Join Dave Miller, a veteran of TV and Film lighting and cinematography in this 15 lesson masterclass on the basics of lighting film and TV. Dave will walk you through all of the basics of lighting everything from low budget shorts to lighting your next cinematic masterpiece…and everything in between.
We will go through everything from basic 3-point lighting to more advanced techniques that are used in a variety of situations, including static interviews and feature film lighting.
Dave is an award winning cinematographer and lighting expert with credits to his name including the X-Factor, Time Team, Film Four, Macbeth, The Wicker Tree, Newsnight, Film 2010, Watchdog, Secret Millionaire, The Apprentice and Scrapheap Challenge…to name a few.
Joining you for our Basics of Film Lighting course is highly experienced cinematographer Dave Miller. Dave is going to run through the basics of film lighting which is hugely important for any film project as it can help express different moods and really bring a film to life.
We’re going to look at different lights and how to use them, colour balances and also the actual lighting of a scene which will help make a positive difference to your filming methods.
There are tons of different brands and types of lights available for use in film, we’re going to get straight to the point and demonstrate some of the available and popular types of lights in our studio when lighting a model.
Types of Lighting Covered:
With such a huge range of lights along with a wide variation in price, we take a look at some lights and their alternatives that would be ideal for small budget film makers. We also show you some neat ways to convert less expensive lights to give the same results as a light at four times the price.
Once you’ve decided the lights you’d like to use for filming, it may be a better option to hire some of the more expensive lights, especially ones that are specialist lights that you wouldn’t use as regularly.
Remember, depending on where you’re filming the amount of lights you use (and type of lights) you may run into issues with power, Dave explains the simple way to work this out and also mentions LED lights which you may wish to consider as these will have a lot lower power draw due to the nature of the technology.
So, is it a case of hiring or buying for your lighting setup?
It all depends on price and your available budget. It’s a good idea to hire lights prior to buying to ensure the lights you’re about to splash the cash on are up to your requirements.
Here we give a demonstration of colour temperature and how different light types appear depending on the colour temperature that the camera is set too. The Kelvin chart below will help you visualise the degrees of kelvin for different lighting scenarios and should assist you when manually setting the temperature of a camera prior to filming.
In this lesson, we demonstrate how the colour temperature produced by different lights can be changed or corrected with the use of technical filters.
Dave uses a CTB (full blue filter) to convert a tungsten light into daylight – to balance this you could simply change your white balance to daylight on your camera. To correct a daylight light back to a tungsten light we use a Full CTO filter (an orange coloured filter)
We also explore going in between these settings for the tricky points during filming where you have a mixed light situation between daylight and tungsten.
A simple 3 point lighting setup consists of a:
Key Light – usually the brightest and set off at 45 degrees to the camera.
Back Light – Opposite the key light and pulls the subject from the backdrop.
Fill Light – Fills in the opposite side to the key light. We demonstrate exactly what these lights are doing and give some examples of individual uses of the lights in different scenarios.
We’re now going to put things into practice and use the studio environment to create a couple of scenes using different lighting techniques.
The lighting setup consists of two 3 point lighting configurations which Dave talks us through. We use two setups due to our actors walking through the set during the scene which we will show in the following lesson.
We discuss the lighting setup for the scene in more depth and also show the lighting result with the different lights in on and off states so you can see exactly what each light is doing. Dave runs through each section of the scene and explains how he’s maintaining the same light intensity and style throughout. This lesson concludes with a simple cut together scene of this lighting scenario and you can see how the lights work and contribute to the overall visual style and feel of the end result.
We’ve seen the simple lighting setup so now we’re going to approach things slightly differently and go for a film noir style lighting for our scene. We’ve changed the lighting to 4600K temperature and the cameras are balanced for tungsten which gives a slightly blue and moody look to the scene.
This lesson runs through the scene setup and lighting and we conclude with an edited scene as an example.
Learn some tips and for shooting at night or making a shot look like it’s a night. Shooting in tungsten helps if you’re shooting when it’s not actually night time which makes the scene look slightly more blue. Practical lights such as street lights or low cost LED’s can also help if you don’t have the budget for large lighting rigs.
When working with lighting for a film you will find yourself working with a huge range of the crew on set. Working closely with different crew members such as costume designers and the gaffer is essential to achieve the visual style that the director is looking for.
We hope you’ve learned some basic knowledge of lighting for film and you can now take your knowledge of the 3 point lighting setup and scale this up to bigger and better things. Now it’s time to get out there and get filming! You can also watch our Fundamentals of Cinematography course with Dave Miller, just click through to our profile!
GetFilming is an online film school and community, we bring together the very best experts currently working in the film, TV and online video industries with our community of aspiring filmmakers.
We work with professionals such as Adrian Mead, Rob Bessette, Evan Abrams and Dave Miller. Our tutors have worked with everyone from Sky, BBC, HBO, AMC, ITV to clients ranging from Subway and Adidas to Gibson and everything in between.