Behind the Lens: Lighting

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Penned by Studio Director Dylan Melcher, our new blog series, Behind the Lens, shares what happens behind the scenes at Dunn Studios and provides a fresh look into the world of production.

There are many factors that should be considered when determining how to present the lighting of a scene: the softness, the harshness, the size of the source, kelvin temperature, direction, diffusion, angle, flood etc. But most importantly — and this is what all photographers and filmmakers chase — is the quality of the light. 

I’ve always approached the creation of high-quality light with this in mind, “make it big and then break it down.” My go-to method is the book light. Essentially, the goal is to have a big light source that is pointed directly at a bounce, then diffuse that bounced light with a silk or grid. The term ‘book’ comes from the idea that you can open and close this system to change the softness of the light. During our most recent production, which consisted of capturing 8 highly-stylized recipe videos plus still images, we wanted to create a soft light source that was so good it was invisible to the viewer.  For this production, we rented 2 Arri Skypanels from Sunwolf Lighting and Grip. The Skypanels themselves are soft, but I went the extra step in bouncing them into a white foam core board, then diffusing with a white silk. The effects of this system creates beautiful light. 

Lighting is the key element to every great story. More often than not, light is a distracting force that pulls the viewer out of the magic trick — yes, filmmaking is a magic trick unfolding right in front of your eyes.

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*Arri Skypanels set to full power, 5600 kelvin, no color correction. These LEDs create beautiful light with no heat while drawing minimal power. 

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*Notice the overview of the set. The light source was set high, with a 45 degree angle coming from the top left of the frame. We shot this with the Arri Alexa Mini camera mounted on a Super Salon.  Most frames were captured with a XEEN 50mm

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*We use the Small HD 1703 production monitor for onset video village. This monitor has so many great settings that allow you to really capture a solid image. 

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*We use a wireless RedRock Micro focusing system. This gives us flexibility when directing a scene. We have freedom to move around the frame and ensure that the main subject is in focus. 

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*A shout out to everyone who made this shoot successful — thank you! It takes a lot of time, effort and collaboration to pull something off like this.