As the Director of Photography for Saturday Night Live’s Film Unit, Alex Buono has had the ability to “play” with lots of different lighting equipment, finding the best options for illuminating a massive variety of scenes. Sometimes, the lights that best fit the bill on any given video production day are lights that may be quite unexpected.

When planning a shoot for a recent SNL skit entitled Red Flag, Alex was looking to recreate a warm, glamorous scene. Knowing that he would need to use a large tungsten light source, Alex chose to use a single Spiderlite modified by a silver 7' Parabolic Umbrella. This light source is very popular in the still photography industry, but is less known for use in video production.

The Spiderlite is a continuous light source that can be fitted with both tungsten or fluorescent bulbs, a factor very important to filmmakers and photographers you shoot a variety of styles.

Alex modified his tungsten-fitted Spiderlite with a large silver parabolic umbrella. While this reflective umbrella is also available with a white interior, Alex specifically choose the silver version as he finds that it gives a rich, high-end appearance when paired with tungsten lights. These large parabolic umbrellas create light very similar to that of other large parabolic light sources – but at a fraction of the cost.

SNL Behind the Scenes with Kristen Wiig

SNL Video Production with Westcott Lighting

Click here to see the skit, starring Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudekis, and John Hamm.

This video was captured during Alex Buono’s Visual Storytelling 2 workshop. You can download and watch the entire Lighting and Camera segment of his workshop by visiting MZED’s website.

Lighting Gear in Action

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