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DIY Lighting


I am tired of people telling me that they can't do something because they don't have the money to invest in good gear. Get the notion that you need expensive stuff to get high quality footage out of your head. It simply isn't true. Cameras, lighting, and lighting modifiers are expensive, yes. Do you need them? No. Especially in the lighting and lighting modifiers category. It is incredibly easy to build your own lighting stuff. And like yeah, I own a $5,000 light kit, but the light kit I use the most is comprised of some $100 LED light I got on Amazon, and some $10 can lights from a hardware store. If your footage looks bad, chances are its because of the lighting, it's not your camera. And that's probably why you're here, you want to learn how to make DIY light kits, so lets begin.

There are hundreds of videos on

the internet about how to build your own lights. My personal favorite way is just taking apart an old lamp and adding in a fat LED bulb. The reason that's a popular option is because LED lights draw less power than standard incandescent bulbs. A 100w incandescent bulb outputs about the same amount of light as a 20w LED. That means if you used a 100w LED bulb, you would get about 5x the light. More power = more light.

Now lamps are a little hard to control. It's hard to get them to shoot off in a specific direction, it's hard to control them with nets and diffusion, or even with gels. You might want a more controlled light. A more "directional" light. Now, there are tons of different options depending on budget, but the first thing you're going to need are stands. Film riot does one of the better DIY light stand tutorials out there. There are definitely plenty to choose from, but I recommend this one, since it is adjustable.

Another good option I recommend is a tutorial that they showed us in school, this Full Sail University video on how to make your own DIY Lighting kit.

The stands aren't necessarily the best, but it's a simple light kit with great results. It also introduces some DIY lighting modifiers, like using pantyhose as a scrim, and T-shirts as flags and bounces. I also think his explanation on using daylight balanced bulbs outside and tungsten balanced bulbs inside is BS. Do whatever you want.


Moving on to more complex lights, a good starting point would be Griffin Hammond (from Indy Mogul)'s design. Although it was made in 2012, using LEDs can improve the output even more. It's directional, it's easy, it's cheap. He also expands upon the concept that it's probably your lighting that makes bad footage look bad.

For $86, though, you could also look at other pre-made lights on the internet. My praise goes to the fact that you can swap out the bulbs for different color temperature lights to get the best of both worlds. I also like the barn doors and umbrella mounting options.

But now I want to introduce you to the king of DIY lighting. DIY Perks. Now there are all sorts of kinds of lights that he makes. He typically deals with LED's. My favorite video of his is the 1000w equivalent "Sun Blaster" LED light.

My only issue with this video is that my first time watching it, I got lost. I didn't know anything about LEDs or electronics. It was a blessing when I discovered Steve Giralt of The Garage. When we did the tid-bit on Robotics and Practical Effects, we found the fantastic video his team put out about LED's. It is super comprehensive and helped me understand a lot of the concepts from DIY Perk's video.

That video covers a lot, not just about LED's but about electricity in general, which is important for people who want to work in the lighting department on set. They even took a crack at building a super bright LED. On this second video, they guide you step by step through the process of building their LED lights. Even compiling a kit to go along with it, to make it easier for you to source the parts and build. Their version looks to be more compact than DIY Perk's.

Now these lights aren't the only option. They're certainly one of the better ones, especially if you build a housing and throw a lens in front of it, you basically would have an Aperture LS C120.

But that's not all, going back to DIY perks, he's made a ton of different lights that I'm just going to include below.

And last but not least, here's his latest project:


Finally, we'll wrap it up with lighting modifiers. Lighting modifiers are any external solutions you can come up with to shape (make shadows) or color your light, and are essential to lighting.