1. Lighting and Sound Demo

Here are the long overdue notes from the light and sound demo. They are helpful but not 100% comprehensive notes from the demo: 

Camera Setup and Operation

  • Tripod: Stabilize your image
    • Adjust the height, extend the leg (don’t go really high–increases unintentional shake) 
    • Another type of tripod has quick release — metal — spherical ball
    • Keep the legs fully extended instead of close together to ensure the tripod is stable
    • Hand tighten plate to camera– don’t strip the screw
    • Hold down the safety (asymmetrical) when putting the camera in 
  • Camera: Overview of camera settings and operation
    • Make sure camera has an SD card and a battery
    • Mostly can ignore the mode dial and switch all the way to video mode  
    • Remember lens cap – protect the camera; keep it in a consistent place
    • Pan and tilt the camera to the subject 
    • Format the card to clear old data
    • Hold Q and select the White Balance (AWB a.k.a. Auto when in doubt)
    • Hold Q and set the resolution and framerate (1920×1080 at 30FPS when in doubt)
    • There are five things to set on each shot: Aperture, Shutter Speed, Sensitivity/ISO, Exposure, Focus 
    • The red circle button is to start and stop recording
  • Aperture — the size of the lens in front of the camera (hole) to capture light
    • With the kit lenses we have, it goes as low as f3.5 when zoomed all the way out, zoomed in it goes to f5.6 
  • Shutter speed  — (impossible to shoot lower than 1/30 – 30 frames a second)
    • When adjusting shutter speed – get slower – the image disappears — underexposed  
  • Underexposed image — When it’s too dark, there’re four things you can change.
    1. Increase aperture (Make the hole bigger = capture more light)
    2. Slow down shutter speed – more time to capture light (note it cannot drop below either 1/25 or 1/30 depending on your framerate)
    3. Add more lights (LEDs, overhead, open windows, etc.)
      • When you turn on the light – turn down the intensity to avoid damaging people’s eyes
      • Studio LED lights have two temperatures – color could change from “warm” (e.g. 3300 kelvin) to cool (e.g. “5600” kelvin) or having both by setting to ~4450 kelvin
      • Smaller portable lights just have plastic “warm” and “cool” filters
    4. Increased the ISO (should be done last as it creates digital noise, not beautiful “grain” like with film)
      • from 100 to 200 to 400 to 800 to 1600+ – difference: when 800 and above, there’re obvious noise/grain: unattractive red, green, and blue ‘dots’ and reduced overall detail to the image)
      • better to always use the lowest possible ISO, but realistically it will often need to be 400 when shooting around the school
      • Ideally 100-200 for outside in bright light, 400-800 for dark rooms, never 1600+
  • Setting up the light and camera  
    • Part of the face could be properly exposed 
    • Don’t rely on light meter: choose the part of the image you want properly exposed and let other parts of the image disappear in darkness
    • you can fake the background by reducing light to the area and underexposing selectively
  • Scrolling the “wheel” on the camera changes the shutter speed
    • Hold Q to make the wheel adjust aperture instead of shutter speed 
    • Hold Av+/- to “bump” the exposure up or down
    • Frame your shot: before zooming, try to move the camera as close to the object as possible 
    • Set focus to MF on the side of the lens
      • digitally zoom in – press + (1 time for 5x, 2 for 10x, then move with the directional arrows to find the most important part of the image)
      • adjust the focus by gently rotating the end of the lens to fine tune the focus until you can see texture, hair, pores, etc. 


  • Cool light looks blue, warm light looks yellow-ish
  • Try to keep just a single light source
  • Hard Light VS Soft Light
    • Hard light has harsh shadows– perfect outline but not particularly attractive
    • Soft light reduces shadows– blurred outline of shadows (Fancy studio diffuser softens light)
  • Key VS Fill
    • Fill Light
      • Very bright light, everything can be seen on camera, used in sitcoms
    • Key Light
      • You see shadow, makes shot look creepy and dramatic

Notes on Techniques for Achieving the seven shots:

  1. “Scary face”: Hold the light under the subjects face, casting creepy shadows  
  2. Silhouette: Put the light behind the object; easiest by standing in front of a strong source like a window and adjusting the exposure so that the background is well exposed and the subject is dark
  3. “Back light” without silhouette: Same as above, but light the subjects face with to a similar intensity to add detail to that area
  4. Shallow depth of field (DoF) shot: Set the aperture to f3.5 and focus on an object in the foreground (please note these camera cannot focus on anything close than ~18in. from the lens)
  5. ‘blinds’ shot: Place an object between the light source and subject to cast “effect” lighting
    • Put two books close to each other to make the light go through the gap between two books – make the light source closer to give even harder edge/line 
  6. Shot illuminated by a laptop/phone: Hide the light behind an object in the frame and cast it from a similar direction as the device.
  7. “rim” lighting: the subject is lit not primarily from the front or back, but from their sides.
    • The lights should be at ~90 degree angle from the subject, creating an outline of a person/hair line)

Sound Recording

  1. Built in microphone (Terrible): Simply press record and the sound will be directly recorded in the camera. This audio is poor quality and can only be used in close, quiet settings (i.e. outside of school in a controlled environment) or to help you sync externally captured audio.
  2. External “shotgun” microphone (Okay in controlled environment): Slip the square clip onto the “hotshoe” and tighten the ring to secure the mic on the camera. Test the battery before using the mic (*always check equipment before shooting!) by switching it on. 
    • Have your actors talk as loudly as they comfortably can while maintaining their performance.
    • Go into the camera settings and adjust the audio sensitivity so that your dialogue is peaking between the 12 and the 6.
    • If it is lower than the 12, turn the recording sensitivity up. If it is going higher than six, it is peaking and will crackle loudly: turn the sensitivity down. 
    • Shoot a test clip and review the footage (press blue triangle – play the clip back to see if the sound was properly  recorded through the shotgun mic.
  3. Phone/Zoom H4N Handheld (Good quality but requires syncing in post): Turn on the microphone and set it to “Mic” input in the bottom-left corner. Plug headphones into the port to monitor your audio, but make sure not to blow your ears out!
    • Two positions for the microphones: one person – 90 degree, two or more people – 120 degrees
    • Press record to “prerecord” (flashing red circle) and check the audio level. Have your actors speak at volume and check to see if it should be going up to about twelve (never go over six or the audio may peak). If needed, there are three ways to increase the volume/intensity:
      • move the mic closer to the actor
      • have the actor speak louder
      • change the sensitivity of the mic; there is a button to turn the recording levels up and down on the left side of the unit
    • When you are ready, press record again to start recording (solid red circle) – take note of the number of clip on the device and time signature while shooting as it will make syncing audio in post-production so much easier
  4. Boom with Saramonic (Best all around): It can be the most work, but ensures the best sound – can get as close as possible to the actor. Phantom power – plug any sort of devices to record audio.
    • Ensure the microphone is on (some of them have switches while others turn on automatically) and place the microphone in to the acoustic-dampening # at the end of the boom pole. Connect it to the Saramonic and set the levels low.
    • Get the microphone as close to the subject(s) as possible without getting into the frame. Point the microphone toward their mouth.
    • If it needs to be louder, move closer or have the subject project more.
    • If it still needs to be louder, increase the sensitivity of the microphone on the Saramonic.
    • If a Saramonic isn’t available, use the Zoom H4N recorder instead. Set the input of the H4N to 1-2. From here, the process is the same as above for metering and recording. Files will need to be offloaded seperately and synced individually in Premiere.
Light and Sound Demo Notes