important to me, and quite a challenge,” he continues. “The puppets contain every primary and secondary color in the spectrum, so our palette in the sets and lighting has to be carefully chosen to keep separation from each other and the backgrounds. The Source Four LEDs and Desire fixtures allow me to quickly and accurately dial in that palette. I could use them to give mood and texture to a scene that otherwise might not be possible within our shooting schedule.”

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