Whatsup Speed racers, today the Film Jams team will be showing you how to film a car scene at night! (Spongebob pun intended) – With our techniques you can achieve this look on a budget AND you won’t even have to deal with traffic. (Make sure to check our links below to pickup the lights and gear we used in this video if you’d like to add them to your arsenal)
First things first: your key light. We ended up using a 4-foot Quasar Crossfade as our key. The Quasar is nice as it’s able to dim as well as being bi-color. It gave us a nice soft source in front of the car. If you don’t own a Quasar – Buy one. You won’t regret it. Here’s our review of the Quasar Science LED Light and all the reasons as to why they’re amazing! Now, we setup our vehicle behind our studio. But you can really use any parking lot or large open area where you won’t be disturbed while filming your car scene at night without driving.
Next add a little edge light in the back to give a bit of separation from the background! This will help to give more shape to your subject’s face and add some dimension. We used a Litepanel Caliber Bi-Color LED light which is dimmable and not too large. It has a fresnel style beam, so we were able to pin point it on our talent.
Passing Cars – tips on how to light a car scene at Night
Now here’s where it gets fun. Grab a pair of small LED lights. Try these Viltrox Cheap LED Lights – which are about $35 each on Amazon – and have a crew member on each side of the car working them. Pan the lights across the car to simulate the movement of other cars passing by. To keep the light from spilling, turn ’em off, then reposition them for another pass. Who knew it was so easy to create fake car light ambiance?
Fake Headlights for Car Scene at Night
Behind the car, we used two ARRI 150w tungsten lights, but you can use any lights that are circular shaped. We put some blue gel (or CTB) on these to make them a bit cooler than our key. Stick the lights on a C-Stand long arm and then have a crew member control the movement of the rod to simulate car movement through the rear window. Oh and toss a black blanket or furny pad over their head so the camera doesn’t see them. It was a little hot under there for our grip, BUT it achieved the effect we were looking for! (Thanks Lucas)
Next have another crew member shake the car from the back bumper to give it a realistic movement
as if the car is driving. Pretty straight forward. Now, moving onto some other optional techniques you could use to take your car scene to the next level!
Fake City Skyline for Car Scene at Night
One option you can try is to add a string of Christmas lights in the background. Pull them back about 20-30 feet behind the car so they are out of focus. This will act as a fake city skyline! As an added bonus you can also move them from side to side to replicate movement.
Interior Lighting for Car Scenes at Night
This last option is one of my favorite looks to add to your scene. Use a strip of Lite Ribbon inside the car to create some really dramatic lighting. If you don’t want to mess with larger lights, you can still light a car interior scene at night using these tiny lights. We gaff taped a small 10″ strip right onto the visor of the car for this shot. They also come with adhesive on the back so you can stick them practically anywhere. Lite Ribbon comes in a variety of colors so you can achieve whatever mood you’re looking for!
Now go film your own car scene at night!
If you have the lights and some extra hands, it’s not as difficult as you might think to film this little setup! Make sure to experiment. Let us know if these tips worked for you or if you tried something different. For more innovative lighting tips and tricks on a budget, be sure to check out our video on mobile lighting, the Cheaper Ice Light Alternative & 5 Creative Uses!
Thanks for reading How to Film a Car Scene at Night!
And if you have any questions on the techniques used in this review video, please send a note in the comments. Thanks for watching How To Film a Car Scene at Night Without Driving, in our Film Jams series!
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Gear used in this video:
-Quasar Science 4ft Crossfade LED Tube Light – https://amzn.to/2HJ7HJj (Key Light)
-Viltrox L132T Bi-Color LED Light – https://amzn.to/2TjDXUC (for passing cars)
-Impact 1K Dimmer – https://amzn.to/2uyQeKX
-ARRI 150w Fresnel Tungsten Light – https://amzn.to/2LwRlWS (for headlights)
-Blue Gel (CTB) – https://amzn.to/2Lq1iVT
-Christmas Lights – https://amzn.to/2PT3qUS (for city skyline)
Other equipment we use to film:
-Sachtler – https://amzn.to/2KTXbfH
Filmed on location at: https://www.LitewaveMedia.com in St. Petersburg, FL
Special Thanks to the St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Commission Digital Creator Program
Disclaimer: This video description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost any more for you, and helps support the channel so we can continue to make more videos like this. Thank you for your support!