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Make your Videos Look Professional Using 3 Point Lighting

Step by step tutorial on how to use the 3-point lighting technique to light your videos like the pros.

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Video Transcript

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The process of creating professional video starts in the studio with a technique known as 3 point lighting. This is a technique that involves three different sources of light and applying them makes your subject look a lot more flattering.

The first thing we’re gonna look at is the key light or the main source of your illumination. The next thing we’re gonna take a look at is the fill light, which is gonna clean up all the dark areas on the face. And the last thing we’re gonna look at is the backlight, which is gonna separate our subject from the background. I’m Tom Skowronski and this is three point lighting.

Standing to my left are two photo flex, silver domed, soft box lights. These lights are very even in their intensity, so we’re gonna use them for our backlight and our fill light. Now, the light we wanna use first is gonna be a little bit more intense and that is known as our spotlight. This is gonna be our key light and it’s gonna be the most powerful of all the lights we are gonna use. The best way to set up a key light is to raise it about three or four feet above the subject’s eye level, which will then recreate the same natural environment you get outdoors with the sun.

Now, a spotlight’s a very intense, powerful light, so we’re gonna want to keep this at about four to five feet away from our subject at least at all times so it doesn’t blind them.

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Now, the best way to set up those shadows once you have your key light in place is to head over to one of these soft boxes and begin to set that up, again, at about 45 degrees from the camera’s positioning, just like the key light, only this time, if the light’s are the same intensity, we’re either gonna back it up or we’re gonna bring in a less powerful light.

At this point on our video, our subject’s gonna look very natural and look very flattering, but they’re not gonna be separated from the background and that’s where the third part of this process comes in, the backlight.

When we set up this light, we’re gonna raise it, once again, about a foot or two feet above Julie’s head, which is gonna add that nice rim of light that shines down and doesn’t spill over into our camera.

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Now, that we’ve gone over this process, let’s take a look at all the individual lights one more time.

The key light’s main function is to create the most amount of illumination onto the subject. The second process we went over is adding the fill light. Now, the fill light it gonna clear up all those shadows that are created by the harsh light that comes from the key. And the last step to this process was adding our backlight, which is generally the key in separating our subject from the background.

Now, that we’ve learned about each individual step, the key light, the fill light, and the backlight, all of you can go out and create professional looking video with your own three point lighting set up.

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Comments

Daniel Bruns's picture

Hi Hector, As in any light setup, the intensity of the back light is a stylistic choice. That being said, I generally like to use a dimmer for the back light and increase the intensity of the light until zebra bars start to show up on my camera or some clipping occurs. Then, I back down the back light until the bars disappear. I really like the look of a strong back light!
Daniel Bruns's picture

Hi h_lane, You have the right idea. The back light and fill light should be the same height as the key light in a "normal" setup. However, there are many back light placements that can help separate your subject from the background. Some people choose to place the back light to one side of the subject as a kick or rim light. This is especially true if they don't have a light stand with a boom arm. It gives interesting results!