Lighting Techniques #3: The Window Wrap

So, you’re shooting a daylight interior. You’ve got an HMI as your “sun” blasting in through the window, giving great backlight when characters are faced away from it, and casting some interesting windowframe shadows when they’re faced towards it. But what if they’re side on to the window?

One side of the actor’s face is hotly lit while the other is in complete shadow. Maybe it’s an edgy or scary scene and you want that look. Fine. But maybe not.

You could just use bounce to generally fill in the rest of the actor’s face. Sure, that will work. But The Window Wrap will look sexier.

Take a Kinoflo and set it up inside the room near enough to the window that the audience can buy it as window light but far enough around that it seems to wrap the harsh HMI light softly around the talent’s face. Crucially, as long as the camera is on the opposite side of the actor’s eyeline to the window, you’re still lighting their downside; the nearest part of their face is still the darkest, but now it’s a smoother transition between the bright light of the downside and the darkness of the upside.

Here’s an example from The Gong Fu Connection with writer/director/actor Ted Duran:


Sketch 2014-08-15 19_37_08

This technique was inspired by this lighting workshop video with Eric Kress, DP of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original Swedish version).

Lighting Techniques #3: The Window Wrap