The Cinematography DeCal at UC Berkeley

Hey y’all! Week 8 was all about types of light and I’m here to bring to light what you might have missed. Pun intended.

His work hits close to home… er… Berkeley.

So this week we were lucky enough to be “visited” by Mark Vargo over Skype who not only answered our questions in detail, but was also kind enough to chat with us beyond the time that was initially planned. What a rad guy. As a result of his radness we didn’t get to cover all the slides… But really, we weren’t going to turn down Mark Vargo for a PowerPoint (sorry Toby). All the slides from the class can be found in the “Photo” section of the Cinematography Decal group on facebook.

Now some of you are wondering, “Who is Mark Vargo?”. Well besides being an all around swell person, he is a successful DP who has worked on a variety of projects from The Green Mile to Poseidon to Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  He has also done special effects work in Raiders of the Lost ArkStar Trek II: Wrath of Khan, and Ghostbusters II. You can check out his full filmography on his IMDB or check out his reel.

Now onto the lighting portion of our lecture. Mark Vargo is still involved (are any of you keeping tally of how often I say his name?) with helping the next generation of Cinematographers learn their craft. We watched his very comprehensive guide to types of light, aptly titled, “Let There Be Light”. Watch it right here, it’s a great set of 10 minutes packed with information:

He covers the historical, technical, and practical values of light and its properties, particularly in regards to film (well, he is a filmmaker after all). He goes over the traits and applications of a variety of different lights from Fresnel Lights to Lekolites. The video is a clear and easy introduction that discusses most aspects of lighting, including the science behind light (electromagnetic spectrum, color temperature), simple lighting techniques (flooding, spotting), and additional equipment related to lighting (spot meter). My written explanation of these things would ultimately bore you and probably sound more complicated than how Mark Vargo puts it. I recommend you watch the video, plus he makes a guest appearance, entering with the classic, “Hello, I’m Mark Vargo” and ending with a playful, “Adios for now”. Definitely worth it for both its informative and entertaining qualities.

Here’s the video of our chat with Mark. He talks about his general experience in the film industry all they way down to the nitty gritty technical details about camera work and special effects. This was truly a unique opportunity and there’s plenty to learn from our Q&A session with him. (P.S. Sorry about the shakiness. I didn’t have a tripod and my arms were a bit tired. I am only human.)

Some more from the rest of the class:

Little overview of Leko Lites

Little overview of Leko Lites

Different on set uses of light

Different on set uses of light, various budgets and types of light.

Well, that’s all folks. There’s not much else I can say about the class that can’t be better said than Mark Vargo in the clips above. So watch them and I hope they shed some light on lighting, camera work, and the film industry as a whole. Start with a pun, end with a pun, (and in the words of the Kool Aid Man) “Oh Yeaaaaaah”.

(Have you been counting the number of times I wrote Mark’s full name? If you got eight, congratulations, you can count.)

Ellian Ohn is a Film Studies and Practice of Art student at the University of California Berkeley. When not on campus or filming, she spends most of her time drawing, eating, or blogging. You can find her artwork here and check out her co-authored blog here. Contact: