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Outdoor Lighting and Day for Night Lighting Techniques

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    Solutions to outdoor lighting for video problems encountered on a sunny day. Also the secret to shooting in the middle of the day and making it appear to be the middle of the night.

    Video Transcript

    [Music Playing]

    Lighting outdoors can be a tad bit more difficult than lighting inside of a studio, but you can control the elements with a little bit of practice and create the same type of lighting environment outside. This time around, we’re gonna take a look at, first, controlling the sun and being able to work with it on your video shoots. Then, we’re gonna take a look at creating a studio lighting environment outside. And, lastly, we’re gonna look at a process called DFN, which is shooting during the daylight to create a very nighttime environment. I’m Tom Skowronski and this is outdoor lighting.

    If you look at Julie’s face right now, you can see that she’s very overexposed and the sunlight is very harsh on her face right now. It’s very hot out here. This is one of the big problems we have in dealing with the sun. The simple solution here is to change our location. If we were to turn around the angle of our camera and have our cameraman’s back face the sun, Julie would no longer be in such a harsh environment and the sun will be working more as a key light for her instead of a harsh backlight.

    Now, that we’ve moved the position of our camera, you can see that Julie’s face is looking a little bit more natural. It’s not so overexposed and our sun, we’re actually utilizing as a key light, just as if this is a studio environment.

    Solution number two is gonna be to move Julie under a tree and hide that sun so that we have more shade concealing her and we don’t have such harsh light. As you can see with the sunlight behind the trees up there and the branches, it’s essentially being diffused, almost like we have a diffuser inside of a studio and we’re basically creating a much more natural and much more controlled lighting situation for Julie outside. By taking the sunlight out of the equation with the use of the branches and the tree and changing our location, we’ve now created a lower contrast lighting scheme.

    To add even more detail to Julie’s face and be able to control the shadows even more, we’re gonna create more of a studio lighting environment outdoors. One of the more common setups for this type of studio lighting environment outdoors is the use of the sun as a backlight. This is where you’re gonna position your subject that you’re filming with their back to the sun.

    So, now, it’s time to introduce our second light into the equation, which is gonna be our key light. We’re using a simple car reflector and when I catch the light and beam it off of Julie’s face, you can see that those shadows, once again, without the reflector – with the reflector – it’s clear up on her face.

    So, now that we have our second light set up, it’s time to introduce our third light, this nice piece of poster board, and it’s gonna act as our fill light by bouncing the light from the sun onto Julie’s face. With the aid of our key light, we have a full studio lighting environment.

    [Music Playing]

    The second setup you can look at when using the sun is actually putting the subject in front of the sun with the sun directly behind the cameraman. Now, this is gonna make the sun your key light and then all you’re really gonna need to do is fill in those shadows that are gonna come from that harsh lighting scheme.

    Step number two in this lighting scheme is gonna be to take our poster board and simply bring it over to Julie’s face. If you notice, those shadows go right away. Once again, without the poster board and with the poster board. You see how she gets lit up right away? That’s basically this board catching the sun and illuminating her face by bouncing the light.

    When you’re shooting during the day to try to capture the nighttime look and feel, the first thing you need to do is hide the sky and how you do this is by moving away from sun and into a very shaded area.

    The second step in this process is to sell the effect. You have to make it very believable. That means wearing a jacket at night. We’re gonna stay in our Video Maker costumes ‘cause it’s really hot here in California, but for those of you at home, you’re gonna wanna wear something that’s a little bit warmer, that sells that effect, that you’re in the middle of the night and you guys are running around being sneaky.

    Step number three of this process is tricking your camera to think that you’re actually shooting at night and you’re gonna do this by two ways, the first of which is by lowering your exposure about one or two stops lower than it’s normally set out during the day. The second part of tricking the camera is taking something that’s a little bit warmer in color, such as this manila envelope, and white balancing your camera with it. You can also try taking a blue lighting gel and putting it over the hood of your camera. Sometimes, the problem with this is things end up too blue and they’re not dark enough, and the effect isn’t sold nearly as well.

    With use of some simple practicals, you can help sell this effect even more. That’s the last step in this process – whoa, are you alright?

     Yeah, I am. [Crosstalk].

     Maybe you should use the flashlight.


     It’s so dark out here, you can’t even see anything, can you?


    You know, there might be zombies out here, so you should really be careful.


     Yeah, use the flashlight. See if you can find any.

    [Moaning Sound]

    [Music Playing]

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