Pro Tip: Lighting the One Take - OFFICIAL DISCUSSION


RJFS had to get really creative with lighting for our One Take video, so we wanted to show a couple of the lights our DP Jon Salmon used to get the job done.

Ellipsoidal/Source 4/Lekolite
These ellipsoidal lights provide very strong, defined and controlled light. Ellipsoidals allow you to shape and direct light with precision. As Jon Salmon notes, if these lights were a weapon, they would be sniper rifle. In the one-take, Jon often bounced the light from the ellipsoidals off a reflective surface that was angled toward the subject he wanted to light.

China balls/Gem balls
China balls or gem balls are paper lanterns you hang from a cord and socket. A lot of equipment companies will sell these for higher prices, but you can usually find the lanterns, bulbs and sockets all at your local hardware store or art store for much cheaper. China balls are great for soft, broad light. This type of light is harder to shape, control and direct, but is much more flattering. That is why it is often used for beauty or vanity lighting, and can also be used bring up the overall light level in a room very nicely without a ton of harsh shadows. Jon used the china balls to make the RocketJump office look warmer and more cinematic than the usual fluorescent office lights.

Want something to do this weekend? Grab a couple china balls from your local store and some bulbs with different wattages and see what kind of lighting effects you can create, and post them here!


Hi, I’m going to be filming my very first official short film very shortly (no pun intended) and I have an EXT. NIGHT scene that I wrote in a script. My biggest worry coming up is lighting the night scene. My though was using car headlights with diffusion and gels to get proper lighting, because I cant afford a generator and I heard they ruin sound. Can someone give some advice for lighting night scenes on a budget?


Hi Eugene. First question– what is the location and the light source of your scene? Ideally, what are you trying to recreate? Streetlights? Moonlight?


@eugene A couple lights I use are:
for $50 and
for 20$.

The latter is sort of falling apart on me after continued use, but it was a very good started light. The former is still going strong and I have the old version, new version looks even better.

Both come with simple orange gels and are dimmable and AA powered. Battery life on have them staying bright through a few scenes but it’s always a good idea to carry around a bunch of batteries.