It may be challenging to have outdoor filmmaking, especially when you need to manage the lighting. You must deal with varying weather, changing sunshine, and undesirable shadows. However, if you choose and use outdoor film lighting equipment properly, you can enhance the film lighting and create amazing shots. In this article, we will tell you how to choose the best light source, what other lighting equipment you will need, and how to make the most of them to create perfect outdoor film lighting.
What lights for filming outdoors in natural light: 3 factors to consider
Natural daylight is generally favored in outside filmmaking because it creates a more real and true image. However, it is not always available and you need artificial filming lights to supplement it, especially in low-light and dark scenarios. To choose the best lighting for filming outdoors, you need to consider the following three factors.
Accurate color reproduction: The key to precise emotional expression in filmmaking
Accurate color reproduction plays a vital role in outdoor filmmaking since it directly affects the visual quality and emotional expression of the recorded scenes. The inclusion of even a small tint of green or magenta can deform the planned colors and weaken the genuineness of the visuals. Outdoor locations are especially infamous for experiencing green and magenta tints due to the intricate interaction between natural and artificial light sources.
In this way, a fixture with a high CRI, 90 and above, is the top choice in outdoor film lighting equipment. The higher the CRI value, the more naturally it can reproduce the color of the subject and the scene as they appear under natural lighting. It is even better to have the one with a color balance function. For example, the COLBOR CL330 features a 97+ CRI to render colors accurately and a Red/Green Color Balance to avoid color tints. The Red/Green Color Balance feature serves to make slight modifications to the Duv value of the CL330, thereby customizing the color rendering to align with your existing light sources. This adjustment ensures consistent color across all lighting conditions, which is crucial for accurate white balancing during post-production.
Lightweight and compact: It is essential to outdoor film lighting
When filming in outdoor environments, it is essential to prioritize mobility and quick setup. Heavy and bulky lighting equipment can hinder creativity and restrict the ability to capture spontaneous moments. Filming LED lights are widely utilized in outdoor filming due to their mobility and power efficiency. They enable filmmakers to augment or manipulate natural light, particularly in low-light conditions or while filming at night.
Compatibility with modifiers: It adds creativity to outdoor filmmaking
In cinematography, lighting is more than just illuminating a scene; it also shapes the story, mood, and emotion. The flexibility to vary between soft, harsh, and directional lighting is a creative tool that can elevate a simple scene to dramatic perfection. This requires a wide compatibility with light modifiers and filming gears. The CL330, for example, is an ideal choice. It comes with a Bowens mount to attach to most modifiers and NATO grooves to receive various NATO accessories.
What other outdoor film lighting equipment is needed?
The lighting equipment for filming outside may vary based on the specific requirements of the film. However, there are some common equipment that are useful in most scenarios.
Reflectors: Reflectors are crucial for directing natural sunshine. They reflect sunshine onto the subject, filling in shadows and creating more equal illumination. They are available in a variety of sizes, colors, and materials to create distinct lighting effects.
Diffusion Panels: These panels soften harsh sunlight by dispersing and lowering its intensity. Diffusion panels come in a variety of materials, including silk and transparent fabric, and can be fixed on frames or carried by crew members.
Grip Equipment: Grip equipment consists of stands, clamps, sandbags, and other items for securing and positioning lighting equipment. Sturdy stands are essential for outdoor safety, especially in windy and rough terrain.
Battery Packs/Generators: Because outdoor areas may not have access to electrical outlets, battery packs or generators are required to power lighting sources.
Gels and Filters: Gels and filters are used to change the color temperature or to provide certain lighting effects. They may be used with artificial or natural light sources to get the desired effect.
Remember that the outdoor film lighting kit may vary depending on the intended aesthetic, time of day, weather conditions, and production vision. It is critical to plan and react properly to guarantee adequate illumination in outdoor environments.
How to film outside in natural light: 6 steps to follow for novice filmmakers
Getting outdoor film lighting equipment is the first step to high quality outcomes. If you are a novice filmmaker and just start with a short film, you can follow the steps below to complete your work.
Step 1: Assess the outdoor environment to decide what film lighting equipment to use
Before you pick your lighting equipment, you should consider the place where you will be filming. What time of day do you film? What direction does the sun face? How much shading and contrast are there? These factors influence the quality and intensity of natural sunshine, as well as the amount of artificial lighting required to balance it. A light meter is a good tool for you to measure the scene’s exposure and dynamic range. You can also use a smartphone app and the histogram on your camera.
Step 2: Use reflectors and diffusers to modify outdoor filming lighting
Reflectors and diffusers are some of the easiest and most efficient methods to modify natural light. Reflectors are shining surfaces that reflect light back onto your subject, filling up shadows and resulting in a softer appearance. Diffusers are transparent materials that filter light, lowering its harshness and glare. You can modify the lighting direction, color, and quality with both reflectors and diffusers. They come in a variety of forms, sizes, and colors, and may be held by hand or mounted on a stand.
Step 3: Add fill and rim lights to complement natural light in outdoor filming
Natural light may not always be sufficient to light up your subject or provide the proper atmosphere. In that situation, you may need outdoor film lighting equipment to complement natural light. Fill lights are used to balance exposure and fill in shadows, which are often in low intensity. High-intensity lights called rim lights are used to isolate your subject from the background by producing a halo effect around their edges. LED panels, umbrellas, or softboxes are all good choices to serve as fill and rim lights. And which to choose depends on your target effect.
Step 4: Use flags and nets to create depth and contrast
Flags and nets are another option for modifying natural light. Flags are opaque materials that block light, resulting in shadows and contrast. Nets are semi-transparent fabrics that suppress light, resulting in a darker tone. You may use flags and nets to shape the outdoor film lighting, provide depth, and call attention to your subject. They also come in a variety of forms, sizes, and colors, and may be held in your hand or mounted on stands.
Step 5: Adjust the white balance
Changing the white balance is the last step to maximizing the natural light. The option that controls how your camera perceives the light's color temperature, which might range from warm to cool, is called white balance. The color tone of your films might change based on the weather, time of day, and season. Using a white sheet or gray card, you may manually adjust the white balance, or you can utilize the presets on your camera, which include sunny, cloudy, and shaded settings.
Step 6: Experiment and have fun with outdoor film lighting equipment
When filming outdoors, natural light can be both an ally and an opponent. However, with the proper lighting equipment, you can use it to your advantage and produce stunning images. The goal is to explore and have fun with the many possibilities and combinations to see what works best for your story and vision. Remember, there is no one correct way to light a scene, just your way.