2 Lighting Techniques For Night Exterior Scenes From Gaffer Jason Velez

Dead Ringers is a psychological thriller mini-series on Prime Video about identical twins pushing the boundaries of medical ethics in the field of women’s healthcare. We spoke with Gaffer Jason Velez about his experience using Rosco DMG Lighting fixtures on this series, specifically on how he used them to create moonlight for two exterior night scenes.

One of the most common lighting techniques that any gaffer needs to execute is lighting a nighttime exterior. Typically, the strongest lighting element for any night exterior is replicating moonlight to act as a light source for the scene. The moon itself follows one of the simplest lighting setups by acting as the world’s largest bounce for the light coming from the sun. Depending on the physical size of the scene, a rig large enough to rival the moon itself is necessary. On the other hand, where the camera only focuses on the face of the actors, a much smaller and more compact setup will still get the job done.

Large Rig Exterior Night Scene with DMG MAXI™

For one exterior, Jason rigged together eight Rosco DMG MAXI Lights, each with a Dome Diffuser attached. With eight MAXIs, Velez was able to produce the light output necessary to place them on a condor and cover the entire yard surrounding the set. The Domes enabled him to soften the glow of his recreated moonlight without losing too much light output.

Eight DMG MAXI fixtures rigged together to light an exterior night scene.
“We used the MAXI rig on a condor for a night exterior at a Long Island mansion in episode 1,” Jason recalled. “We were in the backyard of the house, and we had the condor parked in the front driveway. The lights were pushing toward us as a big ambient moonlight in the back. We shot toward the house for most of the scene, so the multi-MAXIs were acting as a soft edge light and were set to 5000K with a bit of green dialed in. This made the edge light on the house appear very cool because our camera was set at 3200K.“

A night exterior scene from Dead Ringers.

A screenshot from the trailer of the night exterior scene lit with the DMG MAXI moonlight.

Small Rig Exterior Night Scene with DMG MINI™

While the MAXIs pack a powerful punch, it’s not always necessary to have a moon-sized amount of light to get the same lighting effect. In a different night exterior scene, Velez didn’t need eight sets of lights or a condor. Instead, he took two DMG MINI Lights with a DMG MINI SNAPBAG Octa 5 to soften and spread the light. This octagonal softbox is designed to attach to the front of a pair of DMG MINI fixtures using a RABBIT-EARS® 2 accessory.

Two DMG MINI fixtures rigged together to light a night exterior scene.
Jason shared how this Double MINI setup was used during a night exterior scene in Manhattan for episode 3. “We had the light rigged on a boom, which allowed us to position the light off a deck to provide soft lighting for the faces of the two lead actresses (Rachel Weisz and Britne Oldford) who were near the edge of the balcony in the scene.”

Dead Ringers is available now for streaming on Amazon Prime. If you’d like to learn more about Jason Velez and his work, you can visit his website: www.jasonscottvelez.com, or follow him on Instagram at @babybeluga99. If you are interested in learning more about the fixtures that Jason used while shooting Dead Ringers, please explore the DMG Lighting page on the Rosco website.

Bonus: DMG Lighting – Sterile vs Madness

DMG Lighting fixtures illuminate a woman's face in blue.Click on the photo to read an American Cinematographer Magazine to learn more about how Velez used DMG Lights while shooting Dead Ringers.

While this article focused on how Velez used DMG Lights to light nighttime exteriors, it's also worth noting that he used the DMG Lights in a variety of internal settings for Dead Ringers. Velez noted how he used them primarily on the actors because "their light quality and color rendition is incredible.” Read the ASC article Seeing Double for Dead Ringers to learn more about how Velez used the DMG Lights to not only create a sterile hospital environment but also how he utilized their color rendition capabilities to elevate the sense of madness experienced in other scenes.


Lacey Colter October 19, 2023 Questions?

About Lacey Colter

Marketing Manager - Film/TV/Broadcast: Lacey Colter has been working in the entertainment industry since 2015. She started in production before transitioning to a cinema lens manufacturer and now covers the film and television market for Rosco. She has spent years of her career interviewing a variety of industry professionals.