Lighting for documentaries

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Lighting for documentaries
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If you want to film well crafted sequences and interviews for documentary, then you need to understand how to light your subjects well.

I've been working in documentary and specialist factual, drama and commercials for over 30 years and I've encountered many different scenarios, all of which needed lighting. And lighting can range from simply using available light or a single fill light, to having a generator, gaffer, crew and 20 or more lighting units, and everything in between.


I've learned that almost all set ups have the same basic techniques in common and once you understand what these are, you can be confident to tackle most situations.


So, in this tutorial, I'll teach you some simple, basic techniques that you can use almost anywhere and put into practice immediately.

Using photographs, diagrams and clips from documentaries I've filmed, I'll talk through specific lighting setups, where the lights were placed and how each scene was achieved.

At the end of this class you'll come away with a much deeper understanding of lighting, some top tips and new skills that you can use straight away.

What you'll learn:

  • How to see and understand light
  • Using hard & soft lighting units
  • How to control and shape your light
  • How to use colour temperature to your advantage
  • How to light a documentary scene
  • How to light an interview
  • Which lights to use & where to place them
  • Dealing with reflections
  • How to analyse a scene and reproduce it for your own set ups

About your tutor

Eric has over 30 years experience as a documentary lighting cameraman in broadcast television. working frequently for the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian and many independent production companies as well as a host of business clients including BT, Lloyds, Goldman Sachs, Orange, Volvo and Mitsubishi.

Recent credits include:

  • BBC "Green Planet" with David Attenborough
  • BBC "Attenborough and the Giant Elephant"
  • Lion TV "History of the Mongol Empire
  • BBC "Animal Impossible"

He has worked with all types of camera from Super 16mm and DSLRs to Alexas and RED Helium

Eric is also a Screenskills approved mentor.