Cinematic Lighting on a Budget

Cinematic Lighting on a Budget


In our last short film, four scenes out of
six were shot without adding any lighting at all.
So how can we make the most of the light that we already have? On the first day of the shoot, we arrived
at the Red Rose Tandoori take away, all set to rig a bunch of lights for the scene.
But, JP our cinematographer noticed there was a light fixture that actually was in a
really good position for a keylight, so he suggested that we could actually shoot the
scene using available light. So that’s exactly what we decided to do, but
there was still a lot of work to be done. First we got the windows blocked off using
black card, since they were completely flooding the room with light.
Then we tried out some different gels on the light to make the foreground warmer than the
background, more orange. After changing the white balance on the camera
to match the gelled light, that cancelled out the orange, and also meant that the background
(which was daylight) turned quite blue. Then we removed one of the fluorescent lights in
the kitchen, which meant that (except for a couple of hotspots) the background was now
darker and bluer than the foreground. Separating the foreground or the background
through color or brightness is just one of the many ways we can add depth to an image.
But what if we wanted to go even simpler, what if we didn’t want to change anything
at all with the lighting? For this scene, we made use of the natural
sunlight on a cloudy day. If the sun had been in a different position,
then this whole section could have been way too bright, or maybe this whole area over
here would have been too dark, meaning that we might have needed to rotate the whole scene
around and film from a different direction, depending on where the sun was.
You can actually find out exactly where the sun will be by typing the location into google
earth, and it’ll show you the direction of the sun at the exact time of your shoot.
You can even find out what time golden hour will be, when the sun is low in the sky and
everything looks kind of magical. But I personally don’t think that the sunset
look suits every scene – in my opinion, it’s best used for that kind of summer’s evening,
relaxed, playful, beer commerical kind of vibe.
And this scene was not about any of those things – it’s about a warning, which is
why I felt like I would have been a mistake to shoot this with a nice kind of sunset in
the background. But that’s just my preference, of course there
are no rules at all when it comes to this kind of stuff. Scene four was similar, the sun position was
good, providing a nice keylight for our main character, and again I wanted that cloudy,
muted look. But of course shooting in natural light – nature
doesn’t have to follow your shooting schedule, it can change at any point.
So we kept having problems, where the sun would come out from behind the clouds.
We’d wait fifteen minutes, and then have a mad rush to try and get a take in before
the sun came out again. It was really slowing us down, and the sky
was only getting clearer and clearer. The pressure was rising because we had another
scene to shoot straight after this, so we really couldn’t afford to waste time waiting for clouds.
Then, Anton, our production assistant, which is the lowest ranking job on the set, he suggested
why don’t we just move the shoot over a couple of metres that way?
And I was like – sorry Anton, we’re actually in the middle of.. And then I realised where
he was pointing – it was a very similar area, but the difference was a massive building
that was actually creating a permanent shadow from the sun.
If we moved over there, we wouldn’t have to wait for cloud cover, we could shoot no
matter what. So we went with his idea, and we all moved
over a couple of feet. And there were two things I learned from that:
Firstly, you never know where a good idea is gonna come from.
And secondly, it’s so easy to get bogged down by a problem and trying to fix it, but sometimes
the best solution is just to step back, look at your options, and just completely avoid
it. Completely avoid the problem. My name’s Simon Cade, this has been DSLRguide
and i’ll see you next week.


100 thoughts on “Cinematic Lighting on a Budget

  1. I really don't care about Hollywood and its big names. You my guy, you are the the ish. You and your team are the ish. You are the one we come to when we need motivation, not Spielberg, you bro. And as for Anton, stay humble and learn man, Greatness awaits you and your team. #ATEAM

  2. +DSLRguide Hey Simon, I just want to say thank you! I've been around your channel over a year now and I must admit, that I am impressed especially by the latest episodes. Your last videos improved a lot. The videos are more fluent, more interesting and complete. Your narrative skills got better a lot. Thanks again. I am eager to see how your videos will look in another year 🙂

  3. There must be lots of production assistants working on big productions who never get to contribute their ideas due to all that hierarchy.

  4. A great app to help with planning when shooting in natural light is "Sun Seeker." it shows you exactly where the sun will be every hour of the day and has proved to be extremely useful on countless shoots. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sun-seeker-3d-augmented-reality/id330247123?mt=8

  5. Please make an episode on Continuity principles, How to maintain a continuity sheet .. with reference to past projects .. 🙂

  6. I think Simon deliberately mentioned Anton and his rank so as to make the hierarchy go away in the minds of filmmakers. Kind of a psychological move to make us think that we should treat everyone in the set equally. Good job Simon and Anton! 🙂

  7. hi Simon! amazing video, you teach me a lot and also I like how deep you are! Im following every week! Thanks you I started to work on videomaking much more now. I would like to ask you: could you do a tutorial about white balance in that scenes and how you would set the camera setting (ISO, f-stop etc.)? even if you don't do it I thank you for all your job 🙂

  8. PLEASE READ. Am saving up for a camera and I can't decide if I should get the Nikon d3300 or the GoPro HERO 4 black, please help. At the moment I'm thinking that the Nikon d3300 will be better because of these reasons, 1 : No fish eye 2 : Has optical zoom 3 : You can change your focal length. And the main reason I would get the gopro hero 4 black is the 4k 30fps and 1080p 120fps (also toughness of course). Last thing is that I already have the Gopro HERO, so I could still use that for action shots. Thanks in advance 🙂

  9. Stanley Kubrick fans will recall that for the filming of the film Barry Lyndon, he acquired ultra fast lenses designed for NASA to shoot dinner table scenes by candlelight only! Simon: is there a cheat sheet or table for aperture and shutter speed combinations?

  10. Honesty guys, I know you worked hard on the short film that you did, but you really need concentrate on keeping your subjects in focus. Having your talent out of focus is one for the biggest turn off's for an audience. When I watched the camera man moving in closer to the subject, he wasn't even pulling focus. Anyway, I appreciate the time spent on the film, I just think that there needs to be more consideration for the little things. Also never put down your team members on set by saying they are the "lowest ranking job on set", they're all volunteer, and there is no room to talk at the position your in. There is a lot you still have to learn, and one day when your get older, your going to start as a production assistant just like everybody else.

  11. Hey Simon! Can you make a low budget guide of how to make light equipment? I've recently been in a shooting studio and had this epiphany of buying a White Umbrella after seeing something similar over there, and that led me to believe that buying flashlights to use in conjuction with the white umbrella would be an awesome idea
    I would love to hear your professional opinion on this, i haven't made any vids about it yet but if you could try and test it out that would be amazing!
    p.s:anyone from NZ i want to be a production assistant!

  12. So inspired by you. Posted my first video yesterday. Maybe you could check it out if you have time!? Thanks.

  13. Your channel is amazing! I am thinking of purchasing a camera to make films. I have a budget of about $600. Do you have any suggestions? Please keep in mind that what ever you suggest I will immediately purchase. Thanks!

  14. Hey Sam neat work, you should promote your production assistant he has a good eye.
    Please can you tell me what camera and lens combo you were using for the confrontation scene towards the end I like it and the move your PA recommended worked like a charm it made a huge difference on an emotional level too.
    great work.

  15. This video is called 'Cinematic Lighting on a Budget'. But if those are your techniques when you have around $11,000 to spend on a shoot, then I'd hate to see what you produce when you are literally on a proper budget.

  16. Hi. Great tutorial. I have question Canon 5d mark 3 shot how can convert in 2048+ 585.i want to make feature film i have no shoot actully format convet in camera setting or editing procecer pls guide me

  17. Hi Sam. How can you use a clip from another film (The Shawshank) in your video?
    How about the copyright? Do you need a permission?
    Thank you.

  18. love your videos man, im wondering if you could do a small video on gopro filming or cheap DSLR filming (Nikon D3200) as you can see if you take a gander on my channel, im a aspiring music/film director trying to get the most out of my cameras because im always on a tight budget.

  19. What Simon is british ?! What a great news!
    I also thought he's american due to his – at least for me as a middle european guy, american like accent

  20. Man, I've been watching your channel all day today. So inpiring… I think I'm buying a t3i… get a bunch of lights instead of getting the 5D MK III

  21. whats your camera settings for the camera you're talking to(talking to us)? how do i get that cinematic feel & look?

  22. Hi Anton, i'm really learning a lot from your videos. thanks a lot. By the way, i love the way you crunch those apples 😉

  23. At 0:50 why did you use orange gels, then change the white balance on the camera for the cool blue look? Couldn't you have gotten that same look just by editing the white balance?

  24. Someday you gonna rock it ANTON !! Juz do wt u do.. u will achieve for sure. All the best bro ! Regards from INDIA.

  25. It's not the lowest ranking on the set. Production assistant is a big help and we should look others as equal in the production set.

  26. Where can I learned this stuff very interesting & important this is my long-term goal as a filmmaker & I need to interact with film directors, Producers, more

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