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Saturday, October 30, 2010


Lighting is one of the most important things that you can do to make your film look good. Don't ever believe some camera manufacturer when they say that you don't need to light your film. Hands down, the most time consuming thing that happens during production is good lighting. It has been a long time since the need has existed, where lighting was just necessary for exposure. With most modern camera's and film stocks we can now get exposure with very little light, but the mood, and feel of your film can be greatly affected by the lighting.
Think about this:
Even without an actor on screen - your audience in just a few seconds can gather a lot of information about the image they see on screen. A dark shadow filled shot is mysterious and scary. A bright low contrast shot is inviting and safe feeling.
Do you like walking around your house in the middle of the night with the lights off? Or do you prefer to do it in the middle of the day? Remember your audience feels the same way.
A few pointers:
Flood lights with a Fresnel lens produce hard single shadow beams of light. They are the best for lighting people because they produce only one shadow. You can soften this light by shooting it through a diffusion frame or clipping a diffusion gel on the doors of the light.
The larger the beam created by a diffusion material the softer the light will be.
But any type of light can be used to light your scene, candles, work lights, neon, florescent. It doesn't really matter, but remember the more you shape the light the better it will look to your audience.
Also remember to white balance your camera. Sunlight is 5600 degrees Kelvin which is blue in color. And Tungsten Quarts lights are 3200 degrees Kelvin or orange in color. Florescent lights have a puke green color of about 4500 degrees Kelvin, even color corrected Kino-flo tubes will generate this green spike the longer you burn them and the hotter the tubes become. It's always good to have some minus green on hand when using florescent lights.
For those who do lighting for a living there are four properties that are important to always remember.
  1. The Color of the light.
  2. The Direction the light comes from.
  3. The Quality of the light, how hard or soft of a shadow it makes.
  4. And the Intensity or quantity of light that that exists.
If you can master these four properties you are well on your way to being able to produce good lighting in your films.
I'd wager to say that good lighting is more important overall to the look of your film than what type of camera you shoot it with.

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