How To Use The Cove Lighting Technique By Roger Deakins
If you've ever studied, or been interested in learning lighting techniques that are commonly used in filmmaking, chances are you’ve probably heard mention of "The Cove Lighting Technique".
This technique is a method utilized and popularized by master cinematographer Roger Deakins. Roger Deakins is an incredible, award winning cinematographer who has worked on some of the most visually stunning films of all time including; Blade Runner 2049, 1917, Prisoners, No Country for Old Men, The Shawshank Redemption. And so, so many more.
If you’re not familiar with his work, I highly recommend that you study his films if you are
interested in improving your own cinematography skills.
Deakins is also very generous with his knowledge of his craft as well, even taking time to
answer questions from those interested on his own website’s message board. According to a reply to a fan on his own message board concerning cove lighting, Deakins says that to him, a cove light is just manipulation of a bounce source into a concave shape, rather than a using a series of flat panels.
To break it down more simply, When Deakins utilizes the cove light technique, he basically wraps half a room with unbleached Muslin fabric, then he illuminates it with multiple smaller lights. This cove of light essentially wraps 180 degrees around the subject giving off a flattering, warm look. With such a large source of light in the room, this allows the cinematographer to shoot various shot lengths and angles; wide, close ups, without having to adjust the light. This also allows for fewer inconsistencies in the scenes lighting, and it allows actors to move around the room freely without the cinematographer needing to adjust the lighting in any way.
It may take a bit to set up, and adjust to get right for your space, but it’s definitely a technique worth trying if you’re looking to take your lighting and cinematography to the next level.