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Lighting an Interior Sunset Scene by Josh White

Article written by Josh White

I’m going to do a short write up of a recent Lighting set up I did for a scene in the low budget horror film ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’. The lighting design called for a sunset/late afternoon setting and the scene was shot on location in a traditional old English cottage. The film’s look is very stylised with a push toward the slightly surreal without being too over the top. The action was simple, an actress sat at a table listening to the radio. This scene was shot at the end of a cold winters day here in England so the sun had long gone and it was pitch black outside. We also had a limited number of lights to hand, luckily one of these was an HMI.

Camera: RED Scarlet
Format: 4K REDCODE 8:1
White Balance : 4800k
T. Stop: T4

Lighting Plan


First of all I set up the key light. In this case it was an Arri 1.2k HMI with Full CTO. Positioned as far away from the window as possible (this was only about 8ft away). I raised it high enough to be realistic sunlight but low enough so the light reached deep enough inside the room to light the actress and gave some nice long shadows associated with late afternoon.

1.2k HMI with full CTO outside main window.


As you can see from the lighting diagram above there were two windows facing into the room. For the second window directly in front of the actress I wanted to create some soft ambient fill. I did this by bouncing a Redhead into a white sheet just outside the window to give me a soft source. The room was naturally very dark due to the small windows and I wanted to give a bit more ambient light.

Redhead bounced into white sheet outside the window in front of the actress to provide frontal fill and ambient light.


Next I placed another redhead in the doorway in a wedge or book light formation bouncing the redhead into a 4×4 silk and then through a 4×4 Diffusion Panel. The light output wasn’t quite enough to reach far enough into the room so I ended up just shooting the redhead mostly through the diffusion panel, using the door to cut the light from the rear wall where the fireplace was located. I will usually tweak a set up right up until the camera rolls.

A closer look at the redhead and diffusion panel.


From the other side, wedge light which turned more into just a redhead through diffusion.


After setting everything up I was fairly pleased with the results but felt a little more fill was needed to give a greater impression of daylight, so I placed a Litepanels ASTRA 1×1 bi-colour LED light in the far corner set at full tungsten and maybe about 30% output and adjusted until i was happy with the amount of fill. I only wanted the one hard source which simulated the sunlight with everything else being soft, no hard edge light was needed.

Litepanels ASTRA and redhead through diffusion providing daylight ambient fill to the room


Below are two stills taken from the scene to show the end result. Please note these stills are not the final grade and are just for reference.

Still from ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’


Still from ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’


Thanks to AD Lane for letting me use the stills from the film. You can visit the film’s facebook page here.


Article written by Josh White

The post Lighting an Interior Sunset Scene by Josh White appeared first on Digital Cinematography.

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Lighting an Interior Sunset Scene by Josh White


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