October 5, 2016

How to Get Cinematic Lighting with Just One Light

You can still get pro-quality lighting with a single light source.

Everybody wants good lighting, but not everybody has access to a bounty of lighting equipment to make it happen. However, if you know how to bounce light, you may not need much. In this tutorial, DP Morgan Cooper shows you how to do more with less using just one lighting unit and a few modifiers to get that professional look you're after.

Okay, to be fair, if you have access to one pro-level LED, like the ARRI SkyPanel Cooper uses in the video, chances are you might be able to swing renting an entire lighting kit that you could use to create a more robust/complex lighting setup. However, if you don't have room for such a setup, or you are, as Cooper says, in a pinch—or even if you just don't want or need all the extra hardware—knowing how to utilize modifiers is an important skill to have.

For Cooper's setup you'll need:

  • A light source (ARRI SkyPanel LED)
  • RoadRags diffusion
  • 2 black flags
  • Beadboard
  • 4 C-stands

Now, this setup is pretty expensive, so if you're on a budget, you can always use DIY diffusers to cut the cost. There are so many cheap alternatives for diffusion, like white T-shirts or pillow cases. And any non-reflective black material would work great in place of those black flags. If you don't have C-stands, you could get your hands on some cheap mic stands—here's one way to convert one into a working C-stand. (I wouldn't do this if you're flying something heavy, like a light, because a mic stand would most likely not be able to handle the weight.)      

Your Comment

10 Comments

Placing diffusion directly on a sky panel like that doesn't make any sense, bad advice.

October 5, 2016 at 11:47PM

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Indie Guy
631

Remember beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

October 6, 2016 at 12:24AM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1706

ummm... yeah, wrapping that cloth around the front isn't going to add any noticeable diffusion to a panel that's already essentially perfectly diffused. It might just be cutting off ventilation. Might be useful as an ND however if it's too bright at that range.

October 6, 2016 at 1:22AM

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but that would be nd on a dimmable light, still not smart.

October 6, 2016 at 10:32AM

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Indie Guy
631

For $60 you can get a nice size diffuser and other reflectors.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Y2EOBW/

October 8, 2016 at 12:15AM, Edited October 8, 12:15AM

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Vidrazor
623

Arri sky panel $5600 ... yeah right!
Everyone can afford that.
If you need this much junk to light a scene ... go back to school.

October 6, 2016 at 5:58AM, Edited October 6, 5:58AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
881

I mean to be fair, the Skypanel is like the LED equivalent to an HMI, which they do use in film schools. And if he's able to afford a skypanel, clearly he's doing something right. I think the point was that he was using a single light that had a large output and he was able to go from there. He addressed what light he was using because people are gonna ask what that light was any way.

October 6, 2016 at 10:06AM

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Nicholas Ortiz
Director/Writer/Stuntman
267

Get on B&H and but the axrtec (dracast) 1040's while they are still $300 bucks! I bought 4 of them and I love them!

October 6, 2016 at 8:59PM

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Luke Turner
Media Director
74

October 6, 2016 at 10:29AM

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Too cool to see Morgan Cooper on here! Keep up the good work, man!

October 6, 2016 at 8:57PM

1
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Luke Turner
Media Director
74