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How do I light a 3-person scene?

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Hafeez Zainalabidin
How do I light a 3-person scene?
on Nov 5, 2018 at 10:37:17 am

Hey all,

I'm fairly new to grip work so I'm a bit stumped by this. So I'll be shooting this scene involving 3 subjects, all of which are situated behind a table with a black backdrop behind all of them. The camera will be positioned dead centre in the middle of all of them. I've attached a photo complete with my expert illustration skills showing the placement of the subjects in the scene.



So I'm looking for a lighting solution that can efficiently light all of them using as few lights as possible. The overall look will be fairly high-key, with a light on the backdrop so it won't look like a black hole behind them. My existing kit consists on 2x Nanguang Luxpad43 LED Panels, and I have the go-ahead to rent any additional lights I need (within reasonable cost, of course)

I'm torn between two possible setups:

1. A large diffused soft key in the centre that wraps around all the subjects, with one light at camera left near the backdrop to act as fill for Subject 1 and backlight for Subjects 2 and 3, and one light at camera right near the backdrop to act as fill for Subjects 2 and 3 and backlight for Subject 1. Finally, 1 additional light for the backdrop as described earlier. This is the cheaper solution; I'm guessing the centre key will eliminate the need for a backdrop light but I will have other scenes that make use of the backdrop light so I'm just thinking about continuity here.

2. Similar to above, but with 1 diffused key light at camera left for Subjects 2 and 3, and 1 diffused key light at camera right for Subject 1. The fill/back lights stay the same as with the above option, together with an additional light for the backdrop. This is the more expensive option, but I'm worried about the spill from the key lights onto the backdrop as the backdrop will be situated fairly close to the subjects. That and they might mess with the lighting from the backdrop light too. The obvious solution would be to get LED Panels with built-in barndoors; I'm just wondering if this would be the more reasonable route to take.

The kit I'm looking to rent is a set of 3 Coolcam 1' x 1' Bi-Color LED Panels with barndoors, failing which I might get a set of 3 Litepanel Caliber 150W LED Fresnels or Aputure LS-mini20s. I don't have the luxury of additional stands for flags as I'm already running on a tight budget as it is. Also, I'm a one-man Cam Op/Grip/Director/Producer with no extra pair of hands available (ridiculous I know).

Any help would be appreciated!


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Hafeez Zainalabidin
Re: How do I light a 3-person scene?
on Nov 5, 2018 at 10:40:20 am

Sorry a bit of a goof for Option 1:

1. A large diffused soft key in the centre that wraps around all the subjects, with one light at camera RIGHT* near the backdrop to act as fill for Subject 1 and backlight for Subjects 2 and 3, and one light at camera LEFT* near the backdrop to act as fill for Subjects 2 and 3 and backlight for Subject 1. Finally, 1 additional light for the backdrop as described earlier. This is the cheaper solution; I'm guessing the centre key will eliminate the need for a backdrop light but I will have other scenes that make use of the backdrop light so I'm just thinking about continuity here.

Too much typing, not enough checking :P


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