When it comes time to film your video, lighting is one of the most important elements there is to achieve the kind of look that you want. Intentionality in lighting is just as important as good camerawork and editing. As such, if you want to better understand the process of how we create the professional look for your video, then understanding the three types of studio lighting that we use can help.
The key light is the lighting that we will place first since it has what some consider the most important job of lighting the main subject of the shot. This will typically be placed in front of the subject, at an angle that best flatters it on the side that the camera is facing. However, for more dramatic shots, the key light can be angled somewhat different to add shadow and depth. For a more cinematic look, for instance, we will put the key light on the “smart side”, i.e. the front portion of the side facing away from the camera. The key light can be played within a range of ways, as well, to adjust its look. So long as it lights up the front of the subject, it will do the job.
In most cases, when we’re relying on a three-point lighting setup, we don’t want the key light to be the only lighting in the scene, as we don’t want darkness to entirely dominate one side of the subject. To ensure that doesn’t happen, we will make use of the fill light, sometimes called the second light. Basically, this is a less-intense light that’s placed on the opposite portion of the front side of the subject. So, for instance, if the key light is to the front-right of the subject, the fill light will be to the front-left of them. This is to help create more depth to how the subject is lit. It doesn’t have to be a direct opposite to the key light, either. We can adjust it for more interesting shading and details when necessary.
The back light, also known as the rim light, is to make sure that there’s depth to the background of the shot, as well. If there’s only lighting directly on the subject, it can make the video look a little flat as a result, like they’re on a flat backdrop. The back light adds dimension from behind, often from a similar angle to the key light.
When we use all three of these studio lights together, it’s known as 3 point lighting. This is largely considered one of the most reliable and versatile ways to add depth and detail to the shot. We can manipulate these three lights to create bright and poppy illumination, to better control shadows and the interplay of light and dark, and to create a wide variety of looks.