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0-60 seconds: Super short snappy videos: Lighting & Cinematography

"Filmmaking 101"

Finding the light

© Sarah Naomi Campbell 2014

Acting 101: Exploring Emotional Range

So, you want to be in movies?


Lighting is crucial in creating the look and feel of your film by setting:




When approaching lighting, take time to read Media College's AMAZING piece on Three Point Lighting and play with the Lighting Simulator to see the dramatic impact each light has on an actual person.

Notice how the changes in lighting affects the moodiness of the subject. Natural light is the gold standard, but in its absence, aim to light your subject well, avoiding overly harsh shadows, by using key, fill, and back lights.

The three point lighting system is simple but extraordinarily helpful: If lights were a meal, the key would be the main course, the fill would be an appetiser, and the backlight would be desert.  

Have only one light?  Use it as a key.  Two lights?  Add in a fill.  if you're blessed with three, you've got the makings of a full course meal.

If you're feeling ambitious, check out this tutorial on incoporating umbrellas



The most important rule to remember when composing a shot is to do exactly that: compose.  Think of the camera's lens as your paintbrush.  Just as you wouldn't throw a bucket of paint at the canvas and call it a day (unless, you know, you're Pollack, because genius), don't simply point your camera and go. 

The second most important thing is to watch this quick video on how to use the Rule of Thirds.  

Frame your scene

Frame as carefully as you would approach a painting.   To get started, check out this video on composition and framing.  Where practical, each item should contribute to the story as a whole, be it as a way to move the action forward, or simply to help set a particular mood.  Each book, each piece of furniture, even the choice of pen holders should be included with an editing eye - de-clutter where possible, unless, you know, a cluttered scene is part of the appeal.  

Above all, be thoughtful of what is included in each shot - frame each scene as you would a photograph you hope to keep forever.

Choose rich, warm set designs

When thinking about set design, choose places with rich, vibrant colors - if your library is rather neutral in color, unless bland is part of the mood you are trying to establish, choose costumes which are colorful and vibrant and read well on camera.  In other words, avoid black and grey.

Get creative!

Walk around your library and think about places which are warm, inviting, and/or, maybe funny.  Every reference interview doesn't have to take place at the desk.  Mix up expectations and get comfortable with controlled chaos.


An acting masterclass from Sir Michael Caine

Rule of Thirds