My Life with Puppets - Lighting Test and Research

With my first interview shoot now set for January 5th 2017, I have decided to spend time during the festive period conducting lighting tests to determine whether this lighting style works for the documentary.

I have decided to create a stylistic approach to the lighting test, using conventional three-point lighting with a mixture of soft and hard light. I recently watched a short video provided by BBC Academy and the University of Birmingham where Hider (2013) discusses how to illuminate subjects. He explains that “basic interview lighting is a great starting point when trying to understand the principles of lighting. The key light is the main source of illumination. It sets the mood of the shot and gives modelling, depth, texture, and direction of light. Where the light is placed has a huge effect on the look of the picture, but so does where you put your subject, so you need to consider this first.” (lines 6 – 10)

This video started the process on how I would develop the lighting for the documentary. Below you find the first image where no lighting was placed and bright sunlight was coming through a window shining on the subject. For the second image the light has now been removed using black curtains and a three-point lighting structure has been placed around the subject.

Although the test seems to be ok and could work for the documentary, I believe this look could potentially change on the day of the shoot. This is due to challenges that I might face such as exposures, space and how I would like to shape the mood of the shot. My concern is that the test above could potentially give the wrong intention and perhaps a simpler lighting approach would work better for a personal documentary about a puppeteer. The simpler approach is similar to how I lit Terry Chipp in my previous documentary Inside The Box (2016). Glynne (2008) explains “documentary films are made using only natural available light, rather than bringing in lights. It’s good practice to be able to use natural light effectively (and by natural light I mean sunlight); it helps cut down on the amount you have to think about and, most importantly, it keeps the costs down.” I began to look at a range of documenties not related to puppetry but to enhance my research on the technical aspects relating to Glynne theory.

I watched three documentaries with different stories with intentional differences such as A World Unseen: The Revenant (2016) filmed with immersive and visceral cinematics but with a point of view interview with the director, Alejandro González Iñárritu telling the audiences of the events (during the making of The Revenant) with a intentional use of three point lighting.

While a more conventional documentary with an intentional interview based approach such as Her: Love In The Modern Age (2013) or Only Human: Make Me Normal (2005) uses a range of natural available lighting and also the use of three point light.

So what weather way I decide to shoot my interview on January 5th really depends on the mood, setting and lighting.  I will discuss the lighting in a future blog when shooting for the first interview is completed.

I will then go into detail about any positives or negatives that arise. That’s all for now.

Until next time, That’s a wrap!


A World Unseen: The Revenant (2016) Directed by Eliot Rausch. 44 mins. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. [Video:DVD]

The Creators Project (2004) Her: Love In The Modern Age.  San Bruno: YouTube. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 23 December 2016].

Only Human: Make Me Normal (2005) Directed by Jonathon Smith. 49 mins. Channel 4 Films. [Video:DVD]

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