Inside at Night: Three Lighting Strategies
(Cinematic Lighting Lesson 11)
Summary: Lighting a night interior doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. If you follow these three lighting strategies you’ll be able to successfully create the right feel and mood of a interior night scene.
Length: 5:53 minutes
On-location night interiors are one of my favorite scenes to shoot. Why? Well, because it’s almost like being in a studio. You have near complete control of all of the light, and you don’t have to compete with the sun. In this video I’m going to share with you how to create the night look, as well as the three strategies that you should be thinking about anytime you light your night interior.
Creating The Night Look
Before you start, remember that the most important thing is to determine the mood and the look of your scene. Obviously, we’re talking about a night scene here, but is it a romantic scene just after sunset. Or the pitch blackness of midnight. Or maybe the predawn light just before sunrise. Once you have the look figured out, you can start developing your lighting approach.
At night the sources of light are smaller and more directional. So it’s justifiable to light a night interior with hard directional light. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t use soft light; you can, and I often do. But if you want that hard light look, night interiors are a good place to use it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the illusion of night is best created by the angle and distribution of light. At night the angle of light tends to be less frontal; instead it comes from a three quarters back position and you’ll fill from the front. Lighting this way helps push more of the image into shadow, emphasizing that it’s night.
Typically, it is really easy to determine where your light should be coming from. Usually, there will be some sort of light source in the scene: a lamp, candle, whatever. If there is a window in the shot, you can play it as moonlight or a street light shining through.
Once you’ve decided on the look and the approach you are going to take for your night interior, it’s time to start lighting. Here are three strategies to help you get better results for your night interiors...
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Camera / Audio
- Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
- Fotodiox Lens Mount Adapter – Canon EOS (EF / EF-s) to Sony E-Mount
- Bright Tangerine Misfit Matte Box
- Tilta FF-T03 15mm Follow Focus with Hard Stops
- Sachtler Panorama 7+7 Head 100mm (similar head: 1006 DV 10 SB Fluid Head)
- Sachtler Carbon Fiber Tripod (similar tripod: Carbon Fiber HD Tripod Legs)
- MYT Works 4′ Medium slider w/ HiHat
- Hollywood Beefy Baby Stand (8.5′) (two, to raise the MYT Works slider)
- Movcam Cage for Sony A7S
- Sekonic L-758Cine DigitalMaster Light Meter
- Sekonic C-700 SpectroMaster Color Meter
- Wooden Camera A/B Gold-Mount Plate for Sony A7, A7r and A7s
- Audio Technica AT835b Shotgun Microphone (similar microphone: Audio Technica BP4071 Shotgun Microphone)
- Wooden Camera DSLR A-Box
- Delkin Devices 64GB SDXC Memory Card 600x UHS-I
- DSC Labs One Shot Reference Chart (Matte Finish)
Behind the Scenes (BTS) Cameras
- GoPro Hero3 Black (similar camera: GoPro HERO4 Black)
- Motrr Galileo: App-Driven Motorized Head w/ GoPro Mount
- Sony Alpha SLT-A57
- Filmcity DSLR Camera Cage Shoulder Rig kit (FC-03)
Lighting / Grip Gear
- Fill-Lite 200
- LED (900) (Bestlight®)
- 575W HMI Fresnel Light w/ Electronic Ballast (Queenshiny®)
- 24×36″ – Black Double Net
- Full Color Temperature Blue (CTB)
- 1/2 Color Temperature Blue (CTB)
- Steel Blue (21×24″ Sheet)
- Foam Core Bounce (White)
- Floppy – 48×48″ (1.2×1.2m)
- Matthews Century C Stand Grip Arm Kit – 10.5′ (3.2m)
- Master Combo HD Stand (11′)
- PBL Sandbags x4 bags