We spoke to the Brooklyn Aerials team about their short film, which was lit completely by drones

Keeping your film well lit is one of the most difficult things to get right when filmmaking, but this Brooklyn-based team think drone lighting might be the solution.

Filmmaking team Brooklyn Aerials recently produced a short film called mémoires, which was completely lit by drones.

The team custom designed and built their lights to allow them to produce the film with just two crew members.

Cinematographer Tim Sessler told The Video Mode: “From a creative perspective it is really exciting as it allows me as a cinematographer to use light in a completely new way. It’s painting with lights in a form that has not existed to this day.”

“With the drone light we can show up to a location and within minutes light large places, preposition the light within seconds or even move it during the shot as a creative effect,” he added.

A behind the scenes shot of the film being made, Credit: Brooklyn Aerials

The use of drone lighting creates an eerie effect in the experimental short film, which is a great way to create tension and atmosphere.

Mr Sessler built two new units for the project from a 900W floodlight with nine 100W LED chips and 400W spotlight with four 100W LED chips and parabolic reflectors. Both units were supported on MoVI M15 camera stabilisers to prevent the light beams shifting.

While the lights themselves are fully custom built and very powerful, Mr Sessler said that the closest comparison to a light that is currently available for sale would be a Digital Sputnik DS1, which is a less powerful 140W LED light.

This isn’t the first time the team has trialled using drone lighting as in their 2016 short film The Light, they used the drone lighting to create interesting effects, like mimicking a police helicopter.

While this behind the scenes video focuses a lot on the actual filming, it also gives you an insight into how the team used the drone. This comes alongside a useful warning that you could loose the light in a tree.

Mr Sessler said: “Due to the noise of the drone there are definitely trade-offs and limitations.

“But from a purely creative perspective there hasn’t been any technology in the last few years that has excited me as much as those lights.”


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The applications of such lighting could be influential in the film industry for both indie filmmakers as well as use in high-budget feature films, commercials or even music videos. Check out the videos and see what you think.