Production: How To Use Lighting Cookies

A cookie, short for cookaloris, is a dynamic tool in the lighting department on film sets. Essentially, it is a piece of material that has a pattern cut out of it. You would put it in front of a light source to alter the consistency of the light.

Step 1: Patterns

Cookies come in a variety of different patterns. However, you can make your own using a piece of card board and some patience with a knife. You can also try a Venetian blind effect with an empty frame and some gaffers tape. If you want to go "au natural", collect some tree branches and tie them together. A cookie can be anything you can conceive of. Point a hard light source at a wall. Stand 10 feet in front of the light source, and hold the cookie up so you see the pattern. You should see the shapes clearly and distinctly. If you are happy with this effect, clamp your cookie into a stand to keep it where it is. You will then need to flag off the areas around the cookie. Seeing the rectangular outline of the frame will give away the effect. This can be an interesting look, but is not practical for most situations.

Step 2: Speckled light

Stand 2 feet in front of a light and hold your hand up in front of it. You will notice that it is quite hard to see the shape of your fingers. Walk closer to the wall while still holding your hand up. The farther you walk, the crisper the shadow becomes. Apply this theory to find another use for your cookies. If you need to create a situation in which the light needs to feel textured, hold the cookie right in front of the light. With the pattern so close to the source, the wall becomes indistinctly dappled. Such an effect could be motivated if your characters are under a canopy of trees. Or perhaps you simply want to create a certain mood. Finding the purpose is up to you.

Step 3: Characters

Cookies do not need to be limited to creating patterns on backgrounds. You can also use them for your subjects. As in step 2, you can use them to simply break up the stream of light. This works well if a character is moving through a space, but may look strange if they land in a spot where their face is lit in splotches. However, in some situations, you might have a character that warrants bizarre shadows. Again try to move the cookie close to the subject. You now have harsh shadows that you will need to carefully place on the person's face. Your actor will need to hold relatively still or the shadows may become distracting.

Cookies are a great way to explore your creative potential. There are always more uses to be discovered.

Popular P&S Cameras for High Quality Photos: