ALL THE MOUNTAINS (by Paul McSherry)

Our soon to be launched production company HEIST Films (soon!) was recently approached and asked if we would be interested in producing a music video for singer/song writer, Paul McSherry, entitled "All The Mountains". Below are some lighting setups from day one.

We didn't have a huge budget for lights so we opted to shoot tungsten. It was difficult too because we had a lot of windows that were allowing daylight to enter the premises and it wasn't the sort of place we could black the windows or really alter in any way. We also own a few LED panels that are colour temperature adjustable, but they're no match for the sun. This meant that we had to change a few shots but all in all, it worked out well :)

SHOT 1 >>

We had to change this shot from what was originally scripted because of the strong daylight source behind our actor. With no HMI's and no lights to match that sort of power we decided to shoot profile instead of font-on. To balance exposure on his face, I used a reflector and an LED set to 5600K. I had these placed high to help shape his face and add shadow under his chin. Reflectors are THE most versatile and useful lighting tool ever! And so cheap! Also, the room he was entering (to the left of frame) needed to be lit. I just set up two LED panels at 5600K, again to match the colour temp of the sun. I pointed them at the wall and bookshelf and dimmed them a few notches so as not to draw too much attention and maintain a nice contrast. Below is a diagram that will give you a clearer picture.

SHOT 2 >>

By pointing the 2K at the wall I created a soft light that spilled everywhere. I wanted our actress to look warm and soft so this was a good start. We had no scrims or really any extra rigging for diffusing so bouncing off the walls was a good compromise. I then had to give her face some shape. I also wanted to place some emphasis on her hair. A high, softened LED panel was placed camera left as a side/hair light and you can see it working well there. Her hair and right shoulder are glowing at least a stop hotter than her opposite side which gave her some nice shape and helped separate her from the wall. I then filled her left side (camera right) with a smaller LED. This also gave her necklace an extra kick. Notice the colour temp of this was set closer to tungsten than the back-light? I played with these because I didn't want her hair to appear TOO yellow, and wanted her skin to be more neutral. If I had all lights balanced to 3200K, it would have been a yellow mess. Splitting the colour temps also helped separate her from the tungsten lit wall. Different skin tones show up differently on camera. Don't be afraid to adjust the temperature of your lights to compensate, even in a tungsten environment. Below is a diagram that will give you a clearer picture.

SHOT 3 >>

I lit this shot similarly to the previous shot but this time I took away the diffused wall bouncer. I wanted the man to be lit much harsher. I also took off any diffusion from the LED's. The streaming back light from the 2K (although subtle) was a nice way to light the archway behind him and help with a small rim behind his left ear. Once again, playing with the colour temp of my LED's to get the skin tone I wanted. Below is a diagram that will give you a clearer picture.

I hope this helps you with your next shoot! I'm always experimenting with lighting and I learn a lot from every shoot. Although shooting in available light is a great skill to have, lighting your own environments exactly the way you want, is very rewarding. Get out there, experiment and create your own style! Thanks for visiting :)

The lighting illustration icons used here were designed by Kevin Kertz. He was kind enough to allow me to use them to help demonstrate my setups. Thanks Kevin!

For more lighting setups, check out the LIGHTING section at the top of this page :)

Posted on February 25, 2013 .