How to Light Night Club Environments: Into The Badlands

INCLUDED IN THIS LESSON:  19 Minutes of Instructional Video, In-Depth Written Breakdown, Topdown Lighting Diagram    –Supplied w/English Subtitles

IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN:  Want to take your moody bar and club lighting skills to the next level? Shane Hurlbut, ASC will immerse you in a step by step process from script to screen, sharing his 25 plus years of experience of light placement, types of lights to use, color gels that work best for the digital sensor, the use of smoke, adding color contrast along with achieving that cinematic look.

In this Lesson Shane will also show you how to compose and block a table top scene, using practical light to enable 360 degrees shooting, creating silhouettes for an unnerving mood, and using mixed sources to create the ultimate color depth and contrast! If you are looking to improve your visual storytelling, this 20 minute video will unlock those secrets and give you the confidence to handle mixed sourced, moody environments with ease.

  • How to light in layers to achieve a cinematic look.
  • How to apply lighting techniques to reflect the emotion of the scene.
  • How to compose and block a table top scene.
  • How camera movement helps your emotional story.
  • How to use mixed sources to create color depth and contrast.
  • How to use practical light to enable 360 degree shooting.
  • How to light to enhance your actors’ performances.
  • How to use smoke to create texture.
  • How to create silhouettes for an eerie, unnerving mood.
  • How to use specific gel colors for best digital capture.


<<<James B>>> This Lesson is great. The whole theory of lighting in layers is just great and you spelled it out so well for us.
<<<Jacob H>>> WOW. I love the new format. So engaging and I love how production design used those 2k fixtures for actual tables in the bar. I’m always mind blown after these and this one especially. Can’t wait to see more in this new format!
<<<Patrick A>>> Great! The ON SET Lessons are my favorite part of the Hurlbut Academy curriculum, love them!!
<<<Mac R>>> So very clever how that scene was approached! So many colors so good!
<<<Chad S>>> These ON SET’s Lessons are seriously so helpful. As always, thanks for the tireless work you put into these.
<<<Colin B>>> This is a great lesson. What I love here is the use of light, specifically color of light to help us tell the story.
<<<Peter D>>>Looks amazing. Lovely complementary color mixes!
<<<Braz>>>Amazing job Shane !!!!
We are directing all comments and questions to our New Forum, please find the related course in the forum’s categories to submit.

dislamedia 20 days ago

Quick secondary question, how did you plan which colors you wanted to choose for each light when creating the scene? Or was it all in the moment on the day you started rigging?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    19 days ago

      @dislamedia I wanted the Clipper to be lit cold and the Widow to be warm, she is trying to gain his trust, he is standoffish, if that is a word, haha. I had a 4 hour pre light on this location the night before. I wanted RED to be predominant on the stages with the dancing girls. I also wanted to shafts to feel slightly cool while the golds and cyans took over the bar and table areas which felt seedy and dark, I wanted the audience to feel on edge, lots of Black, "Who could be hiding in those shadows?"

dislamedia 20 days ago

Coming from the lesson where you didn’t have enough time to light the figures, and were dealing with the challenges of mother nature. What was different when you were planning and filming this scene? Did you have more time to play with the lighting, or was it all preplanned and rigged before? It seems so absolutely magical, from the key/fill ratios to the different color contrasts. Absolute mastery of light, thank you so much for sharing this inspirational lesson. One of my instant FAVS!

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    19 days ago

      @dislamedia Hi Dislamedia, This was a location that I tented so that I had ultimate control. We did not really need to know in the story if it was day or night. So I lit it to be really cool looking and I wanted to bring in all these different color temps but only use colors that accented what was going on emotionally. RED's Gold's and Cyan's ruled this space. We did not have more time, but we had a location that was not dependant on daylight. So glad you liked it

Bill Stone 2 days ago

What a great lesson, thank you. I’m wondering about the overall black level in the lowest areas of the frame. I understand we are looking at the color corrected final, however, when you’re shooting a scene like this, how comfortable are you letting the black areas drop off to absolute black? I understand this is a night club, and a different environment demands a different approach. In general, however, would you want to create a black level ambience with at least a minimal fill level – some register, even if very subtle – in case the production wanted to pull up details in the shadows?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    Today

      @Bill Stone Hi Bill, Thank you for your kind words, I had ton's of detail in the blacks but we wanted to go with more of an extreme look, being 500 years after the bombs decimated the world. So being more extreme with the looks felt right for the story. But yes, I always try to have enough in the blacks to bring them up if I want. Been burned before. HA HA