How to Cinematically Light a Corporate Video

(Cinematic Lighting Lesson 20)

Summary: While most filmmakers dream about how they’ll shoot their next feature film, the reality is that at some point you’ll be shooting a corporate video. You may even build a whole career off of it, since it is always in demand. In this video Ryan takes you behind the scenes and shows you his approach to cinematically lighting a corporate video.

Length: 6:15 minutes

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Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been shooting video for years, corporate video can be a great source of income. But how do you apply the theory we have taught and make your footage look cinematic? Well, we’ll show you how to do just that, in this video.

Choose A Great Location

Choose A Good Location (LC120)
If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it a thousand times: preproduction is the key to a successful shoot. This is particularly true with location scouting prior to the shoot. But the reality is that you will not get the luxury of location scouting on every shoot, especially on a lot of low budget corporate projects. How then do you still walk away with cinematic footage? The first step is to not settle with the first location given to you.

Noisy Environments Won't Work For Your Video (LC120)
Most of the time some well-intentioned person shows you where they want you to shoot. This person rarely has experience with video, so they unintentionally set you up for failure with the location they selected. To solve this, upon arriving at the location look at the spot they have chosen for you, then ask to see as many other options as possible.

Original Space Looked Great But Had Bad Lighting (LC120)
In our example, the first choice that we were given was the actual desk of the client. While it looked cool and had a lot of opportunity to create depth and separation there were two really big problems with this location...

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Tools We Used

How To Cinematically Light A Corporate Video (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 20)
How To Light Quickly (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 19)
Lighting For Extreme Frame Rates (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 21)
12 Crucial Questions Before Lighting Your Set (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 15)
3 Strategies For Lighting Your Night Exteriors (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 14)
5 Essential Strategies To Lighting Day Exteriors (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 12)
10 Tips To Lighting Day Exteriors (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 13)
How To Light A Small Commercial (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 23)
Where To Begin Lighting Your Set (Cinematic Lighting Lesson 18)
11 replies
  1. Chris
    Chris says:

    Hello, I know this is about lighting, but I am curious about how are you handling audio? What are you recording to? What audio gear are you using?

    Thanks, Chris

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      For the on-camera bits, we use an Audio Technica AT835b shotgun mic that taps into a Wooden Camera A-Box adapter to switch from XLR to the 3.5mm input required by our Sony A7S. We record the audio and video from the Sony A7s to an Atomos Shogun recorder. While the shotgun isn’t the best mic for this situation, the sound quality from this mic is amazing.

      For the voice over bits, we have started using a Rode Podcaster for ease of use since we aren’t concurrently recording video so don’t need the camera or external recorder.

  2. Chris
    Chris says:

    Thanks Tim! I was also wondering what kind of diffuser cloth you were using on the diffusion grid? How many stops? Was it muslin, etc?

    thanks, Chris

      • andbrehm
        andbrehm says:

        I was wondering the same. Could you tell more about your preferred bounce and diffusion material? Would be a great asset to know!
        Thanks very much for the thrilling content!

        • Tim
          Tim says:

          It’s hard to recommend any specific materials since it all depends on the application and the shoot. There are various diffusion filters that you can put in front of a light that will soften the light to different degrees. These come in different materials depending on how much you want to spread the light, if sound is an issue some are made of materials that don’t make as much sound in the wind, others are made of materials that are more resistant to heat in the case of using them close to very hot lights. Rosco has a great explainer on some of these filters.

          If you are looking at cloth diffusion — called a silk, rag, grid cloth, or scrim — again there are many options depending on the project. The material and weave of the silk varies depending on how much diffusion is needed. Matthews makes a lot of great silks (such as this 4’x4′ white 1/4 stop silk), but there are also other great brands out there too such as Westcott and Rosco.

          Finally, if cost is an issue, we have a bunch of suggestions for bounces and silks that we actually use since they are so effective. And all of them are under $10, so you don’t have to worry as much about them getting damaged or dirty.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      That feature is in the works. Email me the ones you want and I’ll try to fast-track them for this week or next. ( info [AT] )

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      What is meant is to place the camera in one corner of the room and film diagonally across to the other corner of the room. Because you are filming on the hypotenuse of the room, you gain a little bit of distance between the camera and the background.


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