February 24, 2018

Watch: Create Cinematic Lighting with Cheap Household Lights

Do you want to give your film a more cinematic look but don't have access to studio lighting? Perfect!

One of the main reasons why new filmmakers are so intimidated by the thought of lighting a scene is not just because it can be difficult, but because they don't think they have the necessary tools. I mean, taking one look at a behind-the-scenes photo of a professional film set, with all of the giant lighting units and modifiers, is enough to want to hide in your turtle shell for good. However, you can get high-quality cinematic lighting with the fixtures you have in your own house, and in this video, Jordy Vandeput of Cinecom will show you how to do it.

The motto of no-budget filmmaking should be "do what you can with what you have." Can you light a scene in a huge warehouse with a desk lamp? No, but you can light an intimate dinner scene with one. Can you light a horror scene with the overhead fixtures in your house? Probably not, but kill the lights, use the flash on your smartphone, and you might be in business.

If you want to find out which kinds of scenes you're going to be able to shoot, take inventory of the lights you have access to. I'm looking around my office right now and I see that I have an overhead fixture, a big faux-studio lamp from IKEA, a desk lamp, my smartphone's flashlight, and in the "light box" in my closet I've got a bunch of random LEDs, Christmas lights, some weird blue-tinted light wand, and a couple of little PAR can lights with color gels that I probably acquired from some retired DJ.

I can do a lot with these things! I can use the PAR cans with the red and green gels to shoot a party scene. I can use that IKEA lamp, which can be tilted up and down, to bounce light off of the wall. I can use the weird light wand to recreate the light of a computer or television screen on my subject's face. 

If you know what you have, you'll know what you can do, and you can do a lot without having access to a professional lighting kit.      

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2 Comments

Great energy and great tips..
thanks a lot.

February 25, 2018 at 2:29PM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
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The local Cancer Research charity shop had a batch of AA battery torches with a bank of LEDs down the side. I bought two, thinking that sometime, perhaps that extra bit of light might come in handy. £3 each.

February 26, 2018 at 5:55PM, Edited February 26, 5:55PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
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