How Important is Correct Lighting in Film Production?

Studio and lighting

Great cinematography is made of multiple elements, and one of the most important is lighting.

Lighting for production is something you’ve got to get right, and an understanding of the principles of it is key for any videographer or filmmaker.

But what role does lighting play, and what should the correct lighting look like?

How Lighting Sets the Scene

Dramatic lighting dictates mood and atmosphere, and the way you light a scene sends out important messages to your audience.

It aids your story and applies to a wide range of subjects and styles. It doesn’t matter whether you’re filming fact or fiction, a short or a full-length feature, for business or entertainment – lighting should be central to your shoot.

What would happen if you shot simply with available light? You wouldn’t be adding any mood or ambience. You would be giving the viewer no signals about what they should be feeling.

You can evoke an upbeat mood with bright lighting and plenty of colour or create a sense of drama and tension using shadows and dark images. Think of the scenes in Citizen Kane and other classics of black and white cinema, where the absence of colour and strong lighting techniques convey both implicit and explicit messages.

Lighting techniques are based on human psychological responses to light. How you position light in a shot can define a character.

However, there are also fundamental technical reasons why your lighting for film production needs to be correct.

Practical Lighting Requirements

The human eye will pick up the smallest of details and make adjustments to give sense to an image.

However, cameras cannot. They don’t respond to light in the same way the human eye does. Therefore, additional lighting provides extra definition.

What you want to achieve with lighting is a definition comparable to what the human eye can pick up.

This means setting up your lighting perfectly, to convey flawless images to your audience.

You should look first at various aspects of your shoot, including:

  • Location
  • Ambient light
  • Changing conditions
  • Shadows
  • Natural light.

All these can play their part in affecting the overall quality.

Know the Space You’re Filming In

Artificial lighting is an essential tool in filmmaking, but only if you use it correctly. To do this, you have to apply it in the right way to the space you’re filming.

To plan this, you need to answer these questions:

  • Are you filming indoors or outdoors?
  • If indoors, is the room large or small?
  • Will the subject on camera be moving?
  • How many people will be in shot?

If you’re filming indoors, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate power to supply to your lights and enough light spread so there are no undesirable dark spots, especially if people on camera are going to be walking into them.

When your subject moves, you don’t want the lighting to change suddenly and become inadequate.

If you’re outdoors, try to maximise your use of natural light by using reflectors, bounce boards or larger lights.

Main Types of Lighting

Three main types of lighting are essential to film production:

  • Key Lighting
  • Fill Lighting
  • Back lighting.

Key lighting is the main light source for your shoot. It should bathe your subjects and the scene in light. It acts as the equivalent of direct sunlight when filming in natural light.

Depending on where you’re shooting, you may require multiple key lights. The style of your cinematography will influence how you focus these lights. For example, hard or soft key lighting will affect the type of shadows on your subject.

You can also accessories and modifiers to your key lights to create different moods and effects.

Fill lighting fills in the dark areas that your key lighting can’t reach. This lighting is weaker so that it isn’t competing with your key lighting. It’s important to get the key-to-fill light ratio correct on your shoot.

You can add realism to a scene with fill lighting, as it eliminates, or reduces unnatural shadows and removes some of the harshness of your artificial lighting. You may be able to achieve some fill lighting effects using a reflector, or even white card, rather than with additional lighting.

The final fundamental component for correct lighting is back lighting. This should lift your subjects from the background, adding more realism to your scene.

Back lighting falls on a subject from behind, adding shape and depth, and reducing any two-dimensional effects.

The idea here is that the viewer should feel immersed in the scene, rather than just simply viewing the images unfold.

Should You Consider Hiring Your Lighting?

As we’ve said, filming conditions can vary considerably, from being outdoors to indoors, and in the different sizes of spaces you’re using.

Consequently, your lighting requirements are likely to vary from shoot to shoot. If you want to maximise your versatility as a videographer or filmmaker, then a sensible option is to look at hiring your lighting.

This can give you greater flexibility, without you having to invest heavily upfront in different kinds of lighting equipment.

For more details about lighting hire for film and video, call us on 0845 460 9988, or email

Can You be Carbon-Neutral in Film and TV?

Solar Panel Farm

We learn much of what we know about global warming and greenhouse gasses from television and films, but ironically, these same pieces of media are themselves major generators of CO2.

What can producers of programmes and features do to reduce their carbon footprint, and is it realistic for the industry to aim for carbon neutrality?

What Does Being Carbon Neutral Mean?

To be carbon neutral is to achieve a balance between the carbon you emit and the carbon you absorb from the atmosphere.

There are various methods for achieving carbon neutrality.

One is the principle of the carbon sink. This is something that absorbs more carbon than it emits. But so far, this only applies to natural phenomena, such as forests, oceans and soil. We have yet to devise an effective manmade carbon sink.

Therefore, the realistic alternative for human activity to achieve carbon neutrality is by carbon offsetting.

This is where one sector offsets emissions in another by reducing them. The major forms of this are:

  • Renewable energy
  • Energy efficiency
  • Other low carbon technologies

Examples you’ll most likely recognise include windfarms to replace carbon-based energy generation and improving building insulation to reduce the consumption of energy for heating.

What is the Environmental Impact of Film and TV?

The British Film Institute (BFI) has produced a sustainability report as a guide for UK film production.

In it, the BFI points out that a blockbuster film (a film with a budget over £53.3 million) produces an average of 2,840 tonnes of carbon. This is the equivalent to the amount of CO2 a 3,700 acre-forest would absorb in a year.

But another issue is that there is no firm method or system for measuring the carbon footprint of film or TV productions.

However, what the BFI report has found is that over 50% of emissions in film production are related to transport. Most of this from land travel, followed by air.

The rest of the film industry’s carbon footprint is through energy consumption. 34% of an average blockbuster film’s energy consumption is via mains electricity and gas. 15% comes from diesel generators.

For television production, the picture is also poor. One hour of TV contributes to 9.2 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This is the equivalent of the total annual CO2 emissions of the average American.

A 2006 UCLA study found that the total emissions of the US TV and film industry were over 14 million tonnes.

While this is nowhere near the carbon footprint of larger and more carbon-intensive industries, it’s still making a significant contribution.

Alongside the emissions that come with TV and film production, there’s also cases of film crews actively impacting the environments they’re shooting in. This isn’t anything new. As far back as 1924, a film production moved bison from the Great Plains to California to film them, but then failed to move them back.

There’s also examples of plastic water bottles being left unrecycled, and crews leaving huge amounts of waste when they’ve finished filming.

How to Move Towards Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutral film and TV might seem a long way off or even an unrealistic aspiration.

Sky has announced its plan to become net carbon zero across its entire value chain by 2030. This will be a challenge, and ultimately it will require new technology.

But are there things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of a shoot?

  • One of the issues is transport. This has the largest impact on a production’s carbon footprint. A way to address this is to look at what needs to be filmed on location and what doesn’t. And to consider the number of vehicles required, and what their energy consumption is. The move towards electric vehicles (EVs) may help to address this issue.
  • Another issue, as we’ve already highlighted, is waste. What can a production do with its waste, and can it ensure that it recycles as much of it as possible?
  • Supply chains and sourcing is another point. Productions can control who they use in the supply chain, and what their green credentials are like.
  • A big source of the film and TV’s carbon footprint is energy consumption. But here there are green alternatives, such as greener alternatives to diesel generators.

The BFI report’s recommendations highlight the need to explore how to become more carbon-neutral at the production planning stage, including things like materials used in set construction, as well as location filming.

For smaller scale videographers and filmmakers, the best approach is to take personal responsibility for the things you can control in your production, such as waste and how you use energy and transport.

And consider your needs carefully when looking to hire specialist equipment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Anamorphic Lenses

Cooke Anamorphic 35-140mm

Anamorphic History

When the film industry first started to feel the heat from competition with television in the 1950s, it had to find ways to innovate.

Hollywood had been developing various widescreen formats to make cinema more immersive, such as CinemaScope. But to compress these wide images onto a screen required a special kind of lens.

An anamorphic lens would compress images using different concave and convex lens components designed to capture the wider image and compress it onto the full height of super 35mm film. It’s only on the cinema screen that the image then un-compresses for the full widescreen effect.

Once the widescreen format became the established norm, audiences benefitted from a wider field of view and increased resolution. This continues to be the case.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Anamorphic?

Obviously, then, there are advantages to shooting anamorphic. But there’s also disadvantages? Here, we look at the uses of anamorphic lenses, and the pros and cons that come hand in hand.

Anamorphic Advantages

The key advantages of anamorphic lenses are:

  • Unique cinematic feel
  • Organic cinematic aesthetics.
  • Increased resolution when final image is corrected.

Anamorphic Effects

There are distinct, cinematic qualities you get when shooting with anamorphic lenses.

  • One of these is barrel distortion, where you’ll notice distortion at the widest edges of the shot.
  • You also get a unique form of compression – due to the angle of view being wider than the standard spherical focal length counterpart; a shallow depth of field is inherited.  
  • The bokeh in high contrast areas is oval – an instantly recognisable cinematic characteristic.
  • Anamorphic lenses reflect more light inside the optics than spherical lenses. This creates vivid flaring effects, such as sharp streaks of light, or soft blooms. You can enhance and control these effects further with the use of different coatings or filters.
  • Rack focusing – anamorphic lenses create a special kind of breathing effect, where the lens vertically stretches out-of-focus areas when pulling focus from one point to another.

These various effects aren’t always obvious, but they each contribute to the cinematic feel of your footage.

Anamorphic Disadvantages

Anamorphic lenses do not have as a good of a close focus as spherical lenses do, so the use of diopter filters is often required in smaller environments.  

They are often large in physical size and have a slower T-Stop so do not let in as much light.

Even the highest quality anamorphic lenses may add unwelcome distortions to your image, sometime called the ‘anamorphic lumps’ where the barrel distortion in the image centre creates unwanted effects on the actors face.  In the height of the anamorphic growth in cinema some actresses refused to be filmed with anamorphic lenses.  

Often anamorphic lenses are older and inherently come with issues because of age. You may see a decrease in the overall sharpness of your footage and chromatic aberration or colour fringing. Although this can often be an advantage if you’re after a softer, filmic look.

In practical terms, anamorphic lenses are more expensive, due to the complexity of their build, and typically you have fewer focal lengths to choose from and even fewer zooms.

When Should You Use Anamorphic?

It boils down to your final product, and how you want it to look, a creative decision. You will get a softer aesthetics and visually quicker cinematic feel with an anamorphic lens. The way it stretches flares, the oval shapes of bokeh and the wider aspect ratio all contribute to its aesthetic impact.

If that’s going to work with your subject matter, then shooting with anamorphic will help you achieve the results you’re looking for.

If you compare an anamorphic lens with a spherical lens, you can see the difference in what each can deliver.

A spherical lens has less glass for the light to pass through and has an overall simpler design. It will generally produce sharper images and minimise distortion across the entire picture.

With an anamorphic lens, you get reduced sharpness and increased distortion closer to the edges of the image. The overall effect is softer, with more dramatic lens flares, due to the extra glass inside the body of the lens.

Should you choose to use an anamorphic lens, you need to consider:

  • Lens characteristics and available focal lengths.
  • The size, weight and t-stop of the lens
  • Camera compatibility.

If you want advice about choosing the right lens for your requirements, please call us on 0845 460 9988, or email        

How Do I Record Four Channels of Audio in Camera

Sennheiser EK 6042 – Two Channel Audio Receiver

How Do I Record Four Channels of Audio in Camera?

Audio is an essential element in video production and being able to record multiple input simultaneously greatly enhances your audio recording capability.

There are various ways of doing this, including using a camera with built-in multiple audio channel inputs, and rigging up radio microphones for location filming.

The good news is that camera technology now enables high quality, four-channel audio recording, ensuring you can capture everything that is happening within the scene.

This is especially useful for self-shooting and controlling your own audio, when budgets are tight and speed is essential.

Why is Four Channel Recording Important?

With four audio channels, you have the option to use more individual inputs. Enabling you to record one or more sound sources at once, to separate tracks. You can adjust the sound balance for each of these tracks separately, to ensure you have a good balance of sound overall.

You should seek the best sound quality possible, and using multiple channels for recording helps ensure this and allows for greater flexibility in post production.

If you want to capture sound clearly on location, for example, you’ve then got a choice of channels you can edit and adjust.

Once recorded, you can mix down your four-channel recording to give you a stereo soundtrack to accompany your footage.

Built-in Four Track Audio

The Sony PXW-Z280 and PXW-FX9 come with superior professional audio capabilities. They have inbuilt four channel audio recording, and independent volume dials for precision control of external audio inputs.

Essentially, this equips these cameras with similar audio capabilities of larger equipment, while retaining exceptional portability and maneuverability.

They both feature two XLR inputs, for pro-audio devices, and a Multi-Interface (MI) shoe on the front of the top handle that integrates with Sony’s own devices, allowing two more channels.

This means you can use up to four wireless radio mic transmitters for audio input too, which is ideal for field recordings and offering you more flexibility.

What Are the Benefits of XLR Microphones?

XLR is the go-to standard for high quality audio input, and therefore is an essential component in audio recording for video.

XLR microphones send out balanced signals, which isolates noise. XLR is a superior and more robust type of connector for this type of audio set-up.

There are various quality issues you can face with audio recording, which XLR addresses, including ground loop noise, crosstalk and EMI and RFI (magnetic fields that cause interference).

Using Wireless Radio Microphones for Video

Utilizing the MI shoe on the top handle allows the use of channels three and four with Sony UWP-D11 Radio Mic single and duel receivers.

This is a very useful addition to the toolkit of the modern camera professional. It combines professional audio with an excellent level of versatility.

Advanced wireless radio microphones can now ensure that you get crisp and clean audio input, even for external shoots in demanding environmental conditions.

Fundamentally, audio is as important as the pictures you shoot, but in many situations you won’t have the luxury of being able to set up mic stands or other audio arrangements.

The quick and easy solution is to use wireless radio mics.

This means no complicated cabling, and the freedom to shoot subjects while walking and talking.

At one time, radio mics would have been seen as something of a compromise, with a limited dynamic range, prone to hiss and noise.

However, with a modern, digital mic system, like Sony’s UWP series, you can eliminate these problems.

What the UWP-D11 radio mic offers is a hybrid solution, which combines digital processing with an FM transmission.

This is a compact, rugged device with a clear and readable LCD display, backlit for reading in the dark.

The belt pack receiver has a docking port for the microphone, which makes it compatible with video cameras, such as the PXW-Z280 and FX9.

The receiver has two antennas, which in itself is not unusual, except that here they have two independent receivers. The receiver will automatically switch to the one with the best signal.

This prevents any audio dropouts occurring, usually from signal interference in buildings.

The receiver is perfect for four channel audio recording, since it can scan for any unused channel automatically. Once it has found it, the receiver will set the frequency of the transmitter to match the channel via infrared.

This advanced wireless radio mic also boasts an improved dynamic range, which is transmittable over a single FM channel. This compressed sound is then expanded to a natural range once inside the receiver.

This process is digital, which enables the mic to handle various transient sounds very well, capturing vital details in sound recording for video.

Audio Set-up for Self-shooting

Shooting a video by yourself can pose certain technical challenges, particularly when it comes to getting your audio quality right.

You don’t necessarily need a studio environment, but you should look for somewhere that offers enough quiet background.

Where you’re going to have your camera close-up, you can record directly to your camera, without an external audio recorder. You should, however, use an external microphone.  The camera’s internal microphone are normally only reserved for atmosphere or safety tracks.

With the Sony PXW-Z280 and PXW-FX9, you have individual volume dials for each of its four channel inputs, enabling you to control sound levels precisely.

The Sony PXW-FS7 also features the MI Shoe however only features two volume dials making it harder to control channels three and four on the fly. 

The Sony K1M and K2M audio input device solves this issue by offering two XLR inputs and volume dials for these channel three and four inputs.

Microphone Use

Place your external microphone as close as possible to your sound source. Under the inverse square law each time you increase your sound-to-mic distance by a factor of two, the sound pressure level reaching the mic decreases by a factor of four.

Use the fewest microphones you can to get the optimum sound recording you want. If you over-mic a shot, you can pick up too much background noise. Obviously, with four channel recording, you have the capability to add sound inputs, and in the edit decide whether the track is required or not.

Any time you’re changing your recording set-up, check your levels again, and adjust as necessary. You don’t want an audio level that’s too high or too low. Remember, some people will talk more loudly when presenting than simply talking to test audio levels.

Always monitor your sound. Missing a shot is one thing, but getting your sound levels wrong, or having a poor quality of audio, will be just as disastrous to your finished footage.

What’s the Best Macro Lens?

Whether you want to film tiny things or want to capture more detail on larger things, you need the right lens, and the right lighting. Macro lenses enable you to shoot close up, allowing the viewers perspective to be altered.

Macro lenses can focus from infinity to 1:1 magnification. This means that the real-life size of the image is that same as the image the camera’s sensor reproduces.

What is Macro?

Macro filmmaking, like macro photography opens up a whole new visual world, by taking things that are small and presenting them in close-up detail, much larger than life.

Popular macro filmmaking subjects include wildlife and the natural world, but you could also apply it to subjects like technology, manufacturing science and arts and crafts, where highlighting intricate details provides lots of possibilities for intriguing and dynamic visual content.

Macro shooting depends on several critical factors that are fundamental to its success:

  • Depth of field
  • Focus
  • Composition
  • Lighting.

Depth of field is the first issue you encounter with macro. When filming very small details, the depth of field is extremely small creating challenges with focus.

If you focus on the detail on a butterfly’s wing, for example, you may end up with only part of this in focus. Blurred edges can, of course, look good artistically speaking, but they may not be your intended effect.

What your aim should therefore be, is to achieve the largest depth of field you can at the smallest scale.

This brings in the creative element of filmmaking, as you will need to also bring light and composition into the equation.

To increase your depth of field, you’ll have to decrease the aperture on your lens by increasing your camera’s f-stop or t-stop.

Of course by doing this you will need more light. There are lenses that will help with this considerably.

The ultra-compact Laowa 25mm lens will work in very confined spaces, but without compromising surrounding light. It is capable of capturing images from 2.5 to 5 times life-size. It’s also relatively fast for a macro lens at f2.8.

Resolution can also be an issue when reproducing tiny images. Again, this is where a specialist macro lens will help. The Sony Macro FE 90mm can capture the finest detail, maintaining resolution up to 1:1 magnification.

The Infiniprobe TS-160 Robusto is specialist lens allows you to focus from infinity to mere millimetres from the object you’re filming.

The TS-160 comes in both EF and PL mounts and allows multiple configurations depending on your desired shot and angle of view.

Some helpful tips;

If you’re filming an organism in macro, focus on its eyes, because people tend to look at the eyes of an animal first. For flowers, it makes sense to focus on the centre of the flower.

However, when filming in macro, you have the potential to focus on a wide range of detail, so let this guide you, rather than conventional notions of what should, or shouldn’t, be in focus.

Wide-angle Macro

Using a wide angle lens can help you film in macro. Strictly speaking, a wide angle lens isn’t macro at all, but it can help achieve the same effect, enabling you to capture close-up, impactful images but with a wide angle of view.

This is to do with technique as much as it is about technology.

For example, the established method for achieving superior wide-angle shots is to include foreground interest that will lead the viewer’s eye into the frame.

You can intensify this method for macro filming by positioning your camera low, to create a perspective that highlights the subject of the shot to dramatic effect.

But you should also consider how the background of your shot will work with the foreground detail. You could, therefore, let the foreground interest dominate, moving in as close as your wide-angle lens will allow. At the same time, the background provides secondary information to the viewer, making the whole shot that much more informative.

With a wide-angle lens you can also distort perspective, exaggerating the parts of the subject closest to your lens. This too adds impact to your close-up filming.

Although shooting in wide-angle macro doesn’t have to mean using a dedicated macro lens, there is now the option to combine wide angle and macro in one.

The Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide Angle Macro is a lens that combines an ultra-wide angle, DSLR full-frame lens with a true 1:1 macro reproduction capability.

This is a wide-angle lens with a unique optic for capturing really interesting images in tiny detail. The lens is compact and lightweight and entirely mechanical.

It has a built-in shift adjustment feature, which enables you to correct the vertical distortion you can get with extreme wide-angle focal lengths.

Composing Your Shot in Macro

Composition has the potential to make or break your macro shoot. For a start, everything will show up in your shot, including unwanted dust, dirt, hair and other particles. So you must try and keep your shoot as clean as possible.

Try to fine-tune your composition rather than relying on post-production.

Experiment with your point of focus, because the smallest changes can give the subject you’re shooting a whole new look.

In fact, maintaining the correct perspective while maximising your focus area is a key challenge of macro composition in filmmaking. If the subject is moving towards you, for instance, then only part of it will remain in focus at any one time.

Alternatively, a sideways view of the same movement would involve keeping the entire subject in focus.

Lighting for Macro

Good lighting is essential for macro filmmaking. You need light to focus on your subject, but many small organisms will be sensitive to heat generated by halogen lamps.

You need to use a type of lighting that will work technically, but also be appropriate, and non-harmful, to the subject you’re filming.

LED lights are a highly versatile solution, which don’t emit potentially damaging levels of heat. For macro videography, you require continuous light, and LEDs are the best answer for this.

They provide a bright, intense light that is directional, and they’re highly energy-efficient.  Important for when you are increasing your depth of field to see more detail.

Other Macro Accessories

Besides using specialist, lightweight lenses, there are tools to help with the extreme levels of precision required in macro filmmaking.

The Manfrotto 454 Micro Positioning Plate Base gives you fingertip control of micro-adjustments, to make sure of precise positioning of your camera.

You’ll also need a sturdy tripod to ensure you stabilise your shots. At macro scale, even the slightest wobble or unintended movement will be glaringly obvious.

Macro film making can be fun and challenging, allowing the viewer to see the previously unseen.  For more information about our macro lenses and equipment please get in touch.

Things You Need to Know to Improve Your Lighting

Studio and lighting

Lighting is a key and often understated element to filming. Creating a look and an emotive response is not always down to the camera or lens but how the subject appears in front of the camera.

Lighting is one of the core elements when filming, and there are various types that enhance and give the finished work the visual impact it needs to be successful.

Dramatic Lighting

Chiaroscuro lighting uses extremes of light and shade to heighten mood and drama in a scene. Using a side light is a simple way of achieving this. The light comes from the side parallel to the subject. It is low-key and high-contrast.

To maximise this effect, go for no fill, or a very low fill light ratio. Sidelights are also great for revealing textures.

Another technique is to make use of practical light. This is lighting that appears as a working light within the scene itself, such as a household lamp.

Practical lamps can work as a major source of illumination in a scene, adding depth to it but normally need to be supplemented by an additional source.

If you haven’t got the option of a dimmer, you can apply some diffusion gel around the bulb.

Hard or Soft Light?

If you use hard light, it will create sharp, harsh shadows. Typically, you will get hard light from a small lighting source or from direct sunlight (a small strong source).

Generally, hard light is seen as undesirable, but it can be extremely useful if you are creating a scene that requires dramatic lighting effects or for specific genres.

Soft lighting comes from a larger light source and is typically more desirable. Soft light will produce soft shadows.

However, if it is soft enough, you can create a scene with no shadows at all. One technique for achieving this is by raising the key light and being generous with your use of fill lights.

This will keep the lighting in your frame bright and balanced between objects, creating virtually no shadow.

Key Light

The key light is the main light you use for the shot. This light should bathe the subjects and the scene in light. The natural outdoor equivalent would be direct sunlight.

You may need to use several key lights in a scene, depending on the location and the situation.

The normal position for key lighting is above the eyes of the subject or subjects you’re shooting. This ensures that features are clearly lit.

How you focus this light will depend on the requirements of your cinematography.

How hard or soft the lighting is can reflect how the scene should feel emotionally. This hardness or softness of key lighting comes from the source of the light, and how it affects the shadows on the subject.

Lighting your subject from below rather than above, has the effect of creating more sinister or atmospheric profiles.

Your choice of key lighting can create a very specific ambience.

High key lighting will cover the scene in harsh light, creating lots of contrast. Low key lighting creates shadows on subjects’ faces, often from one single light source.

Fill Lighting

If you only depended on key lighting to shoot your scene, you would find yourself with lots of dark background spaces.

Fill lighting fills in these dark areas, but uses weaker or dimmer light to do so.

By using fill lighting, you can make a scene more believable. It eliminates some of the harshness you get with key light, rendering a natural scene.

Fill lighting doesn’t have to involve lighting at all. In some circumstances, you can even use white card or a reflector.

The fill light should remain indistinctive and not create shadows of its own. You measure fill light in a fill light ratio, which is the relative light between the key and the fill lighting.

Back Lighting

The back light lifts the subjects from the background and helps to separate them from the background.

Getting the position of back lighting correct is crucial as it needs to remain natural to the scene.

Because the back light hits the subject from behind, it can separate them from a dark background, giving them more shape and depth. This helps prevent them looking two-dimensional.

You can use bright sunlight as a backlight, even if it is too harsh as a key light, because it will make your subject stand out but you will need a strong key light to expose correctly.

Lighting is a valuable means of making what you shoot look distinctive and memorable. These techniques should help you to improve your lighting technique.

Which Atomos Shogun is Right for Your Shoot?

Atomos Shogun

Monitor-recorders are a versatile tools that provide key functionality to camera operators as well as recording the cameras video and audio feed. You can use them to watch scenes in progress as colour-calibrated monitors, record the primary footage in the field, or for backup recorders when you’re doing a studio production.

Atomos have become renowned for their popular, easy to use plug and play recorder monitors that accurately display your camera and record your cameras video feed, displaying images clearly, even in broad daylight.

There are various models from Atomos available, so which one will be right for your shoot?

Atomos Shogun: A Monitor-recorder Hybrid

The first thing to note about all Atomos monitors is that they combine the functions of a monitor and a recorder.

They can help to unlock the full technical potential of your camera, allowing for a greater record signal that may be possible on the camera internally which can also streamline your post-production workflow; whilst providing you with essential operator tools including focus and exposure tools.

Essentially Atomos products merge what would once have been a separate set of features, incorporating recording, playback, monitoring and editing in one highly functional device.

Using the Atomos Shogun, you can review and collaborate with your crew or clients on set instantly.

How to Shoot and Record What You Really See

Using Atomos recorders, you will see the images you’re shooting as the appear in the real world utilizing Atomos’s HDR scale. Their recorders are capable of utilizing the camera native sensor information. This gives your recordings maximum sensor detail.

Atomos is partnered with various editing software brands, including Apple, to record a variety of flavours of ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR recording to Atomos recommended solid state drives. You also benefit from longer recording times in HD and 4K this way as SSD drives offer a higher capacity than traditional camera media.

And in practical terms, Atomos monitors are built for in-the-field use, being both durable and lightweight, offering touch screen operation and battery, 12v Dtap camera power and AC supply.

Which Atomos Recorder Should You Choose?

There different models in the Atomos range, including:

  • Atomos Ninja V & Ninja V+
  • Atomos Shogun 7
  • Atomos Sumo19
  • Atomos Neon

They all offer HDMI and SDI inputs, making them highly adaptable for different sets and shoots.

The Shogun 7 is the latest 7” model. It builds on the previous model Inferno’s capabilities. Not only will it act as a monitor and recorder, but also as a live, multi-cam switcher.

Capable of recording through four separate SDI inputs, whilst also taking a separate mixed-feed from the switcher. The 7” size makes it perfect for larger camera on-board monitors and director monitors too.

The same functionality as the Shogun 7 is also built in to the Sumo19 giving you a much larger monitor to work with. The Sumo19 allows record playback operation more easily with it size along with the use of the switcher and seeing multiple cameras simultaneously.

The Ninja V & Ninja V+ are the more stripped-back models, with one standard HDMI input and output with the SDI input being offered as a bolt on accessory. However their size makes them ideal for smaller cameras as on-camera monitors or dedicated camera recorders.

The Atomos Neon series of recorder monitors allows for true HDR playback in 4K either on set or in the grade, showing pure blacks and true colours that can be matched from the shoot to post production.

All Atomos recorder monitors allow greater flexibility with certain cameras allowing for the cameras raw video feed to be either recorded as raw natively or converted to another codec.

With these different levels of functionality, choosing the correct Atomos monitor-recorder boils down to the features you’ll need during production.

Atomos Recorders are available to rent, so talk to us first about your production requirements.

Why the ARRI Alexa is One of the Most Popular Cameras for Film

The ARRI Alexa is now an industry standard for feature, commercial, drama and high end documentary and broadcast shows. It has become a staple and the go to camera for crews and production.

History of ARRI Cameras

The origins of ARRI lie in a small shop in Munich, opened by August Arnold and Robert Richter in 1917. Among the various things the shop sold were film cameras and other related apparatus.

ARRI’s first products were printing machines and lights for filmmaking. The first camera Arnold and Richter built was the KINARRI 35.

When Richter visited the USA in 1925, he saw how Hollywood studios were using bigger and heavier cameras. This observation influenced future ARRI camera designs.

The breakthrough came in 1936, with the prototype for a new lightweight camera, the ARRIFLEX 35.

During World War II, German combat cameramen used ARRIFLEX cameras, and the first ones to make their way to America were captured by the allies during the war.

After the war, with ARRI resuming manufacturing, the company released its next generation ARRIFLEX 35 II camera. With more Hollywood films being shot on location from the late 1960s onwards, ARRIFLEX cameras became more widely used.

This included such cultural landmarks of cinema as Easy Rider (1969).

The ARRIFLEX 35 III was the new model released by ARRI in 1979. In the meantime, it had also produced the 35BL, its first silent 35mm production camera.

Various notable Hollywood films used this model, including Taxi Driver (1976), Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Shining (1980).

From the end of the 1980s onwards, larger formats and faster speeds began to dominate filmmaking. The ARRIFLEX 765 arrived in 1989, innovating the use of a separate, electronically-synchronised camera movement motor to minimise noise.

In 1994, the ARRIFLEX 535 represented a further technical advance, with its adjustable viewfinder system. The company went on to refine this initial version to make it less bulky.

Meanwhile the ARRIFLEX 435 replaced the 35 III.

The company adapted agilely to the digital age, bringing out the ARRI D-20 in 2005 and D-21 in 2008. And then, the first ARRI Alexa model in 2010. Housing the infamous ALEV III CMOS Bayer sensor, that would go on to be used in all models of ALEXA and Amira up to present day including ALEXA LF and ALEXA 65.

The Move to Digital: ARRI Alexa

The move to digital worked well for ARRI. The ALEXA looked and felt familiar enough as an ARRI camera, and the company’s researchers had looked extensively at things like image processing and what pictures should look like when comparing to film.

The images that the ALEXA captured did not look like video, they appeared cinematic. The camera’s dynamic range and exposure range was similar to film, as was its ability to expose highlights and shadows.

It had the image processing capability to achieve cinematic imagery, a familiarity we as an audience have adopted since the dawn of film.

The original ALEXA went on to become one of the most successful digital cine cameras of all time. By 2017, it was being used in 80% of major motion picture productions.

Crews were already familiar with the ARRI name and with its kit, including the lenses and peripherals they could continue to use with the new, digital ARRI cameras.

But the real proof was in the results: pictures that looked more like film.

Another major benefit of the ALEXA, which has supported its widespread adoption, is how simple it is to learn to use and operate. With digital came vast menus and more buttons, ARRI’s simplified design based on their history of film cameras made digital to film enthusiasts.

Excellent Image Quality

A key feature of the ARRI ALEXA for filmmakers is image quality. Colour reproduction and grain texture are stand-out features, due to the way the camera has been engineered to produce more textured, softer images whilst still retaining resolution and detail.

With the ARRI ALEXA, you do not get images that feel too sharp or overly digital.

The way the company’s engineers have concentrated on colour science has continued to pay off, helping to produce natural skin-tones and familiar highlight roll off that was previously unseen in digital cameras. The ALEXA’s imaging system is highly sensitive, and it will maintain its dynamic range at all sensitivity settings.

The camera has the ability to show the operator a surround view to allow them to see edge of frame, booms and marks entering show or record Open Gate allowing the full extent of the sensor to be recorded especially useful for VFX.

It is an example of how the ALEXA effortlessly combines technical excellence with ease of use.

The Same Sensor

All ALEXA cameras have the same sensor, the ALEV III . This shows an enormous amount of confidence in their original concept. This also allows operators and Directors of Photography to understand how to light and expose scenes so they do not have to be concerned with if the camera is capable or not.

For the end-user, it means they can rent any ARRI ALEXA and be sure of the results. The imagery will be of the same high standard that people have come to expect from ARRI.

Different designs will vary in terms of size and functions, but they are all fundamentally built around the same sensor.


ARRIRAW allows full date and information from the sensor to allow the most flexibility in post production. This format retains the camera’s natural colour response and exposure as uncompressed and unprocessed sensor data.

It is the digital equivalent of a film negative, which the camera then processes, converting the single channel image into a colour image for normal viewing.

It retains the pristineness of the raw recorded data, which allows you to go back and refine your results in post production.

This represents a significant advantage for post production, visual and special effects as well as the end to end image.


The ARRI ALEXA Mini has proved to be extremely popular with documentary and independent filmmakers.

Essentially, it’s a lightweight variant of the full size ALEXA model, with a carbon fibre body weighing in at 2.3 kg.

It enables filmmakers to shoot anywhere or mount the camera on to anything with superb image quality. It is perfect for gimbal and drone work too. It features  interchangeable lens mounts, and is capable of working with anamorphic lenses.

The Mini was updated with a full frame ALEV III sensor in 2019 to achieve true 4K imagery for requirements from 4K broadcasters, the ALEXA Mini LF goes on to continue the original Mini’s success while we patiently wait for the announced and delayed ALEXA Mini II.

The ALEXA range of cameras continues to set the industry standard for modern, digital filmmaking.

Specialist Filming and Creating a Unique Look

Wildlife and natural history filming over the past few years has brought us impressive images from far across the globe.  With these challenges and obstacles that have been encountered and overcome technology has followed in the footsteps providing new equipment to capture the world in new ways.   

These technical advancements have brought new creative possibilities to every user now.  From viewing from the point of view of an ant to seeing in the dark we now stock a wide variety tools for productions to capture new innovative looks.

Laowa 24mm Probe Lens EF/PL

From filming the naturally elusive to the hard to reach and getting up close to subjects; the Laowa 24mm probe lens (available in a Cine EF or PL Mount) offers an insects perspective, focusing 2:1 macro to infinity.

It also presents an increased depth of field, for producing excellent background details at short distances.  This means you can get closer to subjects more than ever before, whether you’re filming wildlife, food, products or people.  As opposed to other lenses, the probe allows the lens to be inserted into small spaces no matter what size camera you are using and is waterproof too enabling you to use the front of the lens underwater.

Infiniprobe TS-160 Robusto EF/PL

This specialist lens allows you to focus from infinity to mere millimetres from the object you’re filming with an alarming up to 16x magnification!

Perfect for capturing minute details, the TS-160 comes in both EF and PL mounts.  The lens can be configured with a right angle adaptor to allow a variety of angles and perspectives.

From filming the hairs on a fly to a running dive into an ant’s nest, you can use the TS-160 to focus on a specific object at a distance then move in until it occupies a single frame, creating some pretty unique and spectacular shots.

Laowa 15mm Macro Lens

The ultra-wide angle lens makes it ideal for shooting macro in exteriors.

As the world’s widest 1:1 macro lens, the Laowa 15mm gives camera operators the ability to get extremely close to their subjects, without sacrificing any essential surrounding detail.

Regardless of location, the Laowa 15mm can capture precise details while maintaining a clear sense of place and narrative.

Laowa 25mm Ultra Macro EF Lens

For super macro shooting, the Laowa 25mm is both compact and lightweight, without compromising on technical performance.

Fully manual, it offers magnification from 2.5 to 5 times life-size!

The Laowa 25mm has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8, allowing you to stop down for detail and wide depth of field, or film fully open if you are short on light, or indeed want to draw in the viewers’ attention but creating a shallow depth of field.

Phantom VEO4K-PL Camera

The Phantom VEO4K is a compact, versatile camera that enables you to shoot in detailed 4K ultra-slow motion.

Its compactness makes it portable and adaptable in a broad range of settings and mount options which would be impossible with a larger camera.

The camera allows for remote triggering either via a hardwire trigger, Bluetooth or remote trigger like the Semote remote camera controller.

Combining small size, affordable media and super slow motion 4K up to 1000fps or 2K up to 1850 frames per second the Phantom VEO4K offers unique possibilities to see what the eye cannot.

Sony A7S MKII Full Spectrum Camera

Bad outdoor lighting is a barrier that most film-makers will encounter at some time, and controlling light is essential to shooting exteriors successfully.

The Sony A7S MKII offers powerful, low light performance, with an impressively ultra-sensitive ISO range of 50-409,600.

This full spectrum modified camera is simultaneously sensitive to UV (Ultra Violet) and IR (Infrared) wavelengths, as well as to regular visible light. Its night vision capability makes it an ideal choice for filming nocturnal wildlife.

You also have the option of applying filters to limit the camera’s visibility to specific wavelengths to suit your specific shoot.

The full frame A7S MKII has a native Sony E mount, which makes it adaptable to accept a wide range of lenses and other lens mounts.

Canon ME20F-SH Camera

The ME20F-SH offers unrivalled low light performance capable of ISO’s in excess of 4 million which means the camera can see objects in almost complete darkness.

Compact and light to handle allowing a wide variety of rigging possibilities in demanding environments.

The ME20 delivers impressive colour filmmaking under low lighting conditions, with full, high quality HD output.

It has infrared colour capture and an advanced full frame 2.26megapixel CMOS sensor that is designed especially for shooting in low light.

It also gives you extended and flexible control over your shooting options, including shutter and aperture priority in automatic mode, and manual control whenever you want it as well as internal ND’s for shooting in daylight.

RED Camera Full Spectrum OLPF

This Kippertie Full Spectrum optical low pass filter gives outstanding sharpness to images, in both full spectrum and IR.

Compared to other OLPF’s, this full spectrum filter transmits a wider range of wavelengths, especially ideal for the RED Gemini camera with its dual native ISO’s.

The filter has anti-reflective and protective coatings and is easily interchanged with other RED DSMC2 OLPF’s, meaning you can use the same amazing camera for both your regular “visible light” shots as well as UV/IR/FS filing, simply by just changing the OLPF!

Movcam Roll Rig Cage

When it comes to continuous rotation, the Movcam Roll Rig gives you the ability to create a continuous barrel-rolling effect, a unique and previously very expensive effect to produce.

You can control this 360-degree movement either manually or by using the provided ARRI ZMU-3 and CLM-4 Motor to drive the rotation to give the cage a controlled, calibrated roll.  Alternatively, a standard WLCS with suitable torque motor can drive the rotation of the camera wirelessly.

The cage has been calibrated to give centre-lens axis spins with either the ARRI ALEXA Mini or RED DSMC2 camera bodies. 

Feather Crane

In demanding and challenging conditions for filming, you need the right support equipment, especially for getting those hard-to-reach shots.

The Feather Camera Crane is the perfect accessory for outdoor filming in remote locations. It can handle a payload of 4.5kg, and has a generous boom reach of 10 feet.

Made from carbon fibre, the crane really is feather-light, when you compare it to what it can handle.

Its telescopic boom packs down to a compact 28 inches, and when stored, the whole rig only weighs 1.72kg.

Supplied with Miller Solo tripod legs, the whole system can pack away into a backpack, making it very easy and convenient to travel with on those tough expedition hikes!

ABC Camera Crane

Creating a birds eye view, jibbing from ground level to up high or off the side of a cliff face; the ABC Speedy 9 crane is versatile, and quick and easy to put together.

It has a robust 10kg payload capacity, even at its fully extended 9m length (7m reach).

It includes an inventive tilt system, which enables you to support the camera parallel to the arm of the crane, or to control it independently.  With a variety of mounting options available for gimbals or fluid heads, the camera can be mounted static or ready for remote controlled movement.

Is all packs away into commercially accepted flight cases all less than 1.8m long and none weighing more than 30kg. Can be supplied with solid weights for local use, or water weights for travelling.

Defy Cadence Cablecam

This versatile cable cam kit provides you with a portable and strong solution to point-to-point filming capable of carrying payloads up to18kg at speeds of 30mph taking care of most camera packages.

Use in places a drone is impractical / impossible to use, like through forests, over crowds, indoors, or with no pilots license!

It offers fully autonomous control, including acceleration, braking and active traction remotely from the Defy Pulse controller.

The Cadence Cablecam also gives operators a continuous real-time data display, to ensure they get the best footage using it.

Wiral Lite Cable Cam

Lightweight and fast cable cam for small cameras.  Easily rigged to achieve professional, all-angle tracking shots, and for getting up close to subjects in even the most challenging environments, this cable cam system provides the answer.

You can assemble the Wiral Lite in 3 minutes using its lightweight cable design and simple foldaway carriage.

It’ll take payloads of up to 1.5kg, with a battery life of 3 hours.  The remote that comes with it has a range of 200metres and enables you to control your tracking rate in three modes: normal, time lapse and speed. Be careful though, the max speed of 9m/s is furiously fast!

We recommend pairing this with the DJI Osmo X5R for incredible gimbal stabilized RAW footage!

Cognisys Stackshot

For macro photography, creating a deep depth of field can be near impossible; the Stackshot combines multiple stills images at different focus distances to give you a greater depth of field in a single image

Useful in macro filming, and also when shooting landscapes, you can automate this process completely with the Stackshot.

The system is easy to configure, and all it requires is a shutter cable, linking your camera and the device.

Rigwheels Cloud Mount

Capturing movement is fundamental to filming, naturally, but at the same time, you don’t want the wrong movement disrupting a shoot.

Filming from a moving vehicle can cause camera vibration, especially if you’re on rough terrain.

The Rigwheels Cloud Mount attaches your camera rig to your vehicle firmly and securely, using its own vibration isolator system to reduce unwanted “Z-axis” movement significantly. Pair with a gimbal like a Ronin2 and you suddenly have a 4-axis stabilized, remote control car mount.

Using the Cloud Mount, you can achieve smooth and dynamic camera movement from your vehicle, even when the going gets tough.

Hire The Perfect Equipment For Your Needs

If you are interested in any of the equipment mentioned here or would like to know more, you can visit the product page via the links in the text or contact us. You can also view even more products on our product page. With our extensive range, we are sure you’ll find exactly what you are looking for.