3 Minimalistic, Yet Extremely Powerful Music Video Lighting Setups for Your Consideration

As a rule, the concept and medium of music videos provide an excellent opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to get the most out of their talent by experimenting with different unconventional filmmaking techniques to express better their creative vision and take the art form to a whole new level. Lighting, of course, is an essential ingredient in this process, so here are three professional music video lighting setups that will certainly help you to get some inspiration for your upcoming creative projects. The most intriguing part is that all of the three techniques suggest using only one light source and an even surface as a background. Despite the minimalistic approach involved in the process, the results will blow your mind.

The first lighting method covered in the video produced by Cinematography Database is the “Drop shadow” technique inspired by the famous American fashion and portrait photographer Terry Richardson. The defining characteristic of this look is the sharp, defined drop shadow behind the talent.

You can achieve this effect by putting the main subject right up against an even surface while pointing the primary source of light towards him/her. To get the best results, you will need to use a hard source of light relative to the talent. You’ll also have to bring the light as high as possible and then push it aside until you get the following result.


And, here’s how the complete setup should look like.


The “Top & Back Light” is another technique that you can utilise to get an appealing wide shot of your dancing talent where he/she is silhouetted against a gradient background. Just place the subject eight to ten feet away from the background and put the light source pointing straight down in between. Bear in mind, though, the main light should be bouncing off the wall thus hitting the back of your talent while keeping the camera perpendicular to the background surface.



Last but not least, comes the “Dramatic Profile” setup where you need to put your camera almost parallel with the wall while your talent leans against it. It’s basically a profile shot with the wall going off in perspective. Then you need to place the main light source ten feet away from the subject and point it right back. You can also experiment by making the light visible in the shot and having the talent hiding it with a particular body movement.



Ultimately, mixing up these three setups would be enough to produce a staggering music video, even when you work on a shoestring budget, but if you combine those with your creative vision and unique perspective you can do anything on set as the sky’s literally the limit.

[source: Cinematography Database]

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