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Video Tip of the Month: The importance of lighting the subject

If you’re creating corporate videos in-house, one of the most important things to get right is the lighting. A CEO can only look as good as his or her lighting. If you think good lighting has to be really expensive, think again. There are a lot of reasonable solutions out there for the intrepid office filmmaker. A small investment in the short run will pay big rewards in image quality. And although good lighting may not be immediately noticeable to the layperson, bad lighting is stands out like a sore thumb!

The simplest method for lighting your subject is called three-point lighting. The object of three point lighting is to create the illusion of a three-dimensional subject in a two-dimensional image. Here’s how it works.

The key light: This is the main light used on your subject.
The fill light: This light fills in the shadows created by the key light and prevents them from looking too dark.
The back (hair) light: This light separates the subject from the background.

When arranging lights, we usually place the key light first because it’s the main light. The rest of the lights really just support and augment the key light. Since we want to see the subject’s face in a natural setting, we typically place the key light in front and about 45 degrees to one side of the subject.

The fill light goes on the other side of the subject to “fill” in the dark shadows created by the key light with a slightly softer light.

The back or hair light can be placed behind and above the subject out of the field of camera view so that its light falls on the hairline and shoulders of the subject.

In a real world situation you can use another light source to fill in for any of the three lights in a standard lighting kit. For example, in an outdoor situation, the sun can act as a key light, with the other light being provided with a reflector on a stand or held by an assistant. Since there is so much ambient light outdoors, light reflecting off of nearby surfaces often provides more light than you need, so the trick is to avoid harsh shadows. That’s also why a lot of filmmakers and photographers like shooting on a slightly overcast day.

Indoors, try using light from a window for the key light, overhead lights for a hair light and a third light for fill light.

As always, if you need any help in lighting or otherwise creating your video, don’t hesitate to call Bighouse Productions.

Bighouse Productions: 778 895 1755