March 18, 2018

Watch: 4 Ways You Can Take Advantage of Portable Lights

They're small, lightweight, and can make lighting scenes a whole lot easier.

Portable lights are great for so many reasons. They're small and light enough to carry with you wherever you go and can be mounted just about anywhere. Not only that, but they are usually much less expensive than traditional studio lights, so you'll be saving quite a bit of money on your production.

To give you an idea of all the benefits of using smaller, portable lights, here's Jordy Vandeput of Cinecom, who shares four tips on how to utilize them on your film set.

Before choosing which lights you're going to use on your project, you really have to consider the many different aspects of your shoot, like your budgetary constraints, power availability, and how big of an area you're going to need to light. Typically, if your set is relatively small and/or has plenty of natural light, you can get away with using smaller fixtures that don't have as much output as a big studio light. This is especially beneficial if you don't have access to or can't afford to buy/rent a professional lighting kit.

If all you can get your hands on are a bunch of small LEDs or other portable lights from an online retailer or hardware store, you can still light a good-looking scene. I think that's the point here. Having worked with both, I'll say that while working with a set of ARRI fresnels helped me create my desired mood and light large sets, I was still able to light beautiful, albeit smaller, scenes cinematically using a handful of random lamps, torches, and work lights.

And there are plenty of benefits to working with these kinds of smaller lights, too. As the video points out:

  • You can mount them just about anywhere with a Super Clamp.
  • You can move with them while you shoot.
  • You can move them to create cool effects.
  • They can fit in small spaces.

Will small, portable lights be able to replace big, powerful studio lights? Not exactly, no. (Especially when it comes to the quality of light they provide.) However, if all you've got is a bunch of random lights or a couple hundred dollars to buy lighting equipment, rest assured that you can still light a scene cinematically. Your technique is much more important than your gear, in this case, so don't give up.       

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March 19, 2018 at 8:48AM, Edited March 19, 8:48AM

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