So, you have heard about 3-point lighting and you are interested in learning more. You clicked on the right article. 3-point lighting is a fancy combination of 3 lights to create one setup. Using this technique can supercharge your video and push the quality of your content to new heights.
What is 3-point lighting?
3-point lighting is a term used to refer to a combination of 3 different light setups. These in combination create lighting that cast shadows and highlights on the focus point to increase the contrast of the shot and make the video appear more appealing to the eye.
The 3 light setups you need are as follows: A key, fill and backlight setup. Each one serves a purpose and can be increased or decreased to suit the type of lighting that you want.
For example, if you wanted to have a clean and corporate look, you’ll probably want to build a more standard 3-point lighting setup for your video. Your 3-point lighting setups should always depend on your creative goals.
The look can change based on the ratio of your light sources. If you have a very strong key light but have a weak fill light, your subject will be unevenly lit. This can be the same for a strong backlight and a weak fill. Doing this will create a silhouette that would be perfect for those mysterious shots.
However, if you are just interested in a good high detailed video, having a balanced lighting set-up is the best option for you.
How to set up a key light
A key light is the primary light point for your scene. The key light is most often placed in front of your subject, at an angle, and thus illuminates the face of your subject.
For cinematic 3-point lighting, the key light often lands on the front portion of your subject that is faces away from the camera, also commonly referred to as the “smart side”.
Positioning your key light in this way is by no means required, but it will allow your less intense fill light to favour the camera which, in turn, will give your video a smoother look that is still well lit.
How to set up a fill light
A fill light is the second light for your scene, and its purpose is to fill in the missing light for your video that is created by the other two. It is often placed in front of your subject, opposite to your key light, at an angle to create some depth, but also to bring out detail on the other side of your subject.
The angle at which you place your fill light does not have to be exactly parallel to your key light, but if you are going for an even, clean look for an interview or commercial, you may want to rely on an even set-up.
However, the angle isn’t everything, light intensity matters too. Changing the intensity of the light will affect the overall brightness of the shot. If you are looking for a professional and clean video a stronger light will be better, but if you are wanting a dynamic and cinematic shot a lower intensity may be preferable.
How to set up a backlight
A backlight (also known as a rim light, or hair light) is the third light for your video lighting setup, and its purpose is to offset the flattening of dimensions caused by your key and fill light. It approaches from behind your subject, often at an angle on the same side as your primary light point.
The most common placement for your backlight can be achieved by placing it on the same side as your key light, and then moving behind the subject so that the backlight is aimed toward the fill light. This creates depth to the video and prevents your subject from looking like they are against a wall, thus adding more depth to the shot.
How it has been used in the past
The concept of 3-point lighting isn’t a new idea and has been used throughout media for hundreds of years. One prolific artist that explored this idea was Caravaggio.
Caravaggio used an early form of 3-point lighting in his work that had never been seen before. He was a pioneer of chiaroscuro (An art style that uses high contrast to portray form). He was able to create real depth to his art that many other portrait artists of the time didn’t. His pioneering new style cemented his legacy in the art world, and eventually developed into the 3-point lighting that we know today, this could be the same for you.
Another example of lighting being used is in the Rembrandt triangle.
Rembrandt lighting is a standard lighting technique that is used in studio portrait photography and cinematography. Rembrandt lighting is characterized by an illuminated triangle (also called “Rembrandt’s triangle”) under the eye of the subject on the less illuminated side of the face. This is a popular and famous concept that has been used in the photography and video world up to this day.
How will it help you?
So now that you have read all about how to set up the 3-point lighting set up, how will it benefit you? Well as we have seen, having great visual imagery will get people to pay more attention to you and your brand. As most people or small businesses record their interviews and content via webcam, they lack the quality and professional finish needed to attract a wider audience.
These videos are often lost in the sea of videos posted every day just like them. So, to stand out you can use techniques such as 3-point lighting to push your content out of the norm and get it seen by the clients that you deserve.