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Basic Lighting Techniques in Films

Basic Lighting Techniques in Films​

Basic Lighting techniques in films which are used to creating more dynamic shots and natural-looking movie scenes. This is why film sets constantly seem to be highly lit or packed with different light sources that offer other functions. This calls for technical knowledge in cinematography, which means utilizing your lighting techniques in a way to get your message across entirely in every scene. Suppose you’re aiming to become a cinematographer, director, author, or another person who holds a role in a movie team. In that case, you’ll need to know different kinds of lights utilized in filmmaking and you will also have to learn a few of the basic lighting techniques in films

Why should you be using lighting techniques?

Cinematography, as well as lighting techniques in films, are very closely similar to the lighting in photography. If you have attended a photography workshop in the past, then you might have an idea about how can you use the basic lighting techniques in films as well. It gives you an idea of how these lights produce different moods and ambiances in every scene. It’s also vital to keep in mind that these strategies are not clear-cut. Many of them can take the form of several other movie lights strategies. You can learn the benefits of each lighting and use it to achieving your cinematic goals.

Types of Lighting techniques

Key Lighting

Fill Lighting

Back Lighting

Side Lighting

Practical Light

Hard Lighting

  • Soft Lighting

  • Bounce Lighting

  • High Key

  • Low Key

  • Motivated Lighting

  • Ambient Light

Key Lighting

The Main light of any scene is known as the key light. It is usually the most remarkable kind of light in each scene or photo. Even if your lights staff chooses a challenging multi-light arrangement, the key light is generally the first to be set up. Nevertheless, just because it’s your “main” light does not mean it always needs to encounter your subject. To create a darker mood, you can place your key light anywhere, even from the side or behind you. Always stay clear of positioning it near or right beside the camera, as this will undoubtedly develop flat and direct illumination for your subject, which can make the scene look boring.

When to Use Key Lighting:

Use Key Light when you want to draw attention to a subject or make it stand apart from the rest of the scene.

Fill Lighting

Fill light is used to remove shadow and dark areas developed by the key light. It is less intense and placed in the opposite direction of the key light so that you can include more dimension to your scene. As fill light aims to eliminate darkness, it’s recommended to use multiple reflectors (placed around 3/4 opposite the key light) to develop softer light that spreads out equally.

When to Use Fill Lighting:

Fill light is used when you need to decrease the contrast or increase the exposure in a scene. Fill light is used majorly to reduce shadows in the scene.

Back Lighting

Backlighting produces a three-dimensional scene, and it is the last light required to create a three-point illumination setup. The backlight makes the subject stand out as it creates a division between your subject and the background. Just like fill lights, you’ll also intend to diffuse your backlight, so it ends up being much less extreme and covers a broader location of your subject. As the light comes from the background, it is used to create a silhouette.

When to Use Back Lighting:

Back light is used when you need to make sure your subject stands out.