Cinematic Lighting Techniques Tips and Tricks

General Topics
Lighting Techniques
Lighting Tips
Tips & Advice

Gear Focus

May 17, 2020

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Have you ever seen a video online that seems to have an extra amount of… something? It can be hard to pinpoint, but some videos seem to be filmed in such a way that they seem professional and high-quality. The answer isn’t in the camera - it’s often in the lighting used to film the shot. Here we will provide some cinematic lighting techniques tips and tricks to up your video quality. With the right understanding of how lighting works in cinematography, you can quickly elevate your videos. From simple point-and-shoot productions to films that draw in viewers and hook them with intentionality and creativity. Curious as to how to start using lighting to make your videos shine? Watch below as filmography Armando Ferreira explains how he captures cinematic shots using creative cinematic tips for lighting:

Step 1: Set Up Your Main Key Light

The first step in taking your videos to a cinematic level is to use a quality key light to bring focus to your subject. There are many key lights out there, but when choosing one for cinematic purposes - especially if you are filming an individual on-screen - choose one that gives off the softest light possible. The key light will bring the brightness on the subject while darkening the space around it. Depending on the subject being filmed, the key light can be customized to give off the amount of light necessary to bring focus and separate the subject from the rest of the room.

Step 2: Add A Diffuser

There are many different types of material that you can to add diffusion to your key light. A diffusion skrim will help to soften the key light and take away any hot spots that appear on your subject. You can gain different amounts of light diffusion based on the material you use and the distance between the key light and the diffuser. Note: when you add a diffuser, you will need to increase the level of light your key light is giving off.

Step 3: Build Background Lighting Into Your Scene

Once you are happy with the light being given off by your key lighting source, you can add lighting to your background to add character to the video. By combining a strong light mixed with barn doors and gels, you can create nearly any type of feel you want behind your subject. Looking for a soft, moonlight feel? Add a blue gel to your background spotlight to give a soft, colorful look behind your subject.

Step 4: Get Creative With Patterns

Want to add some variation to your background lighting? Consider throwing a cutout in front of your spotlight at varying distances and angles to give a barely-noticeable pattern of light to the area behind your target. It may not seem like much, but it is these tiny elements that give your videos that professional feel.

Step 5: It’s The Little Things: Practical Lights, Kickers, and More

Finally, to give your video that extra bit of cinematography lighting it needs to really shine. Consider adding a practical light or two to the background. A warm light coming from a controlled source - such as a small lamp - can bring a bit of character and depth to the room. A kicker light below the subject can give just a bit more definition to the face of people in your shot. A small light focused on the hairline can help separate dark hair from the shadows in the background. When it comes to these extras, add them sparingly, as too many pieces can quickly add noise to the picture.

Follow Gear Focus Online For More Tips, Tricks, and Lighting Products

Gear Focus is passionate about helping cinematographers just like you bring your vision to life through all aspects of photography and videography - including the latest in lighting tech and expertise. To learn more, as well as see the entire online catalog of camera gear products, visit our main home page and shop for digital cameras, lenses and much more.

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