Though not technically a "ring," this triangular ring light might satisfy your cinematic DIY itch.
Ring lights are a popular piece of lighting equipment used by all sorts of filmmakers, whether they work in fashion, vlogging, or music videos. And though they provide nice, even "beauty" lighting, the effects of these kinds of lights, particularly the shape of their reflection in subjects' eyes, can certainly be made to look more interesting. In this tutorial, Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter shows you how to build your own sub-$100 "ring" light in the shape of a triangle so you can get the same high-quality illumination but with a shape that may make your shots a little more creative.
This is a pretty labor intensive build that requires some soldering and electrical expertise, but the price is definitely right for savvy indie filmmakers at less than $100. And since Pike does a great job walking you through the construction of this thing, let's talk a little bit about application.
I have a feeling this build is going to be quite polarizing; people are going to either love or hate it. After my first viewing of the tutorial, I was thrown off by the triangular shape of the eye light because it wasn't in the shape of a circle. In fact, it was a little distracting. However, that might be a good thing in certain situations, for instance if you're shooting an artsy music video, avant-garde piece, or a sci-fi film, because in a way, the eye light makes the subject look somewhat off or even non-human. You get pretty much the same beauty lighting you'd expect from a ring light, but its shape gives you the chance to be a little more experimental.
This technique isn't new by any means—there are absolutely filmmakers and photographers out there that experiment with the shape of their eye lights, especially with triangles.
However, the way I usually see this effect done is by situating lights in a specific formation, not by using a specifically shaped light, so Pike's DIY build seems to make that process a little easier.
What are some ways you've created interesting eye lights? Let us know down in the comments!