Join Eduardo Angel for an in-depth discussion in this video Final thoughts and wrapping up our shoots, part of Corporate and Documentary Video Lighting.
- The sun is one of the most powerful light sources that we all have access to. It is readily available, and best of all, it's free. If a shot can be done very quickly, one can probably get away by using what light is available. Simply repositioning our camera or subjects can be an efficient use of our time and resources. Even cinema masters like Roger Dickens worked with available light and without an assistant when shooting documentaries in Africa early in his career. As we saw with the building's exterior shot in the scene at the coffee shop, there are certain situations where available daylight works great.
Recreating a day for night or vice versa can be very time consuming and might require permits or specific knowledge or gear that a small crew on a tight budget doesn't always have. If possible, shoot the real thing. Unfortunately, most video projects generally require extended periods of shooting time. Imagine shooting multiple interviews over a couple of days for a corporate video and relying only on window light. I can guarantee that the post-production would be a nightmare.
On other projects, we might need to tier down and produce scenes at a later time. It would be very hard to work if we needed to rely on a constantly changing and unpredictable light source as we saw with the window light we planned to use for our interview. Selecting the right location and time to shoot is a very important pre-production decision, especially if your subject can't be moved, like our building. But we all know things can significantly change from pre-production to production. And even if we have to shoot at our chosen location at a less favorable time of day, we can make sunlight work to our advantage.
If there's too much light, we simply need to find ways to knock it down. And if there isn't enough, we figure out ways to harness and amplify it. Let's recap some of the many lessons covered in this course. In order to create a sense of depth in a two-dimensional format, we need to rely on a number of tricks. One of them is adding shadows to help define the shape of an object or subject as we saw at the bike shop. Even if we have enough light to get a proper exposure, we might want to add additional lights to increase the contrast or add dramatic touch as we did in our lobby shot.
Having a clear vision, an objective, for every scene will inform and enhance the lighting decisions you make. Consider experimenting with the position, angle, and strength of your lights. For quick, exterior day shoots, we often rely on reflectors to harness the sun. Even in interior setups, a portable reflector can work wonderfully as a fill light. Cloudy days are great for portraits because the clouds effectively become a huge soft box.
Cloudy days are not so great when we're trying to make an ordinary building look more dramatic. We definitely cover that on our exterior shot. A very important element to lighting is control. As we saw on all the chapters, accessories like reflectors, barn doors, cinefoil, and flags are essential items in every filmmaker's kit. Shaping and blocking light is as important as adding light. A quick and easy way to make our talent look good is to use softer light sources.
I like to remind myself that Irving Penn, a master photographer, used a single soft light for most of his shots, including several big budget commercials that won him several awards. A soft light can be achieved by using soft boxes, umbrellas, or fabrics, or by simply balancing the light against something which is what we did with the girls at the coffee shop. Lastly, don't forget that when we make our talent look good, we help advance their career and ours. And remember, work fast, but also, work smart.
Each chapter begins with a strategy session, and includes tips for capitalizing on natural light, repositioning the camera, and getting the final shot. Eduardo closes the course with a wrap-up of the shoots and some final thoughts on shooting video for corporate clients.
- Choosing your location wisely
- Working with natural light
- Picking a camera position
- Lighting the scene