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Cinematography Tip: Use Mirrors to Light Your Scene

Noam Kroll

Filmmakers with limited budgets can often benefit from using mirror kits on set. This cinematography tip will help you maintain production value while keeping costs to a minimum.

Top image via Christian Berger 

Producing an ultra-low-budget film is an extreme challenge, one that forces filmmakers with limited funds and resources to look for out-of-the-box solutions to keep their finances in check. Often, a disproportionate amount of money is spent on camera department and lighting rentals, meaning there’s less to go around for other critical elements such as art department, cast, locations, etc.

That said, there are certainly methods for keeping your costs down in the camera/lighting department, one of which involves replacing your lighting kit with reflectors, or a mirror-based lighting kit.

Cinematography Tip: Use Mirrors to Light Your Scene: KFLECT KITImage via KFLECT

We’ve all used mirror boards, bounces, and other reflective surfaces to help add some light to our scenes, but few of us have exclusively used reflective lighting kits to replace our traditional film lights, even though it’s a viable option. A number of companies have now started to produce mirror kits. Along with the Cine Reflect Lighting System, there’s the KFLECT kit, which is one of the more popular options.

The principle behind all of these kits is quite simple: a series of mirrors are designed to strategically bounce light back and forth to each other, and eventually on to the subject, allowing for minimal film lights to be used. In most cases only a single light will be used, which is directed at one of the mirrors and then bounced around to the other reflectors as needed to light the scene.

cine reflect in actionThe Cine Reflect Lighting System in action via Christian Berger

Amazingly enough, these kits can turn your single light source into dozens (or more) of sources — In the case of the KFLECT system, you effectively can have up to seventeen sources from one light.

These kits are fantastic not only because they can save you money, but for a number of other reasons too. For instance, their small footprint allows you to use them in spaces that you otherwise might not be able to rig up a light. Plus, they’re far easier (and faster) to set up and tear down. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about color temperature issues between mixed lighting sources, since all of your lights are essentially coming from the exact same source.

Whether you want to save money, space, or are just looking for a more portable solution to add to your existing lighting kit, a mirror system is an excellent option to consider. Check out this video below from Bob Gundu as he reviews the KFLECT kit:

Do you have any experience working with mirror kits? Share your thoughts in the comments below.