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Lighting for Video Production: Essential Types and Techniques

It’s no secret that lighting in a video plays a big part in setting its mood, defining its tone, and conveying the right emotions to the audience. For example, a somber scene could aptly have a somber and serious feel with minimal lights and strategically placed shadows. Replace that with bright light flooding the scene, and the viewer would be left confused.

There are so many ways light can be used to weave a narrative or tell a story. There is not one right way to use light; you can get creative and use it to complement the different settings and techniques. But there is only one wrong way to do it, and that is by not knowing what each light setting is and how it is used.

In this blog, we cover the different types of lighting and techniques used in video production.

The Three Point Light

The Key Light

This is the primary light of a scene and the one that’s strongest. This light is used to draw attention to a subject or make it stand out from its background. This would be the first light to set up in a multi-light setup. It is placed anywhere but near the camera as that can give the subject very flat lighting.

Fill Lighting

This light is used to cover up the shadows that the key light casts. It decreases the contrast that the key light creates in a scene. Hence it is positioned opposite the key light. It is a lower-intensity light, and it helps with the visibility and depth of an object in the scene.

Back Lighting

This is the last light to be added to complete the three-point light setup. The backlight is what gives the subject a silhouette and the scene a 3D feel, rather than feeling flat. It is placed higher up and behind the subject. It is usually diffused to reduce the intensity and cover a wider range.

Lighting Based on Direction

Bounce Lighting

As the name suggests, it is light that bounces off from an intense light source to illuminate a scene. A light-colored reflecting surface or a reflector is used to bounce light. It is apt to use bounce light when there is a need for more ambient light in a scene. It creates a larger area of light that is spread out evenly.

Side Lighting

Side lighting or chiaroscuro lighting can add that dramatic feel to your scene. It aids in bringing out the textures and edges in a scene and a sense of depth. When correctly placed, it can make subjects seem farther off than in reality.

Based on Intensity

Hard Lighting

Hard lighting, as the name suggests, is a strong light coming from a high-intensity source or the sun. It is used in a scene to create emphasis on the shape, texture, and contour of a subject. It creates harsh shadows but, at the same time, draws attention to one point in the scene.

Soft Lighting

Using soft light is a technique used for aesthetic reasons. It is used to create drama, replicate outside light seeping in, eliminate harsh shadows, etc. It increases the visual appeal when used in human subjects as it blurs the more delicate features of the face for a more youthful look.

High Key

It is with high key lighting that the signature overexposed and shadowless look of sitcoms and commercials is achieved. The scene is uniformly lit from all directions with the same intensity. There are no shadows and is very bright.

Low Key

Low-key lighting has minimal lighting and more shadows. It is lighted with one strong key light to create an effect of drama, suspense, or mystery. This lighting is often used to create a mood of horror, noir, or moody nighttime scenes.

Lighting Based on Source

Ambient Lighting

Ambient light is the natural light of a scene. It may be the sunlight, moonlight, or light from signboards and streetlamps. Natural sunlight is a great ambient light. Adding more light sources as needed, ambient light can give a highly natural finish. But it is not always reliable as the intensity and angles can change.

Practical Lighting

A practical light refers to a source of light within the scene that the subject interacts with and creates a cinematic nighttime scene. It may be a bedside lamp, a TV, or even the light from the fridge. These provide minimal lighting for effect. It is also sometimes supplemented with a motivated light or dimmed down using dimmers.

Motivated Light

A motivated light imitates natural light or supplements light sources within a scene. It is tweaked with filters and diffusing gels to create the right intensity and color so that it looks natural.

Summing Up

A well-made scene is complete only when it is well-lit. And being well-lit means knowing what light to place where. Striking a balance between light and shadow that suits the needs of your video is a crucial aspect. With the above information, you can get a better head start at setting the light for your next video production.

If you are starting out on your new video production, allow Cinimage to help you execute it flawlessly. Our expertise and experience have given us the tools and procedures to generate great results. Reach out to us today to discuss the details of your video production and know more about Cinimage’s professional video production services.

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