Working for a lighting company we get asked, “how would you light this” a lot.

When I first started as a technician in my school studio we learned to light by watching the other people do it. Someone would set a basic kit light on a stand and blast the person we were interviewing. It was, I am sure, a very “deer in the headlights” experience for them.


Times have changed, some of the same lights still exist, but cameras today are a lot more sensitive and forgiving in terms of light levels needed. I met a prettyVideo-Lighting talented guy a bunch of years back, his name is Bill Holshevnikoff. He’s a director of photography and shot videos all over the world. On location, in a studio, daytime, nighttime, it doesn’t matter he’s done it. When he was young he worked with a photographer who showed him how to light objects using elements of three-dimensional contrast. It was a revelation to him (and me) because the things we light are rarely flat.

Come to find out, in most cases, there’s a better way than having your light head-on doing the “deer in the headlight” look! Who knew?

I took a class from Bill and over the course of the day we learned about 3-D Contrast, hard-light, versus soft light and how to light things for interviews. Turns out it wasn’t that hard and it was amazing for me to see hardened videographers who thought they knew it all open up and jump in once they saw the difference on camera.

Bill worked with the folks at Arri Lighting and created a cool book that has a lot of these set-ups in it. It shows a picture of the show and below it has a diagram of where the lights were placed. Pretty handy huh?

The book does point out the Arri fixture that is used to create that look, but keep in mind the principles are sound for whatever lights you have.

Don’t have a softbank? Put some tracing paper on a large frame and use that. Like I said the set ups all work and you can use the lights you have.

For the readers of this I’ve posted a version of the handbook for you to download for free. No obligations, no hooks, nothing to fill out, just a download of the pdf for your use. The URL for you to use is

Coming soon, neat ways to make softbanks if you can’t afford them.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at [email protected]