The Three Point Lighting Technique is a standard method used in film, video, photography CGI and stop frame animation. It is a simple but versatile system which forms the basis of most studio and location lighting.
Three point lighting is the basis for all lighting and it all starts with a Key light, a Fill light and a Back light.
In this article we will use a tungsten cool light for the key light and fill light and for the back light I will be using an 800w arri redhead.
This is the main light. It is usually the brightest and has the most effect on the subject. It is placed to the left or right at an angle as the diagram shows. The subject will have a bright half of his face and shadow on the other side. Using a fill light will get rid of the shadow created by the key. Please read on…
This is the 2nd of the 3 lights and is placed on the opposite side to the key light. It will fill the shadows created by the keylight. The fill light will usually be a bit less brighter than the key. To light the subject and fill the shadow you can use a dimmer, some diffusion gels or you can try moving the fill light further away to reduce intensity.
The back light creates a surround to the subject. It separates the subject from the background and can be a great way to give the subject shape and depth. Put the backlight behind the subject and point it at the back of their head and shoulders but avoid pointing it into the camera lenses or you will get a lens flare.
Once you have mastered and experimented with this technique you will have a greater understanding about lighting set builds and locations which could incorporate many more lighting set-ups. If its for 1- 3 individuals or objects then use the 3 point set-up.
Sam Parkinson, Studio Manager at Camberwell Studios.
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