November 18, 2017

Gels 101: A Step-by-Step Guide on Using Color Lighting Gels

Learn how to create many different moods and looks with color lighting gels.

Lighting does many things in filmmaking, from making proper exposure possible to adding some style, but one of its primary purposes is to create the mood of a scene. One way that cinematographers do this is by using gels to affect the color temperature of the light, a technique that can be a little tricky if you're not familiar with the technical side of lighting. But in this video, Joshua Noel of PremiumBeat not only explains the basics of color temperature but also how to creative use gels to establish a mood.

As we've said before many times, color itself is a huge storyteller that can change the meaning of a scene instantly. This is why it's so important to know how to use gels when lighting, because they can be used in practical and creative ways, like to represent different times of day or to influence your audience's emotional responses.

A practical example would be if you need to shoot day for night, you can use silver (or cyan and steel blue) gels to change the color temperature of your lights to mimic the cooler tones typical of nighttime shots. On the creative side, you can use gels with bolder colors to create a party scene or even a descent into maddness—whatever extreme thing you're going for.

It's going to take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, the sky's the limit. There are so many ways gels can be used to create exciting and creative imagery!     

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