Three Strategies For Lighting A Day Interior

(Cinematic Lighting Lesson 10)

Summary: Interior day interiors may seem easy to light, but there are challenges to consider. In this video Ryan goes over how to control the color, intensity, and ambient light levels when shooting indoors so that the mood and feel of your images are the look you want.

Length: 7:48 minutes

Video Lesson

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Lighting a day interior may seem pretty straight forward, but there are actually some unique challenges that can really bite you in the butt if you’re not careful. In this video I’m going to begin by sharing with you how to create the look of a day interior, and then we’ll move on to the three strategies that you should be aware of in order to help you overcome the issues that you’ll face on set.

Creating The Look

Determine Look and Mood (LC110)
As I mentioned in the previous videos, the most important part of the lighting process is to determine the look and mood you want to create. This determines how you’ll approach your day interior lighting, so it’s best to settle on this first. As you light your scene, here are some things to keep in mind.

Morning vs Midday Light (LC110)
Usually a day interior will have a softer light because that light is bouncing all around the environment, raising the ambient light levels and providing a lot of soft fill. The exception to this, of course, is direct sun through a window. Earlier in the morning and in the evening the sun is lower, which means it rakes through the windows and hits lower on the walls. This makes the bottom of the wall brighter and the top of the wall darker. Towards the middle of the day the sun moves overhead, light bounces around more, filling a space more evenly; so the walls get brighter. Of course, you don’t have to light your scene that way, but it’s a good idea to be aware of reality so that you can recreate a specific look if needed.

Rim Light Doesn't Have to Exactly Align With Sunlight (LC110)
Oh, and speaking of windows: they are usually the most logical sources of light for your day interior. I’ll use them as a starting place for the positions of lights I setup. Our eyes are easily fooled with light placement in film because we are compressing 3D space onto a 2D image. I can add in a backlight or an edge light to someone, and as long as it is coming from the same direction as the window, our eyes will accept it even if the light isn’t really traveling in that direction.

Outside is Brighter than Inside (LC110)
In the real world the light outside tends to be brighter than the light inside. If you’re after a sunny day look, make sure that whatever you see out the window feels brighter than your interior. How much brighter depends on the look you want and the camera you are using. Having a good understanding of your camera is essential. If you want to have a solid understanding of your camera, then jump on over to our camera series.

Three To Five Stops Over Key (LC110)
Personally, I like to see some detail out of my windows, so I’ll keep them to somewhere around 3 – 5 stops over key depending on the camera I’m using. Another touch I like to do is add streaks of sunlight or pools of daylight to the set. Not only does it add visual interest to the shot, but it can really help a shot from feeling like it is flatly lit.

Pools Of Light Add Depth (LC110)
Once you’ve decided on the look you want for your day interior and where you want your light to come from, it’s time to start lighting. But lighting a day interior on location presents a series of challenges that you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at the three main challenges and the strategies to overcome them...

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Lighting Diagrams

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Tools We Used

Camera / Audio

Behind the Scenes (BTS) Cameras

Lighting / Grip Gear

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2 replies
  1. Ahmedsalem
    Ahmedsalem says:

    Very excellent tutorial , I hope that you create some tutorials you show us in it how to rig and control the light in much more details , also I suggest you show us the making for every tutorial because will show us the fine tuning and subtle naunaces


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