by Barry Andersson
Lighting is arguably the most important skill you have as a video content creator. It is a never ending learning process. Even cinematographers at the top of their game in Los Angeles talk frequently about continuing to innovate and push themselves to keep learning and try new ways of lighting.
I see a lot of behind the scenes photos, videos, blog posts and articles on how to light. I must admit, many of them are really well done and yield a spectacular final image. However, in the real world, these more elaborate lighting setups aren’t realistic for many shooters working today.
The number of people working on a crew continues to drop. More and more, a 1-2 person crew needs to do everything on the job. It is this reality that I teach to on my tour…
How can you get the best look, with the least amount of people, the quickest way possible AND still make a profit?
My 10 Steps from Arrival to Wrap
Walk in and look at where you will be shooting before you load in everything you have in your car. (Unless it is in an office building or someplace where it is faster to get past security and being escorted to where you will be shooting.)
Decide where you will set talent and get an idea of how you want to light (and what you need to bring in from the car.)
Grab all the gear you need and leave what you can so you don’t have to store a lot of misc cases you ultimately won’t use.
Set up camera and lights.
Wire up your talent and place them in the frame.
Tweak any lights or background objects.
Record your footage.
Release the talent. (Make sure to get the mic back first!)
Pack up gear and thank anyone from the client/building you came in contact with (guards, front desk people etc..)
Load your vehicle and head back to the office.
Easy, right?! I talk much more in-depth on all these points in my workshop
, but for now let’s focus on #2 – deciding how to light talent.
My Simple Talent Lighting Technique
On this shoot we were working in someone’s kitchen in their home. We didn’t know what to expect and had to load in, light, shoot and wrap out in under two hours. The main floor with the kitchen was raised with about 25 steps we had to carry all our equipment up. Bringing in everything from the truck would have taken too much time.
After we decided what gear to bring in, we moved onto where we would place the talent. In this case we chose to have her work on the island so she would be facing into the room and the windows would provide good back light for us.
Here is the talent in position with only available and ambient lights on.
To cut back on equipment we decided to light this scene with just two lights. We set up our key light to the left of the talent and pushed that light through diffusion (TIP: we just used a window sheer from Target). That provided us the main source for the scene and it was quick and easy to set up.
For our second light we actually placed it outside the window so it would be sort of a back edge/rim light. The windows did most of the other lighting work for us.
We still needed more fill but instead of a light and running power we dropped in a bounce card and picked up the spill from our key and the light coming through the windows.
Here is the lighting setup without anything turned on yet.
Before we finished the lighting setup, we turned off the overhead lights so we were controlling everything.
Final shot with 2 light setup.