Filmmaking Tips: How to Create Dramatic Lighting
Dramatic lighting doesn’t require expensive equipment and complicated setups. Learn how you can easily create an impressive low-light scene.
There are many ways you can tell a story with dramatic lighting. In this video tutorial, we take a look at several different approaches to help you decide which will work best for your project. Let’s go setup by setup and learn how to create a beautiful composition.
In our initial shot, the only available light is the tungsten ceiling light. Obviously, this light is not good. In order to create great lighting, you need to be able to control the light. Since we are going for a dramatic low-light look, be sure to turn off any light that is spilling all over your shot.
I find the best way to light your scene is by defining where your light is coming from — or “motivating” the light. I added a practical lamp that will provide a source for the light in the scene and how we will shape it.
Control Your Light Sources
A good cinematographer makes sure that important elements don’t get blown out. We put a light dimmer on the lamp here to control the exposure.
Enhance Your Light
Since we dimmed the lamp, we lost a lot of the light directed at our subject. So, to add a defined key light, we set an LED panel behind the lamp out of frame left. This added more light back onto our subject, making her stand out from the background.
Creating Lighting Depth
In large rooms, it’s easy to create lighting depth. However, in small spaces, the best way to develop contrast with your lighting, is to create shadows. You can purchase a professional shadow kit or you can create a DIY 4’x4′ PVC frame and use solid tape. Then simply shine light through your cucoloris.
More Than One Way To Create Dramatic Lighting
The examples in our tutorial are just a few ways you can create a dramatic low-light scene. Make sure your lighting helps tell your story, and if you can, always motivate your light from a practical source.
Need More Help with Lighting?
Here are a few lighting-based video tutorials that can help.