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Illumination Experience Workshop

  • March 16, 2020
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Illumination Experience Workshop

Key Light - Illumination Experience Workshop

This is where it all starts, the key light and the human face. The window into your character’s soul, their emotions, and motivations. It is the most important subject you will ever light, and it all starts with where to place your key light. Shane takes what you think you knew were the basics and turns them on their head into one of the most elegant approaches to lighting you will ever find. He gives you 5 things to look for when lighting any face, and along with covering the classic key light positions, Shane shows you how moving the key light around the subject even just a few degrees can dramatically change the feeling of your shot.

These are timeless theories in lighting that anyone can use from corporate interviews to summer blockbusters.

Contains 1 hour and 45 minutes of video content and analysis.

You will learn:

  • 5 things to look for when lighting any face:
    • Drop shadow
    • The Wedge
    • Eye reflection
    • Nose shadow
    • Eye shadow
  • When to use certain types of diffusion
  • Where to place your diffusion
  • Secrets to organic looking bounce light
  • How to use color checkers to ensure rich accurate skin tones
  • How to know what side to light a subject from
  • Shane’s proprietary technique for testing how to light faces
  • The power of shaping light
  • Lighting in layers
  • Finding the emotion of a scene
  • Making the talents eyes “pop”
  • How angle of light can affect character perception/emotion/beauty

How to Prep narrative storytelling - Illumination Experience



In the same way that Shane took you through the placement of a key light and how essential that is, Shane takes you through his mantra on when and where to use back light. How can it increase dimension and mood? Shane not only takes you through these subtleties but also one of his strongest abilities, which is to understand and utilize DIY lighting to its fullest. Shane will show you how you can light a scene with 20K worth of Hollywood lights or 250 dollars worth of DIY clamp lights, batten lights and under counter floes where you are not able to tell the difference.

  • Which side to back light from
  • Soft and hard light
  • DIY lighting solutions vs Hollywood lighting
  • Process of creating your visual landscape
  • Feature film examples
  • 1.5 hours of video instruction

Key Points

  • Shot the whole thing on 15 C500s, 4 Arri Alexas, 11 1DCs and 20 GoPros.
  • Most of the sequence was shot at 2500 ISO, T2.8.
  • We shot almost all of the interiors on the Alexa because it had 4 stops of latitude.

  • The color temperature was dialed in to fit the vehicle’s interior. For inside the car, we used a light panel kit that was buried in the dashboard so it could play on the character’s eyes.
  • All of the lighting was real and practical and for the final shot, where they crossed the finish line, I just made them green.

  • Time was of the essence and unfortunately I didn’t have time to blackwrap the lights out of frame.
  • Lighting the Cessna plane, we mounted a light onto a helicopter that flew alongside it and bounced it off the side of it to light it. Then we threw the ISO up to 4000.

  • What we found with the C500s , you could crank the ISO up to 4000 and it matched the noise level of 800 on an Alexa.
  • To show the train and the cars’ movement alongside it, we used red light beacons along the side of the locomotive and hung 1Ks in the gaps between carriages.
  • I wanted to be able to create contrast so when they were driving in an urban setting at night, I asked the power people for 8 blocks on one side of the road to be turned off.


  • drumline
  • Free Workshop
  • Illumination
  • Illumination Experience
  • lighting
  • NFS
  • Shane Hurlbut
  • Workshop