Two of the most important technical elements to your self-tape are lighting and sound. If Casting can’t see or hear you, then the entire endeavor is moot.
Lighting can be unbelievably tricky. Until you find a set-up that works, this is one aspect of self-taping that can truly drive you crazy.
COMMON LIGHTING ISSUES:
- Lighting that creates shadows across your face. We’re not looking for dramatic ambience; we want to see you.
- Too MUCH light. It will blow out your skin tone and any facial feature that makes you interesting.
- Not ENOUGH light. We can’t see a lot of your subtle nuances.
- Forgetting to white-balance your camera after setting up your lighting scheme. Unless you’re shooting with the exact same light at the exact same time of day, (or in the same windowless room,) you need to white-balance your camera for every audition to avoid looking blue/yellow/orange.
- Lighting yourself in front of a very dark backdrop or a light-filled backdrop (see previous blog post.)
- ONLY using overhead lights. They will create shadows and bags on anyone, no matter how youthful you are.
- Trying to fix the exposure in post. This COULD work if you’re quite savvy with editing software, but more often than not, it’s too one-size-fits-all and could affect your file size and quality. You’re better off dealing with the issue at the source.
SIMPLEST LIGHTING SOLUTIONS (AND THEIR PITFALLS):
1. USE THE NATURAL DAYLIGHT THAT FILTERS INTO YOUR HOME. Daylight really is your best friend. (Think of photos that are shot in daylight versus those with a flash… natural light is exactly that: natural.) As long as you can find a shadow-free spot, you can almost never go wrong with daylight. (And PLEASE don’t make the mistake of shooting your scene outdoors to get good light. You’ll end up with a nightmare of ambient sound.)
- DAYLIGHT’S PITFALL: Daylight is constantly shifting. If you spend an hour doing your tape, you will have different light in every take. Use it wisely, and quickly.
- DAYLIGHT’S PITFALL #2: If shooting your tape at night, daylight is obviously not an option.
2. USE WHATEVER LAMPS/LIGHTING YOU ALREADY OWN. A combination of the light from your (MANY) lamps can work, if diffused and appropriately positioned. Overhead lighting doesn’t look good on anybody, but overhead lighting in combination with directional lamps can get the job done.
- LAMP-LIGHTING’S PITFALL: Lamps often use different wattage, so you could end up with one side of your face darker than the other. Low-wattage also means you’ll need a LOT of lamps to light yourself properly.
- LAMP-LIGHTING’S PITFALL #2: Light bulb colors can range from blue to white to yellow. If your lamps all use different colored light bulbs, it will be hard to get a result that you’re happy with.
3. BUY A LIGHT/LIGHTING KIT: You can find affordable photography lighting kits at camera stores or online. They’ll quickly take the guess-work out of lighting your frame. Some are even compact enough to travel with! (Bonus! Never miss an audition because you went out of town!)
- SOFT-BOX KIT’S PITFALL: They tend to be bulky so you probably won’t want them in your living room all of the time. They can also be a bit annoying to disassemble and reassemble constantly.
- RING LIGHT’S PITFALL: They’re beauty lights… they run HOT (meaning: at best, you glow from your t-zone. At worst, you look like you’re dripping sweat.) Buy a dimmable ring light or divert the light by aiming it (at full brightness) at your white (or light-colored) ceiling.
Next up… SOUND!