How to Light a Film

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The cinematographer is usually the person who lights a film, and the basic setup is known as the three-point setup. Use a main light, fill light and back light with filmmaking tips from a director and filmmaker in this free video on making movies.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Jared Drake, and I'm going to talk to you about lighting a film. The person that generally lights a film, is not the cinematographer. The cinematographer is in charge of what the camera sees, and obviously a big part of that, is how those things are lit. Now, the person that works for the cinematographer, that actually sets those lights, is called the gaffer. That person does all the lighting. Now, your gaffer and the cinematographer, and the director, are going to come up with some type of lighting scheme, that captures and establishes the tone of the movie. The basic lighting setup, is called your three point setup, and what that is, is it's a key light, which is your main light source. It's a fill, the light that fills in some of the shadows. I don't have a fill light here, and it's a back light or a rim light, which lights kind of the outline, of the back of your head or shoulders. That's the basic lighting setup. Now, to light a film, you need a number of things. First, you need lights. There is a number of lights out there. There's fluorescent lights,which are really popular now. Kino Flo is a manufacturer of fluorescent lights. They're the leading manufacturer. They're popular because they're cold, meaning they don't get too hot. A lot of times film sets are really hot and warm, and they produce a really soft nice defused light. Furnows and open face lights, are lights that are very hard, meaning they produce a straight stream of light. Now, you can shape a furnow, much easier than you can a fluorescent light. They come with barn doors, that you can close and shape the light and focus it, and sometimes the lights have a spot on the back. You can focus the beam, so it's wider or more narrow. You can bounce that light off a white wall, or a white board, or an umbrella of sort, so that the light is more defused, or you can even shoot it through the fusion. HMI's are popular lights for outdoors, they're sunlight temperature. When you shoot outdoors, you're shooting in five thousand six hundred degree Kelvin temperature lights. That's how hot the sun is, if, how hot the light source is, from the sun. If you're shooting indoors, you're shooting between 2900 Kelvin, and 3600 Kelvin, so the light is much hotter outside, than it is inside, temperature wise, and what that leads to, is a warmer look inside, and a colder look outside, so outside light is generally blue, where inside light is more orangish. Now, a few things you need to light a film. You need the lights, you need your gloves, because the lights get hot, and gaffing tape. This one is almost gone. You need a light meter. This is an old cynconic. It measures foot candles, which measures the intensity light, and tells you how to set your aperture, what to set your aperture at, and you need a C-47. They call these clothespins C-47's, because a producer a long time ago, was going to cut them from the budget of a film, because they're like clothespins. I'm not paying for clothespins, and they decided they needed something that sounded smarter and more technical, so they made up the name C-47, and called these a C-47, just to fool the dumb film producer.


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