Lighting vehicle interiors for a film has always been a somewhat tricky task. Small confined spaces and power requirements make traditional hot lights impractical, not to mention, dangerous. In this post, we’ll look at 3 compact lights for lighting talent in a car.
Westcott Icelight 2
When you just need a clean even light, the simplest solution is to use one of our favorite battery powered LED lights, the Westcott Icelight 2. It's a daylight balanced soft source that mimics a Kino Tube style light. They feature a 72-degree beam angle and have over 1700 lumens of dimmable light. The best part is the wire-free form factor which makes setup a cinch. Weighing in at only 1.25 pounds, its light enough to be secured with Gaff tape to a headliner, windshield, or dashboard.
Have talent in the backseat? Add a second or third light in the back to illuminate all of your talent. When you have multiple lights, this is when our favorite feature of the Icelight 2 comes in handy; wireless Bluetooth control via the Westcott iOS app. You can label and adjust the output settings of up to 10 Icelights. Setup is a piece of cake since there’s no fussy Bluetooth pairing required, the app just looks for Icelights within range and connects to them. Easy!
When you want to be more subtle, or you’re looking for a subtle fill, the LitePanels Croma is a tiny dimmable LED panel. We love this light because its the perfect size for mimicking light from an instrument cluster plus its dimmable LEDs range from 3200K to 5600K. Add some colored gels to match the base color of the instrument panel, and you’ll make the light look convincing. For instance, old Fords usually have a greenish glow while BMW’s trend towards red. Add some gels and diffusion to soften things up, and you’ll have just the right light.
Westcott Bi-Color 1x1 Flex Light
When you want an environmental look, the Bi-Color Westcott 1x1 Flex lights are perfect for simulating street lamps. Mounted on a light stand, and placed above the car, you can adjust your light placement to suit your scene. Position the light more overhead to create a hard shadow from the roof line of the window or bring the light around the front of the car to simulate oncoming traffic. Bi-color functionality lets you tailor the color temperature to suit the mood of your shoot.
EXTRA: Stella Pro 5000
When you want to simulate a car approaching from behind, you can fake some headlights by mounting two lights horizontally. The battery powered Stella Pro 5000s, with the included Fresnel lens, will give you a very convincing look. Grab a pair of Manfrotto Super Clamps and a 1x2 board, and you've got the perfect headlight rig. You can vary the distance between the two lights to simulate the how far away the approaching car is. Add in some slight shakes on the board to simulate bumps in the road.
Hopefully, you’ve picked up a few tricks on how to light your next interior car scene. Let your lighting reinforce the mood of your shoot and know that there are small lights perfect for fitting into small places.