I've found myself right where I was back in high school: at my parents house with nothing except for me, my camera, and a can light. Ever since the social distance guidelines took place, all of my plans for short film projects this semester fell through. Crew fell through, gear fell through, and locations... well we were still looking for those but that would've eventually fallen through as well.
But as I found myself in this strange time machine, I kept thinking about how I used to film things before college, and it seemed fun to try and recreate that experience. At the same time, I had just watched a video on DIY Cinematography that gave me a few ideas:
For this post, I want to explain how I set up a single shot using only what I had as I was stuck at home during self isolation. For this shot, I decided I wanted to create a scene of someone watching TV. First, I set up my frame for the shot to see what I was already working with. Here is that frame.
I know. Breathtaking cinnamon-topography amirite? Well after shuffling a few things around, I finally came up with something that is a bit more pleasant to look at. I asked my sister to sit in frame as I was adjusting lights, and as you can see, she was very excited about it.
This setup ended up being a lot simpler than I anticipated, especially in the background. For the TV light, I simply turned on the TV that was already there and cranked up the back light until it was the brightest it could be. To add some separation in the background, I added a lamp that gave a nice yellow glow. I initially had that lamp plus a bunch of Christmas lights and another lamp, but it began to look messy.
So I kept the one lamp, but that lamp was noticeably brighter than the light coming from the TV. Since I had no dimmers at my disposal, I had to somehow brighten the TV light. I took my trusty can light and set it up right next to the TV, pointing it directly at the couch. Here is that highly sophisticated setup, plus a highly accurate lighting diagram since I forgot to take a photo of the entire room when I finished:
Now obviously this is nowhere near as clean of a shot as the shots made in the YouTube video I showed y’all at the beginning, but I think it’s a nice start. There’s something I can always improve on, like I literally just now noticed that the second lamp I decided not to use is still in the frame… so that’s awesome. But yeah! I’ll be stuck inside for a bit, so I’ve got plenty of time to improve on this shot. Thanks for reading my ramblings on DIY Cinematography in isolation!