DIY Cinematography: Light a Music Video | Sean Tracy | Skillshare

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DIY Cinematography: Light a Music Video

teacher avatar Sean Tracy, Filmmaker

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Overview

    • 2. Pre Production

    • 3. Gear

    • 4. Shot A

    • 5. Shot B and C

    • 6. Shot D

    • 7. Theater

    • 8. Shot E and F

    • 9. Insert Shots

    • 10. Gear Alternatives and Wrap Up

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About This Class

In this class, I'll show you the equipment and techniques I used to light a Christmas music video that aired on CMT in December of 2020. 

The goal of this class is to broaden your understanding of cinematography and everything that goes into making beautiful frames. We'll talk about the necessary steps a cinematographer takes during pre-production including location scouting, storyboarding and planning, gear prep, and choosing a color palette to work in.

Then we'll head to the set and look behind the scenes at the lighting setup for each shot. We'll not only cover the how but more importantly, the why.

I'll also show you some alternative equipment you can use if you can't afford the cameras, lens, and lighting I had with me for this shoot.

Watch the full music here -->

Meet Your Teacher

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Sean Tracy



Hi, I'm, Sean - I'm a commercial Director, DP, and editor from Poughkeepsie, NY. In 2013, I started MONSTERINTHEDARK, a small production company in upstate NY that specializes in creating videos for businesses. 

My filmmaking journey began in high school but took a detour for several years when I took a job as an elementary school teacher. I miss the classroom so it's great to be able to share what I know about the business of filmmaking and lighting for film with others.

I'm currently teaching five classes on Skillshare so check them out and let me know if what I'm teaching is helping you accomplish your goals:

Essential Filmmaking Tool: Apps for Pre-production and Production

Cinematography Techniques for One-Man Band Filmmakers

Freelance Vi... See full profile

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1. Overview: [MUSIC] Hi, I'm Sean. In this class, I'm going to teach you what I know about lighting. Now, I'm going to do it through the framework of a Christmas music video. If it's nowhere near Christmas time and if you have no interest in ever making a Christmas music video, that's fine. The class is really about lighting, cinematography, shot composition. We are going to be taking a look at a music video I made in 2020, called It's Just Not Christmas Without You, by country music artist Jessica Lynn. My work as a cinematographer can be seen on various television commercials, and the music video that we're looking at in particular, aired on Country Music Television during the holiday season in 2020. We're going to take a look at all of the shots in the music video, I'm going to break them down. I'm going to talk about the lighting, I'm going to show you the lighting, I'm going to show you the equipment that we use. But the most important thing is I'm going to explain to you, why I made the choices that I did in terms of lighting and shot composition. I think that's what's most important. That'll be the key takeaway for you watching this is it doesn't matter that it's a Christmas music video, the principles of lighting are going to be the same, no matter what it is that you're shooting. So through this framework and watching what I do here, you should be able to pick up some good tips on cinematography that you can use in the next project that you have or that you can use for your assignment, which is going to be to create a music video scene with some great lighting. The job of a cinematographer is to serve the vision of the director and to make beautiful-looking frames. The goal of this class is to help you be able to do that. Jump into the next lesson and start watching. 2. Pre Production: Before we start breaking down all these shots, I just want to quickly say you are not going to hear any of the original audio from the song because I don't own the copyright to it, I only have the copyright to the video footage. If you do want to hear the song and watch the full video, there is a link in the description. Let's talk about pre-production first, it's super important. If you're not familiar with pre-production, it's all the preparation that you're going to do before you ever step on set. That's going to be planning out the shots, making shot lists, creating storyboards, possibly creating animatics, or some other type of way to visualize the shots. That's going to be casting. In this case, Jessica is the only person in the music video, so we didn't have to do any casting. We did have to hire some crew members. We also had to make decisions about what equipment was going to come with me in the truck on the shoot, and then I have to prep all that equipment. Prepping all the equipment means inventorying everything, making sure that everything that gets to the shoot comes back, making sure that everything is clean. We're going into locations that are not ours. They are a private home and a theater, so I don't want to bring dirty things into their home, everything's clean. Then, generally, it's good to build out your camera package the way that you're going to want to use it on shoot day and make sure that everything is working. Now, one of the most important things for me as a director and a cinematographer is to be able to go on a location scout and physically be there at the location to see it. That's not always possible. If it's not possible, the second best option would be to look at some photos if they're available. If I'm shooting exteriors, sometimes I'll just use Google Maps or a combination of Google Maps and Google Earth to be able to find some photos or find some reference so that I can see the location. We did do a scout day about a week before we shot. I went with Jessica to the house, it's a friend's house of hers in Westchester, New York. I also went to the theater location. When I go out, I always take a few items with me. My phone would be one, I also take a small notebook, and I take a tape measure. The reason I take these is because I want to be able to create a diagram of the location so that I could bring that home with me and think about the angles and the composition. I will take my tape measure and I'll measure the width and the length of the room, I'll also measure the height of the ceiling, and then I'll roughly sketch that on my notebook with notation of the dimensions. Then for this particular project, I decided to use an app called Shot Designer. I took this hand-drawn sketch and I brought it into Shot Designer. You're looking at a top-down view here of the room that we were going to film in. We can see that we have got these double doors against this wall and then the tree, and then on the other side of the tree, we've got these two windows, and next to those windows, we've got our fireplace and our mantle. Across from that fireplace, we have our couch. We're going to have shots of Jessica sitting on that couch. At the end of the couch, we've got our end table with our cookies and milk for Santa. The wall that is directly across from the fireplace has a Peloton bike that the homeowner uses, and it's got an opening to the kitchen, and a kitchen counter. You can see some of this in this behind the scenes shot here. When I'm scanning the location, I'm immediately ruling this wall out. It doesn't have anything of interest, I don't want to see anything into the kitchen, None of that's going to work. Then this other wall is really just big double doors that lead to the exterior, and this is also not going to work. Right away, if I'm going on this scout, I know that I'm going to be shooting into the corner of this room where the tree is located. All of my shots, everything that I have planned is going to be looking in this direction. Actually, when I was there, I started to talk to Jessica about, hey, maybe we could get this shot where you could be here next to the fireplace, we can get this shot. You could be standing here by these doors with the snow falling in the background behind you. Right off the bat, being at the scout helped me and Jessica communicate some ideas together visually that we were both thinking of, and that's important because when you're working with a client like this, you want to make sure that you're both on the same page and you're thinking the same thing so that there's no confusion during the shoot or even worse, after the shoot when the client sees some of the shots and says, this is not what I was thinking at all. We want to make sure that we leave nothing to chance. Everything that ends up in the final video was pre-planned. That means the decorations, the time of day that we're shooting, the wardrobe that Jessica's wearing. It might sound silly, but even down to the shade of lipstick that she was wearing, we planned beforehand. We came up with a color palette that we wanted to see in this video and we were trying to stick to it very carefully. When you're just beginning, you're an amateur, you might not think about the details of all of these things. But as you gain more experience and you learn more about color theory and you really learn how to make a good image, then all of these things play a factor. Our job as a cinematographer is to serve at the vision of the director. Basically, the director doesn't want crap-looking frames. The director wants things to look good. The job is to make nice-looking frames. Hopefully I'll be able to show you some tips now that are going to help you make some nice frames. 3. Gear: Let's talk a little bit about gear. Everyone loves to talk about gear and everyone wants to know what was that shot on. Well, it's simple. I try to shoot with the best equipment that I can possibly get for a particular shoot. Sometimes that means using what I own, sometimes there's a good budget and that means we get to rent some nice cameras and some nice lenses. This was a low-budget music video. Unfortunately, I had to use what I own, not that there's anything wrong with that. What I did end up shooting with was the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro Generation 1. This is the camera that shoots 4.6K. We shot 4.6K Blackmagic raw. I paired this camera with my Sigma Sydney zooms. We've got the 18-35. The 18-35 I think I used very sparingly on this shoot. Because our location, especially the home location, was not particularly big, using the 18-35 would have been a little bit too wide for some of these shots. I would have started to pick up on light stands and lights and things like that that I didn't want to see. Most of the music video was shot on this Sigma Sydney 50-100. This is the workhorse for this particular video. Both of these lenses are T2 and in front of the glass is my favorite diffusion filter. It's Tiffen Glimmerglass. Is it an eighth or a quarter? It's one of the two. It's subtle. If you're not familiar with Glimmerglass, it's going to just soften out the skin and give you a little bit of bloom around the highlights in your scene or on the lights in your scene. That really worked well to add a little bit of bloom to some of the practicals that are visible in this music video. We've got some practicals, the Christmas tree is a good practical, there's lots of lights on that Christmas tree. Then in the theater shot behind Jessica, we strung up these fairy lights just so we can have some nice soft bouquet behind her. They're getting a nice little bit of a bloom from that diffusion filter as well. In terms of lighting, I didn't use a ton of lighting for this. The main light that I used in the house is a light by Litepanels. It's called the Gemini two by one. The Litepanels Gemini two by one is pretty expensive. It's comparable to an ARRI Skypanel. It's an RGB WW light so it can output any color, and it's also very bright. The next slide that I used was a really simple lithium-ion quasar two-foot tube. It's by color. Lithium-ion means it's battery-powered. We use that for a whole bunch of the scenes. We have the practicals, of course, we have the Christmas tree lights that I didn't bring, they were provided by the homeowner who decorated the house. We did have the actual fireplace, it's on. It has a fire burning in it. They are burning some Duraflame logs, so there's a little bit of output coming from there, not nearly enough to light any of our scenes, but it's there. We also have a Felix P 360. It's a small compact light with barn doors. I use that as a hair light for some of these scenes inside. I have an Aputure 120d II. That is being used in the background of all these shots. It's being used basically to back light the snow, the fake snow that we have. We shot this in November, it wasn't snowing. That's not something you want to leave to chance like, hey, we're going to shoot this day, hopefully, it actually is snowing. We had a snow machine that made the snow and we needed to back light that snow so you could see it and that's what the Aputure 120d Mark II was doing. Then on the stage again, I mentioned these fairy lights before. We have those there. I think they're called fairy lights. They are Jessica's anyway. She had those strung up, we could have easily just used Christmas lights strung up there across the C stand and the background of that shot. We have theater lights. There's some Lekos that are lighting her and there's some PAR Cans above her that's giving her some light or some light on the stage, but we didn't want to use those as our main key. Her main key, because I don't have any LEDs that are tungsten, I brought in an old tungsten light that I used to use like ten years ago. It's a Lowel Rifa eX88. It's a big tungsten light soft box. I wanted to get some nice soft light on her. That's it. That's really all that I used for this shoot. As we go into the breakdowns, you'll see them and where they were placed and we'll talk a little bit more about them. 4. Shot A: Now the fun part where we get to break down each and every one of these shots in the video. We'll talk about the lighting, and we'll talk about the composition, we'll talk about the color palette. Actually that's probably where I'll start. We're doing a Christmas music video, and the Christmas colors that everyone knows is obviously red and green, and we're adding white in here. These are the colors are going to dominate this music video. We're looking at a color palette that's generated in DaVinci Resolve, I'm in DaVinci Resolve editor. This first line here, DaVinci picks out the main colors in the shadows. These middle colors here represent the mid-tone colors, and these are the highlight colors. But what we really want to look at is these eight main colors down here. We're going to see black, we have black elements. We've got black outside, her hair, all of our shadows will lead to that black. It's hard to see, but this is actually green. We've got a lot of green here. We've got the green of the tree. We've got this green here, this green over here. We've got the white, the white is getting yellow or orange from our lighting and so was her skin. We've got these lighter tones here, and then we've got our reds. We've got our deeper reds, and our other shades of red. All of these flowers are red. This thing back here is red. These bows in the tree are red, this bow on her hair is red. Lipstick is red, we talked about that in the other video, how we were very specific about this color of red. You can see that it matches all these other shades of red very well. In terms of lighting, actually, let's just jump back into results, you could see this shot in action here, we are using this fireplace as our motivation. I always try to have motivated light. If you're in this scenario, you see that there's a fireplace, you can tell that it's on, that it's lit, there's a flicker there. Naturally, this firelight would be lighting someone who's sitting two feet away from it. The firelight is our motivation, and it's what we're trying to emulate with our lighting that we're doing. Let's just jump in to another part of this video here, where you can see me sitting on the floor, and next to me is the Litepanels Gemini 2 by 1, 2 by 1 meaning two feet by one feet, it's a large panel. It's RGBWW, which is red, green, blue, warm white. It can put out, I guess, most color that you could think of. It's a soft source by itself. It's not the softest source, but if we wanted to make it softer, we didn't really have the room do this, we could have put it through some type of diffusion. We could have put it through a four by, six by, or we could have thrown a soft box on it. But for what we were doing, it wasn't necessary. We didn't need to do that. Because as you can see here, and this red rug that we brought in never actually made it into the shot, but it was part of our color palette. I'm going off on tangent, sorry. The light here is not actually being pointed directly at Jessica. Instead, she's being lit on her sweater, on her shoulder, on her face by the spill of this light. Every light has a light angle, an angle that it puts a light out at, and this light is still producing light in this general direction towards her, even though it's not actually facing her. Light is bouncing off the white floor, and it's coming back up. That's giving us this really soft light that she has on her face, on her clothing, on her skin here. Warm, warm, warm tones, warm tones in the face. The contrast is the cool blue. We're doing a little bit of this teal and orange where we've got the orange in her skin, and then, it's not really quite teal, but it is a colder feel everywhere else. I just had to press this. There's a quasar up here, the quasar a tube light, and it's by color, meaning it could be either tungsten balanced or daylight balanced or anywhere in between, but we've got it set to daylight, so 5,600 Kelvin. It's coming down, it's hitting the top of these flowers, this thing, this thing, you could see it there, and then on Jessica, you could see it here. It's across the top of her head, and it's even this little specular highlight there on her nose. We're doing this to balance the frame. When we had this light set to tungsten, the quasar, everything just looked too warm, and Jessica didn't stand out. With this light, daylight balanced, your eye is drawn to her more immediately. That's not a brush. Great, that's also not a brush. That is a brush. Sorry, let's make a new layer. Let's hide that one. This really helps draw the eyes and the lips. The Christmas tree in the background is like your basic white lighting. It's not adding a lot here in terms of color balance. We do get the nice little bloom, and it just looks really nice back there in the background. This here, this is the corner. In the visual film language, we say this is the L of the room. The L on the corner really is the same thing. We're shooting towards the corner because that gives us the most depth and our shot, and we're trying to create depth, we're trying to create layers. We can almost even say, this is a little bit closer to the camera, this is like our foreground here, this is our mid, and back here, the tree is our background back there. We've got our layers. Let's just jump back in here [NOISE] to get a little bit more behind the scenes. Actually, let's just fast-forward a little bit here. This gives us a good look at everything that's going on. Our litepanel is not hitting her directly. Like we said, she's getting some of that fall off and some bounce, maybe even some return from here. The quasar up here is wrapped up in diffusion, it's dim down. We don't want it to be overpowering the shot, but we want it to be there. Then we've got the tree off over here. Then you can see this guy over here. That guy over there, that's me, and I've got this funny thing on. That's called an Easyrig. The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro, and the Sigma Cine lenses, and then the additional monitor that I use on it, that all becomes very heavy. Whenever I'm handholding, I like to put this Easyrig on, and it just distributes the weight across my back. I know you're like, he's sitting down, you don't really need that. But I stand up at some point, I promise. I'm working off the 18 to 35, I believe in this scene for this shot, here's just a look off monitor. The last thing that I'll point out, I'll jump back into Photoshop to make this point. Let's get rid of this for a second. Let's make one more new layer. Actually, we're going to zoom in. What I want you to notice is, in film and video and television, if you're looking at someone, and they don't have what's called a catch light, so these are catch lights here. This is a catch light, that little reflection. That just looks weird. The catch light helps pull the eye out, so that you could see it. Without this light, if you're just seeing her eyes with no catch light, it would look strange. The catch light is the reflection of the light that's lighting her. You can see that it's coming from down here, which is where our light source was. You always want to make sure when you're working, that you can see the catch lights in the eyes of your talent. That's important. It's just one more thing that helps pull you into the scene, and helps draw you into the subject that you're supposed to be looking at. One more time, the quick recap here with the brush. We've got the warm Gemini panel down here, not pointed directly at her, but the fall off and the bounce back, the return off the floor is giving her this really nice, really soft light. Very soft shadows, and some of these shadows are coming from the quasar that's up here, that's coming down this direction, that's giving us this light here, and that's giving us this light here. Why didn't we go tungsten here? If this is motivated by the fireplace, you're saying, Sean, shouldn't this be warm? It was too warm. It didn't help Jessica standout, and we wanted her to really pop. We wanted you to look at the frame and right away your eyes go right here. That's what you're looking at. That's our job. Is to direct the viewer to what we want them to see in the frame. We don't want them looking here, we don't want them looking here, here. We want them here on the face. That's our goal and that's what we accomplished with this lighting scheme. This is one of my favorite shots in the video, but the next one is actually my true favorite. 5. Shot B and C: All right, folks. Let's take a look at this next shot, which is one of my favorite two shots. It's really the wide and the close-up. Jessica sitting on the couch, the trees in the background. We get this nice snowfall back here. If you've got the sharp eye, you'll notice that there's nothing going on in this window. Why did we do that? Well, we didn't have two snow machines, but we prioritized this window because well these doors actually, the double doors that lead outside because they're much bigger. They're almost like Florida ceiling doors. Oh gosh, this looks like some of the ladder that things on. Anyway, the longer you stare at these things, the more you notice things that you could have done better or things that you did wrong, and that's life, I guess. Let's look at the things, hopefully we did, right. We are continuing to light Jessica with some soft tungsten light, and that's coming from, in the behind the scenes, you'll see that's our light panels Gemini is again doing the work just out of frame over here, and then we've got the tree. We can see more of it now. We get those nice little blooms around all the different lights plus their reflections here. We also add in our fake snow outside, and we have to backlight that snow in order to be able to see it. This is a snow machine. It did a pretty good job. Then our last light, let me just turn this over. We've got an aperture out here, 120 D Mark 2. That light is backlighting the snow so that it's visible. These are reflections by the way, of the Christmas lights. More reflections here. These Christmas lights or neutral, they're white. Just to give a little bit of an accent here to Jessica, I've got a really small light up here called a Fiilex P360. It's a bi-color light, so it could be tungsten if I wanted it to be, but I wanted to have this. Again, we're going with a little bit of a teal and orange. So teal outside, orange look here, not pushing it too hard, but she's nice and warm from the fire. Then this up light here, it's above her, and it's lighting down on her. It's giving her this nice highlight here on the shoulder. She's got this sweater on that shows up the shoulder. Why not make that shoulder pop a little? Then it's again, here on her hair. Warm in the skin, real soft note not a lot of shadows here or real soft shadows. Then tiny little line up here. That's giving her this nice hit of light here, nice hit on the shoulder. Got our tree. We're introducing into our color palette some blue now. We've got blues here, blue in the jeans, blue down here on the presence. The aperture 120 D is D. The D is for daylight. This is a daylight balanced light out here, so that's why we're getting that nice blue look outside. You can see we're continuing really with our color palette. We've got the darks, which is the hair. We've got some of those. This looks more brown than anything, but that really should be like the green of the tree. We're keeping all our reds intact here. Red bows in the trees, red decorations, red nails, red lipstick, red whatever this thing is, cover, red throw. That was called a throw, red throw, red pillow, white sweater. White, green, red. Now, we're adding the blue in here. That's our color palette for this thing. I've talked so much. I got to keep talking. The first shot is on the 18:35. That's the wider shot. The second shot, that tighter shot. Let's go back to it for a second here. That's the wider shot on the 18:35. Yeah. Obviously, this is a big mistake not to have any snow in this window. No one who saw this video, over 90,000 people on YouTube commented anything about that. Note that they come into about seeing the ladder out there. I never noticed that, so I'll just now. This is a tighter shot. One of the longer lens, the 50-100 here. The longer lens compresses the space so we're seeing less of the background now, I'm not sure I like what it does to her face here, or maybe it's just the angle, and her face looks better in this first shot. Anyway. Here's some of the behind the scenes look at everything that's going on here. Again, our motivation is coming from the fireplace. We've got the, the Gemini two-by-one right here. There's a quasar on up here. I forgot about this. I'm not sure what it's doing. This situation might just be adding some ambiance to the room. We've just got to bring the overall level of light in the room up so that our camera sensor doesn't struggle and start to get too noisy in the shadows. You can see what I was talking about before. The Fiilex is up here. We've got a C stand and then we've got what's called a Mini Boom. That's an arm that you can put a light on. It goes out to like 83 inches. I don't know how many feet that is, but that's longer than just a regular C stand arm. It can take a little more weight. It's got a hook here so you counter balance it. That's why there's a counterbalanced sand bag there. This is doing the work here, that's giving her this hit on the top of her head, and again that shoulder. Then you can see the snow machine, it's up on a ladder outside the door, and it's cranking lots of snow, which is really just like some kind of soap. Eventually, it starts to stick to the windows and it looks terrible. But anyway, we wouldn't see any of this snow if we didn't backlight it. That's what the aperture is doing, and it's also cut. We're cutting it so we're not trying to blast too much light back here. You can see this cut on the floor of where we cut that light. I mentioned in the other shot that there are some Philips U bulbs that are part of the the actual set, or it's not a set, it's a house. There's four of them, two in the back, two on the other side. They're set to tungsten, well, not tungsten, but they're set to an orange. I don't know if you can dial in Kelvin on Philips U. I don't know anything, and they're dimmed down real low. Again, just to bring up the ambiance in the room. I'm talking so much without showing you anything. There is me. There's the 50-100. This must be when we're shooting the close up. Again, there's the easy rig. There's a guy not doing much. C stand, quasar, ambiance, tungsten, fireplace still going, snow machine absolutely crank and like a beast out there. That's what it looks like, and when you put it all together. Get that nice, warm, soft look here. Well, what else is here to show you? Oh, I think it's really just the same things over and over again. That's the second shots, or my really my favorite shot. It's this wide one here. We end the video on this one, and she's almost crying. This is a sad, emotional song. Pretty easy to achieve with just, we're going to say four lights, well, let's say five. Let's say one outside. One, giving her look here. Two, giving her top light. Three, bringing up some room ambiance, and four, I did not say five, and four, the tree. I might be counting wrong, but anyway, that's what we got going. Let's get into the next shot. 6. Shot D: I have to apologize, I've really been rambling on the first two shot breakdown, so I'm going to try to make these a little bit more concise and not bore you. Let's talk about this shot. This one was nightmarish and many different ways and I'll explain. Where do I start? It wasn't the greatest idea, whenever you're trying to shoot towards a lot of glass, you can have problems with all sorts of reflections. First, we were getting issues with reflections from our own lights, so seeing them in the shot because we're shooting straight on to this door. The second problem we were having was starting to see lights from the neighboring houses and not just behind Jessica, but also from the other side of the room. You can see right here, the homeowner is saying, "Hey, what if we block that light with this?" I already knew that, but we're not going to use a sweatshirt. We brought in a flag, a two-by-three flag, and we put it up on a C stand, and we covered that section of the door so that you couldn't see the reflection. Oh Lord, what's happening here? You couldn't see the reflection of this light, which I guess they couldn't turn off for some reason, it's on a timer or something like that. It was reflecting all the way across the room to where Jessica was standing in the shot. We were seeing it over here. We're still seeing something over here. Our fake snow, which is really just soap is just starting to stick now, and look a little bit weird on parts of the window here. I had to do a lot of softening for some reason on Jessica's skin for this shot, it wasn't looking good. Let's fast forward through this because we already saw this. Here we go, so here's a look at the final lighting for this shot. The litepanels Gemini is set on this side now, and it is backed away so that we can get a nicer, softer fall on Jessica. Then we've got a two-foot quasar tube parked to the frame rate Jessica's left as her key. Basically, that quasar tube is the key, the Gemini over there is going to end up being the fill. That's Kayla who was filming the behind-the-scenes and let's jump in here and take a look. Subtle lighting, we don't want her to look overly lit so that litepanels Gemini is really dimmed down. What's nice about some of these LED lights is that you can really dim them. This one dims all the way down to like one percent like some of the new aperture lights do, which is really nice. That one's really dimmed down, and then we've got the quasar here. The quasar can't be dimmed in the same way. At least this quasar that I'm using can be dimmed or can be at 100 percent, 75 percent intensity, 50 percent intensity, 25 percent intensity, or just off, so you can't go lower than 25. I believe the quasar in this situation is at 25 percent. Then we're getting this blue light from our aperture, 120D, that's outside, that's backlighting our snow. We are still doing the same thing. We're still going with this warmth here. Oh Lord, I don't know why I bother to try to introduce new tools here, and that's not working for me. Everything is going wrong. Warmth here on the face, warmth on the body. Cold, everywhere else. It's not great. It's definitely not my favorite shot. It only appears in the video a couple of times, and it slightly changes our color palette here. We were introducing a bit of blue now that's dominating the background, and we're not getting a lot of our reds and greens here. We're still getting our white, but we've lost our reds and our greens. That was this shot, I think it's only used three times, it made the cut three times just where I didn't have something else that I wanted to use, and you've got to make your client happy. I think if I recall when I centered the original cut, she really thought that I guess the angle of the light hitting her skin made it look a little bumpy. The makeup wasn't doing its job, the lighting wasn't doing its job. I didn't notice at the time because I was looking at a very small five-inch monitor on my camera. What I ended up doing was adding a lot of retouching, oh gosh, does it almost look unnatural? I hope you say no. But we softened up the skin here a lot. I'm still rambling, even though I said I wouldn't. I apologize. Let's jump into the theater setup next. 7. Theater: I just want to apologize again because even though I said in the last lesson I was going to stop rambling. I'm still rambling. Let's look at the theater setup. This was our first shot of the day. We had to wait for the sun to go down at the other location, so it just made more sense to go to the theater first. Now, I don't particularly like the theater shot. I'm not sure how it fits into the video or the theme of the video. I would have preferred to do a few more shots at the house. But, Jessica is the client and this is what she wanted. Sometimes it's not about you as the artist, sometimes it's about what the client wants. I didn't want to get a shot looking out from behind Jessica, as she was singing towards the empty theater. But unfortunately, there's construction going on in the theater. They're building props and things like that. Every direction you looked, the stuff that they were building was there, so we couldn't get that shot. Now, one of the other things that made this shot difficult was that we couldn't see the floor. I'm just going to pause it real quick here. We can't see the floor or we decided not to see the floor because of these unremovable COVID markers that they've got down here. We also don't want to see a big white background behind Jessica. We wanted to see black, but they don't have a black curtain in the back. They had a black curtain in the middle of the stage that would close right behind Jessica. That would have been a problem because then there really would have been no depth behind her. Instead we shoot out to this corner, which is a nice angle to look at Jessica from this three-quarter angle anyway. But just to have some more interest, so that this shot is not completely flat, like Jessica on pure black. We brought out a C stand and we put the mini boom on, mini boom arm on it. Then we strung up these fairy lights. Here, my assistant, and then on the left there, that's Jessica's dad, who's also in the band. He's the bass player, he's also the manager. He's helping out here. Now we've got a little bit more visual interest with those lights in the background. They're soft, we've got some bouquet. The diffusion that I use in front of my lens, which is the glimmer glass, gives us a nice little bloom back there. We did a combination here of, we did a lot of takes here. We did some stuff on the long lens or handhelds. Right now, again, I've got the Easy Reagan Blackmagic design, 4.6 K URSA Mini Pro. We also put this camera on a tripod for a few shots, just to lock it down. We did a whole bunch of handheld stuff and then the tripod. When we did the tripod shots, it lost its movement and it's feeling. I think you'll see this reflected in the footage at some point if we get to it. For that point then I had my assistant go back and just gently shake the CSE Dan. Those lights in the background, were just gently moving back and forth. Or maybe not. Boy, I don't know anymore. Sometimes I forget a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure we did that. But anyway, this looks like as a locked off shot with a move and post that looks like little push in and post. This is obviously handheld. Maybe I didn't have them move it. There, he is moving it right there. I'm on the tripod, he's moving it. I wasn't going crazy so let's talk about what's lighting her here. Let's stop right there, this is a good look at it. This is a big softbox. I think it's a four-foot softbox, it's made by a company called Low and it's the Rafa EXAE8. It's not new at all, it's old. I probably bought it 8-10 years ago. I used to use it a lot before LED lights became popular when we're just using tungsten. This is what I'd bring out on the shoots. For interviews, I would use this big softbox, because it's soft and the bigger your light sources. The softer it is and the more it wraps around the face. Now there are other lights at play here. I don't know why I keep pausing things on you so that you can't see some action, but there are lights in the theater that are on. We had someone up to the board real quick. Basically, we've got a bunch of par cans, which is a type of theatrical light that's above Jessica, That's lighting up the stage and are just giving her some top light. Then out above where the audience would sit. There are some lights that are called Lykos, which are like theatrical spotlight. One of them is directed in this area towards Jessica. That's what we've got going on here. There's not a lot to it. I'll jump into Photoshop. We really only have a foreground and a background, which isn't that exciting. But we do have some soft light here. You can see, here's the light. Let's just turn this yellow. This light here is coming from my light. Some of this up here on top of her hair though, is coming from the par cans that are above her. [NOISE] Overall. Not the greatest shot that I've ever met my grass. Not my best work, is what I would say. Not my best work. That's my conclusion. You can decide for yourself. 8. Shot E and F: Next shot, this one's going to be quick. I promise I'm not going to ramble too much. This is Jessica performing next to the tree. We only use it a few times in the video. You can even see here's another mistake. Well, this is the last shot that we did actually. There's actually no snow blowing out here because we ran out. Well, I guess we ran out at some point. These are actually a couple of different shots. There's this shot here, which is what we did first. Again, you're always trying to create depth in your images. As I was shooting this, I was feeling like it was very flat. We've just kind of got one plane here that Jessica's on with the tree. You could kind of count the snow when the background is I guess, like a second layer. But we're not exactly lighting in layers here, which is what I tried to do. I tried to light in layers. To make this shot better, I took the camera, changed the lens, and I moved all the way back across the room towards the fireplace. I lean my body up against the wall, so there's no behind the scenes footage of this happening. I used these stockings to give what's called a dirty frame. Dirty means there's something in the foreground. This would be clean. This would be dirty. But the music video is PG, I promise. This just adds an element. Now, like I said here, this is flat. You could tell me for yourself in the comments, what you like better. This is flat. Now we add a foreground. We've got a foreground, mid-ground, kind of a background, although there's no snow going on out there anymore. All there is in the shot. We add a little movement to it, and it looks really nice. You know, it's a dirty frame. We've got depth now this helps give us depth and dimension to our shot. Unfortunately, we decided not to do anything about the reflection of the chandelier here. Why is the chandelier even on, I don't know. These are the things that happen on low budget shoots with small cruise. We'll jump into Photoshop. I said I was going to make this quick and there's not a lot to talk about. Where is her light source coming from? It's a quasar that's behind the tree. Over here, there's a quasar. We're hiding it in this corner and it's lighting her. She's definitely picking up some light from the tree as well. Because all these little bulbs are putting out, it's not a lot, but they're putting something out. That's giving her a little bit of light here. Then, we've got this mess with these chandeliers being reflected three different times in the glass. What could we have done? We could have took a C stand and a flag and flagged that reflection off from appearing here. But we didn't. All right, let's move on. 9. Insert Shots: By this point, you probably have a pretty good understanding of what it is I'm doing here as a cinematographer. I'm just trying to bring your eye into something on every frame. I'm just trying to make sure that you're looking at the right thing and not the wrong thing. I want you to see one particular thing in the frame, and so I'm lighting in a way that directs the light and directs your eye to that thing. I'm using motivated light, I'm using the fireplace really as the motivation, or the Christmas tree as the motivation, adding that warm thin and contrasting it with the cool blue. This is the opening shot of the video, pausing it here just so you can see we've got warmth inside, cold outside. It is a sad song. It's about her and I guess her estranged sister. I don't know what that has to do with anything else, but I'm just letting you know in case you were wondering. We are going to take a look at a couple of what I call the insert shots. There's a guitar solo and some down moments where we needed to cover the parts where Jessica is not singing. Let's just back up here, right here so you can see what are we doing to light this shot. Let's hop out for a second. Let's just go into Photoshop. Let's just show you this, this is the shot. This is the final frame from the shot. Again, color palettes working, darker colors are evident, the shadows, her hair. We've got our greens and we've got our reds, and we've got our lights. They show up in the highlights, they don't really show up in our main palette down here. But anyway, I don't know how Da Vinci comes to this conclusion. Anyway, how are we getting this light? What are we doing to achieve it? Well, here it is. The Litepanels Gemini is simulating our fire. It's our motivational source, it's on the floor. Again, it's not direct because it is a wider angle that spreads out of this light. It's coming up here, and at the same time, we've got our cool daylight balanced quasar above Jessica. This is the result, a little bit of warmth from below and a little bit cool from above but not that cool. Same thing here, there's a fire over here, there's a tree, there is the snow. She's out of focus because what do I want you to see? I want you to see the hot chocolate for Santa and the cookies. By the way, there were okay. I had one or two, they weren't anything to write home about. I like the shot a lot, I like when her face is turned here, you can really see this light that's down on the bottom. Why does that keep happening? Let's go full screen for you. This shot opens the video a little bit naughty, that tilt reveal, snow falling outside. That's our only slow-motion shot of the whole video, is that shot outside. Let's look at it one more time. Starts down here, we get the idea. First five seconds of the video, let's pull you in. Here's a pretty girl decorating the tree. We've already seen the shot and I don't want to ramble too much more. Let's just see if there's anything else interesting to look at. It's just me filming. I'm on the 18-35 here, so that I can get in close. No, sorry. These shots are slow-motion too, I don't know why I said the other one is the only slow-motion shot. These are all slow-motion shots. That's why they're different from everything else. Samantha, I think that's her sister's name. That's her stocking there, cookies for Santa. These look nice. Could you use a little bit more here on the face? Well, no, I don't think so. You don't want anything to look too lit. But this is just looking real nice to me, especially that slow-motion, that snow looks like it's just falling at the right speed. This is all looking quite beautiful. Again, we're seeing some things that we haven't seen before. We're seeing this little, whatever this box is. What color is it? It's white. What color are the decorations inside? They're red. We're just continuing with the same color palette. Same thing here, red, green, white. Even this shot, we still have our reds, our greens, our whites and the only other color that we've ever introduced into this is the blue, we saw blue before outside, we saw the blue jeans. Those are our colors. Those are all the color palettes that we're working with, all carefully intentioned to make this look really nice. That's it, that's the breakdown of all the shots. You saw them all, I talked about them all, I showed you how I lit them all. I only used four lights, the big Gemini, which is nice light to have, don't get me wrong. If you don't have something as big as a Gemini though, you can take a smaller light and you can blast it through a 4 by 4 diffusion frame. You can make it bigger or a six by or an eight by. You can get away with different things. These two lights are also great, there's the quasar that I used. You can see that there are a lot of work in this video. Then there was that small Felix which didn't do that much, there was a hair light and a downlight. Then the aperture which is working outside just so that we could see our snow. That's it. That's the whole thing. We'll jump into the next quick video where I talk about the lights that I used in more detail and some alternatives that you can buy if you can't afford this equipment that I have. 10. Gear Alternatives and Wrap Up: The last thing that I want to mention before we wrap this thing up is, you might not necessarily have access to any of this equipment. It's not particularly expensive, but depending upon where you're at in terms of your career, it could be very expensive for you. Here are some alternatives, first of all, it doesn't matter what camera you're shooting with. Pretty much any camera that you're buying these days that's at $1000 or up, is going to give you a really nice clean image to work with. You can start comparing cameras and what they can do, but the truth is, you can have the greatest camera, you can have an Arri Alexa Mini, but if you're lighting is [NOISE] sorry, if your lighting is not good, it doesn't matter. Your image is not going to be good, so don't focus so much on the camera or the lenses, those things can help, but you can use whatever you have. If you don't have a Litepanels Gemini 2 by 1, then you can use something like a GVM 800. These are smaller panel, RGBW lights so they can put out lots of different colors and you can actually, at the time of this recording, which is in October of 2021, you can buy a GVM 800, three light kit at B&H for $350 and I think that's a pretty good deal. I actually own that kit as well. That could be a light that you'd use if you needed to have different colors in your scene. We use the Quasar, which I mentioned before, it's a two-foot lithium-ion. It's about 300- 350 bucks. If You needed something cheaper, you can look at brands like Godox, who also make lights like that. Nanlite makes PavoTubes. I'm not sure if they're cheaper though, but they are also good tube lights. In the case of the Quasar that we're using, It's bi-color, it doesn't do RGBW, it's just bi-color. The Fiilex light, which is a small compact spotlight, you can get lights like this from Aputure, Godox, Came-TV. They all make lights that are similar to this, that might be a little bit cheaper or around the same price as the Fiilex light. We mentioned, the Aputure 120 D mark 2, Aputure has tons of inexpensive lights that are really good. There are some now that are, I think they're like $200, $250, $300. You can check those out or you can look at Godox as well, they also have lights that are similar to some of these Aputure single-chip lights. You could look at those on websites like Adorama or B&H or wherever it is that you buy your things from, maybe you buy from Amazon. Of course, we have a bunch of stands that we're using, stands are always a good investment. If you buy some stands and you take good care of them, you don't beat them up too much, they can last forever. I have stands from Matthews, which are my favorite, I have Avenger, Kupo. I even have some budget stands from a brand called Flashpoint, which is like the Adorama brand. If You're looking for good quality stands that are a little bit less expensive, you can shop at Adorama, you could look for that flashpoint brand. In addition to the stands, I have a whole bunch of other things; extension cords, aka stingers in various lengths are always important to bring with you on set. Then having a variety of different clamps will help. Having some flags and some cutters and some silks for diffusion will also be good things to have with you. If you don't have these things, if you don't have a silk, you can always just take a, you've seen this before, I'm sure. You take a, what's that thing called, in the bathtub? That thing, a shower curtain. Yes. You could take a shower curtain and you can put some light through that to diffuse it. You can take a black curtain or a black tablecloth and you could use that for negative. Don't cheap out on the stands though, it's important that you have good stands that can hold your equipment and that aren't going to fall over. Of course, you're going to want to have sand bags, you're not going to want to use heavy lights that are on stands that can't hold them. I don't like air stands. I recommend getting stands that are like steel stands, that aren't going to fall over or break easily. Hopefully that helped, just to give you an idea, you don't have to have all the stuff that I had to make this and I didn't even use a lot of, I've got a lot more stuff. I tried to keep it small because this was low budget, small crew, but there are lots of alternatives that you can use out there. You can even just go to Home Depot and you can buy some inexpensive work lights and things like that if you really need that to get by. Why don't we really recommend this? Because those lights aren't the proper color temperature, they aren't balanced to daylight or to tungsten. They're somewhere in between and they might cast some green are some magenta on skin tones and that's not great. But if you really need to get something done, it's better just to get those and do something, rather than just sit there and Twitter your thumbs and say one day I'll have the money to buy some nice lights and then I'll finally make something, you really just need to go out and make something. All right, I rambled a lot. Hopefully everything that I said, [LAUGHTER] not everything, but hopefully most of what I said was useful, and hopefully you learnt something about lighting. Lighting in layers, creating depth in your images, planning a color palette beforehand, and sticking to that color palette and making those colors work, using only really what you need. Depending on what you're doing, you may not need a ridiculous amount of equipment. You might just need, I think I got away with five lights total for this shoot. Five lights, five stands, maybe a couple of C-stands, my camera, my lens, it wasn't crazy. You don't have to go crazy to make something that looks really good. You just have to plan it and really have attention to detail and think about what you really want to put it on the screen and then put it on the screen. Thank you for making it through all these classes all the way to the end. I do have some other classes that you can watch. Some of them are about lighting, some of them are about pre-production, some of them are about the business of film production or running your own video production company, or being a freelancer. You can check those out, I'd appreciate if you watch them and if you really like the course and you want to give it a review, give me some feedback. I'd love to know what you liked, I'd even love to know what you didn't like and what I could do better for the next class. Thanks again.