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How to Light a Commercial the Patrick O’Sullivan Way

Jonny Elwyn

One of the hallmarks of great creatives is their willingness to share their skills. Learn how to light a commercial with DP Patrick O’Sullivan.

Top image from Pitch Engine

The industry has always evolved by those further ahead teaching those just starting out. There used to be the time and money for apprenticeships, and to a certain extent they still happen, but more and more online resources can teach you what a real life apprenticeship might. On his training site, WanderingDP.comDirector of Photography Patrick O’Sullivan shares a treasure trove of information.

For example, this page is excellent for newer cinematographers, camera men and colorists looking to fully understand what lighting ratios are and how to track and adjust them for creative reasonsAnother incredible resource on the site is Patrick’s astoundingly detailed six part masterclass series, How to Light a Commercial.

How To Light A Commercial

In this series of blog posts and detailed shot breakdowns, Patrick shares his lighting diagrams, thought processes, creative reasoning, on-set trouble shooting, and collaborative workflow required to capture each shot.

The videos are a brilliant mix of theory and application. For example, the concept of creating a nice key to fill ratio to give the shot an interesting look, while balancing the needs of VFX, story telling, practical restrictions and more.

Be sure to head over to the blog post that contains a lot more detail than just the video, including the camera, lens, ISO, color temperature, filtration, etc. used on each shot in the series. Another important takeaway is all the work that goes into the shoot before the shoot. The payoff of the pre-production work of a tech scout, creative references, shoot scheduling, and final color correction are obvious in Patrick’s breakdown. This kind of wisdom only comes from experience and careful study. A great resource for young and hungry filmmakers!

Here are parts two and three of the series, focusing on the sequence of shots in the doorway. Be sure to visit O’Sullivan’s site and watch the rest of the videos. They’re a fantastic source of information.

Here are a few more PremiumBeat articles that touch on the ins and out of lighting:

Got any lighting tips for your fellow filmmakers and videographers? Please share them in the comment section below!