In this guide to all things lighting, we’re diving into the “how” of creating high-quality lighting for videos. You’ll be learning:
- Foundational requirements for lighting for video production
- Helpful tips for improving your lighting set-up
- How to build the skills you need to create professional-quality videos
Lighting is one of the most important – and yet one of the most often underestimated – factors in creating high-quality video. Proper lighting might seem pretty straightforward to the untrained eye, but it can actually be pretty tricky.
For beginners, figuring out how to light a video shoot is often a steep (and challenging) learning curve. But even so, it’s a lesson in video production that you definitely don’t want to skip. So, we’re here to give you a breakdown of the basics of lighting, providing practical tips for video production lighting that you can start using right now.
What are the Main Requirements of Proper Lighting?
One of the first things you realize as a new video producer is that cameras require much more light than you might think. What might look bright in “real life” doesn’t necessarily translate to video. High-quality video (and images) needs ample lighting, and the light needs to come from the proper direction.
There are three main components of good lighting for filming, which make up what’s known as “three-point lighting”:
- Key light
- Fill light
The key light is the most important and is used to highlight the dimension, details, and form of the main subject of a shot. Generally, your key light should be aimed at a 45-degree angle, pointing upwards and off the axis of the camera.
The fill light is a softer light, which is intended to reduce the appearance of deep shadows. Place your fill light directly opposite your key light, aiming it at a 30-degree vertical angle.
Finally, the backlight helps distinguish the subject from the background. It’s primarily used to create a sense of depth. Your backlight should be about 1.5 times brighter than your key light and set up directly behind the subject of a shot. Situate it to point downwards at a 45-degree angle.
Note: If you are trying to create “flat lighting,” which is commonly used for broadcasting, your three lights will usually be the same brightness level.
Your shot can also include source lights, which is lighting that comes from any lamps, candles, or windows in the space. Depending on the effect you’re trying to create, you can intentionally adjust your source lighting to develop a certain mood or look. Regardless, you’ll want to make sure you account for any source lights when you’re perfecting your overall lighting set-up.
How Do You Get Good Lighting When Filming?
Above all, the most important thing to remember about lighting is that planning ahead is a necessity. Long before you start filming, you should have a solid game plan for your lighting set-up for video production.
You don’t necessarily have to invest in professional-grade equipment right away; high-quality video is achievable even without expensive lights. It all comes down to putting the time and effort into making lighting a top priority.
What Are Some Good Lighting Tips?
Lighting plays a critical role in the quality of your video, and poor lighting can completely undermine the professionalism of any final product. But beyond that, lighting can also be an incredible creative tool that you can use to bring your vision to life.
Here are some handy tips for using lighting for video production:
1. Consider your angles.
There are so many different angles at which you can direct various light sources, and your choice of angle can be especially impactful when you’re filming live subjects. With the right angle, you can tell a visual story.
For example, lighting angles can be a way to set up the dynamics between subjects of a certain scene. Using lighting cast from a high angle can enhance a subject’s importance or even imply an innocent or angelic aura. The audience subconsciously understands that this angle of lighting communicates where they should be focusing during the scene.
In contrast, using a light from a low angle can add to the drama of a scene. You might notice low-angle lighting used in your favorite thriller films or scary movies, especially when an intimidating villain appears on screen.
2. Be aware of lighting temperatures and colors.
Think of a specific film scene that inspired a powerful emotion in you – the odds are good that lighting had a significant effect on your viewing experience, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. Lighting temperature and color can be a subtle but highly effective method for invoking emotion in your audience. It’s important that you pay attention to the color and temperature of your lighting because you don’t want to inadvertently portray the “wrong” feeling.
Shades of orange and pink are frequently used to create a sense of warmth and comfort, while colors like blue and gray often equate to coldness. Deep shades of red or black can mean danger is ahead or an element of passion or anger in a scene. White almost always signifies innocence; yellow is associated with happiness and energy, and so on.
3. Use brightness to your advantage.
Providing enough light for good video quality is important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean brighter is always better. Instead, think of brightness in levels that can be adjusted to meet your specific needs.
In video production, light is often categorized into “hard” and “soft” lighting:
- Hard lighting is comparable to a very sunny day, delivering concentrated light from a small, single source. This type of lighting usually creates defined shadows and an intense level of detail.
- Soft lighting can be likened to a cloudy day, with light diffused over a large area and coming from a larger source. This type of lighting softens details and reduces shadows.
There is also high-key and low-key lighting, each of which is used for specific purposes. Choosing the brightness level and the type of light you use will largely depend on what you want to achieve with your video.
Set Yourself Up for a Bright Future with a Media-Centric Education
Whether you’re just discovering your passion for creating content or you’ve been fascinated by the video production process for quite some time, there are so many great careers that can offer you a fulfilling future in the media industry.
As the world of digital media evolves at an exciting pace, there are countless new opportunities around virtually every corner. But if you want to make sure you have what it takes to stand out, completing specialized training and education in media production is key.
The Beonair Network of Media Schools in Miami, Chicago, Colorado, and Ohio can be an outstanding starting point for your career. At our campuses, we offer students various educational paths, including our new Digital Media Production program. This program is an ideal fit for students who want to learn everything there is to know about media and how it shapes the world we live in. From video production to podcasting, and just about every topic in between, you’ll learn about it all.
Prepare for a career in media with a hands-on education starting today: contact us to start the application and enrollment process now!
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