How to make just a single light look like many for photos and video

Sep 29, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to make just a single light look like many for photos and video

Sep 29, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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For some of us, especially when we’re just starting out, we’re limited on gear. Maybe we can only afford a single light or perhaps we can afford more, but we want to experiment with just one before laying down a huge amount of cash. Either way, having just a single light for our work is not uncommon. It is possible to make one light look like many though.

In this video, filmmaker Brandon Li shows us a technique for multiplying a single light using multiple takes and compositing. It’s a technique that we’ve seen used a lot in photography, particularly product photography, but not that often with video – especially when you’ve got a moving camera.

For the technique, Brandon shoots the same camera move (it’s on a slider) over and over multiple times with his Godox LC500R LED light in a different spot for each take. Then he layers each of the clips in his editor and lines them up so that the camera movement matches for all of them. Finally, he blends them together using a combination of masks, various layer blending modes and some colour grading to get some of the practical lights to match his LC500R.

Brandon does take the technique to the limit in this example by using the Syrp slider to move the camera, but it’s even easier if you’ve got a static camera sitting on a tripod as you won’t have to deal with any motion tracking of your environment. You won’t be able to use this technique handheld, because it would be impossible to recreate the camera movements exactly each time, but locked off on a tripod, you can add a little wiggle in post to simulate handheld well enough to sell the shot.

Have you used this technique?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “How to make just a single light look like many for photos and video”

  1. Ilkka Alavalkama Avatar
    Ilkka Alavalkama