DPs and Gaffers - Hard Light, Fresnels vs PARs

thefilmbook by Benjamin B

Happy New Year! I continue the popular DPs and Gaffers series. Here is part 5 from the seminar held at Camerimage 2012 in collaboration with my friends at K5600 Lighting.

In Part 1, the panel discussed who does what, and the difference between the American & European systems. In Parts 2 and 3, they discussed their lighting and rag lists. Part 4 was about the impact of digital.

Here the subject is hard light, along with a comparison of Fresnels versus PARs.


The panelists: Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, gaffer James Plannette, best boy Matthew Butler

Michel Abramowicz, AFC, gaffer Reuben Garret and moderator Benjamin B


1. the panel

The panel included 2 cinematographers, 2 gaffers and a best boy:

-- Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC - cinematographer

-- James Plannette - gaffer

-- Michel Abramowicz, AFC - cinematographer

-- Reuben Garrett - gaffer

-- Matthew Butler - best boy

The event was initiated by Marc Galerne of K5600 Lighting, with the additional support of Jacques Delacoux of Transvideo. The video was shot by young cinematographer Eloi Rimmelspacher. I did the editing.


2. hard light, Fresnels versus PARs

The cinematographers and gaffers discuss the use of hard directional light, and the choice between fixtures with Fresnel lenses versus PARs (Parabolic Anodized Reflectors). There is some playful teasing between long-time friends Vilmos Zsigmond and James Plannette.


watch on YouTube


- Vilmos, Michel and James talk about avoiding multiple shadows

- Vilmos warns that students often start with soft lighting,

forgetting about the cinema tradition of hard light

- James says that he feels that Fresnels should often be diffused to look realistic

- Vilmos jokes with James about fill light

- Vilmos shares his love of directional lighting with Fresnels

- James suggests using the same tool for multiple lighting jobs

- Michel offers that PARs are useful when shooting action quickly,

and shares the perils of working with a director who used to be a DP

- Reuben describes the PAR light, the Fresnel, and the latest generation of lens-less PARs with new reflector designs

- Matthew adds practical considerations of repair in the field


Cinematography master Vilmos Zsigmond





Michel Abramowicz

Matthew Butler

Reuben Garrett

James Plannette

Vilmos Zsigmond

Video cameraman

Eloi Rimmelspacher


K5600 Lighting


Camerimage Festival


Vilmos Zsigmond and James Plannette share a laugh


The seminar and videos are dedicated to the memory of Gilles Galerne.


wide shot


This is the last post in the series of DPs and Gaffers


thefilmbook: DPs and Gaffers - 1. Who Does What

thefilmbook: DPs and Gaffers - 2. The Lighting List

thefilmbook: DPs and Gaffers - 3. The Rag List

thefilmbook: DPs and Gaffers - 4. Digital

thefilmbook: DPs and Gaffers - 5. Hard Light - Fresnel vs PAR



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