Category Archives: Grip

GET OUT THE VOTE

Thrilled to work as gaffer last week with Collier County Supervisor of Elections, Jennifer J. Edwards for a bi-partisan not for profit, “Get Out The Vote”. The video must’ve worked since Collier County led the state in voter turnout.

Had an amazing time and learned a lot about absentee ballots on this job. The machinery used to sort and verify absentee ballots is amazing.  Gives me 100% faith that everybody’s ballot gets counted.

Gaffed for the first time with Director of photography, Michael Lines @mlines_dp out of Atlanta. This man is VERY talented and couldn’t be nicer!

For the gaffer geeks – we used a 3-ton grip truck from our Fort Myers office with plenty of lighting and grip in it for this story. We used Arri Sky Panels and Litepanels Astras and bi-color Gemini’s. For backlights, we used a Joleko (a Leko combined with a Joker 800 or 1600) to produce a very direct and punchy backlight.  Grip consisted of a Dana Dolly, and Matthews Slider / Dolly stands to give us quick and easy changes to camera height.   

Grateful for all of the political work we shot this political season as the pandemic has definitely cut into our business. Proud to be an American.

We love shooting in Collier County, Florida.  So production-friendly!

A Very Cool Event if you love cinematography and grip and lighting

A Very Cool Event if you love cinematography and grip and lighting. Click on the link below! Remember us if you need Grip and Lighting Rental in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando or Fort Myers.

From the comfort of our homes, ZEISS will host a special virtual event with acclaimed Director of Photography Armando Salas, ASC.

A newly elected member of the American Society of Cinematographers, Armando Salas is one of two DPs responsible for evolving the highly-cinematic look of Ozark, which in its third season has deviated from its signature dark aesthetic, representative of the story’s and characters’ progression.  

Join this Ask Me Anything style session where participants can ask Armando about pre-production, lighting choices, collaboration with production designers, and more.  Now’s your chance to get tips and tricks from the pro!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ama-with-dp-armando-salas-asc-tickets-109217426262

Learn how to Create Emotional Impact with Color Temperature the Shane Hurlbut way

Color temperature is a great skill. One that Shane Hurlbut, a master, uses exceptionally well. Color temperature can subtly, and almost subconsciously influence your mind and emotions. Lighting scenes effectively with mixed light is nothing short of art. To be successful like Shane Hurlbut, not to mention as an ASC member and also as a Director of Photography, you must be a deep thinker and have a lot of tricks in your back pockets.

Hurlbut Academy course on Color Temperature

In Shane’s Hurlbut Academy course on Color Temperature, he makes some superb lighting philosophy comments and outlines great lighting techniques.

Hurlbut Lighting Wisdom

If you light a scene just for the sake of lighting the scene, you’re missing an opportunity. You must learn about the scene, have an effective tech scout, have conversations with the director, examine the location, read the script and get a feel for the character’s emotions before you make choices on lighting, color, and contrast.  Not happy with the status quo, you must use your instincts to get in touch with your artistic emotions and attempt lighting setups that might be risky. 

For example, a character could leave a cold, sterile environment and then transition into a warm and inviting safe environment in the space of 10 feet. The lighting elements that come off our grip truck for a scene that has been well thought out can be magic. Emotions and feelings, raw energy, sense of calm, passion, can all be communicated with color temperature. 

In this course that takes place on-set of his feature film Fathers and Daughters, Shane Hurlbut uses existing cool white fluorescence in addition to an 8-foot tungsten batten light rigged to serve multiple purposes on multiple actors. Mounting lights in the ceiling keep them entirely out of the way, especially when you’re shooting two cameras. Other lights used off the grip truck: Joker 800, Kinoflo Celeb 200, and the Kinoflo 4 foot 2 bank.

Shane Hurlbut Tips & Tricks

A great trick is to put all practical lights on dimmers so you can have total control. Dimmers work great for lighting cues as well. If you have time, get everything on a dimmer even if you do not think you will use it. Chances are you will!

Another trick is flying a 250-watt Chimera pancake light over a scene attached to the ceiling that wraps nicely as a top-light. A Chimera pancake light is one of Shane’s secret weapons that he shares with everyone. Bring the sides down, or the skirts on the pancake light and the light will not spill all over the room.

Obviously, when you have a high budget, you can have a condor outside with a 250 white metal halide flying on the condor acting as a street light source. But the scene in the course could have been almost as amazing without. If I pulled this lighting order of my grip truck in Miami for this scene, you’re probably looking at a whopping total of $500.

Take Shane’s class and learn how to do everything you’ve read above and a lot more. I wish this course had been available when I started out!

Shane Hurlbut’s lighting classes can improve your film career and grip truck gear

I’ll grant you that there’s a void out there for proper training in lighting for film. But you don’t have to go to film school to learn this craft: Shane Hurlbut’s online Hurlbut Academy is a gem. It’s like finding ice cream on a hot, deserted island. And it’s my insider’s tip to get you from that PA job slinging coffee, to that dream gaffer job jumping onto your own grip truck in search of an Arri, drape or c-stand. But I’m not going to lie; you’ll also need the patience of a saint, lots of time, and probably supplemental work parking cars or bartending as you attempt to become an electrician on a film set. 

A gaffer job, the circuitous way

Since your chances of leaping straight into a film lighting department are scarce, you might have to content yourself with PA work helping out the lighting department when they’re overwhelmed. Some PA’s cop an attitude about helping out the lighting department this way; they view it as being taken advantage of since they’re getting paid a lot less. Not only is that total bunk, but also it’s a sure-fire way to stay stagnant in the film and television business. 

Dave's Grip & Lighting grip truck in Wynwood Miami
Dave’s Grip & Lighting on location in Wynwood, Miami

Another option is to get a job at a film lighting rental house, loading a grip truck while, at the same time, embracing photography as a serious hobby to learn composition, lighting, exposure, and color correction. It blows my mind how many lighting professionals don’t know how to use a color temperature meter or an exposure meter. 

The Hurlbut Academy lighting alternative 

And then there’s Shane Hurlbut to the rescue, short-circuiting a potentially steep learning curve with his free online lighting classes at Hurlbut Academy. One example of how he does it is by creating a comprehensive online class on how to light night interiors. In this particular course, he starts by teaching you how to create an ambient light source, which in his world is often moonlight.

Shane shows you how to create the perfect room tone and texture to make your interior night scene way above average. He also covers augmenting existing practical lights in a scene while swapping bulbs that work better. Shane shows you how to use a color temperature meter so you can match existing color temperatures to existing sources. Best yet, his course covers comprehensive instruction on fill lighting. Camera placement and camera movement are well thought out and delivered in the course material. He also includes ways to shoot underexposed, wide open, and right at the limits of a digital sensor. Shane’s methods are old school, but it’s the right school for a process that we film world veterans know to be efficient and deliver the absolute best final result. Why make life harder than it already is? 

In the class Shane Hurlbut covers:

  1. How to set the perfect room tone
  2. Augmenting existing practical lights
  3. Using depth of field
  4. Matching color temperatures to existing sources
  5. How to create moon-light
  6. How to get that perfect exposure 
  7. Art department secrets
  8. Fill lighting
  9. Creating texture 
  10. Using false color
  11. Camera placement 
  12. Camera movement 
  13. Blocking with actors
  14. Action drama romance comedy

The best light for the job

The beauty of Shane Hurlbut’s work is that he doesn’t always order super expensive lighting for his grip truck. One of his chosen lighting instruments for this class is the Westcott shallow softbox with a tungsten globe installed. These are lights that you may need to own. They fold up and go into a backpack. They’re portable, relatively inexpensive, and you’ll have them for a lifetime.  

Shane Hurlbut’s ability to break down a lighting problem and carefully explain it cleverly is a real gift. His classes are a valuable time investment for your career and will take you from average to excellent in a short time. There’s no one else like him doing such great work teaching film lighting.

Do you have Shane Hurlbut’s ‘book light’ gear on your grip truck?

Shane Hurlbut teaches HOW TO BUILD A BOOK LIGHT lighting techniques
to film and lighting professionals at Hurlbut Academy.

Starting his career at the bottom and no stranger to a grip truck, Shane Hurlbut is one of my idols! Shane Hurlbut, ASC, is a director of cinematography, film and television lighting professional, who I’ve known for a long time. I remember him working as a gaffer alongside me on Gloria Estefan music videos in Miami — more years ago than I’d like to recall.

I’ll never forget how he required everybody in the grip and lighting department to be on their walkie-talkies with an FBI surveillance mic in their ears. Not carrying a radio was not an option. He was super-serious about communication on film sets, and when he needed something from the grip truck, someone always brought it to him seconds later.

Shane’s ability to anticipate what the director of photography was going to need and then have it on hand when asked for was truly remarkable.  The grip truck could be four blocks away but, somehow magically, Shane had everything when needed right there on location.

Why the Hurlbut Academy is awesome

Shane’s blog and website are some of the best content that I’ve ever seen when it comes to lighting instruction for high-end digital cinema productions. Hurlbut Academy is nothing short of genius. I put a couple of my grip truck crew guys through his program when they brought their academy classes to Fort Lauderdale a few years ago. As part of the academy instruction, they brought in an airplane interior from a movie film set. My guys came back inspired by Shane and with a bunch of simple yet inexpensive lighting techniques that are old school but also the right school. Shane obviously loves teaching and it seems to give him great joy. There’s no one on earth who offers the value-per-dollar-spent to train you as a gaffer or cinematographer the way he does.

Hurlbut Academy’s Free Book Light Tutorial

Shane Hurlbut’s free book light tutorial on Hurlbut Academy is fantastic for film and television lighting. One of the things I like the most about this tutorial is that he’s not all hung up using the latest and greatest grip and lighting products. He gives you about seven choices for lights to recreate the book light look. He shows you how to use everything from the up-to-the-minute latest film and lighting gear that you’ll find on a professional grip truck in Miami, to the most essential and basic movie lights that you might find on a student film that cost maybe $50 apiece.

DIY Film & Lighting Techniques

At the same time, Shane’s a DIY kind of guy. If you don’t have professional diffusion, for example, he recommends a shower curtain. If you don’t have bleached muslin, he suggests using a T-shirt. There are many ways to skin a cat, and Shane Hurlbut offers many excellent suggestions when it comes to film and television lighting.

Among his free tutorials, the book light tutorial is one of my favorites. It has a lot of wow factor for customers, and it looks expensive but it’s not. Hollywood’s been using the book light technique since the beginning of time, and it always produces great results because it does a fantastic job of wrapping light. 

I’m a Shane Hurlbut fan. He also grew up in Ithaca, New York, near one of my favorite places, Cayuga Lake. He’s a tall guy with an unbelievable curiosity for life. He worked his way up in the film industry, from the bottom, and he’s one of those 25-year overnight successes.

ARRI’s Orbiter Belongs on your next Grip Truck Rental!

As much as I have a love-tolerate relationship with this lighting company, I have to tip my hat to them for the ARRI Orbiter, another game-changing light. Groundbreaking technology comes to mind. Innovation at its best. For sure I’m going to have two of these on my grip truck in Miami the minute they’re released. I’m writing a check today to get on the shortlist for the very first batch to come to Miami so that you’ll have them on your next grip truck rental.

Increased Processing Speed

After the design of the ARRI Skypanel, it blows my mind that they can come out with something as innovative as this new movie light. For starters, the processor is super, super fast. Its four times faster than the Skypanel. It has 125 times more memory and has smooth dimming features. There’s a lot more connectivity and its completely waterproof. Note: The ARRI Orbiter is a lot bigger than it looks in the photos. It’s not something you toss into a soft bag and run-and-gun. LOL.


This light is going to have multiple applications. Also, it’s going to be a fantastic theatrical light. The removable control panel is entirely innovative. A six-color light engine LED (lime, cyan, amber, blue, green, red) in their arrangement creates an all-in-one light field with apparent brightness (which ARRI is not saying how bright). They are making claims that skin tones will look natural and amazing. But that’s just a bunch of market-speak until I see the light in action on set.

Variety of Optics


Probably one of the coolest things about this new light is that it has a variety of optics you can put in front of the light, open face, projection, dome and light bank for a wide variety of scenes. This light can throw a beam far, pull that attachment off and add a soft bank, and now you have a big soft source. That’s crazy versatile. Think of the movie Transformers and what those amazing robots could do. That’s what this light is. Of course, you can power this thing with batteries, but like the Skypanel it probably will be a lot dimmer.

Color Temperature Features


With a magnetometer and a guide, it allows you to sample existing color temperature and then flip a switch to match it. That’s mind-boggling. This function can either be continuous or momentary. If it’s on continuous, it measures the ambient color and changes the light output accordingly. With the press of a button on momentary, it will take just a single reading. If the light is changing in a scene, this lighting fixture can adapt on the fly. Color changes happen without any human involvement. That’s game-changing. Hey, as a gaffer am I even needed on the set? Maybe, but certainly, a grip truck rental with an Arri Orbiter in it will be!

LiOS, lighting operating system


A lot of the great stuff that was in the Skypanel is now in the Orbiter. ARRI has a new software operating system called LiOS, lighting operating system. The light can store over 240 of your “go-to colors” in its big memory bank. The interface is straightforward. Simplification is coming with DMX, and there’s plenty of room for other innovations as this light evolves.

Three Operational Modes


ARRI’s Orbiter has three operational modes to optimize the fixture’s performance for different applications. High color rendering mode provides the best color quality possible, high output mode generates the best brightness with slightly lower color rendition, while low noise mode creates a balance for quiet operation with decent output. I’ve talked to other gaffers and Directors of Photography around the country these past few days since the light was released to the press. We’re all scratching our heads wondering how BRIGHT this thing really is? Quite frankly we’re not going to get our hopes up. Doubt this thing’s going to replace an HMI for now.


As we all know the enemy of the LED light is heat, if the light is too hot, the LED will not last, turning into a service and maintenance nightmare. Apparently, multiple heat sensors internally are designed to cool to the optimal operating temperature. And, because this baby has a magnetometer it will be very useful for sensing the pan, tilt, and roll of the light. Additionally, the meta-data can be used for re-creating scenes as it relates to special effects work. That I would never have guessed!

The Arri Orbiter belongs on your grip truck rental

What everybody is wondering is how much light does this bad boy put out. ARRI is not saying. It’s frustrating. It seems like it’s going to be a bit less than for most gaffers liking. They’re already saying that at its maximum brightness you’ll have slightly lower color rendition. What remains to be seen is how noisy the fans will be when our good buddies the sound guys are on location. Guessing it will be quiet? Even so, this movie light is super, super versatile and it’s going to be a staple on my grip trucks and available for your upcoming grip truck rental.

Additional info

Read below for more info on the ARRI Orbiter from our friends at Abelcine:

  • Open Face – Produces a high-output, directional beam of light in several different beam angles, including 15°, 30°, and 60°Ideal for throwing light long distances or providing a broad swath of light
  • Projection – High-quality projection optics contain high-end lenses that provide even illumination and color across the entire beam field for superior results
  • Available fixed beam angles are 15°, 25°, 35° (wider angles may be added in the future)
  • The zoom projection optics allow for flexibility in all kinds of applications.
  • Dome – Fabric spheres available in three different diameters: small (approx. 0.25m), medium (~0.5m) and large (~0.9 m).
  • The dome emits omnidirectional light, great for illuminating a large area with a beautiful, soft quality of light
  • Light Bank – The light bank adapter creates a direct mounting point for your Chimera and DoPchoice products
  • With easy attachment and no additional optical elements needed, the light bank adapter allows for a controlled soft light with incredible output
  • Extremely powerful output for maximum brightness and perfect colors
  • Variety of optics: open face, projection, dome, and light banks
  • ARRI Spectra six-color, wide gamut light engine
  • Perfected smooth dimming to zero
  • Lighting Operating System (LiOS) with powerful software features
  • Removable, intuitive control panel
  • Wireless DMX
  • Integrated color sensor for matching ambient light
  • A full suite of connectors and sensors
  • Weatherproof housing
  • Lightweight internal power supply and a 3-pin XLR battery input for 48V batteries

Dave’s Grip & Lighting provides grip truck rental, lighting gear and crew services in South Florida.

Nila Announces Their Newest Product Will Be Available on August 1st: Zaila Bi-Color

With the latest announcement from Nila about their new Zaila Bi-Color at NAB 2019, Dave’s Grip and Lighting is excited to get this new lighting product on our grip truck Miami fleet as quickly as possible. The first expected shipping date is expected on August 1, 2019. This new Nila product comes with the Nila Precision Colortune system, which has the technology you need to bring your production to new heights. We are the grip and lighting company to turn to when you need to make jaws drop in the audience. 

Nila Zaila Bi-Color Soon Available on Our Grip Truck Miami Fleet

When shooting at a preset temperature, it can be difficult to record skin tones in their best light. The Zaila Bi-Color has Red Boost so you can add red light at any time. This new product will allow also color outputs to be easily controlled from 2600°K to 6400°K in 200°K increments. Using the renowned Nila technology, the Zaila Bi-Color will focus with holographic film lenses. The beam can even angle between 10 degrees to 80 degrees!

Your South Florida Lighting and Grip Company

Nila has made sure their Zaila Bi-Color is even better than their successful single color Zaila. Their new product will be available on our grip truck Miami fleet as soon as it is available so you can film the high-brightness shots you need during your production. Dave’s Grip and Lighting has been helping South Florida customers in need of grip truck Miami and Fort Lauderdale fleets since 1987. We have the products and superior knowledge about the industry to help your production. Contact us online or reach us at 305.409.0009 now!

K5600: A New Era of LED Lighting Has Arrived

K5600 Joker 300

K5600 Announces New LED Lighting Products Designed with Their Five Core Values at the Heart of the Designs

We’ve seen it time and time again where manufacturers release new products annually that don’t quite meet their quality standards. K5600, Inc. held off on this announcement for 10 years as quality standards were met before releasing any new products to the public.

These new LED lighting products were designed with K5600’s core values in mind: ruggedness, versatility, upgradeability, output and light-shaping quality. We are proud to have K5600 and other manufacturer products available on our grip trucks. Dave’s Grip and Lighting welcomes K5600’s new Joker 300, Alpha 300, Wafer-Thin Panels, and LED Ballasts to the market and looks forward to serving your needs in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and throughout South Florida.  

K5600 Joker 300 & Alpha 300 Available with Our South Florida Grip Trucks

We can provide you with the perfect light-to-lens ratios when using these new K5600 products stocked on our grip truck Fort Lauderdale fleet. Each of these models feature K5600’s unique LED chip with Bi-Color matrix technology along with 95+ color rendering. With a 300W max output and a 9’ cable head, these products are sure to add value to your production. 

K5600 Joker 300

The Joker 300 lumen output is rumored to be comparable to the almighty Joker 400 under certain configurations. This new LED lighting offers four light-shaping options, including ellipsoid spot, parabolic beamer, lenses, and soft box. The Joker 400 barndoors and lenses stocked on our grip truck Miami are compatible with the Joker 300 beamer reflector. 

K5600 Alpha 300

This wonderful product provides a 6.9” diameter lens and is based on the popular Alpha 800 HMI. The beam angle can be adjusted from 55 degrees all the way down to 5 degrees with ease. 

K5600 Wafer-Thin Panels on Our Grip Truck Miami & Fort Lauderdale Fleet

Available in four sizes (4’ x 1’, 2’ x 6’, 2’ x 1’, and 2’ x 6’), these 1.35” thick flat LEDs are the lightest weight available on the market. With the options like snap-on ball grip and a foldable yoke, we can configure these flat LEDs any way necessary for your production. 

K5600 LED Ballasts Stocked with Our Grip Truck Miami & Fort Lauderdale Fleets

Compact and durable are two of the defining factors for these new LED ballasts available on our grip trucks. They do not have any controls on them, which is why they can fit in tight spaces and handle the wear and tear that may happen during set up and/or break down. 

K5600 300W Single Ballast

Direct 48V FC power can be routed to this compact case to power K5600 LCD screens with 2,700 degree K to 6,500 degree K control. On-site upgrades and diagnosis on our grip truck Miami and Fort Lauderdale fleets are easy with the included microport. 

K5600 1200W Multi-Output Ballast

With 600W of power to both output connectors, you can rest assured this LED ballast with provide the power you need. Better still, if you combine this LED ballast with any K5600 LEDs, the ballast automatically senses the amount of power that is needed. 

K5600 Splitter

With two outputs and one input, the splitter can commute with the 1200 W Multi-Output Ballast and gives independent control to each of the LED lamps that are connected. 

We Are the Professional Grip & Lighting Company To Turn To in South Florida

The new K5600 product release means we can provide you with better grip and lighting services than ever before. Dave’s Grip & Lighting is the most experienced company serving all of South Florida with LED, HMI, dollies, sliders, flags, rigging, trucks, generators, gaffers and more since 1987. We have grip truck Fort Lauderdale & Miami fleets, an extensive inventory of grip and lighting products, and superior knowledge and industry experience to provide you services that give your production the wow factor you desire. Contact us today or call us at 305.409.0009 if you have any questions. We look forward to becoming your local provider of K5600’s latest and greatest products along with any lighting and grip services you may need for your upcoming production.

The Advantages of Shooting on Location in Miami

Dave's Grip & Lighting grip truck in Wynwood Miami

A producer buddy of mine and I put this piece together loaded with insider tips and information on our favorite Miami locations. Do you want to know where to find the most interesting Miami neighborhood locations? How to easily permit your Miami shoot? Or, how to get that sales tax exemption? Well, if so, read on…

Today, film locations in Florida and Miami are more than just the ones located on its famous beaches. Miami is now grown up and with its varied neighborhoods, there’s an ample supply of interesting locations to choose from throughout Miami-Dade.  Couple that with great weather, a fine selection of camera rental houses, grip truck rentals, professional crew, actors, and production resources, including an efficient permitting process, South Florida continues to welcome to film productions from around the US and the world.

Productions Shot in Miami and Florida

Significant films have been shot in Miami and the surrounding area including Ace Ventura, Bad Boys, Dolphin Tale, Edward Scissorhands, Fast and Furious II, Goldfinger, Magic Mike, Marley and Me, Moonlight, Never Back Down, Pain and Gain, The Punisher, and many others, including the most famous one: Scarface.

The best-known television production shot in Miami was, of course, Miami Vice followed by CSI: Miami. Some episodes of Dexter were shot in the area. HBO shot Ballers here. Fox shot Graceland in the area, and Netflix filmed Bloodline in the Florida Keys here in South Florida.

Commercial producers enjoy the Miami area for its mild weather during the wintertime, as well as for its diverse ethnic communities that provide exciting backdrops. Nike shot an advertising campaign in Miami featuring NBA player LeBron James previously of the Miami Heat.

There’s an online movie and television map tour of the Miami productions and their shooting locations. There is also a full filmography list for those who are interested in films that date back to the 1940s. For active projects, you can see a list of current productions now filming.

Film Location Types & Neighborhoods

Miami-Dade County has fantastic film locations including beautiful residences, ethnic neighborhoods, high-rise buildings, waterfront properties, and exciting city streets/urban landscapes.

Residences

Housing choices to use as film locations include luxury homes, villas, beachfront properties, Americana-style bungalows, and cottages.

Many villas here are European style influence. These villas look like those found on the coast near the Mediterranean in countries such as Greece, Italy or Spain.

Ethnic Neighborhoods

Miami has neighborhoods with an intriguing ethnic mix including Cuban, Puerto Rican, Latino, Asian, and other nationalities. Each of these exciting neighborhoods has a distinctive flavor that is appealing to many filmmakers.

High-Rise Buildings

The high-rise buildings include apartments, offices, and expensive condominiums. These buildings have marvelous penthouse suites. The views from the windows are spectacular. Downtown Miami has a business area that looks like the tall buildings of any major American city. Productions can reproduce street scenes representing the cityscape of any major metropolitan area found in the USA.

Waterfront Properties

These locations include everything from massive hotel/ resorts located right on the beach, to restaurants, to homes with a boat dock, to simple beach huts. The sunsets are spectacular, and the sleek speedboats flying by and jumping the ocean waves are a Miami classic.

City Streets and Urban Cityscapes

In Miami, there are wide palm-lined streets. The urban cityscape is diverse with micro-neighborhoods that represent a cultural ethnicity or style that characterizes the sights and sounds.

The ten most interesting neighborhoods to shoot in Miami are:

  • Design District – upscale shops line outdoor walking malls.
  • Wynwood – lots of art galleries and street art.
  • Little Havana – Cuban style.
  • Coral Gables – an abundance of tropical trees, flowers, and lush gardens.
  • Coconut Grove – a laid-back vibe and the Cocowalk boardwalk.
  • Miami Beach – most of the buildings are Art Deco style.
  • Downtown – could double as New York’s Broadway with its many theaters.
  • Brickell – the financial district with tall office buildings,
  • MiMo – also known as the Upper Eastside with many brightly-painted hotels.
  • Midtown – large murals, tattoo parlors, vintage clothing boutiques, and jazz clubs.
  • Other locations include public parks and world-class beaches. If interiors are needed, Peerspace offers many interior areas and studios that are available for rent by the hour.

Incentives for Filming in Miami, Florida

A statewide sales tax exemption and a two-tiered county-sponsored grant program encourage production companies to film in the Miami-Dade County area.

Sales Tax Exemption

Florida offers production companies and sales tax exemptions for items purchased in Florida and used in making television, film, or music video projects. This exemption does not include sales taxes for hotel stays or rental of vehicles; however, it does cover sales taxes on anything else purchased by the production company in the state. For example, there is an exemption from sales tax for a variety of camera rentals in Miami.

To take advantage of this sales tax exemption, apply online before making any qualified item purchases.

Miami-Dade County Film Grants

Miami-Dade County has a grant program, offering money for certain types of expenditures that are made by production companies. There are two tiers of grants for productions shot in the area:

  • For a qualified production that spends a minimum of $500,000 up to $1 million in Miami-Dade County, a production company can apply for up to a $50,000 grant.
  • For a qualified production that spends more than $1 million in Miami-Dade County, a production company can apply for up to a $100,000 grant.

North Miami Incentives

North Miami offers attractive incentives. And as a result, many productions have been filmed there, including Miami Vice, Ballers, and Graceland. The most considerable incentives come from expenses and investments made within the boundaries of the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency area.

The current incentive programs include:

  • Pre-Production Expenses: There is a 30% reimbursement possible for pre-production expenses from between $10,000 and $50,000.
  • Free Parking and Space for Base Camp: Any production company that invests more than $20,000 in filming in North Miami qualifies for free parking for the production. Companies that spend more than $50,000, also get extra free parking space to set up a base camp for the filming.
  • Location Fees Waived: For production companies that invest more than $30,000, the fees for the use of public parks, community centers, and other public spaces may be waived
  • Police Support Fees Waived: For production companies that invest more than $100,000, the fees for police may be waived.
  • Production Expense Reimbursement: Production companies that invest in businesses located in the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency area may receive reimbursement of 30% of their expenses, subject to the availability of funds under the incentive program.
  • Apply for expense reimbursement with the film permit application. The film permit approval process is speedy. Permits are approved within one to three days once the production company has at least the required $1 million minimum liability insurance in place.

Why Miami is Great for Production

Production companies enjoy plenty of local support for filming in Miami. A full range of production resources and the availability of production assistance, supported by each Miami-Dade municipality, are offered for filming in the Miami area.  Additionally, there are plenty of professional crew, local talent, and other support for production companies to use both in Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County productions. Filming is made easier with one-stop permits. And, if producers/directors need camera rental, Miami has professional film equipment and grip truck rental available for filmmakers.

Thanks to the local enthusiasm for supporting film and television productions and the diverse locations, producers, and directors fall in love with Miami. Many, like Michael Bay (Miami Vice, Bad Boys, Pain & Gain), continue to return to Miami time and again to shoot their productions and take advantage of all that they find in Florida.

My Tribute to a Grip Industry Great – Ed Phillips

Ed Phillips of Matthews Studio Equipment was one of the warmest, friendliest manufacturers whom I ever met in my long career in the grip business.  It was always super fun chatting with him at CineGear and NAB. A huge smile always on his face, he was great at giving knowledge and information on ‘all things grip’!   

Ed was passionate about the film business.  He loved young people and watching them grow up in the grip and lighting business.  He was an amazing mentor to so many grips who invented products over the years. Ed found them and brought their products to market. 

Ed will remain one of the greats in the film and television business. He clearly was one of the best dressed guys in the grip and lighting world!  Plus, he always had a sterling attitude!  He was a man who could light up any room he walked into. Matthews had the best parties at their factory during CineGear, and Ed always wore a sharp sport coat. 

I regret not being able to spend more time with this great man.  I certainly could have learned a thing or two or three from him!

Our Favorite Affordable LED Film Lights for Low-Budget Filmmaking

led film lights

Most filmmakers rent a standard Arri or Lowell film light kits for their productions. A smart decision, because placing an emphasis on good lighting is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to keep production value high.

But what do you do if you’re a low budget filmmaker who’s looking for ways to get great lighting effects but need to do it as inexpensively as possible? Besides using all the natural light you can, two great options are fluorescents and LED film lights.

Fluorescents: The True Low-Budget Affordable Lights

You don’t need expensive equipment to get cinematic lighting. In fact today fewer and fewer lights are required to get a good picture.

Kino Flo fluorescents have become a staple of modern productions no matter what the budget. These inexpensive fixtures produce a soft light source that looks great on camera. They’re cool to the touch when in operation, easy on talent eyes, and can be wrapped immediately after striking. The versatile Kino Flo Diva and 4ft Four-Bank are two of the most common fixtures used. Both come with a lightweight, removable egg-crate louver that slightly reduces the intensity of the light while controlling the spread. And while both have mounting plates for C-stands, if your shoot is ultra low budget you can easily tape or staple them into place.

Must-Have Affordable LED Film Lights

Once relegated to indicator lights on audio and video equipment, LEDs’ increased power and color temperature control have made them a favorite light source on any set. Their benefits are numerous:

  • LED film lights low-generated heat and a relatively cool touch means you can put them in places a conventional hot light can’t go. Plus, the cooler room temp means talent and crew are more comfortable on set.
  • They’re efficient! LEDs convert 80% of their energy into light. That’s 4x what you get from a standard tungsten lamp.
  • A range of options includes daylight, tungsten, or bi-color adjustable balance and spot, floor, or variable beam angle configurations.

LEDs also offer 25,000 to 1,000,000-hour lamp life and because they’re cooler, you can easily clip gels to them without scorching your fingers!

You have a lot of LED film lights options to choose from. Here are just 4 of our affordable LED film lights that will work wonders on your next shoot.

1×1 Daylight LED Flood

Whether you’re out in the field, filming on a soundstage, or in studio, the versatile Litepanels 1×1 daylight LED flood is one powerful lighting tool that offers a soft and even quality of light. It works equally well at filling in shadows as it does illuminating an entire scene. Highly mobile, the 1×1 goes wherever you need it to and with an adapter plate and Anton Bauer battery you never have to worry about accessing power—nice to have for street, car, and remote locations. Because it’s heat-free, you can position the 1×1 comfortably close to a subject’s face, making it ideal for documentaries. But it’s also extremely effective in controlled situations. Just an all-around terrific fixture!

2×1 Bi-Color LED

Similar to an Arri Skypanel s60, the Litepanels Gemini 2×1 bi-color LED provides a nice wide soft source of color-accurate illumination and it does it at about half the weight! It has full-spectrum daylight and tungsten lighting and allows for quick and easy adjustment of lighting modes for effects. It offers hue, saturation, and light intensity control. The ergonomics, user options, output, and light quality make it a favorite with producers of all size and budget productions.

LED Tubes

Quasar Science’s XMD digital cross fade LED lamps are 4-foot and 2-foot bi-color LED tubes designed to replace fluorescent T12 and T8 lamps. They’re simple to use—no ballast required—and powered by 120 or 240 VAC. Operate the XMD’s as a single tube light or you can gang multiples with a quick-connect power adapter harness. They have a superior light output and are equally useful for lighting cast and sets.  And, they can also be strung above diffusions for the perfect sky.

Miniplus Flood Spot

Want an extremely efficient and versatile on-camera lighting solution? The Litepanels Miniplus Flood is a pocket-sized wonder that offers excellent fill and flood options.

It features nearly 20 fitted gels and is fully operable on battery power. Able to adapt to your specific needs at a moment’s notice, you’ll love how this highly portable yet super bright softlight provides crisp quality without revealing harsh surface details.

LED Film Lights for Rent in Miami

The upside to choosing Litepanels LEDs is obvious. These low-profile fixtures are solidly made, virtually heat-free, and allow you to light tight spaces without harming the talent. Best of all, their affordability makes them accessible to filmmakers on a low budget.

If you’ve never worked with LEDs, do yourself a favor and conduct some research before putting together your kit. Then give us a call to discuss your options. In addition to our grip truck rental we offers all the LED lights mentioned here and more. We’re happy to help you put together an affordable lighting kit for your next low-budget project.

Electricity 101 for Film & Television Producers

As a Miami gaffer, I thought it might be helpful to teach the basics about electricity as it applies to producers! Filmmakers often need to be a jack-of-all-trades (doesn’t mean they’re the master of none).

Although you’ll have a dedicated electrician to run power to your set, you still need to have the basic knowledge of power distribution, electrical safety and power sources. This helps you coordinate with your Miami gaffer and best boy more effectively to avoid any electrical faux pas on a your film set.  So here’s the electricity 101 for film and television productions.

Power Distribution on Movie Sets

In order to understand power distribution, you should have a clear understanding of voltage, wattage and amperage, and how they relate to each other.

One simple way to understand that is by using the water analogy. Water pipes are analogous to electric circuits. Electricity flows through circuits, just as water flows through pipes. Of course, water and electricity have different characteristics, and so the analogy is not 100% accurate, but it helps you understand the relationship between voltage, wattage, amperage and resistance.

Voltage is basically the difference in energy between two points in an electrical field. If you compare electricity to water, then voltage is comparable to water pressure in a water pipe. The more the voltage, the faster the electric charge flows through a circuit. However, high water pressure doesn’t always mean that a lot of water is flowing through of the pipe. Similarly, high voltage doesn’t necessarily mean high volume of electricity. That brings us to amperage.

Amperage is analogous to the volume of water flowing through a pipe per second. It is basically the measure of how much electrical charge is flowing past a given point in one second. Not to get too scientific but the symbol of voltage is ‘V’, while the symbol of amperage is ‘I’ or ‘A’.

Now if you multiply voltage with amperage, you get power or wattage.

P (wattage) =V (voltage) x I (amperage)

Or I (amperage) = P (wattage)/V (voltage)

Use this formula to calculate how many devices, hair driers, computers, lights printers your Miami gaffer can plug in to a power strip or outlet on the wall or coming out of a portable generator, before you flip the breaker.

How to Avoid Overloading a Power Strip 

Typically, a circuit breaker can handle a maximum 20 Amps of current. And in the U.S., we mostly have 120V circuits. Now if you use the above equation (P = V x I), a typical circuit breaker can withstand maximum 120 x 20 = 2400 watts of power.

That means, you can plug in one 2K (2000 Watts) light or two 1Ks to a 20 Amp circuit. If you plug in one 2K light and one 1K light, the circuit breaker will flip or break.

But for safety reasons, most electricians and gaffers in Miami would recommend using maximum 80% of the breaker rating. So if you plug in one 2K light to a 20 Amp power strip plugged into a wall outlet or portable generator, then you must avoid adding more load or devices to the same circuit.

In order to calculate how much you can safely plug in to a single wall outlet, electricians often use paper Amps.

What is Paper Amps?

Paper Amps is a way of calculating roughly how much you can plug in, before you overload the circuit breaker. The way it works is simple. Take all the wattage of all the lights you’re plugging in to one circuit; add them all together; and then divide them by 100.

Did you notice that we are dividing the total wattage with 100, instead of the typical 120? That’s because we want to keep a little buffer or safety net for poor calculations!

To understand the concept of paper Amps and how it applies in the practical world, let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say you want to plug in one 1K (1000W) and two 650W Fresnel lights to a 20 Amp circuit. Is it possible? Let’s do the math.

(1000W + 650W + 650W)/100 = 2300/100 = 23

So no, you cannot safely connect those three lights to the same circuit because you’ll trip the breaker.

Selecting the Right Extension Cord

On each extension cord, you’ll see ratings in Amps. Let’s say the rating for an extension cord is 15 Amps; and you have 120V circuits, which is everywhere! So if you use the P = V x I formula, the cord is capable of carrying 1800 watts load. But for safety, you should use maximum 80% of the wattage your cord is capable of carrying. In the above example, although the cord is capable of carrying 1800 watts, you need to make sure it is not carrying more than 1440 watts.  These extension cords can get hot and melt!

Apart from Ampere ratings, also consider the length and thickness of an extension cord. It is always safe to use thicker cords when you’re running power from multiple sources to a single location. The thickness of a cord is measured in gauge. The lower the gauge rating, the thicker the cord.

Ideally, your gaffer should use a 12 gauge cord for running up to 2000 Watts of power to your set. If you’re running power from a long distance source, consider using one long extension cord, instead of multiple shorter cords. But one problem with longer extension cords is that they often cause a voltage drop due to wire resistance. You can minimize the voltage drop problem by using thick-gauge extension cords.

Types of Portable Generators

Portable generators [aka geni] come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with different features to suit different needs. So the first thing to do is define your needs. Is your Miami gaffer planning to use a geni to power sensitive electronic devices, such as, laptops, printers, music systems and fax machines? If yes, then look for a generator capable of reducing voltage fluctuation due to harmonic distortion. A Honda generator is perfect for that! You’ll usually need clean, reliable power on movie sets. To that end, choose the right type of generator for your film production.

There are mainly three types of portable generators available in the market. They are;

  1. Brushless generators – This type of geni typically has up to 23% voltage waveform distortion – not suitable for sensitive electronics and HMI and Kino Flo ballasts in a film production.  Normally you will only find these in 3rd world countries or in the Caribbean.
  2. AVR generators – This type comes with voltage waveform distortion of up to 19.5%. Although they interact well with HMI and Kino Flo ballasts, they are not a safe option for your sophisticated electronic equipment.
  3. Invertor generators – With voltage waveform distortion of less than 2.5%, these generators are perfect for use on film shoots. You can safely use them to power both your HMIs and sensitive electronic devices. Also, they are lightweight and not very loud. Most of them come with an eco-mode to offer you more fuel efficiency. For instance, if you switch to the eco-mode of Honda 2000 Watt Generator, it can run up to 15 hours on a single tank of gas.

Some other important considerations when choosing a generator for your film or television productions include your total wattage requirements, whether it has both an electric and a pull start option, and whether it comes with wheels.

So there you go, with this info in hand, your Miami gaffer will be proud!

What’s in Your Grip Truck? A Guide to Equipment and Loading

grip truck rental

They are the essential building blocks for a great lighting package. Grip trucks not only get your gear from here to there, but they also keep your production running smoothly and on schedule. Like most lighting rental companies, Dave’s Grip & Lighting rents grip trucks as well. In fact, we believe we’re South Florida’s most experienced and professional grip truck rental company!

A guide to grip truck rental

Whether you’re new to the job or are a seasoned veteran working with outside vendors like production rental houses, understanding the equipment that’s in your grip truck and how to properly handle it is a must. It also ensures you get the right sized truck with the equipment you need based on the type and size of your project.

We have a variety of grip trucks including 10-ton 5-ton, 3-ton, and 1-ton van packages. Your grip truck rental comes with or without a driver, and is pre-loaded with a variety of lighting, grip, and miscellaneous gear. Customization is always an option.

1-ton cargo van

This is not your standard minivan or sprinter! Sprinter trucks are typically used for small stage work, run-and-gun shoots, and independent narrative films, our 1-ton cargo van is a video producer’s dream. It’s perfect for small commercials, easy to park, and filled with must-have gear like C-stands, scrims, flags, clips, clamps, and more. This van is ready to go at a moment’s notice for your next production!

3-ton grip truck

Ideal for webisode’s, corporate videos, industrials, and smaller commercials and indie features, a 3-ton grip truck rental also has plenty of interior space for add-ons. It moves quick, handles nicely and, thanks to a highly functional shelving and cart layout, loading and unloading is super fast. Small enough to fit nicely on jobs that require more than our 1-ton van package can offer, it comes equipped with a big selection of stands, apple boxes, blankets, clamps, silks, frames, expendables, and a whole lot more. It also includes c-stand, cable, sandbag, header, and flag/net carts.

5-ton grip truck

Looking for a grip truck rental that adds some lights?  Our 5-ton package has a little of everything and a lot more than other production equipment rental companies offer in Miami.  A full-feature truck, it can haul twice the weight of a 3-ton. It has frames of every size, two stand carts, a full complement of c-stands, as per use HMI’s, LED lights, Arri Sky panels S60 and 11 ARRI tungsten lamps, as well as ETC Source Four 26 Degree 750w light for long throws. And there’s an abundance of expendables.

For larger productions, we also offer a 10-ton package that’s designed and built with a bigger crew in mind.

Depending on the package size you rent, consider scheduling a full or half prep day for one or 2 people. Have a newbie on the crew? Let them tag along so they can familiarize themselves with the gear and truck.

The art of loading a grip truck

Loading a small to medium sized grip truck doesn’t take more than an hour—if it’s done right. Of course, the time will vary depending on the size of your crew and how involved the shoot is. No matter what budget or size, there’s a two-point system for loading a grip truck that always works well.

Once wrap is called, assign grips to specific jobs. One or two may be tasked with wrapping cable, another to taking down lights and bringing them to the truck. Make sure light stands are all placed in the same area and make separate piles for cables, sand bags, and so on. And have two or more people on the truck handed the gear from outside in an assembly line fashion. This ensures all the gear ends up in its proper place.

At the grip truck rental house

Here are a few tips for dealing with a grip truck rental house on the day of pickup and during production.

  • Before you pull out of the lot, make a final count to ensure all of the gear you ordered is on board..
  • Keep the truck tidy at all times so gear is easily and quickly accessible.
  • Place ladders, frames, etc. in overhead storage if provided.
  • Keep carts organized and put on the brakes.
  • Tie everything down!
  • Communicate clearly when using the truck’s lift gate.

Every production is challenging. But having an experienced partner like Dave’s Grip & Lighting to help with your grip truck rental is one of the smartest pre-production moves you can make. And if we don’t offer what you need in-house? We’ll help you find it! Our wide range of services includes a fleet of grip trucks that add enormous value to your production while protecting your bottom line. To learn more about all the grip and lighting services we offer, call us today at 305.409.0009, or contact us online.

NAB 2019 is shaping up nicely for lighting and grip rental

Who’s going to NAB2019 from the Miami grip truck crowd? Give a shout out if any of my Miami lighting and grip brothers and sisters are attending. Not to mention any crew new to the business, and seasoned veterans.  Stay tuned here on my blog and Facebook page about unique opportunities to interact with people, and new lighting equipment at NAB 2019. I’ll be chatting up all the lighting and grip reps on the floor. Here’s a look at some of the lights I’ve written about at previous NAB’s.

Also, hoping to get out into the desert as usual for my annual sunrise hike:  Red Rocks Vegas.   Everybody’s invited!

And, check out this: The Hollywood Reporter Cinematographer’s Roundtable. It’s a great chat with an amazing collection of top DP’s who’ve lensed some of the most impactful movies of 2018.

What’s in that Grip Truck & When and Why do you Need one?

grip truck rental

Grip trucks are a well-stocked wonderland of just about every large tool and small gadgets you need to tackle a variety of on-set tasks and technical needs. They aren’t prohibitively expensive, even for budget-conscious shoots.  When you have your grip truck rental on set, the production magically seems to go faster, smoother and with less stress on the crew.

Working grips will tell you that the most important features are the truck layout and the quantity and quality of the carts. They highly value being able to quickly see what they need instead of having to dig for it.

Most professional rental houses offer 3, 5, and 10-ton versions of grip truck rentals as well as a 1-ton van package for smaller shoots. What’s inside? Here’s a walkthrough of a basic 5-ton grip truck package from Dave’s Grip & Lighting.

Stands

Priceless assets on any set, from preemies to low boys, there’s a stand for every job and you’ll need plenty. In a standard package you get 86 in total, including C-Stands, Beefy Babies, Combos and Low Boy Combos, Hi-Hi Rollers, Mombo Combos, Crank-O-Vators, and Mini Preemie stands. C-Stands, of course, are a filmmaking staple. Grips use them constantly.

Stand Accessories

Stands are true workhorses that you can use any number of applications. Gobo arms and knuckles provide options for hanging lights, draping drop cloths, positioning flags, or gripping and supporting just about anything on set. The 4.5” knuckles known as Lollipops set the standard for on-set safety. You can use them to secure overhead frames or larger flags.

Offset arms add that little extra bit of extension and removable turtle bases make getting low-to-the-ground shots super easy. A Platypus clamp is useful for securing bead board. Baby and Junior headers let you mount multiple light fixtures or accessories onto a single stand.

Apple boxes

Every set needs them and there are unlimited uses and advantages to having them. Full, half, quarter, and eighth (pancake) apple boxes are great for propping, standing, sitting, or leveling. Use them to build a table or nail wall plates to them to hold low-angle lighting fixtures.

Sandbags and furniture pads

There’s nothing high-tech about sandbags yet they’re an ever-essential tool. Aside from holding down light stands, you can use them for securing set walls. Convenient handles make it easy to hang them on hooks or risers.

Furniture pads, also known as sound blankets, can be used for everything from protecting equipment during transport to blocking light and wrapping large set pieces.

Clamps and clips

Clamps can be one of a grip’s best friends. They come in various sizes and shapes and you can use them in variety of ways. C-clamps are a classic hardware tool, but the ones used on set have spuds welded to the back for mounting them to C-stands. They also utilize u-shaped plates so you can attach the clamp to just about any surface. A Cardellini clamp has two angled jaws that you can tighten onto any round or flat surface. A Mafer clamp (super clamp) is designed to firmly bite down on pipes and poles. They are great for mounting lights in tight or awkward positions.

Grip clips are designed for one-handed operation and are perfect for holding reflectors, securing backdrops, and many other jobs where a strong clamp is required.

Lights and accessories

Arri Skypanels, Skypanels, Skypanels. This innovative light seems to be on every grip truck these days.  Consuming a modest amount of power and not creating much heat, it is punchy, soft and bicolor. This light does it all!

The ARRI Fresnel series, including the 300w, the 650w tweenie, the 1000w T1, and 2000w T2 are ideal anywhere compact and lightweight tungsten Fresnel spotlights are needed. They’re particularly handy in small studio settings where you might have a grid height problem. The ARRILITE 1000w and 2000w focus flood open face are designed to fill large areas. They are also great key lights for interview packages.

The ETC Source Four is a 750w fixture with a long throw. It’s generally found on stages, but it also works well in the field. You can manipulate it to cast a range of lighting effects.

An Ultrabounce 8×8, 12×12 or 20×20, provides a nice even bounce without any hot spots, while Grifflon features a tough, shiny dual surface with solid black on white side and bright white on the other. Flags and scrims include single net, double net, and poly silk, with a variety of frames supplied.

Production supplies, expendables, and everything else

Director’s chairs, different height step ladders, road cones, tarps, pop-up tents, plastic stacking chairs, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and more. They’re all needed at some point on just about any production (except the fire extinguisher, we hope).

You also get common tools like a hammer, staple gun, shovel, rake, broom, and sledge hammer. As well as sawhorses and staples, nails, and screws in your grip truck rental. And no grip truck’s complete without some WD-40 and gaff tape.

In addition to a header cart, there are 2 C-stand carts, as well as cable & sandbag and flag & net carts. Black wrap, duvetyne, rubber mats, and clear Visqueen for weather protection of gear or as a floor covering are standard gear, as are foam core, bead board, and a selection of show cards.

All grip truck rentals come with or without a driver and we’re happy to help you crew your job with local, proven professionals. Contact us today to learn more or to reserve one of our grip truck rentals for your next South Florida shoot!

Lighting Techniques That Make Your Footage Look Cinematic

Dave’s Grip & Lighting on the job lighting a corporate interview

If you’re into filmmaking, or looking for a gaffer in Miami, like us to help you out, you’d probably agree that lighting skills are an essential tool in every filmmaker’s tool box. One size does not fit all in the lighting world and the last thing you want is for your cinematic scene to look like broadcast news. And, you probably also want to know how to do it yourself! 

DIY baby!

While everyone uses lighting in filmmaking, many don’t know how to use the available tool effectively. Our goal is to shed some light on the basics of interview lighting and lighting actors. Whether you’re a film school student or an indie filmmaker, here are some basic lighting techniques that we’ve been using for years that’ll help your footage look more cinematic:

Three-point lighting

Before you can play with light in filmmaking, you need to understand basic three-point lighting. It’s standard to illuminate a scene from three separate positions, with three different lights – key light, fill light and backlight. Each light serves a different purpose in your overall lighting scheme. Let’s take a close look at each of them.

Key light – The primary light source in a scene and often the strongest one is called the Key light. This light helps to effectively expose the main subjects in a scene. Typically, you set the key light on one side of the subject roughly around 45 degrees above them, so that their other side gets a contrasting shadow.  This could be an Arri Sky Panel. Kinoflo 4 foot 4 bank. Arri 650 Fresnel with a Chimera.  Litemate 4. Astra 1×1 Bicolor LED.  Kinoflo Diva. 

Fill light – As the term suggests, the fill light helps fill the shadows on your subject created by the key light. That’s precisely why a gaffer in Miami like me would always recommend placing the fill light on the opposite side of the key light. Fill light is usually softer than the key light, but you can vary its softness depending on the mood and feel of your scene. To that end, you may can use a reflector as your fill light source. Astra 1×1 Bicolor LED soft. Litemate 4 dimmed.  Arri 300 Fresnel with a Chimera.  Kinoflo Diva.

Back light – The purpose of back light is to separate the subject from the background. This light usually shines above and behind a subject. Gaffers in Miami often direct the light on an actor’s shoulder to create an light contour that creates separation and gives the an edge to the subjects body.  This could be a Joker 200.  Arri 650 Fresnel.

Four-point lighting

This technique adds a fourth light, commonly known as a background light, to the typical three-point lighting setup. That way, you can add more depth to your scene. When I work as a gaffer in Miami I will often position the fourth light behind my subject  low and on the floor on a pigeon plate screwed to a pancake apple box and direct it to the background. You can also use the background light to kill the shadows cast by your foreground objects or subjects. Often you are lighting a backdrop or wall behind the subject.

Butterfly or Paramount lighting

A lighting concept borrowed from studio portrait photography, butterfly lighting is a way of illuminating an actor’s face with the key light thrown directly at them from the front and above. As a result, the key light creates a hard shadow under the actor’s nose or chin. Often, the shadow would look like a butterfly, hence the name butterfly lighting. You’ll see a massive use of this lighting technique in old Hollywood movies by Paramount Pictures, which is why it is also called Paramount lighting.

If you want to soften the harsh butterfly-like shadows, you can use a reflector to bounce back some fill light from front and below onto the subject’s face. This will also help kill any shadows under the subject’s eyes and make the eyes appear to glow.

Rembrandt lighting (one of my favs)

Pioneered by the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt, this lighting technique uses a single light source, AKA the Key light. The light illuminates one side of the subject’s face, while also creating a triangle of light on the other side. This type of lighting looks natural and helps add definition to the subject’s face.

If you’re not sure how to execute this lighting setup in your film set, consider hiring an experienced gaffer in Miami. Usually, you should place the key light on the side of the face that is farthest from camera, with its height raised at around a 45-degree angle. Now you simply need to fine-tune the light’s positioning until it forms a triangle of light on the shadow part of the face. If you want, you can use a reflector as your fill light.

Loop lighting

Here’s one similarity between loop lighting and butterfly lighting. Both of them create a shadow under the subject’s nose. But the shadow from loop lighting typically extends toward on the subject’s cheek, as opposed to appearing right under the nose.

Loop lighting got its name from the fact that the shadow created by it looks like a loop. You can create either a small or a long loop depending on your scene and creative preferences. This lighting setup requires positioning the Key light on one side of the subject’s face at around 30-45 degrees above eye level. You can also use fill light to soften the harsh shadows created by the primary source light.

Split lighting

If you want to add a sense of drama to your scene or want to make your character look menacing, consider using split lighting. This lighting technique, as the term suggests, splits the subject’s face into two equal halves. To achieve split lighting, a gaffer in Miami would often place the key light 90 degrees offset from the actor, so that only one half of the face gets lit. You can also use flags and barn doors to make sure the other half of the actor’s face is in complete shadow.

With these basic film lighting techniques, you can now start experimenting with them in your filmmaking. These methods can be blended.  Practice using a combination of these techniques on your productions to make your film look cinematic and not like news!