Lighting is the fundamental aspect of video production that separates the amateur from the pro. Lighting brings depth and texture to an interview or scene and help prevent shots from looking flat or boring. The basic technique for lighting a scene is known as 3 point lighting, and it’s the topic of this week’s first installment in our Video Basics Series.
So what is 3 point lighting? The term is pretty self-explanatory: it’s the standard method of lighting a scene for video, film, or computer-generated design. The crew utilizes 3 lights, known as the Key Light, Fill Light, and Back Light (or Rim Light) to light a scene.
Key Light – The keylight is the most important of the 3 lights. This is the main light source in your scene and has the most influence in the composition of your shot. The light is placed to one side of your subject to create light on one side and generate shadows on the other.
Fill Light – The fill light is the second most important light in your setup. This light is placed opposite of your key light to fill in the shadows. The fill light typically needs to be less bright and a little softer than your key light to create depth on the front of you subject. The fill light doesn’t even always have to be a light. It can actually be light from your Key bouncing off of a card or a wall, filling in the other side of the shot.
Back Light (or Rim Light) – The back light is the unsung hero of the 3 point lighting technique. Though it is the least important of the 3 lights for this method, it is the one aspect that helps provide definition between your subject and the background, adding depth and creating more a professional and three dimensional look. The back light is typically placed behind the subject to light it from the rear to help create a highlight on the edge of the subject.
If you find your video is looking flat or needs a little style, try adding some lights to spice things up. You may be surprised at how a few lights can really make a difference.