The Basics Of Video Lighting

Hi there! You know, lighting in your videos is one of the most important elements of your production. You may apply all the fancy video shooting techniques and rules (which I've touched on over here), but you should never, ever forget about your lighting.

Get your lighting wrong, and you'll end up with a video that's sub-par and a pain to watch. I've seen too many examples of otherwise good videos, completely ruined by bad lighting. Don't let this happen to you!

But for many video enthusiasts, video lighting is something difficult to understand. So in this article, I hope to demystify lighting and introduce you to some basic concepts so you can shoot better videos in future.

1. Overview

Alright, first up, let's understand the basics. In video lighting, there is something known as the "three point lighting technique". This consists of three separate light sources - the key, fill and back lighting.

Now, the rule is that you should always have one key light. If you have two light sources, then one of them will be key and the other two will play the role of fill and back lighting.

2. The Key Light

The key light helps to light up your subject from one side. You set it up slightly to the side and allow it to cast a strong, good light to bring out shadows in your subject. You can either place the key light to the left or right of the subject - it's up to you.

For key lighting, I usually invest in a cheap and good light source like this one which you can get at any decent camera store or order it online.

3. The Fill Light

The fill light is set up on the opposite side of the key light. You use it to flood the scene and balance out the shadows cast by the key light. Usually, you'd want this light to be less glaring and softer than your key light.

4. The Back Light

Most setups will do fine with just a key and fill light - but if you want a more professional look, put in a third back light as well.

A back light shines on the back of your subject. It helps to define and create subtle highlights of your subject's outline - providing a more 3D look and feel to the video.

Some folks go for a fourth light, i.e. a second back light, especially if the background is important. For example, if I were doing a green screen video, I'd use a second back light to make sure my screen is evenly lighted.

5. Using The Lights

The above three point lighting technique is applicable to most video situations, especially those filmed in a studio.

Try an experiment the next time you have to shoot an indoor video. Get a key light alone and shoot the video. Then add in a fill light and a back light and see the difference in the tone and shadows created.

You'll see a vast improvement in the quality of your videos.

One of the problems with lighting is that it is cumbersome to set up. Hence, it's best if you plan out your videos way ahead of time, so you know exactly how many lights you need.

Wrapping Up ...

Well, I hope you now understand some basic concepts of video lighting. The three point video technique can apply to many video situations. There are some good lighting kits which are quite cheap out in the market.

Try to get a starter kit and experiment with the lights - there are some good ones over here. Over time, you'll understand the nuances of the key, fill and back lights - so you can use them to the best effect in your videos.

Until next time, have fun filming your videos!