How to Light for Specific Camera Blocking: Master to Close-Up

It has been so much fun hearing all of your comments on the composition series that we did. I thought that I would go one step further and tell you what I think about when I am blocking a scene and give you my preferences on how to work from the master to the close-up.

 

“Don’t Be Afraid of Hard Light”

I believe we all have gotten a little overindulgent in the use of soft light because we think, “I want it to feel natural”; “I want it to feel like ambient light, not lit”; “I want to go with available light.” I have heard many of these descriptions. It is your job as a cinematographer to translate that into a lighting language that will deliver exactly what the director wants. His or her description doesn’t always mean soft light. What about the illusion of soft light, while you are using a harder source? Herb Ritts used hard light to his advantage in so many ways. Conrad Hall was a big hard light user as well. I love hard light just as much as I love soft. There is a time and a place for both. What hard light does is to give you lighting control on master shots.

Hard light used in Swing Vote

Hard light used in Swing Vote

Hard light used in The Greatest Game Ever Played

Hard light used in The Greatest Game Ever Played

Hard light used in We Are Marshall

Hard light used in We Are Marshall

 

“Rule of Thumb”

I try to light my masters with a much harder light than my close-ups. It gives me the ability to control my light off walls, pillars, foreground elements, etc. to create contrast, mood and help assist the story. I don’t like to leave it up to the color correction bay and 15 power windows to light for me. It is up to the cinematographer. This hard light will not seem hard in a master if you mix a little soft light in there that you can shape. This added soft light usually comes from overhead to fill in shadows and smooth out the hard edges. It is difficult to take in the nuances of the quality of a source on wide masters, unless you have huge hard shadows on the walls. If you want the illusion of soft light, you need to flag those shadows off of walls or floors and fill them in with perfectly placed soft light.

 

“Moving In for the Medium Shot”

Now that the harder light is established on your master, you can go in for coverage and soften that to your liking. I will usually move in a bigger diffusion frame like a 12 x 12 closer to our actors. Then I use big flags to keep the contrast up by trying to slow walls down from this softer light that now will wrap around the flags. Sometimes I use egg crates on the soft source to control it or honeycombs.

LightTools 12 x 12 egg crate

LightTools 12 x 12 egg crate

LightTools Soft Egg Crate

LightTools Soft Egg Crate

Chimera Honeycombs

Chimera Honeycombs

Chimera Honeycomb 30 degree

Chimera Honeycomb 30 degree

Chimera Honeycomb 90 degree

Chimera Honeycomb 90 degree

Medium shot from Swing Vote

Medium shot from Swing Vote

Medium shot from Swing Vote

Medium shot from Swing Vote

 

“Moving In for the Close-Up”

Now I have the freedom to do almost anything I want. One choice is to bring the light even more around frontally if needed, to soften the light yet again. A book light is something I do for these close-ups. I will go into this in more detail in another post. But simply put, I would keep my 12 x 12 diffusion frame that I used for the medium shot on the light and then put a 4 x 4 frame of maybe Rosco Half Soft Frost or Rosco Half Tough white diffusion, right up close, just out of frame. I love the feel of Half Soft Frost. It is a creamy diffusion that still keeps light direction. I can add an eye light, which will be another future lighting post.

 

“Lighting for the Master aka Doinker”

When I walk into a location, whether it is day or night interior, I look at the window position in relation to the sun and how much of the natural or practical lighting I can use in the space. Then I work with the director to block the scene that will best tell the story while using the space’s natural attributes to our advantage.

Wide shot from The Greatest Game Ever Played

Wide shot from The Greatest Game Ever Played

Wide shot from We Are Marshall

Wide shot from We Are Marshall

 

“Knowing When and How Much You Can CHEAT”

When I look to light the master, I am also considering how it will be lit in the over the shoulder shots, as well as the close ups. If my key light in the master needs to come from the left side, I would try to keep that consistent in the coverage. Looking at your actors’ faces, knowing from which side they should be lit, should weigh into your decision. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have blocked master scenes with the light coming from the left and had to shift it around in the close-ups, but the general rule is to try to match.

If you know you are going to do some dirty OTS shots, then this should factor in to your lighting direction choice, and I will explain why. Lighting the OTS is a very important part of telling your story. The reason I have lingered on these shots so much is that they are an intricate part of telling any story, linking actors together or not linking them. They can show specific emotions and help expand your character’s story.

Let’s take a scene for an example.


I have lit my actors in the master shot from the right hand side. Our camera position is so important with this. Should I be on the left side or the right side of the line? Well, if you are on the right side of the line, your key light will look very flat. If you are on the left side of the line, then there will be shadows on the camera side. This is what creates your mood when you are lighting your master. Always try to position your light on the opposite side of where the camera is.

OTS shot from Swing Vote

OTS shot from Swing Vote

OTS shot from We Are Marshall

OTS shot from We Are Marshall

 

“Going In for the OTS”

Now we go in for this coverage. Look how nicely it sets up. We have the dark side of the face to the camera; we have the shadow side of the shoulder in the over the shoulder. Why is this important? Imagine the key light being on the right side; the person in the foreground of the OTS is lit. Your eye wants to be drawn to the face of our actor, not a lit up shoulder in the foreground. One of the most powerful tools of lighting is directing the audience where to look. This is a perfect example of it. Your eyes are drawn right to the actor’s beautiful eyes and face and what he or she is saying.

Your close-up is also set up perfectly. With your actor camera left, it will turn the actor’s face perfectly into the key light because the key light is on the left, and he or she is looking left. If you lit your actor from the right, then the look will feel flatter because the down side is away from the camera. The light, even though it is flatter, will not look as nice on his or her face because the actor is looking away from the key light. All of this might sound simple, but I am telling you, it makes a huge difference in creating your mood.

When the Location and the Blocking doesn’t work with the Rule of Thumb

Sometimes the blocking and the location don’t stack up in your favor, and you have to light with the source coming from the same side as your camera is on. Case in point, look at the gymnasium scene in We Are Marshall. The shot that looked amazing was the head to toe shot of McConaughey and Matt Fox. I could only light from the right through the windows, and I wanted the background to be those beautiful bleacher seats. So we had to stay on the light side of the line. You can turn this to your advantage. I asked myself, what is this scene about? It is McConaughey having this idea, so he should be the brightest guy in the frame; he is the lightbulb. David Strathairn is not sure of this, so I backlit him, made him uneasy. When I went in for the OTS, you can see that they are lit on the shoulder side of where the camera is placed, but I finessed it a little by bringing in a net to take the shoulder or side of the face down so that your eye was still directed to the actor talking. When McG saw that McConaughey was lit this way, he loved my whole approached and thought it added to the scene. Well there you go. Sometimes you have to just roll with where the actors take you and have a punt plan that is better than the original.

This is part one of this post. More lighting tips to come later.








106 Comments
  1. Gabriel Mays 3 years ago

    Really appreciate the blog post on composition and lighting. I always love learning from professionals who have really mastered the craft. Thanks for taking the time and sharing such great information with us.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Gabriel Mays, you a so welcome. Thank you for your kind words

      • Naveed 2 years ago

        hi. the blog post on composition and lighting helps to think in a new way.

        • Author
          Shane 2 years ago

          Naveed, thank you for the kind words and support

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Gabriel Mays, you are so welcome, thank you for your kind words and support

  2. Danny Valentine 3 years ago

    Thanks for the post Shane! As always it’s very informative… :)

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Danny Valentine, you are very welcome

  3. N.K.Osborne 3 years ago

    Love this post. So much useful information. Really love your philosophy. I noticed the other day when I watched Hugo and Inglorious Basterds back to back that hard light was seen throughout. I to think we have focused too much on soft light. Both have a purpose and for masters/wide shots hard light looks great.

    I can’t thank you enough. Information like this is helping me come into my own and become a better cinematographer and director.

    Thanks Shane.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      N.K.Osborne, You are very welcome and thank you for your wonderful words. Means a lot. Bob Richardson is a master at hard light, use many of his techniques.

  4. visualmed 3 years ago

    will great demonstration Shane as usual ……… I loved the lighting on WE ARE MARCHALL it was just …..it help the story a lot it gives it a look …I specially like the church scene and the bedroom scene with the camera up the light was just rock ….and the church …I like how the light was beautiful on the chairs …..and you right the Cinematography has to show up the great image before going to color room….keep up you good work we are really getting a lots of information and skills ..and thanks to you for that

    Cheers

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      visualmed, thank you so much for your kind words and support of our blog

  5. Robert Shaver 3 years ago

    Man it’s good to read such clear descriptions and then follow it up with great illustrations. When I read, “Your eye wants to be drawn to the face of our actor, not a lit up shoulder in the foreground.” it smacked me between the eyes. Light what you want the audience to look at. An idea I had never clearly articulated in my mind … a simple idea I now embedded in my mind.

    I had a similar reaction once before. It was when I was reading “The Lean Forward Moment” by Norman Hollyn. He describes how a director can draw the viewers attention to the “defining moment” in a scene by making some change at that moment. It could be a sound change, a camera movement change or any number of things, but a change that that draws the attention of the watcher.

    I’m gradually broadening my understanding of how to tell stories visually.

    Thank you so much for sharing you knowledge so freely.

    Peace,

    Rob:-]

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Robert Shaver, you are so welcome and thank you for all of your support

    • John Holser 1 year ago

      Lean forward is a great book. Like Shane, Norman’s passion for the work helps him explain things in a way that cuts through the confusion and turns the “ah-ha” light bulb on !

      • Author
        Shane 1 year ago

        John Holser, thanks for sharing

  6. Alain Wong 3 years ago

    Thank you! I really enjoyed this post. Great tips on how it’s totally doable to create great scenes with hard light.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Alain Wong, you are very welcome

  7. Kelly 3 years ago

    simple stuff once it’s explained so well. Awesome.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Kelly, thanks for the kind words

  8. Paul Abrahams 3 years ago

    Top post, some great actors here. My love of hard light comes from years spent as a boy staying up all night (parents asleep) watching B&W reruns on TV.

    Do actors speak up if they don’t like the light or if its putting them off? Do you sometimes have to work around some actors or do they just trust you to do your thing? How often do you refer to a light meter?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Paul Abrahams, The hard light is used for the wide master shots mostly and then I will go in and soften to make them look great. But for example in Swing Vote, we did not want to make Costner look great till the end when he sees the light and realizes his responsibility to America. I think it worked great.

  9. Bill Hamell 3 years ago

    Shane,

    This post is killing me! It looks so awesome however I cannot load it! Power is out from Sandy and that means no hi-speed internet (cable system is down.) :( We are scheduled to get power back next Tuesday so I look forward to reading it then.

    Bill

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Bill Hamell, it looks like your up and running. Be safe and thank you so much for your kind words and continued support

      • Bill Hamell 3 years ago

        Hi-speed internet is up again however power is not scheduled to be repaired till Tuesday. On the geny till then.

  10. Great examples with simple explanations of both lighting and camera positioning regarding scene blocking.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      James – United By Photography, Thank you so much for your support

  11. Bill Hamell 3 years ago

    Shane, one quick question,

    Is there a difference between using a 30 degree fabric grid and a 30 degree honeycomb?

    Bill

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Bill Hamell, yes a 30 degree fabric grid is squares where the 30 degree honeycomb pattern really collimate the light much more. I love them and had Kino Flos build them for all of their units

      • Bill Hamell 3 years ago

        Thank you, good to know.

  12. Adam 3 years ago

    Great blog and I love all the illustrations to bring it all together

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Adam, thank you so much for your wonderful words.

  13. Page Lynch 3 years ago

    Brilliant as ALWAYS, Shane! Thanks for the advice, man!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Page Lynch, thank you so much for your kind words. I will check you shot out.

  14. Gareth 3 years ago

    Great stuff, it would be cool if you could show how you light a scene on a film. Like an actual video of you putting up lights and explaining why you are doing what. Anyway, great information.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Gareth, thank you so much for your kind words. I will be doing this at Masters in Motion in Dec. 4th in Austin. Here is the link http://shooteditlearn.com

  15. Terren 3 years ago

    So much better than film school textbooks! One ask however, rough lighting diagrams? Thank you!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Terren, ha ha, We try our best at the HurlBlog. I will have lighting plots next week on my BookLight post.

  16. Dan Rubottom 3 years ago

    Great post.
    When you add the 4x in front of the 12x for the closeup- what are you doing to adjust for exposure? bring the light in closer? or are you opening up your aperture? Related- do you expose for one f-stop for the scene and all the coverage or adjust as needed?
    Thanks!

    “I would keep my 12 x 12 diffusion frame that I used for the medium shot on the light and then put a 4 x 4 frame of maybe Rosco Half Soft Frost or Rosco Half Tough white diffusion, right up close, just out of frame.”

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Dan Rubottom, thank you so much for your support. I would open up a little if the background holds, or I would add more light to keep the level consistent.

  17. david 3 years ago

    could you please post about eye lights and book lights. which ones you use?
    that would be awesome!
    please post
    love your work

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      david, coming in hot in two weeks

      • david 3 years ago

        which kind of booklight do you use? would like to buy one now to experiment

  18. Hossam Aboul-Magd 3 years ago

    Simply thank you for sharing your amazing experience. Your lighting is gorgeous.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Hossam Aboul-Magd, thank you very much for those kind words

  19. Hanno di Rosa 3 years ago

    Shane, I regard your blog as one of the best in existence. Your experience and willingness to share is exceptional and very much appreciated. I can use these tips even for my doc-work where only natural light is available!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Hanno di Rosa, thank you so much for your kind words. We do it different, we actually educate, not just fill your minds with senseless gear you don’t need. The storytelling tools, of light and composition never really change.

  20. Michael Locke 3 years ago

    Again I’m impressed not just in your technical expertise, but the artistic questions you ask of the production. “What is this scene about?”, “He is the lightbulb.” are what directors and actors focus on, but you know how this will strengthen the work and reinforce their performances.
    I remember a tip where you spoke of lighting an area to let the actors “roam” allowing them the most freedom possible. I so agree a DP should strive to be a master facilitator with all the departments (love your sound guys): a great place to work, makes great work. Glad you spread the right word…

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Michael Locke, thank you so much for the kind words. I try to do my best with all of this and what is asked of me. Setting up the most creative environment for every department to shine is all part of the wonderful job that I love.

  21. Derek 3 years ago

    Shane,

    Your openness and willingness to divulge your trade secrets and knowledge to others is wonderful. I learn so much from this site! It’s the best cinematography site out there!

    You should make a book/DVD kit. It would sell like cookies at a fat farm.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Derek, ha ha ha, I love that. Thank you for those wonderful words and my wife Lydia and CEO of Hurlbut Visuals has been saying that for a while. Just trying to find the time. Thanks for the support

  22. Matt 3 years ago

    Solid gold, Shane…this is so helpful to me as a budding Director-cheers!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Matt, thank you for those kind words and your support of our blog

  23. KahL 3 years ago

    I’ve been working with a similar workflow a lot lately w/ narrative music videos. This makes complete sense to me. Hard light for wider shots to paint a detailed picture, softer light the closer you punch in (though I like using hard light for back light/kickers).

    Thank you for sharing this, Shane. Re-tweeting it now for my folks to see too.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      KahL, thank you so much for your wonderful words and continued support of our blog. Yep, we do it a bit different here. You actually learn something about the art of cinematography. What a concept.

  24. Deejayanix 3 years ago

    Thanks,am from Nairobi, Kenya and I have honestly just learnt something. Be blessed.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Deejayanix, you are so welcome and thank you for your support of our blog. We try to do it different, where you actually learn something.

  25. Randolph Sellars 3 years ago

    Excellent post on the lighting process. I really appreciate that you walk us through some of your thought process – where the key should be placed based not only on the natural source but how the scene will be covered. I liked your discussion about hard lighting the master and then cheating the key light softer as you move closer. In your first video demonstration scene (in the church), it was particularly interesting to see how you slightly cheated the angle of the key light on McConaughey based on the camera angle facing him. Even though the key switches sides of his face, it works with the editing and because you keep the contrast ratio consistent. Very nice work. I noticed that the camera crossed the line at :56 seconds. Was this done deliberately in order to facilitate the diagonal crossing dolly shot – motivated by McConaughey leaning forward? The change in McConaughey’s eyeline was a little abrupt on the edit, but its a great dolly shot that gets the camera back on the right side of the line. I really enjoy your posts Shane!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Randolph Sellars, thank you so much for those kind words. Yes, the line cross was McConaughey leaning forward which was him giving of himself to try and heal the situation, so we wanted the audience to feel that.

  26. Eddy Woj 3 years ago

    Very interesting post, as always !!!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Eddy Woj, thank you so much for you kind words

  27. Tyler Dixon 3 years ago

    Shane,

    This was an excellent post like many other of your blogs here on your site. I have a question regarding your approach. Do you spend more time in preproduction visualizing and talking about how you plan to film a scene with the director or do you make a conscious effort to get on set and make your lighting and composition decisions the day of shooting. If you do make more decisions prior to shooting, do these decisions often change pending unforseen circumstances or better ideas that come to you?

    Thanks so much,

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Tyler Dixon, You are very welcome, thank you so much for your kind words and all of your support. Yes, the director and I will read through the script for 2 weeks straight coming up with all the style, lighting, shot list and mood of the film prior to landing on location. Sometimes weather, actors blocking, new inspired idea that requires you to think on your feet quickly and PUNT. This is what separates the men from the boys, because usually my PUNT is better than the original plan.

  28. Nithin P 3 years ago

    Wow.. awesome post…love how u r sharing your knowledge which actually no one does now a days in this industry for free..Thanks to being my online teacher.ha

    Thank you sir,

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Nithin P, you are so welcome. This means so much to me to hear these words. Thank you for your support.

  29. Seth D 3 years ago

    Thank you Shane so much. You’re blog is such a great source of inspiration for me. Thanks again for sharing your insights.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Seth D, you are very welcome and thank you for your support of this blog

  30. Paper_bag 3 years ago

    Hi Shane, no need to respond to this (must be a PITA to respond to everyone), but just wanted to add a “me too” to the other comments. I think this post was insightful and practical, and clearly written (and I think not everyone who can do it can articulate it). I appreciate your generosity in being wiling to share your craft and that you spent time and effort to do so.

    What comes across in your posts generally is not only your knowledge of the technical side of cinematography, your sensitivity to the effects and meanings of images, and your enthusiasm for what you’re doing, but also a feeling for people and story that goes beyond the camera. I think it’s very rare to find all these qualities in the one person.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Paper_bag, WOW, that is why I do the things I do and take all this time and energy to write from the heart and not be just a gear reviewer. Thank you.

  31. christopher kechichian 3 years ago

    thanks a lot Shane for this very precious information you are sharing, really appreciate it.
    Wish you all the best

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      christopher kechichian, than you very much and you are welcome

  32. Oli Kember 3 years ago

    Far-side lighting is so key (pun intended). Whenever I can I try and light on the side the actors are looking. Hearing you confirm this is very reassuring. Those massive egg crates are also made by these guys: http://www.dopchoice.com/ Good to know options, I hadn’t heard of Light Tools. Thanks for taking the time to share, as always. Oli.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Oli Kember, hello my friend, great to hear from you. I will check them out. Thanks for the support

  33. Brian Blight 3 years ago

    Shane,
    I had to thank you for this post. I am a painter and photographer and I am always looking to other mediums to keep learning. Your knowledge of light and design is really inspiring.
    Thanks again! Peace.
    Brian

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Brian Blight, thank you so much for your kind words. Lighting and composition are so important. The tools change but these do not.

  34. Ty Stone 3 years ago

    Hello,

    Love the site and what you do. Have you every used Smith-Victor lights, and what is your opinion on them. i want to build a nice kit of lights that pair with the HomeDepot lights that I get too.

    Thank you

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Ty Stone, thank you for your kind words. No I have not used them. All those older fresnel and open face are great to use.

  35. Ankit Goswami 3 years ago

    Shane

    thanks a ton for this post. I am from India, and a independent film maker.
    Thank you for sharing a useful information in a very simple way. And I love this blog. And i’m looking forward to see more post on direction and lighting.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Ankit Goswami, Hello to you. I ams os glad that you are into the blog, we roll out a little different. The tools change but lighting and composition don’t. Many more on the way. Thanks for the support

  36. Ryan Bradshaw 3 years ago

    Shane,
    I recently watched a short film shot on the Sony F55 and a few things shot on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Both produced beautiful images. I shoot on a Canon 60D and 7D. I know there’s a resolution differences between my cameras and the ones used in the short films. I have seen great video come from DSLRs, and I’m sure if nicer cameras aren’t used properly, they won’t produce the great images we know they can. When it comes down to it, does it really come down to lighting? If a scene is properly lit, will it look great on, almost, any camera? What do I need to do to get great looking video from these cameras?

    Thank you,
    Ryan

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Ryan Bradshaw, you have to be a cinematographer, understand light, when to shoot in the day, how to light. There is a ton that goes into all this, just because you own a camera doesn’t make you a cinematographer, it makes you a camera owner. This takes years of experience. Start looking at light, every inch of light, put that in your memory bank and then try to replicate it when you shoot movies. Most of the cinematographers that you love and respect, they were 20 years in it before saying they were a cinematographer.

      • Ryan Bradshaw 3 years ago

        Thank you for responding. Would you say there is more of an emphasis on camera moves, like jibs and dollys, in the amatuer filmmaker area and not enough emphasis on the lighting? Should we focus more on the lighting and less on the cool camera move?

  37. Rick Shorrock 3 years ago

    Shane, thanks so much for this! I’ve been following your DSLR tutorials on YouTube, but I have hit the motherlode with this lighting tutorial! As a video production business owner, this is giving me new ideas on how to light better shots before pressing ‘record’. Awesome!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Rick Shorrock, you are so welcome and I am glad that it is helping you

  38. Slim 3 years ago

    Shane,

    Thank you so much for this! Long story short I’m a self taught guy no opportunity for film school so sites like this is a stand in for that. I hope you realize how much this place gives people like myself a fighting chance and tons of inspiration! I knew I wanted to be a cinematographer but I was limited with gear I had so I pursued photo first knowing it would lend me the knowledge needed to pursue film next. Composition, lighting, post work for still photo’s has helped me greatly and I finally have a 5dmk2!! It may not be the latest and greatest as of today but like your site gives me a fighting chance and judging by your 5d films and others it will be a long time before I outgrow it.

    I learned so much from this tutorial not only about lighting but also about cam position specifically how i can go from wide to close up without it seaming jarring while maintaining same light setup as seen in “We are marshall” w/shia LaBeouf sequence. I cant wait to light from opposite cam and punch in from wide to close on the part when there is dialogue, going from wide to close from one actor to another seams the way to do it. So- I wouldn’t go from wide to close on same actor say (actor-1) back to back but go wide on actor-1 then punch in when other actor is talking- actor 2 which is then leading me to a close up back on actor 1 while maintaining the 180 degree rule w/ talent being lit opposite of cam. I never could figure out how to do that wide to close shot w/out being jarring but this post did help my find a solution even though it was about lighting and cam position. Cant wait to try it out with my cats tomorrow if they will sit still w/ book-ish lighting from my home depot work lights i just got bounced of a wall ..haha pumped..:) Thank you and your team truly epic stuff here.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Slim, I am so glad that you found this useful. Theory is so important, to light in way to propel your story to new heights. How did the cat scene turn out with the book light?

      • Slim 3 years ago

        HAHA-Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! The test shoot went well for the one second the cats stood still. There I was in my room “calmly” trying to make my cats stand still with “temptations” cat treats scattered along the floor with my yellow work lights.

        I learned a few things-lighting fur vs skin are entirely different beasts! In my test I found it hard to pull off shadow on cam side on fur like you could on skin without loosing detail and the fur going mushy like. I found less diffusion and a straight bounce made for more detail in the fur making the cat seem more wild and less of a house pet if that makes sence. I for sure learned alot more then I expected on how soft vs hard light could enhance story vs just making people or things look “prettier” as I thought before this experiment. light can enhance your image almost like certain words in a sentence can enhance a paragraph. There really is a language in light other then a pure visual quality thing. Now I get why some horror stories are lit the way they are; before my little test I just thought horror stories were lit with hard light just because-I didnt really know why to be honest but now I do to enhance texture and give a certain vibe, make thing less pretty. Not sure if those are the right answers but i’m thinking more and seeing light differently so that must be good;)

        Much thanks for the follow up.

  39. Thomas Bosack 3 years ago

    Excellent professional advice. Love the 1/2 frost 4×4 trick.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Thomas Bosack. Thanks for the comment and support.

  40. jimmy 2 years ago

    thank you sir.very useful. sir,do you know your articles have translated into Chinese? a lot of people like them.but you know “Poetry can’t translation”,so i have one question.“ It gives me the ability to control my light off walls, pillars, foreground elements, etc. to create contrast, mood and help assist the story.” What do you mean about ‘off wall’?Is that you mean hardlight helps you to control the bouncing light of the walls, pillars etc.or hardlight can easy control not to light the wall background? thank you.

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Jimmy. What I meant by that is with hard light by using the hard light and I have a person in front of a wall. The hard light I can cut it off of that actor so it doesn’t spill against the wall. Hard light is all about being able to control more easily than a softer source. So glad to hear the blog is being translated and opened up to more readers. Thank you for the kind words and support.

  41. Alfred 2 years ago

    Thank you for your information! I’m surprised that you have the time and heart to begin explaining the step-by-step setups of your shots. I’m wondering if a top floor plan would be too time consuming for you.. because on all the articles you’ve written.. you provide beautiful stills and footage, mentioning even where you purchased the practicals etc. but.. I really wish i could just see a floor plan marked L1, L2, CAM, etc. But that’s just wishful thinking.. and a lot to ask.

    Again, thanks so much for all this!!!
    Al.

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Alfred, you are very welcome and that is not too much to ask, I will address this in the future. Thanks for the feedback

  42. Tomasz 2 years ago

    Hi Shane, great article. I really love your work!

    Also, I have a quick question. Is there any chance you could write what kind of lamps do you use to produce hard light, like you did in a previous article (Choosing your Bounce Source Quality for the Back of the Book). Do you use a chimera as the key light in close up? Thanks.

    Best regards,

    Tomasz

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Tomasz, that is a great suggestion. I will do that in a bit. Thanks for all of your support and kind words.

  43. Atiq GRDE 1 year ago

    Atiq here Sir,
    I am a writer + Director , been writing and asisting for Pakistani Tv since a few years and am currently working + planning + story boarding by first ultra low budget 60 min digital feature and therefore keep surfing internet for any tip that would add value to my first project. Therefore i am a frequent visitor of your blog. Even though i have a Do on my project I want to know as much as i can about cinematography too, as all my idol have said its a must. And let me say that i have never, NEVER come across any free film making data base as yours in my fiver year of internet surfing. I cannot put in words what i have felt after reading your tip of putting the camera on the opposite side for a OTS. Its like an answer to a long prayer !!!!!!. God Bless you and your team

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Atiq GRDE, these are the comments that inspire me to do what I do, to go the extra mile, even though I am working full time on a feature you matter and your voice needs to be heard. The HurlBlog is a special place and I have a special team, than you so much for your wonderful words.

    • Author
      Shane 1 year ago

      Atiq GRDE, these are the blog comments that keep my wife and I motivated to give back and continue to inspire. We at the HurlBlog talk about things that no one talks about, we give you the keys to the castle and help blaze the trail. Thank you for your wonderful words and so sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this wonderful comment.

  44. Simão 3 months ago

    Hi Shane,

    I am simply astonished by the beautiful look of the wide shot from We Are Marshall!
    I can’t believe I found such tip about this subject on the internet.
    I was also wondering what gel you used to achieve that colour temperature, was it a CTO?

    Please keep up your awesome work!

  45. Yash 1 month ago

    Sir, I actually love ur cinematography..
    I learnd a lot lot lot from u which I didnt learn at my film school..

    • Author
      Shane 3 weeks ago

      HA HA, I get this all the time. Yes, what we talk about is very in depth and never talked about. This Inner Circle curriculum is proven to change your skill level exponentially.

  46. Carlos Miranda 4 weeks ago

    Shane, incredible insightful information just on this page. As cinematographer in training I could not say better how valuable is to learn how you come about. I always look to light a scene that could work without moving or adding additional lights to it, like the consistency and natural approach to the process, yet as you mention more often than none my approach is hampered by locations and the impossibility to work the blocking around it. Those instances I find challenging to my knowledge and that is why you helped light a bulb in my head. As my friend Richard Portman says, one more tool to my bag of tricks, thank you for the new pliyers you gave me…ok, Carlos, get on with your question!
    Looking at your OTS clip with McConaughey and David Strathairn would it had work if you had netted Strathairn a further for -1 to – 1 1/2 stop reduction? To a spot check it gives me the sensation both skin illuminations fall within the same readings. I’m curious to know why you would not have considered going that route?
    Your response would be much appreciated!
    Cheers,

    Carlos

    • Author
      Shane 3 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support. Yes I do feel looking back at the over the shoulder to Matthew I should have netted David down at least a stop. So your instincts are correct.

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