Lighting a Set: 3 Tips to Use to Your Advantage

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Lighting a Set: 3 Tips to Use to Your Advantage

When shooting video, the lighting you choose sets the stage for the actual content – though most viewers may not be consciously aware of the lighting choices you’ve made, they react to light on a subconscious level. Lighting can be used to give the viewers subtle cues about where the scene is taking place, or to create an emotional response to what’s happening. In commercial shoots, lighting choices also ensure that the product and/or models are presented at their absolute best.

Lighting to Orient the Audience

Different types of lighting are associated with different settings, so choosing the right lighting can clue the audience in as to where to direct their attention. This can play a particularly important role on lower-budget shoots, where you may not have the resources for elaborate, extensive sets. Harsh fluorescent lighting evokes hospitals and other institutional settings, usually with a negative connotation, while soft, warm light that has more yellow and orange than white evokes a feeling of warmth and closeness. Dimmer white lights with a cool bluish tint can be used to simulate the mystery of moonlight, establishing a setting as outside in the evening, or in shaded areas such as a forest.

The Role of Lighting in Establishing Mood

Just as the lighting of a shoot can give viewers cues as to where the scene is taking place, it can also be used to establish a specific mood. Perhaps the most obvious example is the classic use of flickering lights to generate unease and build tension in horror movies. Warmer tones in lighting tend to communicate comfort and safety, while cooler tones evoke an air of mystery. Shots of everyday situations with little emotional overtone should avoid using dramatic lighting that could generate a mood incongruent with the situation.

Aesthetic Qualities ofLighting

Light that flatters the subject is a vital aspect in every shoot, but is particularly important in commercial shoots where the goal is to showcase a product or generate interest and a positive emotional response towards a brand. In commercial shoots, it is typically important to avoid “hard light,” or direct, undiffused lighting. This type of light creates intense highlights and dark, dramatic shadows, which may be useful in establishing mood, but is an unflattering choice for capturing images of models or products.

Many outdoor shoots are planned to take place over the “magic hour,” or “golden hour,” the period of the day just after sunrise, or just after sunset, for a particularly flattering, softer, warmer light. When shooting outside without any lighting equipment, the diffused light of an overcast day, or of the early morning or late afternoon is far more flattering than harsh, direct sunlight. Shooting outside brings its own set of unique challenges that must be taken into consideration in planning the shoot.

Samantha Sackler is the CEO of both Samantha Sackler Productions and designer8* Event Furniture Rental, as well as Partner in Infinity Marketing. She has a vast knowledge within the event industry boasting more than 20 years of experience. Samantha designs and produces high-end social events, movie premieres and many corporate conferences/events. She also has created one of the most sought after furniture rental companies within the event industry, designer 8* Event Furniture Rental.

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Comments (1)

  • Thursday, December 29, 2016 12:14 AM

    Yantram Studio said…

    It's very useful & Creative article info.
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