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First time in a studio - how should I light it?

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Josh Smith
First time in a studio - how should I light it?
on Jul 18, 2013 at 5:24:18 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm filming for the first time in a studio for a few corporate talking heads videos, and I'm after some advice on how to light it properly.

We have 3 x 800W Tungsten Redhead lights (3200 Kelvin) that we are going to use in a 3-point setup (as key, fill and back lights). The studio does not have a ceiling lighting rig, so the lights will be on floor stands. Is there anything special I need to know about how to light it properly? Anything different I should do compared to when I'm filming in any other normal room? The studio will have an "infinity" white backdrop. Here's a photo of it.

Another quick question - I assume it's really bad practice to "mix" colour temperatures from different lights? In other words, I assume I should turn off all other studio lights when filming, and only have the 3 Redhead lights turned on? So the "stage" will be lit up but the rest of the studio will be dark? So then I can just dial in the white balance on the camera as 3200K, and it will then be balanced correctly for the Redhead lights? Sorry if that sounds like a stupid question...

I hope someone can help.

Many thanks,


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Nick Griffin
Re: First time in a studio - how should I light it?
on Jul 18, 2013 at 7:24:39 pm

First, I'm not sure how doing 3 point lighting would be any different in a studio than any other room. If anything the studio should have a higher ceiling giving you much more flexibility than a normal room with an 8-10-12 foot ceiling height. The big advantage to a studio, under typical circumstances, would be that you would have many, many more lights so you could get a very broad, shadowless look.

As to three 800 watt Redheads, you ideally would have some sort of diffusion on the key light and a reflector for fill on the opposite side. Having 800 watts for a hairlight or side kicker is somewhat problematic because it's considerably more light than you need in balance to the key. If you can live with the orange cast you can use a dimmer to bring this light down. If not add a full stop or more scrim. Additionally a very tight pattern with the barn doors can eat up a lot of light.

The back light is also problematic because you may not have enough light to fill the background and because the sweep is white you run the risk of getting a very dull and ugly grayish look. Or you could use the barn doors to create a slice or some other pattern across the background. Any chance of getting a black background? Aesthetically that could look nicer and free up that third light for putting another rim, perhaps giving you both a hairlight AND a side kick.

Anyway, that's my two cents. It will be interesting to see the suggestions you get from others, especially those on the Lighting Design Pros forum.

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