LIGHTBREAK is a surprisingly versatile product that will continue to reveal itself long after you begin to use it. LIGHTBREAK is a series of patterns silk-screened onto clear, heavy-duty, heat resistant Mylar. When placed in front of a light it adds texture, style and complexity to lighting design.
Patterns can be clipped to the barndoors of fresnels or mounted to standard open frames. LIGHTBREAK patterns are available in three sizes: 12"x18", 18"x24" and 24"x36". Printed designs increase proportionally as patterns increase in size in order to match patterns with a wide range of fresnels.
LIGHTBREAK patterns have many uses but the three primary applications are: lighting backgrounds, adding texture to tabletop shots, and creating highlights or accents.

Lighting Backgrounds
The most obvious use for LIGHTBREAK patterns is to create interesting background lighting. There is very limited programming that encourages flat lighting. Even shows that require subjects to be lit without contrast look for variation in background lighting. Backgrounds help set a tone or tell a story. This can be a subtle yet effective way to create style and keep the viewer engaged. There are twenty different LIGHTBREAK patterns to match the mood and tone of any subject.

This ENG interview shot (Figure A) uses window light and LIGHTBREAK to create variation in background lighting. A 650 watt fresnel with a 12x18 FROZEN SHARDS pattern clipped to its barndoors lights the wood behind the subject. Without drawing attention to itself, the broken light is both more natural looking and more interesting than an evenly lit background would be.

LIGHTBREAK patterns are used in three different ways:
1. Background light on the wood is broken up by a 12x18 FROZEN SHARDS pattern on the barndoors of a 650 watt fresnel.
2. Compare the black detail on the left and right sides of the subject's jacket. A 12x18 LIGHTNING pattern clipped onto the barndoors of a 300 watt fresnel restores detail to the jacket and adds subtle highlights.
3. Two 18x24 TILES patterns are actually in the shot. They are taped to the windows behind the subject's head.
LIGHTBREAK can add style to any background but you will gladly appreciate its effectiveness when lighting the inevitable blank, beige wall. Whether you are shooting in an empty studio, a conference room or a location with no art and bad furniture, LIGHTBREAK can help you create an interesting background by turning a blank wall into a textured backdrop. Also, you can quickly change looks by merely changing patterns. This is particularly useful if you are shooting multiple interviews in the same room.
The stylized studio shot below (Figure B) matches the outrageous subject with a daring lighting design. Two baby juniors on baby plates light a seamless backdrop through matched 2x3 LIGHTNING patterns mounted to standard 2x3 open frames. Moving the patterns away from the juniors sharpens shadows to create a bold look. These same patterns can form softer shadows that effectively sculpt light in a tasteful way for shots that are more conventional.

LIGHTBREAK patterns create a bold backgound and subtle highlights:
1. Two baby juniors and matched 2X3 LIGHTNING patterns produce distinctive background lighting.
2. Front light from a 5K passing through a third LIGHTNING pattern adds textural highlights to the model's arm and pants (frame left).
Texturized background lighting is almost always more interesting than unbroken, even lighting. LIGHTBREAK helps you shape the raw, hard, unbroken sources we use in the studio or on location into compelling background lighting. A wide range of patterns from low to high contrast and from finely texturized to slightly broken, gives you the flexibility to create a variety of backgrounds.
Tape LIGHTBREAK patterns to windows to break up sunlight. Add very thin diffusion if shadows are too sharp.
Lighting Tabletops
How many times have you been asked to shoot a "quick tabletop shot"? I have always considered this an oxymoron. The exaggerated microcosm of the tabletop serves to emphasize the benefits of LIGHTBREAK patterns. Instead of using a forest of stands to create highlights and shadows, it is possible to produce compelling images with one light and a single LIGHTBREAK pattern.
This image (Figure C) was lit by a lone 2K fresnel and one BLACKBIRDS pattern. Very light diffusion (like Hampshire Frost) will soften or take the edge off of shadows. The 2K lighting this shot has Hampshire Frost clipped to its barndoors. This results in subtle changes to the rate at which shadows transition from lit to unlit areas. Diffusion will have more effect as it is moved away from the light. Therefore, diffusion in a gel frame next to a light's fresnel lens will have the least effect on shadows while diffusion on an open frame moved away from the source will have the greatest effect on the rate at which shadows fall off (very light diffusion only).
While writing On The Road, Jack Kerouac captured his quick-flowing thoughts by using a scroll in his typewriter instead of individual sheets of paper. A sequence from the feature film Kerouac includes a representation of the author's impassioned writing style (Figure D). We hear Kerouac's voice reciting a passage from his classic novel as a series of shots of hands typing on an old Underwood typewriter evoke Kerouac's inspired effort.
The director presented the visual challenge of intercutting between three distinct looks: dramatic reenactments, historical footage of Kerouac and his peers, and stylized recreations voiced over by Jack Kerouac himself. A 1K baby and two 18x24 LEAVES patterns create a distinctive visual style for this sequence from the film. A net behind the lens interacts with the broken light to add soft glows.
Because textural lighting shapes in tabletop shots often can be measured in inches, the blackest patterns are a good place to start. Try BLACKBIRDS or LIGHTNING to create a dramatic look. Less drama but nice style can be achieved with finely texturized patterns like LEAVES or BRANCHES
The rate at which shadows transition from lit to unlit areas is affected by variables such as distance and size. Changes in shadow density are exaggerated in tabletop shots because scale is reduced but the same rules apply no matter what you are shooting. The distance from the source to the pattern, the distance from the pattern to the subject, the size of the pattern and the size of the source will each affect shadow density (Figure E).
Whenever an object is placed in the light path, heat build-up is a consideration and LIGHTBREAK is no exception:
The spot/flood position of a lamp changes both the way it produces shadows and gives off heat. The heat that builds up near the front of a lamp as it is spotted could damage LIGHTBREAK patterns. However, this is a minimal problem because the sharpest shadows are created with lamps in the full flood position. You can always soften shadows with Hampshire Frost or some other very light diffusion.
While LIGHTBREAK patterns work well with fresnels and strobes, they are not intended to be used with open face lights. The heat generated by the exposed bulb in an open face tungsten light may exceed the heat tolerance of LIGHTBREAK patterns.
Gels can be used in combination with LIGHTBREAK patterns if at least a one inch gap exists between the gel and the pattern in the light path. Otherwise a mini-greenhouse will be created between the two. This will cause excessive heat to build up and the gel and the pattern could be damaged or melt.
Creating Highlights and Accents
Establishing balance within a frame is an overriding goal of lighting design. Highlights and accents are the lights that can turn good lighting into great lighting. They can be the bold statement or the fine brush strokes that bring painterly depth, dimension and complexity to a shot. Because these lights can require some finesse, they often become the lights that we don't have time to set. LIGHTBREAK makes it easier for you to add highlights and accents because it allows you to shape light quickly.
There are many applications for highlights and accents. They can add emphasis, restore detail to dark parts of a picture (Figure A -2), introduce stylistic complexity (Figure B-2), become a compositional element, or create emotional balance by acting as a counterpoint or complement to the tone of a photo
(Figure F).
The pensive tone of this image is punctuated by a background highlight. A 650 watt fresnel and an 18x24 STAIRS pattern light the brightest part of the wall. The intention in this image is to combine color and lighting to create emotional balance. Bright colors and a LIGHTBREAK highlight counterpoint the wistful temperament of the woman.
Lighting is a Language
Lighting allows you to communicate with viewers on a nonverbal level. It is a complex language that cuts through cultural and ethnic barriers. LIGHTBREAK was created as a way to extend our lighting vocabulary. The textural lighting layer (see Why LIGHTBREAK) that is written on every image attempts to strike a balance between story, style, mood and framing. LIGHTBREAK is a refinement of traditional grip gear and gives you increased control over lighting textures.

No single lighting tool is perfect for every situation but LIGHTBREAK can enhance a wide range of images. Music videos and dramas can key subjects through LIGHTBREAK patterns. Magazine shows and corporate videos can use the same patterns for backgrounds. LIGHTBREAK is also a tool for still photographers and filmmakers lighting tabletop shots. Versatility, speed and portability are among LIGHTBREAK's strengths, however the greatest advantage to working with LIGHTBREAK is evident in the beautiful images you create.

- Jim Iacona      

copyright 2002 LightBreak, Inc.

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