Lighting Techniques in Film & Television

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The basic lighting setup in filmmaking is the three-point lighting setup, which includes a main source, a fill light and a rim light or back light. Discover how to use lights and shadows to create different effects in movies with filmmaking tips from a director and filmmaker in this free video on making movies.

Part of the Video Series: Filmmaking Basics
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Jared Drake and I'm going to talk to you about lighting techniques in film and video. The basic lighting setup is the three, the three point lighting setup. They call it three point because it's with three different light sources. The first is your main light source. It's your key light and that's the main source that's shining on you; it would be this light here I suppose for me. Your second light source is your fill light. That's the light that actually lights the shadows. Yes, you do actually light the shadows. The purpose of that is the contrast between the key and the fill defines how harsh of an image, how harsh of a look you want it to be and all of that helps define what the character is going through emotionally and the tone of your film. The third light in the three point basic three point lighting setup is your rim light or your back light or your hair light. What that is is it's, it's a light from up in the back or somewhere up in the back to either left or right, whatever, that's shining on the back of the characters neck or shoulders and generally you'll see like an outline halo around this part and that helps to separate the character from the background or the subject from the background. Lighting through indoors versus outdoors is drastically different. Indoors takes a lot more time to light and guff than outdoors does. The reason for that is outdoors, you basically have the sun and your stuck with it. So there's not a whole lot you can do. If it's overcast what's great is the cloud serve as a sort of diffusion for the sun. So you get this very nice diffuse light through the clouds that's very easy to shoot, that's very easy to setup; maybe you'll come out with 1 HMI which is a daylight balance light, cast that on to the scene or to the characters and throw in some, some balances or, or some extra diffusion somewhere and call it good. Indoors is much different because you have so much control, you can really do whatever you want, there's, it's very tough to make a room that's quite flat, have shape. You have to use lights, you have to use shadows. It's difficult to work in small spaces so you know, if you're on location and you're shooting a bedroom scene, well that 16 foot by 16 foot bedroom is tough to get all the film equipment, all the camera equipment, all the production design stuff, all the props and all the light setup so you know, people have to be patient with coming and going, walking through the door or people trying to leave the door, people running wires and cable. It just turns into a major headache shooting indoors and logistically, it just takes time to do. The one thing that's, a film makers often do, if they need to shoot night scene, they'll do what's called day for night and they will shoot during the day but try and make it feel like night either by some post process or what they do within the camera. One trick to use is if you're shooting day for night, take daylight balance film and shoot that outside. You take tungsten films which is design to be shot under you know, 3600 kelvin and take that outside and that'll have a bluish hue to the look of the film and blue is associated with nighttime. Then you can stop it down either within the camera and process in and try and, you know, just bring the overall tone that look just make it much darker. That darkness combine with the blue look of the film will hopefully give it a day for night type of look. But it's something that should be tested ahead of time because it's a little tricky to get right.


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