Being in the profession of art and creativity, we have heard of this old axiom: A good artist is the master of their tools. A great artist is the master of their medium. And being a filmmaker or a professional videographer, one of our mediums is light. Understanding film lighting is very much important. No matter how brilliant the performer, no matter how perfect the framing, if the light in your shot is not good or is just too much, then no matter how hard you try your shot is not going to be good or what you have thought of before capturing it. One of the main and also major ingredients of lighting a shot in the perfect way is getting the quality of light correct (neither extra nor less, just a perfect amount). Now the next question is what quality of light means and how can one control its quality and also quantity to avoid light spills in order to have a fantastic and memorable videography session.

Follow this blog and you will get to know everything about lighting and how to control light spills. So, read it, and implement it in your next videography session.

Happy Shooting!


Hard or Soft Light

Whenever you talk about light, the quality of light does not refer to good or bad quality. Well, instead, the quality of light is a technical term that refers to whether the light is hard or soft, and that quality affects the footage of your video. Some photographers or videographers think that hard and soft light refers to the intensity of light and think that hard light is nothing but bright light, whereas soft light means dim light, but that is not the case when it comes to professional photography or videography. Hard light casts a hard shadow, creating a pointed, clear, and sharp border between light and darkness. The opposite is offered by soft light. Soft lights offer transitions that gradually slide from light to darkness with no clear border. Well, if we compare then none of the lights are better in comparison to the other, but it is important to know when and how to use each style to have no light spill in your footage.


Controlling The Quality of Light To Avoid Light Spill For Your Videography Session

So, now that you know about the quality of light (harsh and soft), the next step to mop up the light spill for your professional videos is how are you going to control the quality of light to have the best videos? To understand this concept better, it is important to understand that the smaller the light appears to be to your subject, the harder the light is. Well, in other words, hard light comes from sources that usually look small in size. Whereas, soft light comes from sources that look large. This concept can be a bit confusing as it does not matter how large the light is, the point is how large it appears in your videos. The sun is huge, but due to the distance looks as small as a nickel and so casts hard shadows. Whereas an oil lantern is much smaller than the sun, if you place it right up next to your subject, it will always cast soft shadows as it looks relatively large from the subject’s point of view.

So, in short, to control the quality of light, you need to make a light appear larger or smaller than your subject. And one of the simplest ways to do that is to move your light source closer to farther from your subject, or vice-versa, depending on how you want the light to affect your video without being in abundance.


Spill Control Uses For Better Lighting 

Being a professional videographer one must be aware of spill control uses. You use spill control to confine light to the specific area you want to get lit up, instead of just letting it splash or illuminate all over the background. For example, you need to light up a dark hallway behind a room, and if you simply aim to spot into the doorway, the light will spill all over the adjacent walls. However, if you use the four barn doors on the front of the spotlight to mask the light edges, you will easily confine all the light to the doorway and get the perfect setting for your professional shots and videos.

Do you know that you can also use spill control while you are washing a background wall with a splash of light? Well, if not, then let us tell you that you can do that too. Without masking, the lovely light patterns on the wall would spill onto the adjacent wall and the floor (well, at times this is actually very desirable to capture in the best of frames!).

When a background pattern is created by a cookie (a foam core or a plywood sheet with holes cut for the light to pass through it creates a unique pattern on the wall), it is important to confine the beam within the edges of the sheet, so that the light does not spill onto the background making the pattern scattered and disturbing the whole backdrop.

Spill control is also very important when lighting subjects. Simply by masking the light edges, you can easily illuminate faces with dramatic slashes of light adding a lot of drama and character to your professional shots. By masking the edges of a key light pattern, you can keep some light off oversize ears or multiple chins. For the latter track, you can also consider using the spotlight screen instead for some dramatic effects. In fact, you can also use some light-integrated spill controllers right on the light to mop up that spill light.


Use Hard-Edge Control Tools For Mop That Spill Light in Your Videos

If you want to mop up the light in your videos, you can consider using hard-edge accessories to slice the light off (more or less) cleanly. Talking about hard-edge accessories, there is nothing perfect and better than spotlights. Spotlights are the only instruments that permit tight spill control in the best possible way while adding unique and dramatic effects to your professional videos. Talking about the ideal spotlight, then the ideal spotlight is equipped with four different kinds of light management, which are mentioned below for your reference-


  • Lens– A classic spotlight is perfectly fitted with a Fresnel lens of glass cast with concentric circles on it. This type of lens easily concentrates the light into a more coherent beam. 
  • Lamp Focus- Spotlight also comes with lamp docs as many spots allow the lamp to be focused by pulling away the base from the rear reflector in order to narrow the beam of the light or simply just push the light back toward it so that it can get widened up and spread to offer the best of the setting. 
  • Barndoors- Barndoors are the metal flaps that block the light path to cut off the light spill. They are mounted on rotatable rings so that the light edges don’t have to be purely horizontal and vertical. If we talk about good units, then they usually have four doors rather than two, and the best ones have at least one pair made of overlapping plates to cut off the light spill. These barn doors can be fanned in or out for a more precise fit with the other pair at right angles to them. 
  • Frame Holder- Behind the barn door ring is a semi-circular trough for gels, screens, or diffusion material, that also helps in cutting the spill light. The very best Frame Holders have wide or double troughs so you can install screens and gels at the same time for the best videos and quality. 


Bring In Various Types of Light Modifiers To Change The Light Source While Avoiding the Light Spill

Talking about light modifiers, then it is a device that in some way changes the character of a light source. There are various other light modifiers that are specially designed to create the illusion of a light source either being larger or smaller than it actually is. There are actually quite literally dozens of if not hundreds of different kinds of light modifiers, but to control the quality of light in your videos to have the best of videography sessions which your clients will adore.



If you want to make your light look bigger and also softer, then there is nothing better than using a diffuser. The most common diffuser is probably the softbox. Using a softbox diffuser makes your light appear to be the size of the box, instead of the size of the bulb. They are not only easy to use but are also easy to find in various shapes and sizes. Using diffusers will help you a lot in controlling the light spill while offering the best for your professional videos. So, whether it comes to mopping up the light spill and you are in doubt, think nothing else, just go with a softbox.

There is absolutely no denying the fact that clouds are nature’s best diffusers. An overcast or a lovely hazy day will surely offer you some of the softest, and also most beautiful and magical light that you could ever wish and imagine while you are shooting in the great outdoors. If by any chance you can’t conjure a cloud on-demand, the next best thing is called a diffuser panel, or even scrim. You can think of a scrim as a portable cloud that beautifully softens the light from any source, be it the sun or studio light.



Well, it is totally your choice to choose a tool to control light spills for your professional videography. But if you think a diffuser is not the right tool for the job, you can try reflecting your light off a big white wall instead to control light spill. Your light source will appear to be the size of the wall instead of the size of the bulb, which will indeed add a great dramatic effect to the videos. This kind of lighting is at times known as ‘bounce lighting’. If the location you are shooting does not have a wall handy, you can easily bounce your light off a piece of poster board in just a pinch. You can also consider buying purpose-built reflectors available in various shapes, sizes, and colors for every kind of situation. For example, a beautiful dish is a bowl-shaped reflector that creates an especially soft, but still bright and vibrant light that’s often used for modeling close-ups.

Lastly, how can we forget that the sun is a classic spotlight that never fails to throw a hard, tight beam as it is so far away? While shooting outdoors, you can’t hang barn doors on it, but the same flags and screens that are being used in the studio will work just fine outdoors. Hard-faced aluminum reflectors are easy to mask down – and they often need controlling light spill. These reflectors when used as key lights can easily throw a beam like a prison searchlight on backgrounds behind the subject, so it is always advisable to use them on both sides to prevent this. All you have to do is to remember to keep shiny reflectors far away from talent as their hard beams can bother or even injure the eyes. So, keep a note of it.

When you are shooting your client’s video outdoors, you can approximate the effect of a giant reflector even in full daylight simply by putting your subject into a patch of total shade. This way there will be no light spill that will affect your video footage.



Narrowers also comes in the category of light diffusers which also helps in controlling the spilling of light. When it comes to choosing narrowers as diffusers, you can consider going for a shrink. It is a light source that includes grids, snoots, and barn doors. Using the right combination of grid and snoot on a regular light will be able to create a harsh spotlight effect, and is much, much cheaper than an actual spotlight. In this case, barn doors come handy because you can simply just adjust them on the fly, which not only saves a lot of time, but the condition is that they are not as effective as snoots and grids for the purpose of narrowing light.

Talking about controlling light spill, well you can read about it all you like, but there are chances that you won’t really understand how the quality of light actually works in reality until you understand how it makes you feel. To witness it and know all about controlling the light spill, you need to take videos from various angles and in various lighting, settings to know exactly what is mentioned in the above blog. Once you will understand the feeling you will get the hang of it and will clearly understand all about the quality and quantity of light and how to control the light spill for professional and incredible videography sessions. We are pretty much that with this blog you are on your way to knowing how to master your medium and light a shot!

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