03 Dec Lighting Your Video Production
Video Production Lighting Techniques
Have you ever filmed a bit of video with your phone and thought, “This looks amazing!” and then at other times, felt that it looks like rubbish? There are a few reasons as to why that is (besides the obvious quality difference between a smartphone camera and a cinematic camera).
In addition to the amazing talent or scenery inside your frame, the lighting and composition of a video are some of the most important elements to create a good looking video. A guaranteed way of increasing the production value of the videos you shoot is to make sure that your subject is lit well and composed correctly in the frame. Fortunately, applying these techniques is not as complex as you might think!
The 3-Point Lighting
The industry standard for lighting is called three-point lighting. Three-point lighting is exactly what the name suggests, three lights placed around the subject that work together to properly illuminate the talent or subject inside the frame.
This is a simple setup but is a great place to start. As it is basic, slightly deviating from it is completely fine to create those moody, eye-catching shots that grab the attention of the audience.
The three points of light are named the key light, the fill light and the backlight.
The Key Light
The Key light is the main source of light that shines directly on to the subject. This primary light source is positioned diagonally in front and illuminates around 80% of the subject. Generally this is a hard light, however, a softer key light can be used depending on the desired mood and look of the scene. If you are outside, a good idea would be to use the sun as the key light. However, you’ll find that controlling the sun is a little more difficult than a production light.
The Fill Light
As far as names go, the Fill light does exactly what you would expect it to! As much as we love the key light in all its glory, it always leaves shadows on the other side of the subject. The Fill light fills those shadows to give an even light across the talent’s face. The Fill light is to the Key light what Robin is to Batman. Batman can do it alone but it looks so much better when Robin helps too. This light is typically positioned on the opposite side of the key and is a softer light.
The Back Light
In the film industry, we are very original when naming things so you can probably guess what the Backlight does. That’s right, it helps separate the subject from the background by shining light on the subject from behind to light their hair and shoulders. This creates not an overpowering light, but a nice outline around the body. This light should be subtle enough to not interfere with the key and fill but still prominent enough to be seen if looked for. – Check out our 3-Point Lighting “How To” Video on YouTube
As for composition, the basic guideline is the rule of thirds. This literally requires you to cut the frame up into 9 even squares by using three lines horizontally and three lines vertically. Then, place the subject at the points of intersection, as this is where the viewer instinctively looks first.
Composition is another of the more complex topics that generally require a bit more depth for a professional standard – keep an eye out for a detailed blog post at some point in the near future! Till next time – peace.
Written by Frank Godoy
Diagram – “3 Point Lighting – OCSS Multimedia.” 3 Point Lighting – OCSS Multimedia. Web. 10 July 2015.
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