Lights, Camera, Action! What You Need to Know About Lighting

Let there be light! But not just any light will do. Lighting when it comes to studio production is more complex than simply flicking a switch. When trying to light a space like a television studio there are 3 key points to keep in mind. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce a 3-point lighting system.

As the name suggests, there are three major components that make up this system. They are: the key light, the fill light, and the back/rim light.

The key light is the main source of light in the space in which one is working. It’s job is to create mood, feeling, and experience. When working in a television setting, however, the mood is generally stagnant. The objective of lighting in television is to make the subject look amazing! The key light in this instance is usually overhead and at an angle to the subject.

The second kind of light important to the 3-point lighting system is the fill light. The fill light’s main purpose is to eliminate shadows on the subject. The fill light works with the key light but is less bright and set at a lower angle. When producing television using fill lights along with key lights can create stark differences in the subject’s appearance.

Lastly, there is the back light. The back light, as the name suggests, shines on the subject from the back. There are two types of backlighting that serve different purposes. The first back light comes from a cyclorama. Its job is to illuminate the background, so the subject

subject
Simple 3-point lighting

isn’t seen sitting in complete darkness. The second light is called the rim light. This light is set to hit the subjects’ shoulders or the backs of their heads. This creates a “halo” that helps to distinguish the foreground from the background. It also adds a bit of shine to a shot, and the purpose of TV lighting is to make people look great! What’s better than an angelic halo around a person’s body?

The key to lighting TV, and any space really, is to have the 3-main lights. Together, the key light, fill light, and back light work to create a bright space to work. This light looks amazing on camera and is sure to make your subject shine. (Pun absolutely intended)

Photo Credit:

Sara Robertson

Tom Rydquist

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