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.