How to Film an Edgy Black and White Sports Commercial

On this video filmmaker, Valentina Vee from Aputure talks to cinematographer Oliver Lukacs and takes a look at shooting a black and white sports commercial.

If you ever wondered how they shoot those B&W edgy Nike or Adidas commercials this video might give you a little sneak peek at some of the things that are involved – especially when it comes to lighting.

Black and white shoots are dramatic and also limiting in a way and can be creatively challenging but if this is the look at you are going for it can be very powerful.

In the first shot, you can see that Lukacs used natural light coming below what is called an elephant door (large garage door) which was intentionally left a little bit open – this gives you a nice separation from the background and a sense of perplex.

The main light in this first scene was what is known as a “book light” where you are shooting a strong light into a bounce of some sort (Lukacs used fabric but you can use something else like a bounce board) and a diffusion fabric where the light is basically in the middle between the two. This gives you a softer light – more than using two layers of diffusion or just a bounce for example.

When shooting for dramatic scneces you might want to consider not using a fill light at all (which is exactly what Lukacs did in this first scene), this gives a much more powerful edgy/contrasty look  (the harsher the fall off the more dramatic the scene will look).

Lighting through some haze is another nice way to add some drama to your shots.

Sports shoot of this type often has scenes with muscle shots (weight lifting is very common), to pull this on-off Lukacs used what he calls a sandwich light where the subject is lit from both sides – on one side you have a hard edge and on the other side a soft fall off so you can see the veins or sweat.

In general, Lukacs has some tips for these types of shots. If you are going to deliver in black and white you should light your scene accordingly but you should also be monitoring in such a way that you will know more or less what you are going to get (use specific LUTs for example).

You can find more HDSLR tutorial videos here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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