Lighting Technique:

The Power of X [VIDEO]

Summary: Ryan shows you a quick and easy lighting method that can be mastered in one minute and easily applied to any video or film production.

Length: 3:53 minutes


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Did you know that by applying the “Power of X” to your lighting set-ups you can instantly take a boring lighting scheme and turn it into a great looking shot? In this video, I’ll reveal this lighting technique and show you how to apply it to a variety of situations: a basic interview, a narrative setup, and even an uncontrollable documentary shoot. The best part is that this technique can be mastered in under a minute.

“The Power Of X”

Beginner filmmakers typically use light to just get an exposure. This means they randomly throw up a light, often placing it directly behind the camera so it doesn’t get in the shot.

Incorrect Lighting: Placing Light Behind Camera (Lighting Technique: Power of X)

Placing Light Behind Camera Graphic (Lighting Technique: Power of X)

However placing the light on the same axis as the camera produces flat lighting that doesn’t say much.

Results of Placing Light Behind Camera (Lighting Technique: Power of X)

Correct Placement of Light (Lighting Technique: Power of X)

Instead, the light should add life, dimension, and shape to our images. By using the “Power of X” you can create cinematic images that have the personality and style you are looking for.

Before setting up our lights we position our talent and then our camera in the space, which is called blocking the scene and framing the shot. After that’s done…

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11 replies
  1. willk
    willk says:

    Hey Ryan, really interesting video, can’t believe what a difference such a seemingly small change of lighting position can make.
    What was the diffusion you used in 2.15sec into the video, it looks like a square sheet that you’re shooting through? is this to soften the light more to match the illusion of the window light?


    • Ryan E. Walters
      Ryan E. Walters says:

      Thanks – Glad you found that helpful. Many times it the little things that can make a big difference. 🙂

      As for the diffusion frame, that was a 4′ x 4′ Full Grid Cloth. You are correct that it was added to match the feeling of the window light. Ideally, I would have liked to put my frame of 6×6 Full Grid Cloth there, to make it a bigger source. But due to space, I was limited to a 4×4 rag. (I used a 6×6 rag on the interview setup)

  2. Slacks10ten
    Slacks10ten says:

    This is great; thanks!

    I’m setting up to shoot real estate stills (for now); the way I see it good lighting is good lighting no matter the context, so very much appreciate learning from you guys. Again – thank you!


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