Lighting can make or break video shoots

Last week, I talked about sound in film and video. This week, we’re going to examine lighting.

Lighting is a powerful force within videos and films. Lighting can add drama, embellish beauty or create a host of other effects. A character lit from behind can create an ominous silhouette, while soft light on someone’s face can enhance beauty. Natural and artificial lights also both have different qualities.

When shooting outside, natural light can be easy to use. The basic rule is to keep the light behind yourself while shooting—so that the light will be hitting your subject in the front, instead of the sun being behind your subject. Sunrise and sunset provides many different kinds of lighting, and the “magic hour” is always a good time to shoot. The “magic hour” is the hour after the sun has set in which the world is still illuminated. The light during this time is soft and gentle, and can be a beautiful time to shoot in.

If you’re interested in purchasing artificial lights, some inexpensive LED lights can simply be strapped to your camera or held by a friend. If you want to get more sophisticated, it’s good to learn about three-point lighting.

Three-point lighting is a fundamental lighting technique. It includes three lights—a key light, a fill light, and a backlight.

A key light is your main light source, shone directly on the subject. The fill light fills in the rest of the subject with a softer light. It comes from the front, opposite side as the key. And the backlight balances out the shot, and is placed behind the subject.

Lighting is a powerful cinematic technique that should always be kept in mind. Lighting can be the difference between an effective scene or video, and one that falls flat.

Check back every Tuesday for Timothy’s latest techniques in filming.