We talk about lighting here on the blog quite a bit, but have yet to take you from beginning to end on what it takes to light a scene. So, welcome to the “Strokes of Light” blog post!

Recently, we shot and released an endorsement for our good friend Glen Robertson for Congress. This blog post ties into that post, so click here to see what it’s about!

We have a really funny thing that happens with basically every new client we pick up. It’s the same old, “So it will take what, 30 minutes to shoot this commercial?” To which we respond, “Uhhhhmmm, not quite, try somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 hours.” That’s an approximation, just because every job is incredibly different. We’ve shot commercials anywhere from 4 hours to 14 hours on the day of production. It all depends on the job. These new clients typically respond with “Why on earth would it take that long??” So, for all of you who are just as curious as they are, here’s the Strokes of Light blog post.

1K Tungsten Fresnel

1K Tungsten Fresnel

When we shoot, we don’t simply “plop” down a camera and hit record. There’s a tumultuous amount of work that ensues before that ever takes place. We’ll skip the pre production side of things right now and just focus on the day of production using our recent endorsement video as an example.

When we arrive on set (if we haven’t done a location scout), we first check out our shooting spaces to determine where the best set ups will take place and what lights in our arsenal will best suit our purposes. For this example, we used our parent’s basement. It’s essentially four bare, tan colored walls and a desk in the corner. So we had to figure out how to make it interesting. Our set design consisted of using the desk, a 1K tungsten open face fixture, a C stand, and a stack of milk crates holding our Black Magic Design pocket cinema camera and several lenses.

Now when we light a set, we light in strokes, somewhat similar to painting on a canvas. The different strokes of light all have a purpose. So we’ll start with the very first stroke, the Key light. The key light is our main source of light that highlights the subject’s face. This particular key light was an open face 1K tungsten fixture blasting through an 8’x8′ half soft frost diffusion. This takes the harshness of the light down to a manageable level and allows for the light to wrap around the face a little more taking away hard shadows.

Key light and fill light

Key light and fill light

Next in our strokes of light is the fill light. The fill, helps “fill” the shadows on the face. Our fill in this case was a 650w tungsten fresnel fixture shooting into a circular bounce card right above camera for a frontal fill of the facial shadows. After the fill light comes the back light which was a 1×1 Daylight balanced LED panel which is inspired by the computer monitor in the back right corner of the shot.

Hair Light

Hair Light

Now that our subject is lit to our liking, our next step is to start painting this rather boring room with different strokes of light. Our next set light is going to highlight the lenses and camera in the back left side of the frame. It’s a 650w tungsten fresnel fixture suspended, by C-Stand, about 4 feed above the top of the crates. The Barn doors on this light are closed down pretty far so light doesn’t spill onto the subject or the back wall. It’s just for highlighting that particular set piece. The final touch was to clip an orange gel (Rosco 220) in the barn doors to give the light a dark orange cast.

One of my personal favorite strokes of light is more of a set highlight in the terms that the light itself doesn’t light a particular thing in the set. This stroke is the glowing bulb inside the 1K tungsten set piece in the back. It just brings some nice warmth into the back of the frame. After that comes the coloring of the wall. This was a pretty cool rig. We took an 8′ piece of conduit and suspended it between 2 C-stands. We, then, took 3 different can light fixtures you can purchase at Wal-mart and wrapped them and clipped them to the conduit.

On the far left part of the frame, we had a 75w daylight balanced energy efficient bulb to bring some cooler tones into the shot. To the right of that, we had a 100w 2900k flood bulb blasting through a red gel. Finally, on that rig, we had the same fixture setting as the first daylight balanced bulb but on the other end which colors the wall with cooler tones and also top lights the glowing 1K tungsten fixture.

Orange Top light

Orange Top Light

To top off the set, we turned on the computer monitor to inspire the back light and turned on the practical desk lamp to add some light to the desk.

Here’s the Strokes of Light video to help show what each individual stroke does when it’s applied!

Now you can watch the final, delivered product.


We hope you enjoyed this “Strokes of Light” Blog post! If this kind of stuff (filmmaking, video production, creative storytelling) interests you, we hope you enjoy checking out the rest of our website. If you want to keep up to date with what we’ve got going for more of a day to day experience please head over to our Hamil Bros Facebook Page and click the LIKE button, follow our Hamil Bros Twitter, and our NEW Hamil Bros Instagram Account!  Also head over to Youtube and subscribe to the Hamil Bros Studios Channel!

Strokes of Light – Hamil Bros Studios – High quality video production, Lubbock, Texas


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