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If you want to learn how to make a cinematic scene, first know that light is arguably the most important factor in your shot. When it comes down to it, cinematography and photography is the art of capturing those natural reflections in a pleasing and brilliant way.
Recently, Artlist created a great spot about composer Ian Post. The video focused the theme on his source of inspiration, experience in the world of composing and reactions to seeing his work in film projects worldwide. The production was both intriguing and visually powerful. Many filmmakers asked how to make a cinematic scene and how the lighting was done. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out below. You can also check out his royalty-free music on Artlist.
So, we caught up with Artlist filmmaker Liran Friedman to see how he set up the production.
Artlist: Thanks for taking the time to share some of your tricks with us. To start, can you tell me a little about what you do at Artlist?
Liran Friedman: No problem. I focus a lot on the creative marketing content and video promotions and work in collaboration with our filmmaker and YouTuber partners around the world. It is a dynamic and exciting time to be in filmmaking, and Artlist is at the cutting edge of a trend, so I have a lot of fun. Oh, and I drink quite a bit of coffee over at the Artlist studios. (laughs)
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AL: Haha. That sounds right. Good lighting and good coffee make great film. So please, tell us a bit about how you created the cinematic look of the Ian Post video using your light setup. What was the first step?
LF: Well, the process doesn’t begin with choosing your equipment but rather with an idea about how the piece is supposed to look according to the content your subject is expressing. I started by sitting down with Ian to get a feel about what he was about. I knew his music, but I wanted to capture the emotional side of his creative work. That is where the impact truly is.
He is such an engaging and passionate guy that it didn’t take long to visualize exactly how I thought this piece should look. The next step was deciding on the gear to make it happen.
I want to emphasize the point, that you don’t need the same pieces of gear we are using. Most of the effects can be created with very simple and inexpensive items.
AL: Do you ever let the limitations of your gear dictate the feel that you choose?
LF: Good question. Not many people have unlimited budgets, resources and equipment but that shouldn’t influence your creativity and never limit your ideas. I visualize the shot and figure out how to make it happen. 99.9% of the time you can do it. Many of the times you can play around with the available natural light to make your shot look cinematic without any equipment at all.
AL: So, in a word, what was your vision?
LF: Exposed. Ian is a world-class composer with a long and established career in writing and performing film scores. And since the score is the soul of a film, I wanted to see where he found the inspiration and how he feels when he sees his music put together with someone else’s vision on film. That’s pretty personal stuff. Ian was awesome and honest. I had to capture that same feel visually.
AL: Now the technical questions. What did you use and why?
LF: For the red backdrop setup, we used the Arri SkyPanel S60C. It’s a great LED light, one of the best on the market and that lets you control the hue and saturation. You can get a similar effect with a simple LED light and gel. The red backdrop just made it feel intimate and up close.
Another factor was that we projected the light onto a grey wall behind Ian. Grey is a wonderful color to project light onto because it doesn’t make a glaring reflection like white or absorb all of your colors like black.
For focused light on Ian, we used the 3200K Kino Flo. I love this light because of its warmth. You can create a spotlight focus without making anything harsh. This made the scene feel more personal.
That final piece of gear was the haze machine. We used the Antari HZ-100. This is really a great way to diffuse the light from your overall setup and make that rich, cinematic look.
In the second scene, we used the Kino Flo and Arri SkyPanel and added a third light – Westcott Flex with a large diffuser to light up Ian’s face. We put the light very close to Ian to separate him from the background. The diffuser created a nice soft light which fell beautifully on Ian’s face and added a cool eye-shine. The Kino Flo was used for the hair light and it gave a really nice color contrast to the Westcott which is a 5600K light.
To provide the atmosphere we used the Arri SkyPanel with a green shade. It looked great as it reflected off the drumset behind Ian and gave that live performance type of feel. It also created a “stand-out” effect for that scene against the rest of the film and it really worked nicely in contrast to the yellow couch Ian was sitting on. We also used the Haze machine. It just warms up everything.
So, that is what we used for the lighting setup in the video and I was very happy with the results.
AL: It looked great for sure. Thanks for sharing Liran and please come back again to talk with us about your future projects.
LF: I wouldn’t miss it. Thanks for having me.