Practical Lighting

Is it dark in here to you? Wait! It’s because all of the light is shining on you! Or at least your talent…

Practical Lighting

Implementing practical light into various layers of a composition can help filmmakers create dynamic indoor lighting. Why is this important? Because it emphasizes the three-dimensional space of the scene.

Practical light sources are lights that are visible within the frame of a shot, but also light the scene itself. Different light sources vary in color temperature and overall brightness. When working with several artificial light sources, you need to be aware of the complications of balancing a practical lighting setup.

Typically, you want to utilize practical lights by blending them into ambient lighting. Depending on the environment, light can bounce around very differently. This gives DPs less control of their setup and requires a lot of manipulation to get a perfect balance.

Some spaces have higher ceilings with lots of lights. This requires the DP to try and match them by adding filters or even changing the color temperature.

Here are some tips on how to manipulate practical lighting:

  • Start by diffusing artificial light sources to make them soft, but not cause shadows.
  • Dimmers are a great tool to have in your kit for diffusing lights (such as lamps) that are too bright.
  • Keep in mind, if you dim a light source too much, it can change the color temperature of the light — Scrims are an effective tool to prevent this from happening!

Want to remove any lights that are too distracting or they cannot be balanced into the scene itself?

  • Lights from certain emergency lights cannot be turned off, so you can black wrap them remove them from the scene.
  • If particular lights make the background look too flat, you can black wrap with holes stabbed into it for more interesting light that adds texture and creates an appealing environment.
  • Once the lights have been properly blended and balanced, add additional lights to light your subject as desired.


Not sure how to implement practical lighting for your film production needs?   Talk to our team! They’re more than happy to help.


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