Music videos have been some of the most condensed displays of cinematic creativity for decades now, and there is a lot that can be learned. Here is a breakdown of some excellent lighting used in a music video.
The relevancy of music videos has perhaps fallen a little since their heydays in the 80s and 90s, particularly with the rise of MTV in the latter. Nevertheless, there have been some timeless music videos that stick with us for life. Whether it’s Thriller in 1982 which was a borderline short film, or the iconic creations of modern-day with Humble by Kendrick Lamar or Redbone by Childish Gambino, music videos are distilled creativity. In the same way that poetry is often considered the purest form of writing creativity with little wastage, great music videos are similar; they don’t have long to grab you and achieve what they want to achieve.
One of the most common ways this is achieved is through lighting and color, which often set the tone for the whole video. In the aforementioned video for Humble by Kendrick Lamar, the powerful spotlight piercing a dark hall is an example of memorable lighting. When it comes to color, we have typically seen heavy grading in post (think Smells Like Teen Spirit) for effect, but with the advent of powerful and flexible RGB lights, much more is being done in-camera. In this video, YCImaging achieves both memorable lighting and color for his music video creation and it truly is beautifully done. Watch as he breaks down exactly what he did to achieve the look and using which lights. The second lighting setup is more natural if that’s what you’re looking for.