Agency Lifestyle

Lighting for Cycloramas and Backdrops

By Braden Kopf on September, 29 2017
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At the de Novo studio, we have an area called a cyclorama studio. Often used in authentic photogprahy (stock photography is bad - see why here), a cyclorama, or cyc for short, is a big backdrop where the walls and the floor curve into each other to create a seamless background. One of the hardest parts of working with a cyc is getting the lighting just right without having any unnecessary shadows.


Here we will walk you through the basic steps we take take to light our white cyc with just three lights.

The background is always lit separately from the talent.

The first step is probably the most important thing to remember. When you’re trying to get a perfectly white background, we will have to treat the background as if it is it’s own subject.
For this we use two large panel lights—one on either side—to make sure our background is as bright as we can make it.


The background should be lit evenly.

Now we adjust the two lights so that the light on the background is as even as possible. We use barn doors on our lights to make sure all of the light is focused onto the background and none of it is spilling onto the rest of the set.

At this point, our main subject (Jonah in our case) should be completely silhouetted.


The talent should be lit slightly darker.

The last light that we use is a smaller light to key our main subject. We place it just in front and to the side of our subject.




Lastly, we use a diffuser on this light as well so that the shadows are slightly softer on our subject's face. Because this is a smaller light, It should be enough to light our subject without overpowering the lights on the background. This will prevent shadows from being cast on the background and also keep the background evenly white.




 As an example of this set up, we recently produced a video for being recognized as one of the Coolest Places to Work in the Corridor by the Corridor Business Journal. This exact lighting set up was a constant theme throught the entire video. 


Questions about any other video production process? Looking for the best possible way to showcase your product or service through video? Reach out to  one of de Novo’s video producers to get the conversation started.


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