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3 Ways to Light a Room for Different Times of Day

Robbie Janney

Having trouble lighting a studio set to mimic natural light? Here are a few tips to help you get that look with 3 particular set-ups.

All images via Cinematography Database.

Learning how to mimic different natural light sources on an internal set is a essential technique for any filmmaker. Even though natural light is hard to beat, sometimes your shooting schedule forces you to adjust and adapt on a studio set. In this Cinematography Database video, you’ll learn a few ways to create light spaces for three different times of day: day interior, golden hour interior, and night interior.

Ambient Light

3 Ways to Light a Room for Different Times of Day — Ambient Light

For all three lighting styles, the backlight comes from direct light reflected off of a 4×8 bead board on a risen C-stand. This creates a very soft ambience that fills the room and melds all of the other lights together, creating an atmosphere that resembles wall-reflected natural light.

Day Interior

3 Ways to Light a Room for Different Times of Day — Day Interior

Since natural daylight has such a distinct texture, the interior day lighting set-up is one of the hardest to pull off. In this configuration, a LED blasts through the windows to mimic sunlight and its harsh shadows. For the actor’s key light, a powerful LED past a sheet of bleached muslin diffuses and softens the light. In the example above, the daylight they have created looks a bit more like cloudy daylight, so if you want a warmer aesthetic, just lower your color temperature to about 3,000K.

Night Interior

3 Ways to Light a Room for Different Times of Day — Night Interior

In a night scene, most of the time you cannot rely on just “moonlight” to outfit the room. In this scene, the filmmaker has beamed in a LED light through the window to mimic the moonlight, but the key is coming from a tungsten light through a sheet of bleached muslin on the right side of the subject’s face. With the addition of the lamp on his right side, this now looks like diegetic lamplight illuminating his body.

Golden Hour Interior

3 Ways to Light a Room for Different Times of Day — Golden Hour Interior

Golden hour can provide some amazing light textures for your shot since you have the sun coming in at such a low angle. As you can see above, a direct tungsten key light is shining onto the subject, providing some awesome warm light that creates cinematic shadows on the left side of her face. Some colder back light also drops in from the top to contrast with the warm light and simulate blue sky light.

if you are looking for more resources on lighting your set, take a look at these articles:


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