I want to film dance instructors teaching about 10 - 20 feet from my camera.

Since I am an amateur I have no idea how to light this. I would try to make sure the room has plenty of light from "standard" sources (ie, ones tha that come with the building). But I imagine I need some lights in front of the dancers too, ideally on the cheap side and portable.

From my research it seems that perhaps LED light panels may be a good option? I don't know how many to use, or if they should be in the front or at diagonals.

I don't know if I need some kind of hair light, or how to acheive that if I do. I don't know if I should light the background behind the dancers.

Thanks for any suggestions, and if this is a common problem / technique perhaps you can tell me what the "name" of it is and point me to any reading/viewing material?

Below are some common rooms and setups where dance might be taught (these are not me by the way. I'm just trying to understand how lighting might be set up in these contexts.


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2 Answers 2


I've been in similar situations/venues in the past. It reads to me like you have little to no budget and no crew to speak of, since you are asking the question yourself which suggests that you are going to do the lighting yourself.

So, unless you have the budget to rent a proper yet smallish dance venue with already set up ceiling lights, with enough money left over to hire the services of a professional lighting technician to make those ceiling lights work for you on the day or of the shoot, I would suggest you don't really bother with getting lots of unwieldy lights, as (1) you're going to need a lot of them (or powerful ones) to do it properly/evenly, (2) you're going to be working in dance studios with probably low ceilings (not good for good lighting), and (3) you'll have little man-power to adjust the lights as you shoot, set up the gear, etc. (try not to over-extend yourself).

Still, here's what you should consider:

  • Make sure you get a space that's already well lit by nice-looking natural light. The light in your screen grabs looks fine to me, although I would draw the curtains seen in the background of the middle venue (too distracting because bright/overblown). Start your shoot early to get as much natural light as possible over a long period.

  • Restrict the space that your dancers can cover: you're not going to bring huge lights but smallish ones, like three or four 650s. Whatever you bring (no kinos 'cause they're no good for large spaces), your lights won't probably be quite powerful enough to give your the output you need to light the dance space evenly (with bounce/diffusion, etc). So, again, restrict the space your dancers can cover to help you light a smaller area of the stage/space as evenly as you can ("evenly" doesn't mean flat).

  • Since you're not going to be able to bring a lot of lights nor be able to raise them high-enough to get a proper look, concentrate mainly on increasing the overall brightness levels of the room by bouncing light of off the ceiling/upper corners. Venue One, as seen in your screen grabs, looks good to me, thanks to its white ceiling. Avoid the space with yellow walls as your subjects will look like they have a jaundis!

  • If you still have time and energy to spare, give your subject some back rim light by blasting them from 3/4 back, either from one side of the stage or two sides. Use light or heavy diffusion, etc. to control it as you wish.

  • Make sure to keep your subjects far enough from these light sources (which blast them directly) to avoid their getting super hot as they get closer to the lights as they dance around.

  • Keep an eye on your lighting scheme color temp if you're mixing light sources (natural and artificial, etc): play with CTOs or CTBs until you get a proper look.

  • More importantly, AUDIO! I would actually make sure that your subjects are properly miked and recorded: bad audio will make your video(s) really feel amateurish. You can get away with quite a bit when it comes to lighting, not so much with bad audio. So, hire the services of a good production audio person, or do it yourself by putting lavs on your two subjects and getting good levels throughout. Note: dance studios with lots of heavy curtains covering the walls sound better: less audio reverb/bounce! Box-like rooms will sound like shit. Also, I suggest putting tape over the soles of your dancers' shoes (or whatever you can do) to muffle their tap-tap sounds as much as possible.

  • Clothing: your subjects' outfits work well generally. Avoid white ('cause it's white!), and avoid black tops (if the background in black, of course).

Good luck.


Learn a bit about Lighting and Light: http://lowel.tiffen.com/edu/color_temperature_and_rendering_demystified.html

To get some ideas try searching YouTube for "Dance Scenes" unfortunately a lot of Tango comes up but the lighting is 'Movie Quality'.

Look where the shadows are, and the color.

The first photo was probably lit by room lighting and overhead lights, possibly on poles.

The second photo was probably lit by the windows, room lighting and some lights on the floor.

The third photo was probably lit by room lighting alone, if there's more light it's weak.

Cheap and portable lights are available at the Hardware Store. Ugly yellow or orange Work Lights for less than U$20 each. Buy a few different wattages and a couple of each.

The Color Rendering Index (CRI) of Halogen Lights is 100, LEDs are less than a 100; except for the price which starts at U$1K for bottom end.

LEDs will save electricity and won't be as hot in a tiny windowless room. Whichever lights big ones in the far corners out of the way and if you're feeling energetic hang a tiny left or right overhead of the Camera (opposite the side where you stand so it doesn't fall).

You can light the background, even in color, if the room is wide enough; or you want to hang even more lights, or lug poles around.

YouTube or other Video oriented Website is likely to be a source of ideas. I wouldn't worry about it too much if low cost is your aim - just light the Dancers evenly and let their dancing light up the room.

Sometimes less is more, especially on a Budget - were you planning on renting a fancy Hotel Room (or do you have a friend with a great view for a background). Do it in the Park, with Sunlight.

Did I miss a question, that seems to be all of them.


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