How To Create A 3 Point Lighting Setup


Today we’re looking at how to get a classic 3 point lighting setup, so let’s do it!  

3 Point Lighting

This text has been transcribed from the video for optimal reading

So here I have a few lights setup in my living room.   Just in case it’s important, I’m using the Cameron 350 series lights.  You don’t need to have the most amazing lights to do a 3 point lighting setup, so use whatever you have and learn how to maximize what’s at your disposal.

Right now we just have the room lights on and everything looks terrible so the easiest way to start out is to kill all the lights and start from square 1.  From there we’ll build up a better look as we go along.  

The first light we need to look at is the key light.  This is the light that will be doing most of the heavy lifting in terms of lighting our subject.  If your subject is facing head on at the camera you can decide what looks best for your scene in terms of where the key light should be, but if your subject is facing to one side, in our case to the right of frame, the traditional way to light your subject is to have your key on the same side of the camera that your subject is facing.  You can think that the subject is looking more towards the keylight.  

You can have the key on the opposite side of the face, but that’s simply a matter of personal opinion.  It will give you a more bright look while the more traditional side will give you more of a dramatic look.  

Bringing the key light close to the camera will also help to give you more of that flat look, like a bright talk show type look, while bringing it farther away from the camera will give it more dramatic lighting again.  Use your discretion depending on the type of film look you’re going for.  

Once you’ve got that down, the next light is the fill light.  Like it’s name would suggest this light fills in some of the shadows cast by the key light.  You can really notice it in my nose, eyes, and chin.   Place it on the opposite side of camera as your key light and make sure that it’s not as strong as your key light.  Either dim it to make it less bright or move it farther back to achieve this.   And we can see that this is what the fill light is doing on it’s own.   

Lastly there’s the backlight.  Also known as a hairlight.  This is the final light that creates a bit of a fringe of light around the back of our subject.  This light should be placed roughly so that it’s pointed towards the key light we setup first.  What this light does is give us a really clear picture of the shape of our subject, acting as almost a sort of outline.   And we can see that this is what it does on it’s own.  

This could also be a nice look if you want to have a foreboding character or simply want to keep the identity of someone a mystery but still have a very pleasing stylistic shot.  

And now with everything together, here’s our final result.  It’s a good looking image that really makes your subject look their best.  Practice this lighting setup with whatever lighting you have at your disposal in order to be really ready for your next project.

That’s how to get the classic 3 point lighting setup, but if you have a couple more lights available, let me show you how you can quickly take this look a little farther.  A simple thing to take it up a notch is to add some practical lights into the scene.  What this does is actually not about lighting your subject so much as placing them in the scene that they’re in. It gives your image depth and helps your audience to see that they’re actually placed into a larger world.  Depending on where you place a practical light, this can also help to really make your subject pop out of their background.  This makes them feel more like the focal point of the conversation and naturally keeps you audience’s eyes and attention on the subject.  

We hope you found this video helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere ProAfter Effects, and filmmaking in general!   If you’re doing an interview any time soon, you might need to make some lower thirds, so check out this video we did all about that.  And if you didn’t want to make your own, we have awesome lower thirds templates that you can look through.  

Thank you so much for watching, and we hope to see you in the next video!

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