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Kyle Kearns

Re creating light from a TV

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I'm going to be shooting a scene where my character is watching tv in a dark room and pretty much the only light will be coming from the tv.



How should I go about lighting this to make it look real?


I've seen this tutorial, but I'm not entirely convinced it's the best way (It's at 2:10):





I also want to do a reverse shot showing the tv and what he's watching. Should I set the tv to a white screen then replace the screen with the footage of what he's watching in post? Does anyone ever actually shoot the tv screen playing in camera?

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Many of the panel LEDs (skypanel and Kino Selects and I"m sure others I'm unaware of) have a "TV" preset put in. Else you can get a Magic Gadgets flicker box and use tungsten heads which also has some TV settings. Or just go super low budget and use a hand dimmer on a gelled and softened tungsten head and have it pulsate a bit. With the off-screen sound of the TV any of those should "sell" the effect.

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A few more options for a TV gag:

  • Actually use the TV as the key light source, playing an video on the TV that will change in color/brightness frequently for a noticeable effect.
  • Don't have a hand dimmer? Randomly wave your hands in front of the key light to create the TV effect.
  • TV's project different colors, so if you can shoot two different colored sources into one diffusion frame and randomly dim those sources.
  • Avant garde approach: use a cheap projector to actually project an out of focus image of what the character is watching onto the actual character.

Good luck!

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If you can stand the noise, a desk fan blowing hanging strips of toilet paper works quite well.


Or an intern with a big piece of cardboard, if you can't.

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