Three point lighting

With today’s post we are starting our cinematography 101 mini series with our favourite topic of them all – lighting. In cinematography there are 3 main light roles that you are going to use to light your subject face in a basic three-point lighting setup. These three main lights  are the Key light, the fill light and the back light which is also sometimes known as a rim light or a hair light. Before we proceed we would like to make a note that the backlight and the rim light are not the same, but for the purpose of our today’s post we can treat the rim light and the backlight as lights coming from the same family.

So the key light is the main source of light hitting your subject. It’s usually the light that lights up the face so that the actors are visible to the camera. Usually we like to place the key light at a 3/4 angle to my face just above the eye line in order to get this so called Rembrandt look. Obviously this is not the only way to place the key light. The key light can be placed in lots of different places to create a variety of different moods, feelings and to ignite different emotions with the viewer. In the following episodes of our 101 youtube cinematography course we will explain in detail all the different lighting angles and nuances about how to correctly place the keylight in different lighting situations.

So right now we have the key light at a 3/4 angle to my face just above the eye line in order to get this look, which can be recognized by this defining triangle on the left side of the face.   

Now let’s get to the second light which is the Fill light. The reason why we call it the Fill light because you’re fiilling in the shadows with light to create the contrast ratio that you want. The Fill light can be usually found on the opposite side of the key light and is used to control the amount of light on the shadow side of my face. You’ll see as we turn it down the Shadows become more intense and if we turn it up the lighting on my becomes more even. There’s this simple trick we love doing when creating the perfect fill light. Currently as you will see in our video tutorial we are not using an actual light for my fill but we use a bounce board instead. This way we create a super soft fill light that just adds enough fill without completely destroying the beautiful shadow area on my face. This moment calls for a break. We would like you to repeat after us. Shadows are truly something beautiful – and we should all embrace the beauty of shadows. So without cheating or skipping on this one repeat after me: Shadows are beautiful. Feel free to check the entire video on how to master and execute the 3 point light in by following the link.