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Lighting a high key bright promo with kids

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Hi guys,

Been following the forum for ages but never actually managed to ask anything so here it is.


I was given the opportunity to light and shoot a small online promo for a new water company about their flavoured water.

The moto basically is "water with a twist". You know Children find water boring. But it’s good for them. They expect coke, sprite, orange juice, squash ... anything but Hate2O!


I have never shot a commercial/promo with kids and never ever lit for a classic high key, bright white commercial look that you can find all the time when promoting a new yogurt, or food, or etc. mainly kitchen based shoots.


And yeah most of our shoot will be kitchen and lounge/dinning area based. Children putting water aside, drinking it and making weird face, until they get the new "flavoured water" and boom they love it and wanna drink more, etc, etc.


These are the possible locations but I still havent decided on which to choose from. http://www.locationworks.com/private.php?page=15852&location=1

On the left side you can view like 26 houses. Not sure if having huge big windows will work or not in my favour. Its winter and sunset in the UK is at 3.45pm... not sure which one to choose from yet. maybe small windows will not be ideal but having those bigger windows will work against me as well.


I was planning on using book light technique for this promo. if you guys have any tips on how to best light an high key kitchen promo or have any tips from previous shoots please do shout. I want to avoid making it look flat and boring, which i know its easy to achieve when trying a high key style shoot.


I wanted to make it look light and airy.


Cheers for your help



Lighting camera op

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Hi Pedro, welcome to the forum!


Sounds like a fun job, what's the budget? Is it a one day shoot or do you have the option of shooting over multiple days? Working with kids with their limited work hours and limited natural light is definitely a challenge.


One option might be to pick one location with good natural light as a background, maybe one of those living rooms that open onto a garden. Then pick a kitchen location where you can create your own daylight with HMIs after you lose the sun. That should give you enough time to do nice work in both scenes and make the best use of your limited window of sunlight.

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Hi Satsuki,


Thanks for the warm welcoming. I don't know exactly what the budget is... it should be around £15K. I know for a fact that the house charges £2K per day and £400 for tech scouting... It will only be one day shoot as the client didn't have budget for 2 days..


Yeah we will be having like 8 kids with their chaperone which apparently is very restrict to time the kids work. We will need to emulate different houses inside the same house, if you know what i mean so we need to have a house with two or three lounges and a big kitchen that we can emulate 2 or 3 kitchens. the shots will be mainly close ups and mcu's...


Thanks for the suggestion. I might start as you say and shoot the living/lounge area first with the natural "grey cloudy" light that london offers and than move on to the kitchen bit.


Please keep suggestions/ tips coming.



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Generally people like to light from ourside of windows for day interior, but that means usually "tenting" the windows to get rid of the real sunlight and using pretty big lights. If your shots are mostly close ups and MCU's and you have a big enough space you can maybe get away with having the lights inside the house.


Satsuki's ideas to use natural sunlight as your BG is great and I would recomened that for sure. Something also to consider is if your going to show windows in frame as if you are you will probably need atleast 1.2k probably better with 2.5-4k hmi



The book light is a good call and its how most people do this kinda work now, It seems like you will have a pretty tight day trying to get a lot so I would recomened figuring out a nice simple key light setup whether it is a book light or maybe just hmis through diff and just moving that around through out the day occasionaly agumenting it with another source or two for backround or an edge or something.


One thing I do alot instead of booklights if I don't have a big enough light or want to do something more simple...I usually just get an 8x8 or a 6x6 frame and tbone it (so you just use one peice of the frame to hold the rag) and use something like light grid or frost and then I also will have a 4x4 frame of diffusion or just on the lamp head with something like 251 or 250 so you get a similar very soft source with a nice wrap around the face.


I would also consider the softer the source the more power you need to get your exposure so you need something like a 2.4-4k which is bigger and require more time and effort .....if you are all in Mediums and MCU's you can probably get away with a 1.2k or try the 1.8k arri if you can get it but that is really only going to light singles of people and not a whole shot if you are seeing natural daylight or windows.




as for it being light and airy and feeling a little dynamic just think of contrast in frame you will want some parts of your frame to have a little contrast....the can be a production design thing too! ....something people do a lot now days is flare up the lens for this kinda stuff too....if you can get the sun backlighting your talent through a window and put your book light or super soft source on once side of them you will get a nice flary look that is kinda the "light and airy" thing I think you are talking about.

Edited by Albion Hockney
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