August 4, 2014

This Is How You Light a Short Film Using Only an IKEA Trash Can

Over the years, we've covered a wide range of methods and tools for lighting a film, everything from hardware store clip lights to high-end cinema lighting tools. As fantastic and practical as some of the higher-end tools can be, most of us just don't have the budget to rent (let alone own) those tools, so we end up resorting to cheap fixtures and DIY light-sculpting methods in order to illuminate our films. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however, considering that having a DIY mindset when lighting can produce some truly ingenious and cost-effective techniques. Not So Fast, a short film from David F. Sandberg, is one such example of DIY lighting ingenuity. In a short BTS video about the making of the film, David reveals how he used a plastic IKEA trashcan in order to create a portably-powered DIY beauty dish that provides fantastic results.

First up, here's Not So Fast:

And here's a quick behind the scenes look at how exactly Sandberg pulled off not only the DIY lighting (and a DIY dolly move), but also how he used Blender, the free 3D modeling tool, to create the trippy effect of the doorway being pulled back into space.

There's just so much to love about how Sandberg made this film. The IKEA trashcan lined with tinfoil is a concept that mirrors how a traditional beauty dish functions in that it provides a relatively soft and uniform light that falls off quickly. When combined with purposeful underexposure, this single light source allowed Sandberg to easily create the enveloping sense of darkness behind the dreaming character. To take the concept of the IKEA trash can light even further, you could use a modified version of the contraption with diffusion (or other gels) taped to the mouth of the trashcan to create beautiful, soft light for character closeups, as an eyelight, or even as a background light for moody, atmospheric ambient light. The possibilities are endless.

For me, this is low-budget filmmaking at its finest. We're at a point where reasonably priced cameras like the BMCC and the insanely inexpensive BMPCC are at everybody's fingertips, DIY lighting and grip equipment can be found at your local hardware store (or IKEA), and post-production tools like Blender, Lightworks, and Resolve Lite provide professional results for free. It's safe to say that the practice of high quality filmmaking, which was once extremely expensive and out of reach for most people, is now within the grasp of anybody who has a story to tell.

Link: David F. Sandberg -- Vimeo

[via FStoppers]

Your Comment

47 Comments

Wow..!! Loved the way you did D.I.Y everything..!! It's Inspiring!! Hats off to you!! But instead of using 3D software firstly i thot u used camera on dolly and a zoom out to show the door moving away. Thats's the same effect i used once and simple too, But u know the situation better..!! and yes IKEA is best..:)

August 4, 2014 at 8:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Manprit Shergill

Yeah, when playing around in Blender I realized that it just looked like a dolly move. Still, I had more control with Blender and for such a long move the tracks would have been visible in camera.

August 5, 2014 at 1:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dauid

True that!! Whatever it was!! it's done perfectly..!!

August 5, 2014 at 7:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Manprit Shergill

David's film Lights Out is about the best horror short you'll ever see.

http://vimeo.com/82920243

August 4, 2014 at 10:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ant

Thank you! It was kind of made thanks to NoFilmSchool where I found out about the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge.

August 5, 2014 at 1:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dauid

I love 'Lights Out'.

August 5, 2014 at 5:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lights Out is, for me, a perfect short. Simple, skilful, and it does what it does so brilliantly. I showed it to everyone when it zipped around the Internet a few months back and the final shot always got a terrific scare. That little flick is just so much fun. Well done, David. This one's also a cracker, although I ruined it for myself by watching the BTS first. Shame on me. Keep up the awesome work, in any case.

August 5, 2014 at 10:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sandberg is a genius! I recomend everybody to check out his prize-winning hysterical animated short called "All quiet now" available on youtube.

August 4, 2014 at 11:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Johan

Wow! I love it!

August 5, 2014 at 12:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Fabio

Boring "story",cliche "twist",awful lighting. imho

August 5, 2014 at 1:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mike

Thats why he has millions of views on Vimeo and you have... yea.. zero.
imho

August 5, 2014 at 2:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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MrL

And that's why Michael Bay make millions.

August 5, 2014 at 4:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hampus

Mike,

IMHO means "in my humble opinion". I think you actually meant IMATO: "In my asshat trolling opinion".

August 5, 2014 at 8:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Don

Sure,Don. I forgot to check if my opinion fits into your views on cinema.

August 5, 2014 at 8:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mike

Mike,

You obviously fail to see the irony of your reply.

You're entitled to your opinion. However, if this forum were an actual room, I doubt you would have shared your thoughts in such an abrasive and dismissive manner. You were provoking a response, hence I called you out as the troll you are.

August 5, 2014 at 9:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Don

I am not sure your definition of irony and trolling coincide with mine. The only irony I see here is that I left a negative opinion about the film and you called it asshat trolling. A bit abrasive and dismissive manners don't you think? Or do you believe in the eye for an eye policy?

August 5, 2014 at 11:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mike

Like it. Don't like it. Who cares. My issue wasn't with your opinion, but the manner in which you chose to express it.

You wouldn't have said what you said, the way you said it, directly to David in a room full of people.

August 5, 2014 at 2:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Don

Mike, I agree.

Don, an artist has to have tuf skin - once you leave the harbor of friends n family you will start collecting flak just because.

Mike wrote exactly what I was thinking to myself. Plus I am surprised this piece got featured on NFS because -- ignoring the number of views this guy getz -- the piece is easily not even a C+ work unless we started to give As just for hitting start n stop on the camera.

August 5, 2014 at 4:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Firef1y

Mike, we look forward with eager anticipation to the day you post that exciting, beautifully lit, conceptually original and economically pared alternative horror short that you were too humble to share with us until now.

August 7, 2014 at 4:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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aidan

Bulls**t, criticizing an opera won't need you to do a better opera done by yourself. This is a mediocre work, a good D.I.Y: idea, but the movie is just mediocre.

November 29, 2014 at 5:30PM

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Dario Corno
D.P. at Liquid Gate Studio
75

i agree.
I don´t know why people just want to read good critics.

It is great all the DIY about this short, no doubt but, come on people. this is nothing.

And please don´t tell me that i have to make a short my own to critic this one. I am just part of the audience.

August 7, 2014 at 5:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Uno

Ok mr filmmaker expert. I'm sure you create very interesting films.

November 28, 2014 at 7:09PM

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Enrique Godinez
Director/Producer/Actor
434

Yaay! Something I made is featured on NoFilmSchool. Thanks for writing about it!

August 5, 2014 at 1:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dauid

Dauid, this is a very rare thing to happen, very rare (I only say this when I find something exceptional, which almost never happens) - but you are a genius! Watched some of your other works and I am an amazed. Keep it up!

August 5, 2014 at 2:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mariano

No, thank you! This was totally awesome and inspirational. Keep up the good work, and feel free to send us an email about your filmmaking endeavors at any point in the future.

August 5, 2014 at 3:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4061

Go scandinavia! ;-)

August 5, 2014 at 5:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nicely done, but most of Sandbergs movies are extremely repetitive, dont you think? Lights out, Pictured, Cam Closer, Not so fast... its the same cliche story all over again. The main heroine sees something, then she doesnt see it, then she sees it again... the monster will get closer and closer and at the end it will jump out and say boo :)) How many times we saw something like this. This is nothing new :)

August 5, 2014 at 9:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Laurel

But it still works :))

August 5, 2014 at 9:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Laurel

Anyway, I would like to see Sandbergs short "Wallace". Where could I see it?

August 5, 2014 at 10:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Laurel

It's not online yet but it will probably be eventually. And I think we mixed it up at least a little bit with 'Not So Fast', I mean there's no scary face at the end. Unless you count my face.

August 5, 2014 at 10:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dauid

:-)

August 5, 2014 at 12:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Laurel

The fact he's done it a couple of times is why Lights Out was able to be the perfect short.

August 5, 2014 at 10:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ant

NFS not sure how much of your readership comes from Indonesia but my friggin government has banned vimeo (don't ask me why) so it would be great if you could post alternative options (like youtube?).

I looked up Sandberg's movies on youtube and I found his movies posted by others but also found what I think is his official youtube page (not sure how much it will help but if he is monetizing his youtube hits it would be better for nfs readership to go straight to his site, i guess) it is found at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/ponysmasher/featured

Last but not least, I couldn't find the "All Quiet Now" video ... any (youtube) links? Thanks, from Jakarta.

August 5, 2014 at 10:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jakartaguy

Yep, that's my youtube channel. I am monetized but don't mind links to Vimeo as I think it offers a better experience for viewers. A real shame about Indonesia blocking it.
You can find "All Quiet Now" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83rq4G569EM (just be prepared that the humor could be considered quite... immature, I guess is a way to describe it).
You can also find things I've done on my website: http://dauid.com.

August 5, 2014 at 10:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Probably some conservative powers think vimeo shows too much skin...

August 5, 2014 at 7:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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August 5, 2014 at 10:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jakartaguy

Wow David we posted at the same time.
Anyways, great work and thanks for taking the time out to share your movie making tips. I am sure you know there will always be haters/trolls ignore them like you would ignore the red bubble heads in your cartoon, hahha.

All the best from Jakarta

August 5, 2014 at 10:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jakartaguy

Nice film - but I think nearly more awesome than the light he used (which basically is no diffused light through a dustbin, what I initially thought) is the way he connected the dolly rails! Never seen that solution and I think its great!

August 5, 2014 at 1:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I saw a variation of that online somewhere so I can't really take credit for that. A lot of my DIY solutions are at least partly inspired by stuff I've seen or read about online.

August 5, 2014 at 1:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dauid

Awesome idea. Thanks for sharing!

August 5, 2014 at 1:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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tybo

It's alright, I guess, the almost trying to be humorous ending just really killed any sense of tone for me. It felt kind of hollow overall. I mean, that some interesting-ish DIY stuff, but other than that, I don't see why this article is talking about the film like it's the Indie God's gift to mankind.

Also, side note, if they had the time and budget for a BMCC, a lens like that, and to screw with Blender you think they might have been able to splurge a bit for a small pro light, a rented dolly track, and an extension cord (I mean for god's sake, you're in a house, not the desert, you really don't need a battery and an inverter, just find one of the dozen wall outlets).

August 5, 2014 at 3:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Noel

These are films my wife and I make for fun with no budget at all, just using the stuff we have (camera and lens was bought for a project with a budget). Not really the kind of project to rent a dolly for :-)

If I didn't already have the battery and inverter I absolutely would have used an outlet but this way there was no risk of tripping on a cable while running back and forth. The light was also used outside the basement door where there was no outlet.

August 5, 2014 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sorry Noel, but there is no logic in this:
"Also, side note, if they had the time and budget for a BMCC, a lens like that, and to screw with Blender you think they might have been able to splurge a bit for a small pro light, a rented dolly track, and an extension cord."

1) Blender is free
2) Time to spend doesn't rent dolly tracks
3) Having budget for a BMCC and a lens doesn't mean there is budget to rent anything. If it would work like that, I would go on:
if there is budget for a camera, there is budget for a dolly.
If there is budget for a camera + dolly, there is budget for a crane.
If there is budget for a camera + dolly + crane there is budget for a few extras.
If there is budget for a camera + dolly + crane + few extras there is budget for a few more extras
.....
If there is budget for a camera + dolly + crane + 100000 extras + large crew there is budget for Robert Downey Jr.

And all that for only $200 a day. Or even better, just for owning the camera :-p

There is a limit to what you can spend...

August 5, 2014 at 8:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Slippery slope there, but fair point, the budget comment was unwarranted and not well thought out, and I apologize for being too hasty there. And dauid, if these are the films you like to make, go ahead. I still stand by my criticisms, but who am I to tell you what to make. In fact, I've liked a few of your films a lot. Maybe a little cheesy at times, but solid atmosphere, and that goes a long way.

August 5, 2014 at 10:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Noel

Love the DIY attitude :-)

August 5, 2014 at 7:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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"Mike wrote exactly what I was thinking to myself. Plus I am surprised this piece got featured on NFS because — ignoring the number of views this guy getz — the piece is easily not even a C+ work unless we started to give As just for hitting start n stop on the camera." <--- That. Plus, there's nothing "genius" about this. And don't get me started on the "acting"... (rolls eyes)

August 7, 2014 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcus

The trash can and the DIY are interesting, but hey, there's no story.

August 9, 2014 at 4:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pekay