Filmmaking involves incorporation of different elements to transform the story script to a live story on the screen. Among the technical elements — sound, lighting and editing — lighting has a special role. In the theatre the audience sees the motion picture accompanied by the synchronized sound track. All visual impressions on the viewer depend on proper lighting arrangements.
Although one can choose from among a variety of lighting kits available in the market, but with some basic understanding, you can also assemble a working light kit using some commonly available and affordable components. From you local hardware store you can buy lights with metallic reflectors that are used in repair workshops. These can be hung anywhere using the attached clips and easily moved. You can use bulbs of desired wattage and color in them.
The other very useful item is extension cords; you must have a good stock of them. You need them almost everywhere but most particularly for lighting. You may also like to have an adjustable, say 3-leg, stand. These may be used to mount lights using clips or for light diffusers. Having a white board to balance white light while filming will be another useful thing to do. These can also be used as reflectors to bounce light on some object.
The final item in your tool kit will be a light diffuser. It is some sort of thin white see-through material. You shine light on this material from one side and the diffused, or shall we say, “spread”, light comes from the other side and shine the object. With this technique the object does not appear too bright or “hot”.
You must keep in mind that light is not always white and it has different colors. Normally you discover it when you begin to use the camera. For instance, if you shoot at night in a room that has tungsten bulbs light, your film will have yellowish tint. Likewise, fluorescent light gives greenish cast. If you are shooting outdoors, the light effect will be blue, particularly if you are shooting in a shade.
If you want an impressive natural light effect, shoot just when the sun is about to set. The light at this time gives a wonderful Carmel colored glow. However, you only have few minutes to complete your shot before the sun sets. Still, if you are smart and keep everything ready, you can take great shots. You may want to use this time for your filming activities, particularly during late part of the spring or in summer months of the year.
You may also like to learn the basic 3 point standard lighting set up which is the standard technique employed by professional camera man and photographers. As the name suggests, you use three lights for different purposes: the first or main light shines the object; the second light erases the shadow of the first light; and a third light is used behind the object for adding dimension on the the object. You adjust the lights until you get the desired result you want. This basic three-point light technique is used extensively in different variations. So, you may want to practice with this technique and see for yourself how it works.
Natural light is always better. Keep in mind that light at noon is a bit too harsh and causes shadows under the nose and eyes of the object giving them appearance of being tired. To offset this undesirable effect, you will need to set up lights on the ground down below. But then it creates another undesirable effect — ghostlike appearances used in suspense movies which is something that you may not want in your shot.
Well, this is just a pep talk on importance of lighting in the filmmaking. Better enlighten yourself on lighting by taking some production classes to get hands on training.