Video Outdoor Lighting

by | July 16, 2019 | Video Production

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Outdoor Lighting for Video Projects

Video Outdoor Lighting – A common misconception is that just because we’ll be shooting outside, we won’t need any light. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, lighting outside interviews can often be more difficult – and unpredictable- than lighting in a controlled indoor space. To shoot a good looking interview outside there are a few things to keep in mind.

Diffusion – the first thing that people might not realize is that we never really want direct sunlight on the subject unless it’s very much behind them. Anything from the front, top, or side, is problematic unless diffused. Diffusion can come in many shapes and sizes, but a good option is something that is soft but not dark or loud. Many types of indoors diffusion filters can’t be used outside effectively because they’ll make noise in the wind. Opal, 250, and 216 are good examples of diffusions that can make a lot of noise when the wind picks up. This is why silks and grid cloth are used outside with various strengths and weaknesses. Typically for an interview, a DP might use a 4’x4’ diffusion frame between the sun and the subject.

If the background is bright then the subject will often have to have a lot of light bounced back into their face. This can be done with white or shiny implements in a variety of ways. The one aspect that is always a give and take is not making it too bright for the talent that they have to squint excessively. Positioning the key light far enough to the side can help make it easier for the interviewee to see as can an extra black flag near or directly behind the camera. This can help give the talent something much darker to focus on.

For certain situations a powerful HMI can be used to light the subject. This depends on power availability, the amount of light needed and budget.

Depending on the position of the sun there is often a call for another reflector as a backlight and possibly a negative fill to create more of a split or “model” on the face.

It’s quite common therefore to have the following:

4×4 overhead diffusion
4×4 shiny board as key into another 4×4 diffusion to soften it
2×3 or 4×4 shiny board as backlight
4×4 bead board as fill (optional)
And maybe a 4×4 floppy for eye focus

This doesn’t even include the monitor and 4×4 floppy setup to make sure that the director and client can see.

So, in the end, we could be talking 4 combo stands, several c-stands, and a few more goodies just to set up a “standard” outdoor interview on a bright, sunny day.

As you can see, shooting outside doesn’t necessarily make it easier, and in some cases, it can make it much more time and gear-consuming to set up a scene. And don’t even get me started on sound!!!

Contact us here to discuss your next outdoor video production project.