On today’s Reel Rebel video production tip, Stephen Schweickart discusses the importance of good lighting for video and gives a brief overview of one tried and true lighting technique called "three point lighting".  Using a good lighting set-up will help you make your online videos graduate from looking as if they were homemade and amateur, to looking more clean and professional.  Good lighting can provide a more interesting and dynamic image where the subject is seen with more dimension and where you have more control over shadows.

The Basics of Three Point Lighting & Definition

If you want a well lit video (and you should), it's essential to use a good lighting set-up.  Three point lighting is one of the oldest lighting techniques used in shooting video and essentially it consists three lights (wouldn't you know it) - a key light, fill light and back-light.

The Key Light

The primary light is the key light.  It’s there to bring light directly to your subject so that whatever you are filming, the subject is well illuminated in the shot.  Key lights should not be placed directly in front of the talent or subject, but instead slightly off to the side.  While just having this light may look like enough light, if you want a well lit piece, you'll want to include the other two lights to provide the subject in shot with more dimension.

The Fill Light

The fill light fills the dark side of your subject.  The fill light allows you to control the overall feel of your shot depending on how much you dim or lighten the fill light.  A dim fill light will give you more of a harsh, film-noir type of shadow, while a having the light brighter will help give your subject a more even look.

You should always have a fill light in place even if you want a shadowy look to your talent so that you are able to see a little detail on the dark side.

The Back Light (also called Rim Light)

The third light is the back light.  A back light will put another element to the image of your talent and will push him or her off from the background, again adding another dimension.  For this all you need to do is place a light behind your subject pointed at the back of their neck and high enough to be out of frame.  Watch that you don’t have the light too bright or the effect you get may not be the look you were going for.

That's it for a very basic overview of the standard three point lighting technique.  If you have a fourth light, you can use that to help light the background of the scene when required.

Question: What tips and techniques can you recommend to help creators produce more professional looking video?

  • VScreen

    @Vikash~ Thanks for sharing!