Light is just like story. The more we listen, the further we can take it.
Ninja filmmakers will let the light, just like the story, come to them. That means not showing up with way too much gear, shooting in the first place that’s available, and simply overpowering what’s there.
The strongest ninja filmmakers can hear light so well that they can shoot everything ‘as-is’ and make it look like hours of setup and a handful of lights. Their cameras aren’t magical nor do they have superpowers. They simply listen.
We often start by not even seeing light. We just shoot. Our first considerations of light are whether or not we have enough, not about how it shapes the mood and feeling of our shot. And as we start to see light more, it can feel awfully overwhelming and complex.
Learning how to light a video takes a really long time. Many, many years.
These tools are all incredibly strategic. We can’t tell you the number of different ways we’ve used a Scrim Jim, for example. They are also quick to set up and will adapt as you need to.
A must have for run and gun applications as well as more produced pieces, this light is an integral part of our standard lighting kit.
While most may picture a ninja with a long sword or katana, the filmmaking ninja travels with an Ice Light, a soft battery-powered LED light wand that stays with our ninja practically everywhere she goes. On most shoots, this light is the utility fielder–the one that can fill many positions and is a huge help in a pinch.
Versatility is key for the ninja and this light can be used as a key, fill, hair, or background light. If things start to get tricky, you can always quickly go handheld and get light right when and where you need it.
It’s daylight balanced and has an available clip-on CTO gel to turn it into tungsten with a snap. It’s also relatively small so you’re able to hide it in all kinds of places (inside a car or behind a cabinet), you can thread it in a light stand or mount it to any surface with tape or a clamp. Pair that with the clip-on barn doors and you’ve got yourself a powerful, lightweight option you can take with you just about anywhere.
Why we love the Westcott Ice Light:
- Battery powered and dimmable so it’s ultra versatile
- LED technology means it’s cool to the touch, no cool down period, and safe around pets or kids
- Soft daylight balanced with easy clip-on options for tungsten gel and barn doors to help direct the light
- Because of its size and weight you can put it just about anywhere
- If ninjas aren’t your thing, you can make cool lightsaber sounds and pretend to be a Jedi instead
We have no films to share on the Westcott Ice Light — but check back soon!
This is the little light that could. It’s small, but packs a punch.
Ninjas are often small, quick, and powerful and that’s exactly what the Lowel Prolight represents. It’s small enough in size to fit into any camera bag but can take up to a 250W tungsten bulb, making it a great option for a background light or hair light. Pair that with the barn doors and you’ll be able to really direct the light as you’d like.
Add in a $19 dimmer from Harbor Freight Tools to give you more control over the amount of light output and you’ve got the cost effective dynamic duo in small tungsten light options.
- Small but powerful, only weighs 2 lbs. and takes up to a 250W tungsten bulb
- Compatible with an inexpensive dimmer from a standard hardware store
- Affordable option for back or hair light
- Has a flood or spot knob on the side of the light, giving you even more flexibility to dial in the look you’d like in a quick and easy way
Part of our list of 10 Tools That Will Save Your Life (on a film set). Check this out along with the 9 other awesome items we never leave home without:
If we had to choose one light for every shoot, this would be it. Versatility to the max.
When it comes to light, the number one rule for the ninja is, Listen.
When we take the time to listen to the light, we can find easy ways to work with it instead of trying to impose ourselves and overpower what’s already there. Sometimes this is simple, like closing the blinds or turning off a light.
When we listen, we can see how to make the most of the natural light by doing the small things, such as taking a couple steps left to avoid shooting into a blown out window. And we can also see if we need to add light, and the best way to do so. This is where the Celeb comes in with its fully dimmable and 2800-5500 kelvin color spectrum.
The Kino Flo Celeb is the ninja’s go-to first choice. It is the pinnacle of flexibility. As an LED light, it is fully dimmable, you can dial in the exact kelvin temperature you’d like, and it takes both 110 and 220 volts. That means this one light can work in a variety of situations across the world.
Turn it on full blast, set it to 5500 kelvin, and bounce it off a white ceiling for a great boost in the ambient light in a room. Or, bring it in close for an interview, add a sheet of diffusion, and get a gorgeous key light.
Plus, it requires a low amount of power, and ninja’s love green filmmaking too.
Why, if we had to choose one light, this would be it:
- lightweight and takes 110 and 220V, perfect for travel worldwide
- fully dimmable and 2800-5500 kelvin means it can adapt to any situation
- enough power for a ceiling bounce in a dim room
- easy to use, quick to setup, low power, and low heat
- very clean, high CRI light (looks amazing on camera)
- a killer key light when used in close and with diffusion
Check out this nifty review from our friends at LensProToGo who, by the way, you can also rent from below.
The most versatile and easy-to-travel-with lighting modifiers. Quick to setup, countless options.
Remember the number one rule when it comes to light?
When shooting outside, whether it’s cloudy or midday sun, if you take a moment to listen to the light, you nearly always find that the most potential comes from working with what’s there.
Ninjas must embrace the elements around them and learn how to channel those into their image and story. Don’t try and overpower your surrounding, and instead learn to always work with it.
The scrim jim is a set of collapsable frames that you can configure in different sizes with various fabrics (notice the theme of versatility again).
If you find yourself in super harsh midday sun, listen for the light, find the right angle, and then throw on the diffusion for an amazing interview in minutes. If it’s overcast and you have no shape at all, throw on the black fabric, bring it in close, and use it as negative fill. If you’re shooting an interview and you have a blown out window on the background, tape up a net to cut down the light and balance the background.
The list goes on and on. The versatility of this kit, and how small it packs away to travel, and how quickly it assembles make it an incredible resource for every ninja. It comes in 4′x4’, 6′x6’, and 8′x8’ sizes, and one of its coolest attributes is that the pieces are interchangeable, so an 8′x8’ kit can also be used to make either of the smaller sizes. You’ll need two people and/or stands and sandbags to handle an 8×8’ outside, but the smaller sizes are much more manageable by just one person.
These are great if you are shooting testimonials or interviews outside, or if you are shooting a narrative or lifestyle scene and have the opportunity to improve the light. They also serve as a powerful set of fabrics to assist when lighting an interview inside. We suggest starting with a 4′x4’ kit with silver/white, 3/4 stop diffusion, and then adding on a net and thicker 1 1/4 stop diffusion. Move into other sizes and fabrics as you fall in love.
Here are some amazing things the scrim jim can do:
- frame and 1 1/4’ stop diffusion to soften harsh sun for an outdoor scene
- frame and 3/4’ diffusion to take the edge of the light for an outdoor scene
- diffusion fabric draped over a key light or window to further soften it
- frame and black fabric for negative fill outside
- just the net on a window to balance with an indoor exposure
- white fabric on a frame as a solid bounce light outside on a sunny day
- and on, and on, and on…
Here is a tutorial on shooting outside with modifiers that features the scrim jim and has some great lighting tips.
A complete lighting modifier kit in a convenient, travel-friendly pack. A must-have for any interview lighting setup.
Ninja filmmakers need to come prepared for any lighting situation and the Matthews Road Rags kit provides maximum adaptability to help him or her adjust quickly while on set.
It comes with several different options for fabrics to help you cut, diffuse, reflect, and block the light in both a small and large size. The lightweight, fully collapsible frame makes it ideal for travel and is a great addition to any standard lighting kit.
- Lightweight, collapsible frames that comes in a travel-friendly kit
- Includes a variety of different modifiers to help you shape your light
- Can be easily mounted onto a standard grip head
We don’t have any nifty Road Rags videos to share just yet but check back later for our take on why we love this so much.
Thanks for all this amazing information! Is there any cheaper ( a lot cheaper, $500-900 range) alternative to the Kino Flo Celeb light?
Your challenge is that LED lights are a higher investment. Then if you add a higher CRI, or light quality, that also costs more. Plus versatility in dim-able and the ability to change the temperature.
Ikan has some awesome smaller panels the IB508 which we love. They will be added to this page soon. In the meantime, check this out. $1,200 for a pair of them in a kit.
Hello. What happened with pictures on your blog? I can’t see them.