(Krause - Revised 2/2/03)
Nothing impacts the look of a video more than lighting. The most beautifully
framed shot will be useless unless it’s properly lit.
- When ever possible, give yourself plenty of time to set your lights.
Do a site survey in advance to find a good space to shoot in. Try to
get access to the room an hour before you need to shoot or bring in
your talent. That way you can set up in advance and be ready to go at
the required time.
- Avoid mixing outdoor and indoor color temperatures. If necessary be
prepared to block out light coming in through the windows with dark
cloth. Blue gels can be used on tungsten lights to match outdoor color
- Don’t position your subject in front of light walls. Separate
your subject from the background. This way you can light each element
separately. Larger spaces give plenty of room to position lighting instruments
and are easier to light than small spaces.
- Think about how you will light your subject. Soft light or hard? Broad
or narrow? A colored gel as the back or hair light can be a nice touch,
especially if it works with the background light, hair color and clothing.
If you need to light a large space you can bounce the light off of a
wall or reflector to create diffused light.
- Know how to control your lighting instruments. If your light is too
bright you can add neutral density gels, scrims or position the light
further away from the subject. Use barn doors and flags to control unwanted
- Pointing undiffused light directly at your talent will usually be
too harsh and cause hard shadows that will be difficult to soften. Similarly,
on a clear day, the sun will act as a key light, creating hard shadows.
Using soft light indoors usually provides more pleasing results. It’s
easier to shoot outside on overcast days when the lighting is diffused.
- Consider power requirements of your lighting equipment. (Amps = Watts
divided by volts) Overload-ing a circuit can trip breakers and blow
- Don’t bump or move lighting instruments when they are hot. The
bulbs are expensive and when heated, the filaments are susceptible to
- Check that you’ve selected the proper filter. Then set your
- White balance after your lights are set and turned on.
- Before you start to shoot, critically observe the framing and lighting
through a good monitor. Don’t forget to check your viewfinder
or monitor with color bars to make sure it’s calibrated. Give
yourself time to make adjustments.
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