So you've probably been told about a three-point lighting technique, and you've probably been told how to basically set those up for a video that looks more professional. But there is a way to set up these lights in a slightly different way to make your videos look even more professional. Short lighting, split lighting, and butterfly lighting takes your three-point setup and adjusts the key light to do different things with your subjects' faces to create a desired mood or look.
Lighting Faces with Short Lighting, Split Lighting, and Butterfly Lighting
Adjusting the three-point lighting setup to fit the person and the mood will enhance the feel of the video. Something as simple as moving around the key or fill light can bring out the character or glamor in your scene. Just look at any major TV or movie production. They adjust the lights to create shadows on the actor's faces to add depth and a certain drama or intensity to the scene. It's good to use different lighting techniques for different people.
If someone has a round, "beach ball" type face, you may need "short lighting," or "narrow lighting." To do this, put your key light (main source of light) closer to the "short side" of the subject's face, creating a 45-degree angle between the talent, camera, and light. The "short side" is the part of the face that is furthest away from the camera's lens. Putting more light on this part of the face will make it appear narrow.
Want to add drama to the scene? Use split lighting. This has been called the "comic book villain" lighting style because some comic book artists would draw their villains this way. Change the position of the key light to be 90 degrees between camera, talent, and key light source. It lights one side of the face and leaves the other in shadow, giving it a super-dramatic feel.
This is also known as "clam shell lighting" and it's used to add a "fashion" or "glamor" look to your subject. This can be flattering for people with narrow faces or high cheekbones because there is very little shadow cast on their face, which is why it is often used to light female subjects. However, it may not be too flattering with those with a round or wider face. Put the light behind the camera and raise it over the subject's head. Shine the light down on the subject's head and you should see their cheekbones accentuated with a butterfly-like shadow below their nose.