Until a few years ago, I used wonder why do these film sets always have too many lighting gear on them. It was only after I step foot into video production, I realised the reason behind the concept of ‘lighting for videos’. The human eye is the best lens in the world. The cameras invented up to date are all far inferior to an average human eye. Cameras see the same world we see in a more contrasty way. Hence in order to cope up with the contrast of the real world, artificial lights are been used.
Ever since lighting was introduced into filmmaking, cinematographers have always exploited this phenomenon and have experimentally come up with one of the most common and best solid lighting technique called the ‘3 point lighting’. Since my previous trimester, I would have come across this terminology for about a hundred times now! Everyone in video production would definitely have deployed this setup for at least more than once.
Schematic representation of 3 Point Lighting
3 point lighting comes with a combination of three different light sources directed towards a central subject (the talent or an object). These light sources are strategically placed in different angles in order achieve the effect. The 3 lights are called the key light (the brightest), the fill light (with moderate intensity) and the backlight (with low intensity).
Example of 3 Point Lighting
The key light is sort of the main light that illuminates the subject. The fill light is usually the light adjacent to the key light. This light removes the shadows and lines caused on the subject by the key light. Finally it’s the backlight, my favourite. Though this light is illuminated with the lowest intensity compared to the other two, it simply creates the biggest difference. The backlight is the only light that is positioned behind the subject (hence the name), creates a separation between the background and the subject. This effect in return gives the subject a 3 dimensional illusion on the camera. We can usually observe a thin line of highlight on the subject’s edges. Now that is why I consider this lighting to be special.
As filming is a creative art, filmmakers have not just stuck with this one famous lighting set up. In fact, cinematographers have ventured into various other set ups of lightings to provide the the right and unique tone to the theme and storyline deployed by the film. Ranging from adjustments to the already existing 3 point set up to the usage of mixed colour temperatures, these ‘specific to the scenes’ lighting seems to give an overall appealing result.
Light beam directly towards the camera – creating the hue and shadow effect
(Mostly for music videos)
As a cinematographer it simply amazes me when I imagine the numerous options I can have for lighting up a video. Cinematography and lighting comes hand in hand. Either of them is complete without the other. Hence I am ending this blog by quoting the fact that lighting is as creative as any other aspects of filmmaking.
Free Online Film School: Learn Filmmaking,. (2010). Film Lighting Techniques and Tips: With Pretty Pictures!. Retrieved 5 May 2015, from http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/filmmaking/film-lighting-tips.html
Filmmakeriq.com,. (2015). 20 Lighting Tutorials for Film and Video | FilmmakerIQ.com. Retrieved 5 May 2015, from http://filmmakeriq.com/2011/04/20-lighting-tutorials-for-film-and-video/
10outof10.co.uk,. (2015). Music Video Lighting. Retrieved 5 May 2015, from http://www.10outof10.co.uk/html/music_video_lighting.html