Keeping it Reel

4 DIY Lighting Rigs for Young Cinematographers

If you are a high schooler who is interested in cinematography something that has probably crossed your mind is ‘how can I get the perfect lighting for my shot.’ Of course, there are plenty of products out there to choose from, but where are you supposed to get the money for them? Well, if you have read our post “5 DIY Rigs for Young Cinematographers” you probably already know that you don’t have to lay down a ton of cash to get the equipment you need; you can build equipment yourself for a fraction of the price. We talked about a few standard DIY camera rigs before, but today, it is all about the lighting! Below are 4 lighting rigs you can build for around $30 or less.


1. Light Stand

First off, we have a standard light stand. Regardless of what you are working on, at some point you are going to want to change the lighting of a shot. Unless you want to have a few of your friends standing stationary for the better part of an hour holding hot lights, you are going to want to get a light stand. The crew over at Film Riot lay out a pretty simple way you can build one of your own for only about $20


2. Reflector

Cinematography is all about creating the perfect mood through lighting (camera angles might have something to do with it as well). Whether you want to bounce, diffuse, or flag lighting, you will want to have a reflector on hand. You can pretty much use anything to modify and redirect light; a sheet, a t-shirt, a wall. But in this video, Jay P. Morgan shows viewers how to create a pretty high-quality reflector for incredibly cheap.


 3. Ring Light

Next up, is a Ring Light. Light rings are incredibly useful pieces of equipment that can be used in multiple ways. Ring lights can provide you with nice uniform lighting, help you highlight specific characters, and aid you in eliminating shadows from your shots. The DIY tutorial below is another one from the Film Riot team. Using this video as a guide you should find it easy to make a light ring of your own design.


4. Softbox

There are a lot of tutorials on creating softboxes (equipment used to diffuse light, making it softer and reducing grating shadows), but this DIY tutorial by Trent Thomas is one of the more creative ones we’ve seen. Using just a lamp shade, Reynolds Wrap, and a piece of cardboard, Trent creates a softbox for his light. Check it out.

With these lighting rigs in your cinematography tool belt, you’ll be on your way to creating the shots you have always dreamed of. Don’t spend your time thinking of ways to come up with enough money to buy some over priced piece of equipment, build your own and start enhancing your skills!

Thinking of pursuing a career in cinematography? Download our Film Career guide below to see what profession you might end up in.

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This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.

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