Lighting a Scene With One Lamp

Lighting a Scene With One Lamp

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One technique that all indie filmmakers use is having practical lights in their frame. This can help add depth to an image, by having a light on in the background, or it can even serve as a key light for your actors. However, sometimes the light looks good on camera, but the light coming from it doesn’t look good on the actor’s faces. Knowing how to shape your light in a way that it looks like it’s coming from a practical in frame will help you to make the most out of any lighting situation. Today, Director of Photography Carissa Dorson walks us through how to shoot a night interior confrontation scene, with light motivated by a practical lamp in frame.

In this video, Carissa shows us the steps she takes when shooting a night interior confrontation scene. First, she shoots a two shot that shows both people sitting facing each other. This also serves as the master shot because it covers the action of the whole scene. Next, she goes over the female character’s shoulder for an OTS shot. She also punches in for a tighter shot on the male character. Lastly, she shoots a reverse over the male character’s shoulder for an OTS on the female. Then she punches in on that to cover the female character’s reactions.

The main techniques we will be discussing today are order of placing lights, lighting color temperature, direction of light. Order of placing lights means that when you are lighting with a practical, you want to place the practical in the frame first before you add in other lights to supplement it. Lighting color temperature in this case means lighting with warmer color temperature to match the warm light from the lamp. The camera’s white balance was also adjusted to add color to the scene. Direction of light means that when motivating light from a practical, the light needs to be coming from a direction that makes sense. In this case the lights were placed over the top of the lamp so the light comes from the same direction.

Ultimately, as independent filmmakers we are always looking for ways to get the most out of the tools at our disposal. Sometimes the easiest way to create interest in a frame is to add a lamp in the scene. Being able to shape your light in a pleasing way that still looks like it’s coming from a light source on camera is harder than it sounds. This episode will give you a few tips to help you on your project, but every situation is different. The best approach is always to consider the story first and shape your lighting around the story you are trying to tell.

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