Colorist Tip #43 – Backlight

backlight featured

Colorist Tip #43 – Backlight

Avoid light sources in your line of sight when coloring. backlighting your monitor is a great way to light “out of sight.” I’m using 4 LED lights that I hid behind the monitor stands and speakers to keep them out of sight.

You usually need to light your coloring environment and not grade in total darkness, but you also don’t want the light sources to be visible in your line of sight. Being able to see the actual light sources (bulbs) can throw off your eyes’ “white balance” just like colored paint can. The bright source in your vision can also make your grade off on the brightness end.

The best solution I’ve found for this is backlighting. Since I was on a budget, I bought a set of 4 LED lights from IKEA (more on that in my next post). To keep them our of sight, I hid them behind the stands of my two monitors, and behind the speakers on either side. This casts a nice “up-light” on my gray wall that I posted about last time:

Hide them behind monitor stand and speakers to keep them out of sight

A nice, soft backlight to grade by!

In my case, the lights I bought had a long cord with a switch on it, so I looped and taped the cord under the desk so that the switch is taped just under the edge of the desk where I sit, and easy to reach. Again, a great, low-budget solution.


  • brandon thomas

    24.05.2011 at 21:46 Reply

    what about the color temperature of those lights? are they close to 6500k?

    • Aaron Williams

      25.05.2011 at 02:55 Reply

      Well, that’s the downside of doing it on a budget. It’s sadly not a perfect setup. They range somewhere between 5500K and 6500K. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough for $40 :)

      There are some better options, but they are a bit more expensive to get the exact color temp you need.

  • Nick Montgomery

    04.05.2012 at 22:56 Reply

    There’s actually no wall behind my desk so it just drops off into black (when I turn the lights off for work) due to the room being so large. I’ve often wondered if that is a detriment to my grading and if I should at least hang something neutral gray behind my monitors.

Chime in!