One of the last aspects people appreciate in film is lighting. Lighting is one of the first things that make or break a film though. If you show someone a scene that is not lit well and ask them what they think of the scene, they will more than likely say it doesn’t look professional. When asked why they usually say, “I don’t know it just doesn’t”. This has a lot to do with how well or not the scene was lit.
I have come across a new lighting technique that works very well for lighting people for videos. The lighting setup is called book lighting. It works well for interview setups, can be used for full body shots too. To create a book light, you shine an open faced light into a reflector/bounce board and then that light is cut down further by a silk or some type of diffusion placed in front. The further away the diffusion is from the light the softer the light will become. However, the farther it is from the light will also create more spill, which means that the light is less directed and more spread out. To keep that from happening you can do one of two things. You can bring the light closer to the bounce board and the silk closer to the light. Or, you could use flags in your scene to minimize the spill and block the light where you do not want it to be.
Why should you use book lighting for your video production or film? Well for one it gives off a very soft look. It would be a great solution for those of us who have wrinkles. It softens the wrinkles while hard direct light enhances them. If you only had one light and you did not have a fill you may want to use book lighting. Book lighting wraps the light around your subject’s face so well that you may not need a second light opposite of the book light.
If you do not have a silk or any type of diffusion who could use the bounce approach. Bouncing light is still a great option it just doesn’t soften light book light does. Or you could use a soft box which will keep the light more directional without it spilling.
I have tried all three approaches and really like how the book light works. I will be incorporating it in my documentary films as well as the public service announcements that I shoot. Sounds expensive you may say, well it doesn’t have to be. I bought a 30x40 foam core board for around $6 dollars. The silk I placed in front of the light was around $8 dollars. The light itself was the most expensive item. You just need to position your light 45 degrees from the foam core and place the silk in front of the light. When you setup correctly it forms a triangle leaving the light in between the board and the silk. Therefore, it is called book lighting. Here are a few videos that show bounced lighting vs soft box lighting and book lighting.