Review: Power of Lighting Workshop By Bill Holshevnikoff

Mar 11, 2009

As a professional filmmaker and freelance video producer I am always looking for opportunities to sharpen my skills. I am constantly challenging myself to increase the production value of my work. Even on low-budget jobs, I strive to get the most clear and dynamic images possible? When it comes to film or digital film-making this often comes down to light… Really, we are all just playing with light, reflecting it, capturing it, using it to tell a story.

So when I heard about Bill Holshevnikoff’s Power of Lighting Workshop I didn’t hesitate to sign up. Bill is a Bay Area based DP who has been lighting and shooting award-winning broadcast, corporate and documentary programming for over 20 years. Along with shooting and directing Bill occasionally offers single-day and multi-day lighting workshops for industry professionals. However, teaching lighting is not just a side gig for Bill, he is a true lighting geek, author of Arri’s Lighting Handbook and co-producer of 3-Dimensional Contrast – Principles of Lighting for the Digital Age he is a true student of lighting.

At $100, the single-day workshop was well worth it. Held at Bay Area Sound Studios, there were around 30 professional and dedicated amateur video and film shooters and producers. Bill opened up by showing some of his work, explaining how he operates in the field, and explaining his history of studying light design. We soon got into the meat of the workshop as Bill begin to lay the foundation for our discussion about how to achieve 3D contrast in a 2D medium. This began with establishing a common language, teaching us terms such as Diffused Value, Specular Highlight, Shadow Edge Transfer, and Specular Edge Transfer, and how all of these elements can be used in conjunction to create 3D contrast.

With a full lighting set-up, camera, and HD monitors, Bill took us through a variety of lighting examples and techniques. He explained that he tries to treat each lighting situation as new, fighting the urge to fall into repetitive habits of lighting a certain scene with the same tools each time. When Bill is confronted with a lighting challenge he first assesses what unique characteristics does the set provide before he starts bringing in any lighting implements. We ended the day with a variety of exercises in lighting interviews, taking into account the unique facial structure of each subject.

I didn’t leave the workshop feeling like I will now be a better DP. I left with the feeling that I can now see lighting challenges more clearly and address each challenge with a new set of vocabular, giving me the ability to light more efficiently in the field under a variety of circumstances. Bill teaches with passsion and enthusiasm. He is a captivating instructor and very approachable. He patiently guided less familar students through the workshop while keeping the pace up for more advanced students. Since the workshop, I have sent Bill screen shots of recent interviews that I have lit and he has graciously provided feedback on how I might be able to improve.

I highly recommend Bill’s Power of LIghting Workshop #1 and look forward to taking workshop #2.