DIY Light Skirting

90% of our short film Backstage is set in a locker room, and the location we had for this scene was in an old disused school. We spoke about how we dressed the set in a previous video if you want to check it out:


The room was 5.7 meters by 3.7 meters and had 7 windows. To make sure we could keep the light consistent, as we were going to shoot a night scene during the day, we decided to block all of the windows which also helps to sell the effect that this is a run down venue.


The room had 4 fluorescent lights which were 36 watts each and had a colour temperature of around 3200 Kelvin. They were the only lights we used to light up the scene. We did this because lighting people from above is not the most flattering lighting setup, which fit the grimy tone of the film, and this type of room would have these type of lights.

Since this type of lighting setup creates a very even look throughout the room, we added DIY skirts to each of the lights. By blocking the light from hitting every where, it now creates a vignette around our subjects. As they are standing directly below the light, and the walls are not being hit with as much intensity as our subject. To help bounce more light downwards we painted the inside of the skirts white.


Our white balance on the camera was set to Fluorescent Warm White, the tube lights had a green tint to them so we adjusted the colour gamut in our white balance setting to take away the green tint, and make sure the whites were white.

In the final grade we did add some of this green tint back into the final image, but because we had strong colours coming from the walls and one of our characters costumes, it was important to shoot everything as clean as possible.

Sony A7S Picture Profiles

By only using the ceiling strip lights it allowed us to move quickly whilst shooting as we did not had to change the lighting setup after each shot. The only lighting change we made on the day was to either add a little bit of bounce light to bring up the dark shadows of the costumes and under our actors chin.


Also, we had to flag the light from hitting one of ours characters bright shiny costume as it become overexposed when shooting at different angles in the room.


This was the only exterior scene in our film and it was at night. By using a Sony A7s we did not have to worry about our ISO being too high and creating noise, but we still needed to light the scene. We chose a car park which had floodlights which we could use to light the scene.

The tracking shot was filmed by our friend who is a wicked glide-cam operator, and to light this shot we simply boomed a 160 LED other head whilst he was walking. We placed a Aputure HR672c LED panel in the back seat so when the car door opened and used the remote which comes with the light to turn it on, simulating the in car light.

Just as we were setting up for the next shot in this scene which was a over the shoulder shot of our character whilst people walked passed, the floods light in the car park went off. At this point we only had two shots left to shoot for the entire film, we had a prop car, and extra cast members, so we had to find a way to shoot the last two shots.

The over the shoulder shot shows the rest of the car park which is now in darkness, but luckily we had 4 cars so we turned on everyone's car lights to light up the car park.


The final scene of the film was set behind the backstage curtain. On the other side of the curtain would be a wrestling ring and the crowd. We could not afford to show this so we faked it with sound. The location we shot this scene already had large blackout curtains, and we just needed to block up the other walls with more of the black backdrops.

Backstage Curtain Setup.jpg

For the main angle in this scene we used the Aputure HR672c LED set to 5500K as a key light for our subjects, and we also used disco lights which would be used at an event like this. When speaking to our 1st AC Rob before the shoot he said he already had a set of disco lights we could us, and the definitely helped to set the scene.

We did not use many lights in this film, and in our main scene we only used what was already in the room. For us finding this main location with everything we needed saved us time when shooting, but also saved us money as we did not need to buy or rent any lights.

So for the next film you make think about how you will light your scene with the things you currently have access to, you already might have what you need to make your film.

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