When you’re a freelance cinematographer, you tend to jump from job to job and production to production to make a living. In today’s world, it seems that I’m less able to specialize in one particular type of production and find myself working on a wide variety of shoots. That is the reason I am a fan of Rosco’s Silk family of LED soft lights – they are so versatile that no matter what a production throws at me, I can light it. I’m the proud owner of the Silk 210 and the Silk 110, and recently I was able to work with their Silk 220 and a Silk 305. Below are four different productions that I lit with each of the four lights so you can see all of them in action and the final results they delivered.
Silk 210 – Mission Boat Gear
I was hired to shoot a promotional video about a new wake surfing accessory for Mission Boat Gear. The project included a couple of interviews, some b-roll, and a few product shots. Because our interview set up was in the warehouse where the product is made, we had limited time to shoot so as not to impede production and shipping. Moving fast was critical to our success, and for this reason, I used the Silk 210 as my main key light.
The first setup was in the back of the warehouse to utilize their product display as a nice backdrop instead of white walls. I set the Silk 210 with the 60-degree egg crate high and to the left of talent. For the fill, I used a Rosco LitePad Vector and we had a small hot spot light we diffused for the hair light.
For the second setup, we continued to use the Silk 210 as our key, and we used that hot spot light to splash the logo on the main wall for a simple two-light setup. We killed all the available lights and we were able to move fast to get great results in this location. Another feature of the Silk lights that helped me get the shot was the ease of switching to V-Mount battery. I was able to light the scene with battery power before I ran any extension cords. This enabled me to expedite client approval, which got us the shot faster than usual.
Silk 220 – University Donor Video
I put the Silk 220, the largest & brightest light in the Silk family, to work on a donor video for a local college. I was hired by an agency, and they wanted the best of both worlds: super high production values with big lights – facilitated by a one-man-band production (me). Instead of bringing my Mole Richardson hot lights or my Eco Punch with a 6×6 or 8×8 frame of diffusion, I simply brought the Silk 220. This powerful, LED soft light saved on extra stands, rigging and diffusion by enabling me to adapt quickly to changing locations and directly light the talent.
For the interview, I set the Silk 220 high and to talent’s left. To get the wrap of the key light I wanted, I bounced the Silk 220 off the white/cream wall, and it lit the talent beautifully. Additionally, I used a Silk 305 (set to a slightly warmer color temp. using its on-board controls) as the fill/edge light on the back right side of talent. The spread of these two bi-color LED fixtures combined to give me more illumination than I needed, so I didn’t need additional fill. I dropped a 4×4 floppy as negative fill and added a small frame of silk diffusion to remove any sheen on the talent’s bald head.
I was worried that since the agency was used to the lighting setups achieved by entire film crews that my “one-man” lighting may not live up to their standards. The agency absolutely loved the result and I had three people from the creative team follow up and tell me just how much they loved the footage I was able to capture. While I was happy to take the credit, I knew that it was the Silk 220 and 305 that delivered these stellar results.
Silk 110 – Screenflair
A director I work with often hired me to light a commercial for a new product. The ad was a joint project between his production company, an out-of-state creative agency and the featured company. Looking at the storyboards, I could see that many scenes were set in a cafeteria setting and that the lighting would need to adapt to the environment. I chose the Silk 110 on this shoot because of its portability and brightness.
I used the Silk 110 as the key light because it was compact enough to tuck into the small rooms, doorways and tight hallways we were shooting in with a large group of talent. Again, the Silk’s ability to easily switch from AC to battery power ended up making this shoot much easier. I was able to run power to the lights for the main sequence, and then switch to battery power when we were shooting in the entryway to avoid the hassle of cords when talent was moving in and out of the scene. The Silk 110 was again the right tool for the right job, and I really like how the final video turned out.
Silk 305 – OKP Films “The Birthday Party”
Two friends of mine share a birthday, and every year they create an over-the-top insane mini-movie to promote their birthday party (think James Bond Style parodies). I was tasked with lighting the bar scene that anchored the other mini-vignettes that showcased these guys traveling all over the world. I had a few hours to light the bar, shoot all the content and capture both wide and tight coverage. Did I mention this was also a one-man band production?
I chose the Silk 305 to illuminate the wide shots because of its long, broad beam. I also chose the Silk 305 because I wanted the light to really wrap around the talent inside this U-shaped booth, which left me without any options to rig or hide lights inconspicuously in the shot.
Ultimately, I ended up using the entire Silk family on this one because they all worked so well in the confined space of the bar and kept me working quick. I used the Silk 220 as the key light, and I paired up the Silk 210 and 110 for a variety of fill and atmosphere lighting.
If you’re interested in watching this one-of-a-kind video that showcases how I brought all of the Rosco Silk lights together, click here (warning: contains some NSFW language). If you’d like to learn more about all of the lights mentioned in this article, visit the Silk Family page on Rosco’s website.