Category Archives: Lighting

3 Lighting Techniques For Lighting Faces

Understanding different types of lighting techniques is a great skill to know when creating a video.  There are 3 lighting techniques in particular that are great to know.  Short lighting, split lighting, and butterfly lighting.

Introduction to Diffused Lighting and Diffusion Gels

Diffusion gels are a great way to make harsh tungsten lights give off a softer light. It works great for spreading your light and softening shadows which can be great lighting your scenes better. In this episode of the Reel Rebel, video production expert Stephen Schweickart introduces the benefits of using light diffusion gels.

What Is A Neutral Density Filter?

The first video of our Advanced Lighting series taught you how to place some gels on your lights and keep your color temperature in check. This time around you’ll be placing even more gels on your lights to keep their intensity in check. We’re talking about ND or Neutral Density filters and their job is to keep parts of your scene, or your whole scene as we’ll get into later, from being too bright.

ND gels work a lot like color temperature gels in that you just clip them onto your lights for them to do their job, but obviously we’re dealing with brightness, not color, so they have very different functions. These gels are available most commonly in three grades, .3, .6 and .9, each getting darker as the number rises. So the higher the number, the more it’s going to knock down the intensity of the light. If your backlight is putting too harsh a rim on your talent, stick an ND on there to help bring it down a notch.

But, what if your whole scene is too bright?

There’s a solution for that too! There are ND filters available that screw right onto the end of your lens bringing the brightness of your entire scene back from that “surface of the sun” look we’re trying to avoid. The ND lens filters come in the same intensities as the gels, though you can find different grades if you try.

In one of our videos about depth of field, we tell you that one of the factors that determine your depth of field is your aperture. So if you have to close down your aperture to knock down the brightness, you start to deepen your depth of field and lose that filmic look that blurring parts of your scene gives you. Sticking an ND filter on your lens saves you from having to do this and preserves that deliciously shallow depth of field all amateur movie makers are looking for.

If you want to get real fancy, you can even find gradient ND lens filters that start at a certain intensity on one side and taper off at the other. These are perfect for keeping your skies from being totally blown out when filming a landscape or any scene where you’re seeing a lot of this bright blue dome around the Earth. When it comes to exposure, the name of the game is CONTROL. If you can’t control your light, it will control you and let me tell you, it will NOT be gentle.

Read our other Video Production Tip blogs, watch the videos, and give us feedback about what you would like to learn next!

How To Shoot Video On A White Screen

We’ve spent some time talking about the differences between shooting on a blue screen and a green screen, but there’s another common backdrop you might want to learn about– the white screen.

First, you need to know that, if you want a white background, you should shoot it on white screen. Don’t shoot on green and hope that you’ll be able to key out all the green because, chances are, you won’t. The green spill on your talent will be unmanageable, and you’ll be stuck looking at a person with fuzzy hair and missing body parts. Shoot against white, trust me.

Just like shooting against green or blue, the trick is to use a set of lights to evenly illuminate the backdrop, and a SEPARATE set of lights for your talent. This prevents your talent from throwing massive shadows against your white backdrop, and breaking the “infinite white room” illusion you’re trying so hard to emulate. This also will allow you to adjust lighting on your talent without affecting the brightness of the white.

The size of the white will determine just how many lights you’ll need to use to get the light even on the backdrop. But if you’re just doing a waist up shot like the one in the video, you’ll be able to get away with just a few; three or four at the most. One on either side, one above in the center if you can and possibly one underneath.

Here are some more quick tips to help you make shooting on white work for you.

First, a simple trick to see if the white is evenly lit is to close the iris all the way down to one stop before it’s completely closed. You should see your white background as a dark grey, and you should be able to more easily see the discrepancies in the grey where some lights are brighter than others. This is harder to see with the iris open as your eye will simply see a blown out white background.

Also, if you’re using a standard three point lighting set up for your talent, beware of the treacherous backlight. Backlights are great in general, but on white they can sometimes put too strong of an edge light on your talent and it can serve to blend them into the background more than separate them from it. Almost like the white is eating them, and that’s likely not the effect you’re going for. Either use a less intense light, or no light at all. Your white backdrop may be reflecting enough light to get the job done for you.

Read our other Video Production Tip blogs, watch the videos, and give us feedback about what you would like to learn next!