View Full Version : New Short Film--lighting Help

09-13-2005, 04:35 PM
Hello, my name is patrick wylie and i'm am planning on shooting a short film(technically video). So i have a couple of questions:

I haven't had any experience with lighting so i am kinda of lost with that whole thing. The budget for this movie is basically nothing (no more than $100), so i need a kind of lighting system that i can afford or make myself.

The film crew is basically my friends and even my cast which only contains 2 main characters and some extras. I'm going with a more artistic approach and try to focus on the characters.

Anyways any help is appreciated

09-13-2005, 05:26 PM
clamp on brooder lamps (home depot)...get the strong clamps.
I'm using the flourescent screw in replacement bulbs and having lots of success with them.
Phillips Marathon specifically. They don't heat up the room your working it (very nice change) and you can handle them immediately after turning them off (or while they're still on for that matter)

cost per light ~$15. Shower poles long enough to fit between floor and ceiling (or with a chair or box on the floor) will serve as light stands to clamp your lights got the strong clamps right?

There are two different types of swivels on the lights as well...if you can find the ones that are bolted together, get those...the ones held together by wingnut pressure will fail (so make sure you attach the lights in a secondary way to the stand).

To figure out where to put the light...determine what kind of look your going for...then look at a scene from a movie that has that look. most will use some variation of the 3 point lighting system. Get close to the look you're going for: those guys get thousands to spend on lighting. To make a cheap soft box with these types of lights, put a white bedsheet between your lights and your actors...this will spread out the origination point of the light making it softer and more natural looking.

The "KEY" light is 45 degrees up from the actor's eyes and 45 degrees to the side.

The "FILL" light is 45 degrees down from the actor's eyes and 45 degrees to the other side...and 50% the power of the "KEY".

The "RIM" light is above and behind the actor painting a rim of light around the head and shoulders separating them from the background. To hang this, you can clamp a pole between two of the shower rods and clamp the light to this pole.

Blue lights will place your actors next to a window even if they're not. or fake moonlight if they're outside. Dim orange lights will do candle light. Don't forget to white balance each lighting setup by reflecting the light you expect to show up as white off of a white card or paper back at the camera. You can fake colored lights by white balancing cooler or warmer, but then it's set in stone in the camera...a better way to do this would be to shift the colors in your editing software. If you're shooting outdoors, re-white balance every hour. You'll thank yourself later.

Boz Uriel
09-13-2005, 07:56 PM
Phillips Marathons, have you noticed whiter whites, lack of yellow = colder results? Just wondering, I'd like to beat the heat too.

09-13-2005, 08:25 PM
I'm Getting soft white style bulbs...they look alot like the key here:

Will Vincent
09-13-2005, 09:03 PM
Scott Spears has got some very useful info on lighting and how to do it cheaply...

09-14-2005, 09:58 AM
thank you knightly for the help. If you come back to this thread i have one more question and that is what is the best and cheapest way to power the lights on set or on location?

09-14-2005, 10:47 AM
During the Day time, use a bounce card or a bounce card covered in crumpled aluminum foil (dull side for more diffused light, shiny side for more direct light)...bounce the sun.

During the Nighttime, I have a lighter adapter for my car that gives me 2 outlets (make sure the car has plenty of gas and is running) to which I plug a coupla really long orange "STINGERS" (we call them extension cords where I live)...never exceed the wattage and amperage of this unit or you'll be checking the insurance coverage on your car.

!!! Watts = Volts x Amps !!!
!!! Amps = Watts / Volts !!!

or you can a rent or borrow a portable generator (noisy). Again though with the amps and watts.

Generally you'll be limited to 2 or 3 lights on a budget. A larger generator will get you more. You can use bounce cards here to handle fill, You'll have to get them pretty close though, so you'll be limited to pretty tight frames (medium and closer).

Another option is the battery powered sun guns:

Remember to white balance...otherwise you'll learn to white balance the hard way like I did. Post correction ruins your colors.

09-14-2005, 10:51 AM
...another cheap way is ...

Stanley two lamp tripod, like for your car? $30 bucks at Kmart. We bounced the light off the walls, but we were looking for ambient light, not perfect 3 point lighting.... it worked for us...

--spinner :cool:

09-14-2005, 01:27 PM
We found a few 500W halogen work lamps on sale (at KMart also). We also use clamp on lamps, regular lamps, ceiling lights...anything we can, really...

Just grab whatever you can for cheap, then test, test, test. And remember to AIM your lights so they don't cast harsh shadows or glares. Use as much natural light diffusers as you can (aim lights against a blank wall, deflect it with poster borad or a sheet). Video tape is pretty cheap and re-usable, go test away.