Lighting for Video

Have you had the privilege of viewing an original painting of one of the great painters in history such as Michelangelo? They use light in a way that makes the art come alive. The late Thomas Kinkade, has coined the title "The Painter of Light".

Light should be seen as paint. Sometimes you will need apply it heavy, in other scenarios, softly. Moods or feelings are created with great lighting. Darker scenes with blue create a sense of coldness and detachment, while bright focused light can excite and energize. Be creative in your next lighting for video production!

Make use of outdoor daylight, then use lighting instruments to add affect or fill.The time of day and quality of light can convey different moods. Shoot during the red glow of sunset for romance, the cold gray of gloomy skies for melancholy, or a shaded setting with a shaft of sunlight for a bright, cheerful shot.


The Color of Light
  • White light is the combination all color

  • Video cameras use "white balance" to correctly set Kelvin. Or in plain language - to have your picture in proper color.

  • Set in degrees Kelvin
    ~3200k (light bulb) - Indoor, light bulb is red-orange
    ~10,000k (bright outdoors) -Daylight is bluer

  • Lighting with Gels – to accurately compensate toward correct Kelvin
    ~Use orange gels- to change from 5600k down to 3200:                 Full orange gel = 3200k / ½ = 1600k / ¼ = 800k / 1/8th = 400k
    ~Blue gels – to change from 3200k up to 5600k:                            Full blue gel = 5600k / ½ = 2400k / ¼ = 1200k / 1/8th = 600k

Directing Light

  • Front lighting
    ~Flattens out detail
    ~May create glare

  • Back lighting
    ~Creates bright highlights
    ~Separates foreground from background

  • Side lighting - Brings out shape & textures

  • Silhouettes – extreme lighting contrasts
    ~To hide identity

  • Soften or diffuse lighting with scrims or cloth

  • Control direct sunlight by shooting in shaded areas

Lighting Setup

  • Basic Studio - lighting stationary people in 3-points
    ~Key – front
    ~Back – rear
    ~Fill – side

  • Basic Field - outdoors lighting 
    ~Reflect the sun with white paper or reflectors
    ~Use field lighting kits and balance to daylight - Lowell / Arri / Tota

  • Green or blue screens require soft, even lighting

  • Warm cards - when white balanced to, can "warm" or "cool" your image

  • Use HMI lights for film or maximum intensity outdoors


Final thought -depending on what you are trying to communicate, most talent will ask for softer lighting that will flatter them.


DMC Firewall is developed by Dean Marshall Consultancy Ltd