Lighting a Moving Subject | Cinematography 101

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Cinematography is made up of lots of different types of shots. So much goes into getting good lighting; but in most cases, the characters stay in the same place. But what about shots where the characters move? They might move right out of your lighting. So, how do you light a scene where the character can move around — and not fall into bad lighting? Today on 4 Minute Film School, we are going to light a shot where a subject moves through a room, using techniques to keep the light remaining consistent.

In this video, Matt from the A-Team walks us through how to light a scene with multiple light sources that look like a single consistent light source. First, he identifies the path that the actor will take through the scene. This is referred to as blocking, and is important to know before you start lighting. Next, he looks for places he can motivate light from, illuminating the actor. This can be windows, lamps, or anything else that would make sense to light the character. Lastly, he uses tools and techniques to blend the different light sources in the scene, so that at any point of the actor’s move, they have good lighting.

The main aspects addressed in this video are soft light, light meters, and lighting flaws. Soft lighting refers to the quality of the light you’re using. The softer the light, the more it will spread throughout the scene. Light meters are tools you can use to read how much light is hitting a part of your set. This can be used to make sure the lighting is consistent. Lighting flaw refers to the idea of introducing errors into your lighting design to appear as the randomized lighting we encounter in the real world.

Ultimately, there is a lot that goes into a moving shot. Whether it’s time, space, or the demands of the script. However, the lighting can sometimes be the most difficult part. Having a vision for the type of lighting that you’re aiming for, when shooting a moving shot, will help you identify places where a moving shot will work and where it won’t. After this video, hopefully long moving shots won’t be as intimidating as they were before. Just make sure the shot works for your story.

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