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Deconstructing Film Lighting

What’s the first thing you should know about, if you’re getting into Filmmaking?
It’s right there, in the ever popular phrase: Lights! Camera! Action!

Except today we’re all about Lights! Lights! Lights!

Like Rhianna once sang, Turn on the light in here baby, extra bright I want you all to see this…  Sure the camera is important, we talk about cameras all the time. In fact, check out this review on the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. We carry it and are delighted to rent it out to you if you wan to use it. Check out this page for prices and more information about our BMPCC 6K rental.

We also have a complete selection of cinematic cameras and lenses available for rental. If you check out our production page right here, you’ll see that we also have crew and everything else available. But that’s enough plug-in for now, let’s talk about the first thing that you need to worry about before you call Action!  I’m talking Lights! Lights! baby!

The composition of a scene, the mood and the talent are but some of the main things to consider when framing a shot. Lighting is what connects all of it, so you could say that it stands above, literally also, but figuratively. Lighting is the friend that unites the group of individuals and variables that come together on a set. So we need to pay close attention to how we use it.

There are standard ways of shooting certain things, like Green Screen scenes, and there are artistic ways to maneuver lighting to create atmosphere, depth and tone. All things we must use in film to create compelling pieces.

By the way, AMC also has the best Green Screen Rentals in New York City. Click here for more about Lighting for Chroma Key. There’s a way to light a Green Screen professionally and we take you through the steps to do it yourself here. However, our Green Screen Studio Rentals come pre-lit, so you can be sure that the footage will come out right.

Here is a Masterclass video by gaffer Julian White on Deconstructing Film Lighting. Julian tells us about the different lighting sources that are used in film and what effect they can give. We see behind the scenes footage compared with the shot in the film. What is the difference between fluorescents and LED? Check it out.

Film Lighting Masterclass 

Without good lighting, the best camera in the world can’t capture a perfect picture.

Why Is Lighting So Important In Film?

Lighting is the base to filmmaking, because it creates a visual mood, atmosphere, and sense of meaning for the audience. No matter what you’re doing on a set, from blocking actors to set dressing, every step of the process affects the lighting setup, and vice-versa.

  • Lighting tells the audience where to focus. The lighting setup guides the eye to a specific actor, prop, or part of a scene.
  • Lighting reflects the psychology of characters. The amount, size, color, and harshness of light surrounding a character can be adjusted to match their emotions.
  • Lighting defines and supports the genre of the film. Lighting is the tool that carries the mood of a scene in the clearest way.

The most basic lighting setup is a three-point lighting setup, which highlights the main actor or subject of a scene and makes them stand out from their background. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place your main and strongest source of light, called a key light, off to one side of the actor to create a slight shadow on the opposite side of their face.
  2. Add a second light, called a fill light, on the opposite side of the actor to soften any harsh shadows created by the key light.
  3. Place a third light, a back light, behind the actor to help define and highlight their features and outlines.

But, of course, this is just an outline. Film Lighting is on its own something to study in depth, and something to understand with many years of practice.


Deconstructing Film Lighting

by | Oct 14, 2019 | Featured

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