3 Best Lighting Setups for Music Videos

3 Best Lighting Setups for Music Videos

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Music videos are one of the most common things you will shoot starting out as a cinematographer. Every video is different, and learning about the different styles of music videos – and how to shoot them – will assist you in telling the story of each performer, especially through your lighting choices. Today, Director of Photography Andrew Kowalski teaches us three different ways to shoot dramatic music videos, using textural lighting and framing.

In this video, Andrew shows us three different methods for shooting dramatic music videos.
In our first setup, he uses lighting to accentuate the location and separate the talent from the background, without over-lighting them. In our second setup, he recreates a typical band performance shot, using a soft key-light to fill the space. In the third and last setup, he uses deep space coupled with black and white to create a stylized shot, with a lot of texture.

The main techniques that we will be discussing today are shooting wide, using the song to motivate the lighting, and being creative with where your light is coming from. Shooting wide means that you see more of the location in your frame. Most music video coverage is tight shots straight onto the talent. Here, Andrew plays with wides and profile shots to create variation. Using the song to motivate the lighting means that the mood of the lighting reflects the mood of the song. For example, if the song is slow and dramatic, the lighting should be dark and soft. Being creative with where light is coming from refers to the notion that music videos don’t have to justify light sources emitting from any natural source. You don’t always have to use light that appears as if it comes from a window or a lamp; you can have your light be whatever you want.

Ultimately, many filmmakers will find themselves shooting music videos at some point in their career. Depending on who the artist is and what they have in mind, music videos can come in all shapes and sizes. Being able to identify the style of shooting that each video requires will help you to create better work and accurately portray the emotion of the music. Music videos are still a great way to tell stories, so keep lighting in mind when planning your next shoot.

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