» Posts Tagged ‘lighting’

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Poor Man's C-StandFew filmmaking tools are as ubiquitous and multifunctional as the C-Stand. From mounting lights at any conceivable angle to flying modifiers/flags, C-Stands have literally hundreds of uses on a film set. The only problem: C-Stands are not cheap. At roughly $150 a piece — and that’s for the cheaper models — C-Stands aren’t something to which low and no-budget filmmakers have constant access. Luckily, there are some significantly less expensive alternatives out there that can provide much of the same functionality at a fraction of the cost. Scott Eggleston over at the Frugal Filmmaker has one such alternative that he’d like to show you, and it will only set you back $20. More »

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Diffusion PanelAs no-budget filmmakers, chances are we’re spending a lot of time trying to navigate the placement of powerfully bright lights as we shoot scenes in cramped areas, and having a way to diffuse light is imperative in order to avoid blowing out your shot. There are so many solutions to this issue, like using bounce cards, reflectors, umbrellas, softboxes, ect., but, like most things, these pieces of gear can be a little (or insanely) expensive. However, also like most things, there are DIY builds that’ll save you tons of money without sacrificing quality, and product photographer Tony Roslund is here to show you how to build just such a diffusion panel for only $30 without having to bust out your bandsaw. More »

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DIY filtersGood lens filters can empty your wallet pretty quickly, but the effects they produce are beautiful (and oftentimes needed). If your name isn’t Rich Uncle Pennybags, or if you’re a DIY enthusiast like most of us here, Film Riot has put a couple of ladies’ unmentionables to the test: traditional black stockings and fishnet stockings to see which replicates the effects of a $100 black pro-mist filter best. And as an added bonus, we’ve shared a few extra DIY filter ideas, from plastic soda bottles to plastic Pringles lids. More »

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CropperCapture[92]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. More »

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Shane's Inner CircleLearning about cinematography online is no easy task. Since there is more educational material about cinematography on the internet than one person could possibly sift through during an entire lifetime, finding relevant, topical information when you actually need it can be a bit of a drag. Luckily, there are a few online resources to combat this. Shane Hurlbut’s fantastic blog has always been one of them, but since Hurlbut and his team are entirely devoted to educating the next generation of cinematographers, a simple blog wasn’t enough. That’s why they created Shane’s Inner Circle, an interactive educational gathering place for up-and-coming cinematographers, where Hurlbut will generously share his wealth of knowledge, as well as a hefty set of tools, with followers. More »

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Coen/Deakins The Man Who Wasn't ThereSome things are just meant to go together. Peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, and, of course, the Coen brothers and Roger Deakins. Through the past two decades, the dynamic filmmaking duo and the esteemed cinematographer have collaborated on upwards of 10 feature films, most of which are iconic in their own right. It’s safe to say that the Coen/Deakins collaboration train has produced, and continues to produce, some of the finest films of the generation. Like all great things, it can be both fun and educational to look back at the varied work that the legendary team has produced and analyze what makes their work so effective and entertaining. A new retrospective video from Blag Films lets us do just that. More »

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cleantechnica led street lighting lights lamps sodium vapor mercury clean green la los angelesEarlier in the year, we posted about the city of Los Angeles’ massive changeover to LED streetlights and some of the ways in which it might affect the appearance of LA in cinema. In addition to its ecological and economic benefits, this new street lighting has a lot of interesting photographic implications, particularly due to the LEDs’ more daylight-like rendition of color. Following the post I was fortunate enough to take part in a segment of KCRW’s program Which Way, LA? in which Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister shed his own unique light on the subject. More »

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Composition & DepthThere are many aspects to the art and craft of cinematography. There is a technological component to it, of course, and that’s something that we talk about frequently. However, most people agree that it’s not the equipment that is used, but instead, how it is used that determines the efficacy of a given cinematographic piece. Of the many artistic facets of the craft, perhaps the least understood is composition. Many of our most coveted compositional techniques and theories come from history’s greatest visual artists, and they are entirely fascinating and useful once understood. Unfortunately, learning about them can be about as interesting as watching paint dry. Luckily, the following video on composition is not only informative, but it’s also, dare I say, entertaining. More »

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CropperCapture[77]There are many jobs in the filmmaking process. It all starts with a script, a story waiting to be told. Then there’s the director, the visionary, the person with the plan. But we all know that filmmaking is highly collaborative, so a team begins to emerge, with a group of like-minded artists all striving towards the same goal. You’ve got your art directors and production designers, and new worlds are created. You’ve got your editors, who lovingly craft the footage into the final piece of art. You’ve got your makeup artists and VFX artists and loads of other craftspeople who ultimately shape the film in some unique way. And then there’s the cinematographer, the person behind the lens. But what exactly does a cinematographer do, and what does it mean to be a cinematographer? The following short video from the EFTI School of Cinematography in Spain has the answer. More »

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Flashlight CinematographyLighting plays a huge role in making a film look aesthetically pleasing and cinematic, and though lighting kits can be expensive, there are always DIY workarounds to keep costs down. But, could you imagine if you pulled out a bunch of cheap flashlights on the first day of shooting? Your cast and crew might laugh you right off the set. However, Joey Shanks, who never fails to share his invaluable DIY film tips, shows us how these small, but increasingly powerful flashlights can be used with a few inexpensive mods to give your shots all the illumination they need. More »

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Domenic Barbero T-shirt Diffusion CroppedDiffusion is an important part of getting the light in a scene to look pleasing. While there are plenty of professional materials made just to diffuse entertainment lighting (like silks, spun, frost, etc.), sometimes you run out, don’t have what you need with you, or just want a different quality of light that you can’t get with what you currently have. That’s where regular household diffusers come in. Cinematographer Domenic Barbero did a test with Casey Schmidt of Northwest Grip to see what kind of light would be produced by using everyday items as their diffusion material. More »

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Soul Searcher LightingIf there’s anything that up-and-coming filmmakers struggle with more than anything else, it’s lighting. Even though most of us can pull off a basic three-point lighting setup with a key, fill, and backlight, dramatic narrative lighting is often far more complex and multi-faceted than any simple setup can provide. Unfortunately, we all don’t have the budget for highly complex lighting setups with a multitude of lights and modifiers. Most of us are stuck with a few lights (at best) and a few small or DIY modifiers. Luckily, this is 2014, and literally anything can be learned on YouTube, even dramatic lighting for narrative films with a minimal budget. Neil Oseman, who shot a fantasy/action feature in 2005 called Soul Searcher, recently uploaded a 10-minute masterclass on how he lit the film, and it is delectably educational. More »

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Double ReflectorAs indie filmmakers, we’re used to working in tight spaces — bathrooms, cars, your own studio apartment, so we know that, sometimes, the locations we need for our scenes just aren’t conducive for simple lighting setups. Luckily, The Slanted Lens recently pulled off a little bit of cinematography acrobatics for a shoot they did inside a cave at the L.A. Zoo, and they’ve shared a tutorial to teach us how to use two reflectors to double-bounce natural light around a corner. More »

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C-Stand SandbagThe lighting and grip department is full of unspoken rules that are geared towards keeping the cast and crew as safe as possible. However, there’s one rule that might just be the most important of them all. That rule can be summed up as: “ALWAYS USE SANDBAGS WHEN USING A LIGHT STAND, C-STAND, OR COMBO STAND FOR ANYTHING.” I’m sorry I yelled, but this simple concept can prevent some seriously calamitous things from happening on a set, chiefly hot lights or heavy modifiers falling on people’s heads. With that in mind, let’s take a look at an incredibly ironic video and talk a little bit about proper techniques for setting up C-Stands! More »

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noir1Genres come and go, but 70 years after its birth, the “rules” of film noir have become part and parcel of the conventions of modern cinema. Why do filmmakers come back again and again to this bleak landscape? And why are these films still popular (if they weren’t, well, there wouldn’t be nearly as many. QED.) And just what, precisely, are its rules — rules so skilfully subverted by modern directors? A documentary from the BBC, originally aired in 2009, seeks to answer just that, shining a light on the dark corners of film noir. Plus, check out tips that will help you achieve your own film-noir-style lighting effects. More »

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DIY ring lightIf you’re like me and don’t know what to do with all of those empty fried chicken buckets piling up on your kitchen counter (okay, not really — I know exactly what to do with them), DIY Photography has shared a great DIY (naturally) lighting solution that repurposes said greasy poultry receptacles into a formidable ring flash. And even though it’s designed to be used for flash photography, it should translate well to video. So, find out how to put it together using a cardboard bucket, aluminum foil, a plastic folder, and some tape right after the jump. More »

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RagLiteYou can never have too many lighting options, especially if they add more flexibility to a not-so-flexible area of filmmaking. The RagLite is essentially what it sounds like — a fabric-mounted LED lighting system, (or more plainly, a rag with lights), that’s built to give users the ability to light pretty much anything anywhere, as well as set up and tear down without a whole lot of fuss. It’s currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to finalize manufacturing, so continue on to learn all about the RagLite. More »

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Curtains by Tyler T Williams

Budgets are rapidly coming down for music videos, but some directors still manage to execute their visions on a budget. Tyler T. Williams is perhaps one of the best at this, always putting together interesting images with great music. With his latest video for “Curtains!?” by Timber Timbre, Tyler displays a growing confidence in storytelling and a welcome throwback to the film noir grunge of the 40s and 50s. Hit the jump to watch the new video and for our interview with the director. More »

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Catch Light marbleThere are many factors to consider when you’re planning an outdoor shoot, one of the major ones being how you’re going to deal with natural light. One of the issues that’s bound to come up while dealing with that big key light in the sky is how to find out which direction the light is coming from, which is especially important if you’re planning on using it as a catch light. In this video from photographer Frank Donnino, we’re shown how to use an everyday marble to determine where a light source will hit your subjects’ eyes, so you can put them in the position that will give you optimal results. More »

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Aerial LEDAerial drones are quickly rising in popularity in the world of video production. Glorious aerial shots that would have once required an expensive helicopter rental are now possible with equipment that is relatively affordable for the masses. However, is it possible that these devices have untapped video-production potential outside of simply capturing footage, perhaps in the arena of aerial lighting? Swedish DP Simon Sjörén recently put this theory to the test by mounting high-powered LED’s to a drone, while using another drone to capture the footage. Check out the process below! More »