March 5, 2015

How to Light & Shoot a Seamless White Background from Start to Finish

A seamless background can make your project look like a million bucks, but lighting one can be a little tricky if you don't know where to start.

Zach Arias offers up this lighting tutorial on DEDPXL to show you how to light for a seamless white, black, grey (virtually any color, really) background. If you're a stickler for details like me, one thing you'll appreciate is the utter thoroughness of the lesson. Arias breaks down not only the hows, but the whys behind every creative and technical decision he makes on his set. Check out Part 1 below. (You can also find out more in his blog post here.)

Now, not everybody can afford the equipment or the space that Arias is able to utilize in his tutorial, but there are certainly some cheap workarounds that you can use to get the same effect. If you don't have the cash to spend on professional backdrops (Arias uses a Photo Basics 9×20 high key white fabric background), fabric stores carry all sorts of materials that cut down on creases and wrinkles and effectively distribute your light evenly. Muslin is usually the go-to, but velvet, fleece, and duvetyne work well, too.

The key to getting a nice seamless background is starting out with a background that can be made to look seamless in the first place (no wrinkles). After that, following Arias' advice about light/subject placement and camera settings will take you the rest of the way. Keeping your subject far enough away from the background (about 9') will allow you to light them both separately and avoid spilling unwanted light on each.

Background lights: excessively bright vs. just rightCredit: DEDPXL
Though Part 2 of Arias' video series deals more with still photography, there are some tips on working with your materials in post, which you can adapt to whatever you're working with. You can check out the video below.

Your Comment

5 Comments

Great tutorial. A bit long for what it is but nothing wrong with being thorough. I wish it was all in color though.

March 5, 2015 at 11:36PM

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Dantly Wyatt
Musical Comedy & Content Creator.
807

You've got a point. Ideally chroma should be covered too - almost everything looks classier and cleaner in black and white...

March 20, 2015 at 3:26AM

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Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
604

Awesome! Thanks!

March 6, 2015 at 10:22PM

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Yeah, this article ain't bad at all!

March 20, 2015 at 3:25AM

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Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
604

I have only watched the first video which is fantastic and i havn't read any of the comment so please forgive my ignorance but what watts are the light you using ?

nauk

June 2, 2015 at 8:52AM, Edited June 2, 8:52AM

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Nick Anderson
IT Support
74

Hi there
This was a fantastic video, thank you very much for such an indepth look at this type of lighting. If I could suggest only what would have been nice or cool, would have been to have your cameras settings/ or info on screen, or pop up as they were changed.

Anyways great video and great website :)

October 6, 2015 at 6:19AM, Edited October 6, 6:19AM

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Richard Pule
Video Producer
74