View Full Version : lighting for someone who has never lit

10-05-2007, 12:55 PM
so im 16 and i have never actually tried to shoot a real movie. im using a panasonic pv gs35 mini dv and im trying to make a superbad/varsity blues/fast times movie and i have 2 craftsman halogen lights on a stand that can go from 250, 500, 750, and 1000 watts. what would be a good lighting technique using something like this with some more random house stuff?

10-05-2007, 04:48 PM

10-05-2007, 06:48 PM
Google "Portrait lighting" "3 point lighting" "rembrandt lighting" "butterfly lighting" "high key lighting" "low key lighting"

Will Vincent
10-05-2007, 07:13 PM
You'll probably want a bit larger light kit, even if it's just several more of those halogen work lights. Also you should get some diffusers and flags, gels, clamps, etc..

Scott Spears has some useful info on his website:
Specifically relevant to your lighting inquiry, here:

As for technique, it's really going to vary scene by scene.

Will Vincent
10-06-2007, 02:17 PM
Here's another good link for you, it's a tutorial on lighting:

10-06-2007, 02:54 PM
Those worklight are a great start to building a cheap lighting kit. You'll need to add a few more lights to
get a better look. This example ( kind of puts the following links in perspective.

Five or six “scoop lights” - those clamp on work lights ("target=) with the silver reflector.

Three or four pieces of Foamcore ("target=) from any art supply store to use to bounce the light.

Two or three paper lanterns ( that you can get at Ikea. I hook each one to a dimmer (home improvement
store ) to get better control.

Some colored gels (check on line or if there is a small theater in your town they often have extras) and some
black wrap. Check Studio Depot (

10-07-2007, 02:10 AM
for the clamp on scoop lights (brooder lights), do yourself a favor and get the ACDelco clamp lights. They come with longer cords and have a bolted hinge point that won't fall apart like the friction knuckles. I went through half a dozen of the standard clamp lights in my first year of shooting before I got my first ACDelco...which I'm still using 3 years later.

For the work lights, Coleman has a 500w you can get through amazon that goes up to 7' tall.

At a craft barn type of store, find white foam core in big sheets to use as soft white bounce cards...then buy shiny metallic stretchy fabric to fit the foamcore and clamp it to the board to make a silver or gold reflector...or, chartruse, whatever.

There are plans out there to make your own barndoors to attach to worklights and clamp lights as well...they work like a champ (as long as you use the compression screw method of attaching rather than the pop rivet method).

Will Vincent
10-07-2007, 03:15 AM
So you don't have to hunt... you can find those barndoor plans here ( They're provided free of charge from Cool Lights (, definitely a site worth checking out.

10-08-2007, 03:44 AM
hey man.. you can use both lights for your main light and backlight.. it depends on what effect you want to make. there really is no right and wrong way of doing it. i suggest you look up photography techniques.. and lighting your set using the sun wouldnt be so bad too(use reflectors)

10-08-2007, 11:24 AM
What I did when starting out was to hook my camera up to my tv and sit a friend on a chair in the middle of the room so I could move lights around and see what difference they made. Play with it, shoot lots of test footage, move bounce cards around, room lights on and off, 6" left, 6" right, key higher, shorter.

Then pick a shot from a movie you like and figure out how they lit it based on the experience you now have from experimentation. Look in the actors eyes in the shot, they will reflect where the lights are placed in that environment, look at the shoulders and how they are lit, where the shadows are cast by the neck. Recreate it...eventually, you'll just watch tv and see nothing but the lighting (don't worry, it fades away and you will be able to enjoy shows again after you wrap your head around it).

Here are some of my test shots from 5 years ago when I was learning this stuff:

10-22-2007, 03:05 PM
they run hot spots. defusing the light a bit (as mentioned) will work. Hi, I'm new btw... I wouldn't work with halogen lights though, They get just a little to hot. Try making a lamp stand for a clamp on work bench light. the cheap ones at osh for 8 bucks. then use one of those 40 watt floresant, flood lights they sell, that give off the power of a 150 watt bulb. 1000 watt of light is insanly brite. something like that would be good for lighting up an area but not your subjects. there are jells that will soften the light and distribute it out evenly. I have seen "How to's" on the internet. Or as Knightly suggested.. using a reflector board. Also, makeup is a must. The forehead reflects hot spots the most.

10-22-2007, 11:13 PM
If using the flourescent screw in lights, make sure you are using an XLR audio system as they throw all kinds of RF noise around your room which will almost completely overwhelm your then have to scrub all the sound out which kills the "presence" of the voices. For a sample of this sound, check out my "scare tactics" short made for the last Script to screen challenge here:

The echoey, hollow sounds to the voices were caused by having to scrub out the full frequency buzz created by these lights...using balanced audio (XLR) would have fixed the problem. I now use exclusively XLR cabled microphones and don't have the problem anymore, I've even tested having the microphone < 6" from the light and wrapping the power cable and the microphone cables together...not a single deviation from happy sounding voice!