Lights for Filmmaking

In this filmmaking class, Karl introduces you to the many different lights you can use when shooting video, as well as the modifiers and props you can use to adapt them.

After describing the difference between directional and diffused light, he explains why continuous lighting is essential for video work. He then looks at various lights, from small LED panels to large HMI lights. Some of the modifiers he looks at include parabolic umbrellas, Fresnel lenses, and diffusion material.

In this class:

  • Lighting for filmmaking and videography
  • Directional vs diffused light
  • Continuous vs flash lighting
  • LED, tungsten and HMI lights

To learn more about controlling, balancing and optimising colour temperature for filmmaking, check out Colour Temperature in Filmmaking.

For more classes on how to control light effectively, explore our Lighting section.


  1. Gary Stasiuk

    I’ve starting putting together camera accessories to push my existing stills work into high quality video capabilities. I’ve used nikon for years, and I have added a mirrorless full frame for up to 120 fps.. I also have a 100 megapixel which I am using for my product work, which also has video capabilities. I’m looking very seriously at lights now. I have an old set of halogen lights, which in the past I have used for art documentation. They might still be useful, however I need to run some tests. I’ve been looking at LED, trying to get up to speed at where I need to go. I have a few questions.. so many in fact, I was going to suggest you consider making more lighting for video segments like this example. I’ve watched snippets where product photographers are in studio filming and it seems that the LED or HMI lights are extremely bright. More so than for a regular scene. I plan to shoot high speed macro shots of products and liquids. My impression, rightly or wrongly, seems to suggest they are pushing a ton of light to achieve DOF and clarity. I would love to see a class on this type of situation. There must be specific challenges to overcome that I’m unaware of.. that certainly could affect my light buying choices. I also have another scenario which likely will happen.. on location, an interior, a small group of people directed to have fun drinking. I need to light the people, but also I need the room to look amazing. So focus on the people and activities but like a bar, the background is out of focus, but plays an intricate part of the ambience. I would love to see a class on that type of scenario. Unlike still lighting setups, the continuous aspect, in my mind, adds some complexity and I’m wondering if the approach shifts in some manner from still lighting approaches. I would love to see more practical scenarios dealing with lighting for video.. and camera handling scenarios as well, as they go hand in hand. Walking a camera into, setting up a dolly scene, and on and on. I’ve spent 30 years thinking in terms of the best single view and moment, and now I need to think in terms of a motion segment over time. Honestly, it trips me up and can be challenging to wrap your head around.

    1. Hi Gary, a lot of what you mention will be covered in our forthcoming ‘Advanced Filmaking’ section. Aputure are also releasing a very powerful 1200 light soon for anything more powerful you need to rent something like an Arri 2400 HMI which will be featured in the advanced section soon.

  2. Gary Stasiuk

    I’m curious about a type of modifier I don’t see you ever using in the studio (for good reason.. you have shown us ambient fill techniques) .. the lantern modifier. I think it is fairly specific to video shoots in spaces.. largish spaces.. where you need to fill with soft light. Myself, I am a little dubious concerning them.. it seems uncontrolled as it literally goes everywhere, but I suppose it has a purpose or situation. I think I saw a snippet of one being used in the real estate shoot. Curious if a shoot through umbrella more or less performs the same task. Your thoughts?

    1. Hi Gary, actually lantern lights can work really well for creating a ‘holistic’ light but still with an identifiable directional source. I think they would be better than an umbrella as the light that is emitted is even on all sides and directions, making them especially useful for interiors but still having a feeling of direction. A shoot through umbrella would give you directional light but the light bounced out of it at the back would be much weaker than the front so the directional bias would be stronger.

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