You don’t always have the luxury of filming in an area where there are windows. Sometimes you have to film on sets where there are no windows at all, but the project you are working on calls for some positive and upbeat window light.
How do you create window light on a set without any windows? Jay P. Morgan, from The Slanted Lens, has the answer with a step by step runthrough on how he was able to create window light without using any windows on one of his recent projects.
Morgan starts with 12 x 12 foot silk sheet that is transparent enough to let light pass through it. “This is a huge source,” says Morgan, “so a huge source is gonna see around the corners and it’s going to wrap into the shadows and give us a very open beautiful light.” Morgan goes on to say that he likes to use Fresnel lights because he can either focus them or make them more broad so it can fill the entire sheet of silk. He however likes to always place one light up front so you can give your actors a few more highlights. All these lights act as the key light
For the other side of the shot, Morgan brings in a 12 by 12 ultra bounce. The ultra bounce does what you think it would: bounces light. Light doesn’t pass through it like the silk sheet. The ultra bounce bounces light from the key lights and other lights and directs it to the shadows on the lopposite side of the set.
Morgan nexts checks his lighting floor, which is the amount of the light that already exists in the room. He wants all of the lights to be brought up equally when creating your light from scratch, so he says that he uses a wide aperture with daylight balanced lights to “open the entire room up” and give a small amount of highlights and shadows. After that, he adds a rim light to the back of his actors to make sure that they stand out from the background.
Lastly, he takes a very soft light and brings it in with every shot so he can get some highlights on his actors faces in each take.
Creating window light from scratch on a set can be hard, but if you follow Morgan’s advice, you’ll begin to figure out how it’s done and maybe even start to find other ways of creating window light that better fit your style.