Video Essentials: Using Lenses & Lighting to Convey Emotion | Oren Soffer | Skillshare

Video Essentials: Using Lenses & Lighting to Convey Emotion

Oren Soffer, Director of Photography

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14 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:37
    • 2. The Power of Cinematography

      4:35
    • 3. Planning Your Project

      4:29
    • 4. Essential Equipment

      2:15
    • 5. Evaluating Your Location

      4:02
    • 6. Styling the Space

      3:16
    • 7. Placing Your Camera

      5:10
    • 8. Framing Your Subject

      2:45
    • 9. Initial Camera Settings

      5:05
    • 10. Setting Your Key Light

      8:38
    • 11. Adding Your Fill Light

      6:01
    • 12. Finishing with Backlight

      7:26
    • 13. Working with Natural Light

      5:47
    • 14. Final Thoughts

      1:17
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About This Class

A video class is a great way to practice new skills from the comfort of home. Please respect all rules of social distancing when following along—with your home as the location, practice creating a mood and lighting your shot. You can even act as your own model.

What does your favorite film have in common with that YouTube vlog you can’t stop watching? Both rely on cinematography to grab attention and pull you in. Learn how you can create content that does the same, no matter your budget!

Join director of photography Oren Soffer to learn how to elevate any video using simple and accessible techniques of cinematography—the art of visual storytelling in film. Designed for anyone who wants to create compelling content, each hands-on lesson builds on the last to help you develop the eye and expertise of a pro, while working with the equipment you already own.

Key lessons cover:

  • Styling your home or set to enhance your story
  • Choosing the right combination of lens and camera placement 
  • Evoking emotion through simple lighting adjustments
  • Creating two distinct looks using the exact same tools

Plus, Oren shares his favorite gear, go-to settings, and top tips for shooting on a shoestring, developed from years of working on commercials, music videos, and features.

Whether you’re an aspiring content creator finally launching that YouTube channel or an experienced videographer looking to level up, this hour-long class will unlock a new level of creative control. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence you need to translate your vision to the screen in every video you create!

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This class is geared at students who already produce content of some kind. To follow along, you’ll need a camera with interchangeable lenses, plus basic familiarity with shooting and lighting techniques—or the curiosity to learn!

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Great cinematography is emotional and it can really make your audience feel anything you want them to feel about the story that you're telling. Whether it's mystery or sadness, happiness, anything goes. This class is about taking the tools and techniques of cinematography and applying them to video content at any level. Hi, my name is Oren. So far I'm a cinematographer, shooting predominantly commercials, music videos, short films, and some feature films as well. Cinematography is a point of view, it's adding a layer of visual storytelling to whatever subject matter you're shooting. I've structured this class or under really foundational building block which is setting up an interview. We're going to light and frame that interview in a couple of different ways and through that, demonstrate how the different techniques that we're going to talk about today, can really change the nature of the image and imbue an image with an emotional context. Whether you're a working professional or filming vlogs of yourself, I hope this class is helpful to anybody who's looking to really elevate the imagery that they're creating and bring it up to the next level. We'll be using professional level equipments, but you can apply these techniques with whatever gear you're already shooting on. My favorite thing about cinematography is just that rush of being able to take an image that's in my head and work some equipment around, see that image come to life on the monitor in front of me. I love that. I'm so excited you're taking this class. Let's dive in. 2. The Power of Cinematography: Cinematography is the art form of taking visual language and aesthetics and applying them to any type of video visual content. Because it's an art form, the act of watching cinematography should elicit emotion, that's the ultimate goal, that's something that I've always been attracted to ever since I was a kid I was painting and drawing at four years old and eventually discovered photography and then videography. So cinematography ended up becoming the culmination of my aesthetic interests as a child. I think there's an assumption that cinematic imagery is something that's reserved for movies or television shows and that there's a whole other swath of video content that is not inherently cinematic. Whether you're shooting corporate talking head interviews, or working in documentary, or shooting weddings, doing any type of videography, or even filming a vlog or YouTube channel, or even something as simple as making videos for Snapchat or TikTok. I think there's maybe an assumption out there that, that kind of content is separate from the world of movies and TV shows and cinema, but I don't agree with that premise and I think that any type of video content has the potential to use cinematic techniques in order to elevate the visual language that is used in it in order to tell its story. I've chosen to structure this class around lighting and framing an interview setup, and I pick this because I think this is a good way to demonstrate all of the techniques we're going to talk about in a way that's applicable to all the different kinds of content that I just went through. My hope is to be able to show you how you can take something that starts out neutral, apply cinematic techniques, and elevated into a place that feels imbued with emotion and context. In interviews setup also has relatively few variables, we're talking about a static subject sitting in one place shot from a fixed camera position. So through that, we're able to really focus on lighting and framing techniques and not have to get bogged down with any other variables that might complicate that. We're going to start this class with a little overview of some theoretical concepts of visual storytelling and from there, we'll go into the practical component of arriving at the location, scoping it out, and deciding where we're going to set up our interview. The next step is going to be framing our subject and it's at that stage that we're going to make our decisions about camera placement, lens choice and the relation between all of those, the subject and the background. Once we've determined our frame, the next layer is going to be lighting and exposure. The two are interconnected and we'll talk about that in that class. We'll go through a few different styles of lighting and show how different lighting techniques can really change the mood and emotional contexts of your image. Since we'll be shooting in a practical location, we're also going to be focusing quite a bit on how to use and harness natural light in order to create your images. The two main different looks that we're going to be creating are one that's a little bit more neutral and commercial, and then one that would be described as more cinematic or moody and through the contrast of those two styles, will be able to demonstrate all of the different techniques that we're going to go through in this class. This class is geared towards people who are already creating content in some capacity and have a fundamental understanding of video production and a grasp of basic concepts, we'll be using professional level equipment, but don't let that affect you at all. These techniques can be applied to whatever gear you're already shooting on. Basically, we're going to take you right up to the point where you're pressing record. Honestly, most of the work of a cinematographer is done at that point. We're not really going to talk about sound recording in this class, or editing or anything that really happens after the initial image is framed, lit, and shaped. My hope is that by the end of this class, you'll be able to take the techniques we discuss and apply them to your own work and elevate the imagery you create to a level that you are confident in and proud of. I'm really excited to see how you all apply these techniques to your own work. So if you're following along the class or have already taken it and have started applying these techniques into your content, show me. Upload your frames to the project gallery so we can all share and see these techniques in action. Next up, we're going to start with a little overview of some elements of visual storytelling. 3. Planning Your Project: Before determining the visual style, I have to ask a few logistical questions in order to determine what we're dealing with. So the first question is, who is the subject that we're filming? What are they going to be talking about? What is the actual text of the content that we're going to be creating? The next question is going to be about location. Where are we filming this interview? What elements are already in place that I can enhance or work off with versus what elements am I going to have to bring in in order to create the visual look that I want. Another question I have to ask is, what is the budget? What do we have access to in terms of equipment? What kind of lenses am I going to be able to have access to? What kind of lights? Am I going to be able to get a variety, or do I have to stick with something more minimal and shaping the natural light as opposed to you being able to bring in additional lighting units to really create a look? Having a low budget does not really limit the stylistic choices that you can make. It's really just to be able to be aware of what specific pieces of equipment you'll be able to have access to. All of the techniques that we're going to be talking about in this class are achievable at any budget level, and with any type of equipment. After I've gone through these basic questions, then it's the job of the cinematographer to really ask the final question which is, what is the overall style that I want to imbue onto this shoot? There's a certain thought process that I go through in order to determine what I want that style to be. That thought process is something that stems directly from the content that I'm shooting, and what emotional stakes I want to either elevate or highlight when creating the imagery that accompanies the subject. For example, you can seen that the images from this documentary that I shot are pretty neutral. The documentary is about a very straightforward subject matter. These interviews are all with experts or individuals who are presenting more straightforward, factual information about the subject matter of the documentary. So you can see that the style of lighting in these interviews is fairly neutral, and this is what I would refer to as the more commercial look. In this project, on the other hand, we were interviewing a subject who was talking about the pursuit of perfection, and we wanted to imbue the visual style of the piece with an aesthetic quality that reflected the content of what he was talking about. That's why we chose this kind of moody or more cinematic look for this interview because we thought that the high contrast and precision in the imagery, as well as using black and white, really helped demonstrate the topics that he was talking about achieving in the interview. For this project, where we interviewed the cast and crew of the movie Glass, we really just wanted to imbue the images with a visual style that harkened back to the film itself. So various cinematic techniques and a more moody and cinematic look were applied in order to tie the visual style of these interviews in with that of the film itself. Once you have an idea of what visual style you think is appropriate for a project in your head, the next step is to really communicate those ideas with the rest of your team. Whether you're working with a director or a client, you want to share these ideas and goals so that everybody gets on the same page, and you go into your project with a really solid idea of what you're going to create, how it's going to look, and why you're doing it that way. Sometimes won person's idea of moody or cinematic is different from another person's idea, and sharing reference images from preexisting projects is a great way to just get on the same page, and make sure that your visions that are aligned. So those are just some examples of how and why I made certain decisions about which visual techniques and aesthetics to apply to different projects. I don't want anybody to walk away from this class thinking that there's a right or correct way to light and interview one way or another, my hope is really more to just demonstrate a variety of techniques, but I encourage you to really go out there and experiment on your own, mix and match. Sometimes you might want to intentionally use a certain aesthetic in order to highlight a contrast between subject matter and visual style. Sometimes you might want to just mix things up and change things around a little bit. There's really no correct way, or one way to do this, I think everything goes and the key component hear is to just have fun and be creative. Next up, we're going to talk about equipment. 4. Essential Equipment: These techniques can really be applied to any level of prosumer or professional grade equipment. There's a certain threshold of equipment that these techniques wouldn't be applicable to. We're going to be discussing the use of various focal lengths. In order to apply those techniques, you are going to need to make sure that at the very base level, you have a camera that has interchangeable lenses, whether it's a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, or a prosumer level video camera. Either way, as long as the camera has a lens mount where lenses can be swapped in and out, you're good. For the purposes of this class, we'll be using a Sony FS7 with a Fuji 18-55 millimeter zoom lens. Zoom lenses versus prime lenses are an important distinction to make here. We are using a zoom lens for the purposes of this class, just in order to quickly demonstrate different effects of focal lengths. But the actual techniques we'll be discussing can be applied to prime lenses or zoom lenses. On the lighting side, we're going to be using a variety of LED lights in order to achieve the different looks. In order to follow along with this, you will need access to a minimum of three different kinds of lights. They don't all have to be professional or personal level lighting. Some elements can utilize lights that you might just have lying around your house or location like lamps, bulbs, lanterns, windows, work lights, anything at all. The important takeaways here are placement, shaping, and controlling of light as opposed to the lighting units themselves. I'm going to assume a basic understanding of three-point lighting. If you're unfamiliar with that concept, there will be a link in the class resources. We will also be shooting our demo interview with the use of a tripod. This isn't necessary. These techniques can be applied to any type of camera movement, whether you're shooting something that's a little bit more handheld or running gun, or a formal sit down interview. Either way, don't let the tripod trip you up. Those are really the essentials that you're going to need in order to follow along. We're going to be using some other pieces of equipment that are maybe a little bit more on the professional side. You don't need any of these in order to create these techniques but I'll go through them anyway as we get to them, and there will be a full equipment list in the class resources. So if you're following along, grab whatever equipment you have and we're going to jump to the next portion of the class on location. 5. Evaluating Your Location: So we're here at our location. Skillshare found this spot for us. It's a pretty typical New York City type location. I haven't been here yet, so we're going to enter it for the first time and I'm going to go through the checklist that I would go through when arriving at a location for a shoot. If you have the chance to scout your location in advance of your shoot, this is something that can be really really helpful. Basically, it allows you to save the process that I'm about to go through right now for a time before your shoots, so that when you actually arrive on the day, you've already gone through a lot of the mental checklist that I'm about to go through right now. If you don't have the opportunity to scout your locations beforehand, like I have not had the chance to see the space yet, it's good to try to arrive at your location probably about 3-4 hours before your scheduled shoot, just to make sure you have time to go through everything, make the decisions that you need to make, set up your equipment, and then, make sure that you're ready to go for your actual shoot. This is it here, so let's see what we have. So here we are at our location and looks really nice. Lot of natural light that I can already see. So the first thing that I'm going to do is just try to neutralize the lighting here as much as possible to get it down to just the natural light that's coming in through the windows. So this starts us off in a neutral, naturally lit position that's just giving us what the room itself is providing. So it looks pretty good. A lot of big windows, natural light, this is all good stuff that's going to come into play as we try to find out where to set up our actual interview setup. So that's going to be the next step now, is exploring the space and figuring out where you want to set up your actual shot and frame. This is a pretty big decision and something that's worth taking time doing and exploring. So in order to do so, I'm going to be using a viewfinder app called Artemis. I've preset up this app with the camera and lens settings that we're going to be shooting on today. So what I can do is just pick a generic focal length, something pretty wide, just so that I can really see the space, and then I'm just going to start walking around and looking at some different options of where to actually set up our frame. So this is the blank wall, these are the bad angles. So this isn't really going to work for us. I mean, even trying to walk over here still, this is a potential, but the background is still going to be pretty flat with this white wall just filling our frame. So instead of that, I'm going to focus on finding an angle that works with this corner of the room, just because these windows are really going to be what adds a lot of depth and background to this shot. So this window here is decent, but this building across the way is not as pleasing. I'm thinking the final angle is probably somewhere around here. Now again, there really is no right or wrong way to do this, this is really more about intuition and just trusting your own aesthetic values and your gut in order to find what frame you think is just the most aesthetically pleasing. To me, I'm starting to land in a place like this where I'm basically lined up with the back wall, but I'm getting a little peak of window on the right side of frame just over here as well, and I think that seeing that corner adds a lot of volume and depth to the room. I'm thinking that we're going to end up setting up our frame pretty much right around here. Another thing we need to look at is electricity and availability of power in the space since we're going to be setting up lights, we want to make sure that we can power everything. So one thing you want to do is just do a quick slip of the room and look for the power outlets. I see that this space actually has quite a few. There's one down here, there's one over here that's going to be in frame based on the frame that we scattered. So I'm probably going to avoid that one. There's another power outlet down here, so there's quite a few options. So this space is pretty well powered. We're not going to run into any issues with running electricity in from another space or anything. So after walking through the space and finding our frame, the next step is to set it up on our actual camera. 6. Styling the Space: Now that we've decided where we're going to set up our frame, we need to actually do it, and place our camera in that position, and start deciding our focal length and camera placement, in order to actually get our frame up on its feet. This camera is placed in a way that we would describe as having just fallen off the truck. What that means is, it's just placed where we scoped out in our previous lesson, but I haven't made any decisions about the actual focal length, the size, the height, or any specific placement of the camera. We've just put it down here to start getting a frame up, and see what we need to do from there to get our final image set. So the first thing I'm going to do is start to basically set up and design a little bit of the placement of furniture and what is referred to as mise-en-scene, which refers to the placement of the objects in front of the lens, as we start to build out our image. So our main question first is, where is our interview subject going to sit? They're going to need a chair or some sort of object to sit on, in order to be comfortable throughout the interview. The other thing I'm going to do is start looking at props and background objects, and just try to arrange them in a way that feels a little bit more aesthetically pleasing. There's a couple of red flags in this image that stand out to me already, that I want to address. I don't like the speakers in the corner or these blue chairs, the stick against the wall, I'm going to move, and then the other piece that I don't like here is the air conditioner in the window. So since that's going to be a little trickier to move, we're going to actually just use some of these props to hide it, so that we can make sure that in our final image we are going to be able to focus on our subject without getting distracted by any ugly objects in the background. So before we do anything else, I'm going to just move some of this stuff around and set our frame into a place that feels a little bit more aesthetically pleasing. So the first thing I'm going to do is just select one of these chairs and rough it in, about where I think the interview is going to end up, and then Lucas why don't you grab these blue chairs and we can just clear them out, and then we'll grab that statue as well. Now that that's been empty, I'm just going to adjust some of this stuff around a little bit. I actually like this furniture quite a bit, so we're going to leave it as background, but I'm just going to move some stuff around since we removed this chair, this no longer feels relevant, probably move this table as well, and then so the air conditioner, I'm going to see if just moving this over does what I want. So as you're making these changes, I just want to come back to your camera and check. The right side of the frame feels a little empty to me. So what I think I'm going to do is actually move the whole living room set up over into that area. I realized that some of you may be working solo, that's totally okay. I just have a helping hand just to move the process along a little bit, and make sure that I can focus on teaching the lesson. This process is not scientific at all, its purely aesthetic, there's no right or wrong way to arrange a room. Literally, just looking at the monitor and judging by taste what feels balanced and even, and making sure that there's nothing in the image that's super distracting or stands out. So now it's time to bring in our interview subject, and start making the decisions of where to actually place our camera. 7. Placing Your Camera: The choices that we're going to be going through right now are figuring out our focal length and our camera height. Basically, deciding what is the relation to the camera placement versus where the subject is going to be sitting. This is Denali. Thanks for joining us today. Denali is going to be sitting in and modeling as our interview subject. So why don't you go ahead and take a seat here, and I'm going to start to move the camera around and start making our framing decisions. The main decision that you're going to be making when framing up a shot like this is, what is our frame size and how are we actually framing up our subjects? Are we going to be in a medium shot, a close-up, or something a little bit wider? Usually, for a sit-down interview like this, I'm going to default to something medium. I don't want to be too far from the subject, but I also don't want to be in too tight of a close-up because I might lose some body language or something like that. That said, there's plenty of examples of interviews that have been set up that are framed up like a wide, like we have set up like this. It's just something a little bit different and a little more bold, which is great if you want to do that, and it works for that film. But we're going to go for something a little bit more neutral for this one. The first thing I want to demo with relation to frame size is choosing our focal length. So framing a subject with a wide angle lens versus more of a neutral medium or telephoto lens is going to significantly affect how their face is rendered on screen, and the way that their face is rendered screen affects how we the audience perceive that subject. So the first thing I'm going to do is make sure that my lens is set to the widest focal length, which on this lens is 18 millimeter, and then I'm going to go ahead and frame up a medium shot of our subject with the 18 millimeters. So let's see what that looks like. Great. So I've locked the camera in a little bit. You can see how framing up a medium on a wide-angle lens changes the dynamic between yourself and the interview subject quite a bit. The camera and myself, the [inaudible] , quite close to the subject. You can see quite a bit of the background. The camera feels it has a proximity to the subject like, we the audience are really in the space with her. There's a sense of intimacy that is created with this. One thing to keep in mind if you are choosing to frame this close is because of the proximity between the camera and your subject, you do need to make sure that your interview subject is comfortable with the camera being this close. If you're shooting Vlog or some content that involves either yourself or somebody that you know is comfortable around cameras and equipment, this shouldn't be a problem. But if you're shooting a real person who maybe isn't used to being on camera, this can sometimes make a person slightly uncomfortable. So just make sure that you've communicated your goals with your interview subject and that everybody's on the same page about where everything is in relation to each other. So that's a wide angle medium shot. So now, I'm going to back the camera up and we're going to frame up the same frame size, but on a tighter lens just in order to emphasize the differences between the two. So this is the same framing that we had before, except this time we're on a 55 millimeter lens on our zoom. So the frame size is the same as our 18 millimeter, but by shooting with the 55 millimeter, which is really more of a neutral to telephoto lens, you can see how much it changes the dynamic between the subject, the camera, and the background. This is something that feels a lot more, maybe removed, a little more clinical, little more neat and clean, and neutral. The background is more out of focus. So we have shallower depth of field because we're shooting on a tighter focal length, and we also see less of the background because a tighter focal length narrows the angle of view that the lens is able to capture. Another thing that tighter lenses will do is, they will compress the sense of depth perception. So if you compare this frame to the 18 millimeter frame, in the 18 millimeter frame, you could sense a much greater distance between the subject and the background. So what that does is actually creates a more exaggerated sense of depth and contrasts between foreground and background with your framing. Fifty millimeter and above, the effect that you're going to get with background perception is the distance between your subject and your background is going to feel more compressed. For the purposes of this demonstration, I'm going to choose a focal length that's pretty much in-between these two extremes. So I'm going to land on 35 millimeter focal length. I want something wider than this focal length so that I can see a little bit more of the space. But I don't necessarily want the full on wide angle proximity that we got with 18 millimeter. So from our 55 millimeter position, I'm just going to walk the camera a little bit closer just to compensate for my shift and focal length, and then from here, it's going to zoom out on our lens and land on about 35 millimeter. So now, just leveling the tripod head, adjusting our pan and tilt here until I find the frame that we want. 8. Framing Your Subject: One of the next things we're going to have to determine is what is the eyeline for our subject. One option is to just have Denali look straight into camera. If I have my subject looking direct to camera, I'm probably going to choose framing it centered, like so, just to give it a sense of balance. Now, if I have an interviewer who's sitting next to the camera, Denali's eyeline is going to be just off to the side. If that's the case, what I'm going to do is actually frame this shot, like so. This tends to open up the eyeline and just create an image that feels a little bit more open and balanced when your subject's eyeline is looking off to the side. This composition is based off of the principle of the rule of thirds. I have Denali framed up on our left third vertical. If you're unfamiliar with this concept, we'll have a link to some more information in the Class Resources. One thing I see quite a bit in interviews is a little bit too much headroom. This can even be something quite subtle and there's nothing inherently wrong with it. It just, to me personally, feels a little bit unbalanced. Another thing that often happens is, you might frame up your subject with not enough headroom, which again is not wrong, but there's just something that feels a little bit unbalanced of having your subject's face this close to the top of frame. So I'm just going to land somewhere right in the middle, so that the top of my frame is right above the top of her hair, without giving it too much space one way to the other. I'm pretty happy with this frame, but I did just want to demonstrate one other thing that could really change the dynamic of your image and that is the lens height. So right now I have my lens basically set evenly with Denali's eyeline, but just to demonstrate how this can effect the image, I'm going to go ahead and stick up on the camera and show you what it looks like from a higher angle. Conventionally, this is used in cinema to convey a position of power over something or a character feeling weak. This isn't normally something that we would want to do in an interview setup, but just so you know how this technique is used in cinema, that's one way that it is implemented. So now let's demo a low-angle shot on the character. What a low-angle shot tends to do is create a sense of power or control in your subject, it makes your subject feel large and frame, confident, powerful, creating an angle that has a little bit more of a dynamic energy to it, as opposed to a neutral head on angle. So that's just to demonstrate how you can use different angles. We're going to go back to a more neutral angle, just for the sake of this demonstration. So we've settled on our neutral angle. I tend to place the lens slightly above the eyeline of the subject. This tends to give your subject a slightly more flattering angle while still maintaining a sense of neutrality for the overall composition. So I'm pretty happy with this frame and now we can move on to the next stage which is adding in our lighting. 9. Initial Camera Settings: Two more things we need to set on our camera before we start bringing in our lighting are our exposure and our white balance. The white balance setting on the camera is basically letting the camera known what color temperature light environment it is recording in. White balance, like everything else, is a creative choice that we can be making. Obviously, different white balances will affect the image and the mood that it creates and the emotions that it might elicit in your audience. Right now, I have the camera set at 3,200 Kelvin, which is a white balance closer to the color temperature of tungsten light. Because this location is entirely lit with natural daylight right now, that daylight, which runs at a much cooler color temperature, is reading as very blue on the monitor. This obviously creates an image that feels a lot more melancholy or dark, moody, grim, emotional, somber. There are many different emotions that you can assign to this kind of look and this could be something that you're going for. For the purposes of this shoot, I'm going to go ahead and set our white balance to 5,500 Kelvin. This is pretty close to the white balance of the natural daylight that's in here. So as a result, the image on our monitor looks pretty neutral. We can see their skin tones and background tend to match what they look like in reality, because our cameras set to match the white balance of the light that's in the space write now. The next thing we're going to set is the aperture on our lens. This is going to affect a couple of things, first and foremost being exposure. I'm going to get a little bit more into exposure in the lighting demonstration, but for now, let's also focus on the other element that the f-stop will adjust, which is the depth of field. Just to demonstrate how the f-stops are going to affect our depth of field, I'm going to go ahead and boost the ISO on this camera, and then start stopping the lens down to about a five, six. So right now you can seen this image is pretty much the same exposure as our previous image, I've boosted the ISO, which adds a little grain into the image. I tend to shoot interviews on a more wide open aperture. This is specifically in order to avoid this scenario where the background is taking away attention from the foreground. So what I'm going to go ahead and do is lower our ISO and then open our lens up to a 2.9. What you can see this does is throws our background out of focus and makes sure that our attention is on our subject in the foreground. One of the tool you're going to want to use in order to control your f-stop are ND filters. This camera has internal ND filters built in. I can cycle through them here and you can see as I remove them, how much more light this camera is seeing versus what I'm actually recording. So we're going to go ahead and add that back in. With cameras that don't have internal NDs, what you're going to want to use our glass filter NDs that you can place in front of your lens. On still photography lenses, those tend to screw onto the front, and on cinema lenses like the one we're using here, those glass filter NDs are just going to go right into the Mapbox. One exposure tool that I want to introduce us to before we dive into the lighting demonstration is the main way that I am going to be judging exposure as we continue this class, and that's going to be the False Color Tool. False color is an internal exposure monitoring tool that can be found sometimes built into certain camera models or certain monitors. What false color does is it basically takes a sample of the entire image and maps out different regions of the image onto the IRE scale. The IRE scale being the scale that judges exposure of a digital image from zero, meaning full black, to 100, which means full white. The values that we're going to be looking at here in this image are, we can see a lot of blue, which as we can see on the exposure scale, is basically just above full underexposure. Another color we see a lot here is green. Green is landing at about 40 IRE, which is basically where we're going to want accurate values to land. So we'll come back to that when we bring our lighting in. But for now, I do just want to switch things over just to show you what overexposure looks like. So I'm going to go ahead and remove our ND filtration from the camera, or you're going to see what that looks like. So this is what our image looks like without ND filtration and we can see that we have a lot of regions of this frame that are hot white. This is what we referred to as blown out, meaning that we're losing information. If we switch over to the false color, we can see that in action. So all of these bright white areas of the frame are reading red, which as the scale shows us, means that we are hitting the sealing of IRE levels 100, meaning that we're actually losing all of this information and not recording it. So the main thing that I look at when I'm looking at false color is making sure that there isn't any red in my image. That gives me the confidence to know that the camera is really recording all of the information in there, and that I'm going to have the flexibility in post-production to maybe move some values around in the color grade here and there if I need to. So I'm going to go ahead and add those ND filters back in and we can start to see that red disappear. Great. This is where we left things off, switching back to normal view. Now we can move on to the next step, which is adding in our lighting and those exposure tools are going to come back into play once our lights hit the field. 10. Setting Your Key Light: Now that we've set our frame and settings, it's time to start lighting. So we're going to start by focusing on our key light, which is going to be the main light that's providing the illumination for our subject. We're going to demo a couple of different versions of a key light just to show a few different looks, until we land on a couple of different ones that I'm going to start to stick with as we move through the rest of the demo. So first things first, we're going to set up a hard key light. To do that, we're going to use this aperture 120D. This is a hard LED light. Just make sure this is all patched in, we'll line it up on our actor, then I'm just going to preemptively land around here and then we're going to go ahead and strike it on. So when lighting, the first thing we're going to do is make sure that my light is at its maximum output. So I've made sure that the dimmer here is set to 100 percent. Now, I'm going to walk back to monitor here and start to see what this has done. What we can see with this lighting is the hard light creates some very harsh shadows. Again, this could be a creative choice that you're going to be making. In terms of exposure, once I have my light set, I'm just going to swipe back over to our false color and see where I'm landing. So I can see that my key light here is starting to read a little bit of green, which is exactly what I want. I want that key light to sit at around 40 IRE, and again, there's no correct or incorrect way to expose this image, I just use this as a reference point to my personal taste level. I've just found over time that I tend to like to light to this ratio, but at the end of the day, the choice is yours. So this is what a hard light is going to look like. One thing I can do to improve the hard look is to raise the angle of the light a little bit. So let's go ahead and stick up on that, and it'll just make the angle of the light as it comes down onto Denali's face a little bit more flattering. I can actually also see the light in the reflection in the background. So we're going to keep sticking up until that's out of frame. Perfect. So I would maybe use this if my subject is something very dramatic or mysterious, if I have somebody talking about a mystery, or an investigation, or something like this. I think this is a look that you see in a lot of true crime documentaries and stuff like that. Once we've seen this, I'm going to go ahead and turn this light off and we're going to switch to our soft key light, which is going to be something a little bit more in the range of what I'm personally looking for here. What I've done is swapped the key light out for a LiteMat 4 which is a soft LED light. Basically, the way it works is it's essentially just an array of LED diodes. You can see the individual lights here. When these lights are all brought together underneath this diffusion material, they end up creating this nice, even soft exposure coming off of this. Once I have my key light setup, the next step is to determine where I want to place it. The angle of the light is going to affect the mood that it inflicts upon the scene and the way that we perceive and connect to our subject emotionally. So right now, I've landed at this 45-degree angle. I'm going to come back to this but first, let's bring the light around to the side so that it's perfectly parallel with Denali. Keep going, keep going. Perfect, and then just angle it away from the window so I can still see the reflection of the window. So I'm just going to angle it away so we don't see it anymore. Perfect. Actually split the difference there, angle it back a little just so that it's more on her. Great. Right now that the light is coming directly from the side of Denali and we can see that this is creating a pretty dramatic look. The quality of the light is still nice and soft. There's a great falloff from the light side to the dark side. So that's really a difference between the soft light and the hard light that we demoed before is the transition from light to dark is a lot more pleasing, a lot more soft, and a lot more gentle on the face, which ends up creating something that feels a little bit more neutral, a little bit more inviting. But in terms of placement, our light is a little bit off to the side. What that does, is makes the dark side of the face quite contrasty. We're going to keep moving our key light around and what I'm looking for now is something called the Rembrandt triangle. So this is a good guideline to help you find a placement for your key light, that is really neutral, but also very aesthetically pleasing and creates a really nice falloff of the light, something that I use quite a bit in order to find a specific placement for my key light. So what we're going to do is start to bring that light around, and what I'm looking for is a triangle of light to form underneath the left eye. So that's it right there. Now let's just walk that in a little bit just for exposure and then walk it around to the left a little bit. So again, what I'm keeping an eye on for here is this little area here. It's the triangle underneath the left eye. So that looks really good to me. Let's go ahead and swing that lamp a little bit to the right just so that it's perfectly facing her. Excellent, great. Just going to swipe over to my false color and see where we're landing. So this is reading a little bit under where I want it to live. I do want to see a little bit more green here, so let's just start walking that in a little bit. Great, that's pretty good. Now, this could be something very viable for a more traditional corporate or commercial interview look, but what I want to demo now is something a little bit more natural and a little bit moodier, and the way we're going to achieve that is just by softening the light even more. Softness of light is really a factor of the size of your source relative to its distance to the subject. Basically, the bigger the source and the closer it is to your subject, the softer the light that's on your subject's face is going to be and the smoother that fall off. What do you want to think about is, how big of a light source can I get enveloping and wrapping around my subject in order to create the softest light possible. So in order to do that, we're going to use some diffusion material. There are so many different kinds of diffusion, but on set today we have what's called muslin. This is my favorite piece of diffusion. It's basically a thick fabric that just softens the light with such a great quality. So what I'm going to do now is essentially place this in front of our key light in a way that it doesn't encroach into our frame. What that's going to do is basically enlarge the size of our light source and create a much softer light on our subject. So we've just put up our muslin. We've added our layer of diffusion in between our light and our subject, you can see what that's done is just really softened up the fall off here between the light side and the shadow side of Denali's face. The shadows here are barely, barely present. There's just a really, really gradual transition and gradient from light to dark. Essentially, what's happening here is that I've made this actual light source much, much bigger. This diffusion frame is now the light source. So the light that's behind the frame doesn't really matter. What matters is the size of the source itself in relation to the subject. So right now, we took a source that's about four feet wide, which is the width of the LiteMat, and we've turned it into an eight-foot wide by eight-foot tall light source. So this to me is what I'm usually looking for when I'm lighting in interviews set up like this, this feels very naturalistic and very real, which are qualities that I'm usually after when I'm lighting a setup like this. So the next step from here is I've placed this source. I like the quality of it, but I can tell already by my eye that it's not giving me enough output and if I swipe over to our false color, we can see that the key side here is not really getting a lot of exposure and we're getting underexposure on Denali's clothes here. I want to see a little bit more texture here and I want to find a way to balance our foreground and background a little bit so that we can bring our exposure levels and the forgone up to match what we have going on in the background. So now that our key light has become this large piece of diffusion, I can basically add more units behind it in order to increase the overall illumination that's coming off of the diffusion material and landing on our subject. So what we're going to do now is add an additional light. We're going to go back to our aperture 120 that we were using before to demonstrate the hard light and just add it in next to our LiteMat to double the exposure of our key light. Let's see how this goes. Great. So I can start to see that where I was getting a lot of blue in the sleeves here, I'm gaining back a lot of the information that I was missing there. So now looking at this image here, this to my eye feels very pleasing and very balanced. I think we've ended up in a good place where we've got a great balance between foreground and background. The placement and directionality of our key light is soft, naturalistic, aesthetically pleasing. The falloff and gradient between light and dark is feeling really nice and natural and we're in a good place to now add in our additional lighting in order to build out the rest of our look. 11. Adding Your Fill Light: We've finished setting our key light and we're happy with the placement and quality and brightness. So now it's time to look at the rest of the elements of our frame, and see if we need to add any additional lighting in order to change the dynamic around. So this frame to me is pretty pleasing, it's natural, but the shadow side of Denali's face does fall off quite sharply into darkness. You can see on our false color, that we are skirting the edge of underexposure in the shadow side of her face. In order to counteract those dark shadows, we need to add what is referred to as either a fill light or ambient light. The reason I prefer the term ambient light is that I think sometimes there's a misconception with the term fill light, that this light is a unit that needs to be striking your actor in the same way that your key light is. In a lot of three-point lighting set-ups that fill light is set up that way. But I find that arrangement to sometimes also come across as a little bit too sourcy, and that you can feel the directionality and artificiality of that fill light. So the way that I like to avoid that is by treating the fill light as more of an ambient light level that's lifting up the overall light in the entire room as opposed to something that's specifically striking my actor. So one quick trick that I like to use in order to raise the overall ambient level of light in a room, is by shining a light directly into the ceiling of the space that we're in. So we're going to bring in this one-by-one LED light panel and place it just to the left of our subject. All it's going to do is just lift up the overall shadow levels on Denali and raise the ambient level of the space as a whole. So let's bring it a little bit closer. Great. Cool. Let's just go ahead, [inaudible] off it. Great. So this is without the fill light and you can see now that the shadows here a little bit harsher, the fall off is a little sharper, and with the light on, you can see those shadows fill in and the fall-off becomes a little bit less pronounced, the face becomes a little bit more full. Fill light is something that I would normally use in more of a commercial or neutral lighting setup. So I'm going to quickly switch our key light back to that just to demonstrate the overall effect of that look with and without a fill light. What we're going to do for that is just quickly pop up the diffusion and then let's pop the frame back on the light mat. So in our neutral commercial setup, the fill light is going to play a bit of a bigger role, counterbalancing the sauciness of our key light. Let's go ahead and turn off the fill light from here. You can see that without it, our key light here has a very specific directionality to it, and the fall-off between light and shadow is quite harsh and quick. When we add the fill light back in, as it comes on, you can just see those shadows gradually fill in and that fall-off become a little bit less pronounced as we go. That's how I would place some fill light in a more neutral or commercial look. What I want to do now real quick is just demonstrate what the fill light directly onto the subject looks like just to show you the difference between the two. Let's go ahead and drop that down and we'll aim it at Denali. You can bring it around a little bit frontier, because what we're doing with this is really filling out the shadows. So we want to make sure it can dig all the way into the side of her cheek and make sure that it fills up all of those. Now, with our light pointed directly at our subject, we can see that as we start to add fill, it very quickly gets into a range of being quite noticeable. You can even see the reflection of it on the top of her forehead and nose, you can see that it creates an additional shadow on the other side of her nose that counteracts the key light. This is a look that I really try to tend to avoid. It feels very unnatural and very sourcy. This is why I tend to take an approach of keeping our fill light as more of an overall ambient as opposed to something aimed directly at our subject. Even if I bring the levels down a little bit, we can end up in a ratio that feels a little bit more natural, but I can still see an additional shadow on the side of her nose that I don't find very particularly pleasing. For a moodier look, I actually tend to not use any fill light at all. In fact, in some cases where I have a lot of ambient light naturally in a space, I'll use what's referred to as negative fill in order to actually take down ambient light levels that might be bouncing around on some of the other surfaces in the space. So I'm going to go ahead and demo that real quick just to show you what that does. So for that, let's just revert back to our big soft source key light and we're going to kill our fill light and bring in the negative fill in order to counterbalance it. The ambient levels in here are quite low, so adding this piece of equipment isn't going to change our image too much. But I do just want to demonstrate how to use negative fill just to show the usages of it and I think it might affect the image a little bit. So let's go and pull that out. We'll bring in this C-stand. What we're going to add in now is a four-by-four Floppy Flag. Again, this is something that you can do with any solid material, it's just a dark black fabric. What this negative fill is doing is, it's basically taking down any ambient light that's bouncing off of either the ceiling or the wall to the left of our subject. By creating it at this angle and make sure that she's not getting hit by too much ambient light coming from the top, and the floppy part is taking down any ambient light that might be coming in through the side. In this specific space and because it's an overcast day, our ambient levels are pretty low already. But if it were a much brighter, sunny day, we might have a lot more light bouncing around the room over here that we might want to take down in order to create a little bit more contrast in her image. I just tend to feel like that feels a little bit more naturalistic, a little bit more cinematic, and certainly a little bit moodier since you're really letting the shadow levels of your image exist in that darker, shadowy area, where you're really losing information, and that's okay. For a moody or a cinematic look on my false color, I actually like seeing a lot of blue because that tells me that my image has a lot of contrast in it, that my shadow areas are really dark and at those blacks are rich. So the final element of lighting we're going to touch on is backlight or edge light. 12. Finishing with Backlight: Now we're going to add the final element of our lighting, and that's going to be a backlight. For a commercial, or corporate look, or a documentary interview, backlight or hair light can be a really great way to just have your subject pop out of the background of your shot, create separation between foreground and background, draw attention to your subject to make sure that your audiences really focusing on them, and just add a layer of the aesthetic shin to your image that just elevates it and stylize it a little bit. So we're in our commercial neutral corporate look right now. We're just going to add in our backlight to this just to give it that extra layer of pop. For this, we're using an isolate tube, which is a small LED tube that's battery-powered. One thing that I want to mention is that you can really use any type of unit for a backlight. I just like this one for its small size and low profile. But you can use any type of unit as long as you can mount it in a way that you can place it behind your subject so that the stand that it's mounted on is not encroaching in your frame. So let's go ahead, and strike it on, and we'll turn it up to 100 percent. Again, we always want to start our light at its brightest level, just so that we can kind of set it from there. So at 100 percent brightness, we can see what the hair light is already adding to our frame here. It's just creating a nice separation between our subject and background. I'm actually going to tweak it a little bit, I think it could be even brighter. So let's go ahead and just walk it closer to our subject, and then lower it in frame as well, just so that it's right out of frame, and just giving us our maximum hair light. Keep going down you're still out, and right there is good. So let's just go ahead and start walking the whole thing to the right. So it's not going to be placed exactly behind her, but a little bit off to the side just so that it starts to catch the shoulder. So what this is doing is creating a nice counterbalanced between the key light and the backlight. The backlight isn't placed exactly behind her head, but a little bit off to the left, just so that it catches the edge of the shoulder here and the hair as well, creating this nice sense of depth and separation. Just to demonstrate what that looks like without, lets just go ahead and turn it off. So that's without, and then let's turn it back on just so we can see what it's adding. Perfect. So you can see how that catches the shoulder, the hair light, and picks up a little bit of the chair that she's sitting on as well. This is basically where I would call it done. All of our units are placed, our levels are set. We like our overall composition and exposure, and I would be ready to shoot from here. So the first thing we're going to do to revert back to our moodier look is turn off the backlight. We're going to find a different position for that, and let's just reset the rest of our lighting just to get back to the place we were at before, and then we can go from there. So for a moodier or more cinematic look, I tend to find hair lights like the way we had it set up for the commercial look to be a little artificial and running antithetical to the whole naturalistic style of that more cinematic look. That said, there is a way that I like to play an edge light that does add a little bit more volume and depth to the shot without compromising on the overall aesthetic. So what we're going to do is move our hair light over to the side, set up our C-stand vertically, and then rotate our lights so that it's facing our subject. Then we'll probably want to bring it a little bit closer to me. It can be a little bit in front of the diffusion material. So what we've done here is basically took the unit that was playing as our hair light, and placed it next to our key light as a brighter, smaller, and harder source. What it's doing is it's actually creating a little bit of an extension of the key light around the far side of the face and sort of increasing the contrast between the shadow side of the face and the bright side of the face. It's a subtle addition, but what it does is just add a little bit of extra volume, and a little bit of catch of hair light and edge light that just gives the whole image a tiny little extra edge that it wouldn't have if we were just lighting with our big key light. So one of the thing I wanted to try to add into this moody or cinematic look is to see if I can play a hair light or backlight, that does feel a little bit more natural, and organic, and fitting with this overall aesthetic. So what we're going to do is take our second aperture 120D, which is our hard LED light, and place it in the corner background off-screen, as if it's playing motivated from a window in the background that's just off camera. So what we're going to do is angle that light down, and stick it up a little bit. I want it to catch some of the furniture in the background as well be. The idea here being that we're playing this light as if it's coming from one of the windows that are off-screen here. Within the ethos of the naturalistic or cinematic look, I like to have all of the lighting feel motivated so that nothing feels artificial, which is what sort of breaks the illusion of that more naturalistic aesthetic. So now that we've struck on our light, I can start to see what elements are working, and what elements still need some adjustments. So I like how it's playing on Denali's right shoulder, and I like how it's illuminating the table behind her, the floor and just giving everything a little bit more texture. There's a couple of things that I don't like as much. So we're going to use some of the tools that we have in order to control some of the things that aren't working as well. So the first thing is, the light that we added is fill in this couch a little bit more than I'd like it to. So what we're going to do there is just use the barn doors to make sure that that light isn't really filling up the left side of her frame, that's perfect. Another thing that isn't quite working in this frame right now with the element that we've added is, the light is a little bit too low in the angle of approach. That's kind of flaring out our image which you can see in the top left here. So the first thing we're going to try to do to counteract this is raising the light up and changing its angle. So let's actually tilt back down a little bit, and then we're going to stick up on that quite a bit. Great. So that's already done quite a bit. I'm still getting a little bit of flare action. So the other thing I'm going to do is use this small piece of equipment here, which is just an extension to my matte box. So what this is doing is just creating a flag that's going to cut off the light that's hitting the lens directly. Now there's all sorts of ways to do this if you don't have access to a matte box. What some people will do is actually just use a piece of gaff tape extended out in front of the lens, and use that in much the same way that this is doing, just to cut off the light that's hitting the lens directly. So the last element here is just to set the level of light at a place that feels aesthetically pleasing to us. Right now, it is still feeling a little bit bright and artificial to me. So just to make it feel a little bit more naturalistic, we're just going to start dimming down on it to, let's say about 50 percent. Just to take down that sharpness of it here to something that feels a little bit more in line with the overall light. Perfect. So that's it. That's one way to play an additional light in order to just give a little bit more volume and texture to your image. I just want to reiterate that we used two hypothetical looks as our bench points to demonstrate all these different lighting techniques and light placements. At the end of the day though, all of these different elements can be used interchangeably depending on what overall mood you're after for your image. It can be something that fits somewhere in between these looks. It can look a little bit more artificial, a little bit more staged, or even more naturalistic and soft. It really just depends what kind of mood and emotion you want to create with your image. Next up, we're just going to look at one more common lighting scenario that I think a lot of us are going to have to deal with. 13. Working with Natural Light: The last thing I wanted to touch on was what to do when you don't have any of the tools that we were using in this demo up until this point. If you don't have any access to artificial lights or anything like that, all you have is you, a camera and a space, how do we apply the same principles that we just talked about by harnessing what the actual location that we're shooting in is providing to us? Right now, our camera and everything is set up exactly the way we just left it. We just pulled away all of our artificial lighting. We can see looking at this that the quality of light isn't too bad on its own. This space that we're in right now happens to have a lot of very good natural light and big windows that are letting a lot of it in. It's also currently overcast, which is always a nice thing for shooting with natural light. It just ensures that you have consistency throughout the day and you're not going see a lot of big shifts between exposure as the sun moves throughout the sky. That said, one thing to keep in mind when lighting with natural light is that the sun really is your light source. So you're going to really want to know where it is at any given time in order to understand how best to harness it for your purposes. So I use an app called Sun Seeker in order to track the sun path throughout the sky. What you can see is it actually gives you an overlay on top of your actual space. So the app traces a few different sun paths depending on certain dates. I think this one has the solstices at the moment, and then the middle is the current sun path as it is right now. So what I would do with this now is just walk around the windows and take a look at where the sun is landing in relation to the space. So I can see that these windows are North facing, so they're actually not getting any direct sun at all at the moment. The sun's actually over on this side of the building. So I'm just going to walk over here and check, is there any point throughout the day when I am going to get some direct sunlight through this window, or is it always going to be hidden behind buildings, or not really affecting our scene directly? In this case, we're totally clear the sun is already set behind this building, as I mentioned, since it's overcast today, anyway, we're not really going to get any direct sun in this scene to really affect our levels at all. So what I'm looking for here is to find a way to use natural light to re-create the ratio between foreground and background that we had with our artificial lighting and the control that that afforded us. Looking at this image now, the quality of light on Denali looks great, but we can see that there's a bit of a disconnect between the brightness and exposure levels of her background and foreground. So my eye right now is going to the couch and the windows in the background. But I'm losing the focus on our subject. So in order to harness natural light, the main thing we're going to do is try to find a position in our space where the natural window light is at its maximum brightness on our subject without compromising on our overall aesthetic in terms of its relation to the background. The main way we're going to do that is basically by moving our subject closer to a window. So Denali, I'm going to have you hop up and we're just going to preemptively move this chair back, just over to here and a little bit closer to the window to make sure that window light wraps around Denali's face and doesn't create that sidelight like we looked at in the earlier lesson when talking about placement of our key. So I've roughed this in just by guessing. Denali, I want you to go ahead and sit down, and I'm going to hop back to camera and just reframe our shot to see how this looks. So I just moved Denali closer to the window and moved the camera to match the same framing that we had before.The light levels are pretty good. We're getting a very similar quality to what we had before. The fall off is really nice, very soft, very naturalistic, but there's still enough of an exposure difference between background and foreground to make sure that Denali really pops. By shifting the angle, we have revealed this plug of the air conditioning unit. So let's just go ahead and move that fern that was blocking our air conditioner to the left. Another thing that's going to do is take down this white strip across the way just to draw attention back to Denali's face. So keep going a little bit more, right there, back to the right a little bit. We're just blocking it perfectly, right there. Excellent. Then let's rotate it a little bit just so that the ferns cover the white wall a little bit more, right there. Much like with artificial light, you can still use modifiers to shift and adjust natural lighting to fit your needs, even without using artificial light sources. For example, if we were getting hard light through this window, I can still throw up a piece of diffusion, bed sheet, or shower curtain just in order to take down the brightness of that window and make sure that the light that's hitting my subject is the quality that I want it to be. Basically, it's a bit more of a scrappy approach and one that requires you to harness the natural elements that you're in. But the same principles and techniques apply here as well. So that's pretty much it. A lot of times on shoots, you just have to accept things at a good enough place, or a place that you feel satisfied enough with the image to be able to live with it later to come the road. A lot of times you are also limited by scheduling limitations. You only have a certain amount of hours in the day of daylight or availability of a subject. So all of those things tend to come into play and be taken into consideration. But at the end of the day, as long as you feel overall satisfied with your image and your levels, you should be ready to go. So that's it for our location work. Let's head back to the studio now just for some final thoughts. 14. Final Thoughts : Congrats for making it to the end of the class. I hope that this can just serve as an overview of a few different ideas and concepts that you can then take into your own work and build upon from there. We created a couple of different interview lighting setups to demonstrate these various techniques and show the differences between them and how different decisions you can make with lighting, framing, and focal length choice can affect the mood and emotional context of your image. A few things we didn't touch upon in this class are shooting multi-camera, camera movement, whether it's with a slider or a dolly, or even just shooting handheld, and using production design and wardrobe in order to add further elements of contrast and visual storytelling into your images. There are a lot of different places where you can learn about these various concepts, so I'll link to some of my favorites in the class resources. I hope you can take these concepts that we talked about and apply them to your own work, and find ways to build upon them, experiment, mix and match, change things up, try things your own way. Just as a reminder, I would love to see the work that you're all creating using the lessons from this class. So please feel free to upload your images or videos to the project gallery, so that we can all seen these techniques put into action. Thank you again for taking this class. I'm so excited to see what you'll create using these techniques. So get out there and create some cinematic imagery.