Check Out These Dope Spotlight Tips and Tricks

The Aputure 300 series are possibly some of the most versatile light fixtures for filmmaking on the market today. With the inclusion of a Bowens mount, Aputure has given us a light that can be modified to do almost anything. It can quickly go from a flood light to a softbox, china ball, fresnel, and even a spotlight all by using Aputure’s ever-expanding list of affordable modifiers.

Floodlights are typically used in stage performances because they can throw light across greater distances but with a little know-how, you can also use them to add a dynamic presence to an otherwise flat shot. Check out this great demonstration the folks over at Aputure have put together showcasing 3 common lighting scenarios where the Aputure Spotlight sits center stage.

If you grew up in the 80s (which I assume at least of few of you did), you probably have a lot of appreciation for using whatever you have available and improvising to get out of a jam thanks to Angus MacGyver. Although filmmaking might not require you to make a bazooka out of a muffler and a gear shift knob, it does require all of us to adapt to our shooting environment with our own bag of tricks.

When I was coming up through film school, we had to use a Lowel flood light and an American flag to simulate the light coming from a TV set. Now cameras are light-sensitive enough that you can just turn on the TV to simulate a TV light but you get my point – you use what you got.

Aputure has really done a lot to make film lighting fixtures that produce fantastic results at affordable prices. Let’s have a look at what you can accomplish with their lights.

Setup 1 – Use a Spot Light to Make a Soft Light

Lights used in this setup

A large, diffused light source always makes an actor look like a million bucks and it’s easy to reflect a spot light to create a large, diffused light in a small space. We call this book lighting, which is bouncing a hard light (like a spotlight) off of a reflector then into another layer of diffusion.

The effect you get is similar to using a softbox, but can be adjusted to create as large of a source as needed in a tight space.

The Aputure team used the 300x, the 19° Spotlight attachment, a bounce board, and a layer of diffusion to make their key light. They then used an Aputure 300D II and a Light Dome Mini II as the rim light, and finally the Aputure MC (inside the lampshade), and an additional 300D Mark II for some accent lighting.

It’s great that you can create a practical lighting look all while staying in Aputure’s ecosystem. Also remember, all of these lights are remote controlled so fine adjustments are a breeze back behind the camera.

Setup 2 – Volumetric Lighting

Lights used in this setup

  • Aputure 300x
    • Spotlight Mount
  • Aputure 300D Mark II
    • Light Dome Mini II

Since spotlights cast a hard directional light, they’re very effective at creating volumetric lighting setups. Technically a 3D graphics term, volumetric lighting refers to having visible light rays in the air of a scene.

To accomplish this, the Aputure team casts the 300x fixture with the spotlight modifier through cut-outs in the background of the scene and faces the camera in the direction of that light. The volume in the air is added by using a smoke machine, and the 300D Mark II is used as a fill.

Setup 3 – Creating Texture with Spotlight

Lights used in this setup

  • Aputure 300x
    • Spotlight mount
  • Aputure 300D Mark II
    • Light Dome Mini II
  • Aputure 300D Mark II
    • Diffusion
  • Aputure MC

The effect the team is going for here is the look of light being cast through trees on the subject’s face. This is easily done with the spotlight modifier and a gobo with a tree texture that will project the pattern onto the subject.

The Aputure 300D II is used with a green gel to simulate light bouncing off of the grass, and an additional 300D II is used to shine light into the background. The team tops things off with an Aputure MC set to a greenish hue for highlights.


On a budget, you really can’t beat the lighting products that are coming out of Aputure. In just a short amount of time they’ve taken on an entire industry that was dominated by ARRI and Mole-Richardson for decades and have listened to their users to provide them with the features they want and need.

If you’ve got a 300x, 300D II, or an original 300D you can’t go wrong adding a spotlight modifier to your kit. Give these techniques a try, and watch them help make your lighting really pop. There are all kinds of little lighting tricks other there so don’t be afraid to be like MacGyver. With a little ingenuity, you can make anything work.

[source: Aputure]

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