Lighting fundamentals


Larry Jordan# TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Larry Jordan
Issue 104 - August 2015

Lighting is like chess. Simple on the surface yet wondrously complex the more you learn about it. Recently, I was asked to do a presentation on the basics of lighting. So, I decided to share that presentation with you here.

It starts with 3-point Lighting, though, um, we actually use four lights (see above):

- Key light
- Fill light
- Back light
- Set light

The Key light is set anywhere from dead in front to 45° over and 45° up from the face of the actor, or talent. The Key creates the dominant shadows on the face. The Fill light is lower and closer, designed to fill in the shadows so the face isnt so dark. The Back light is immediately behind the talent and 70° or so up. This is designed to separate the actor from the background by providing a gentle rounded light on their head and shoulders. The Set light is placed to light the background without any light hitting the talent.

PUT YOUR LIGHTING TO WORK

Lets take a look at how these lights interact in lighting an interview:

Fig 1: This is Lisa. Except, shes in silhouette, we can only see her outline. Just the Set light is turned on, which means we can see the background, but Lisa in the foreground is totally dark.

Fig 2: When we add the backlight, we get a much more interesting shot, though we still cant see Lisas face.
Fig 3: Now, lets turn off the Set and Back lights, and add a Key light from the front right. We can clearly see what Lisa looks like, but there isnt a lot of depth to the shot.
Fig 4: But see how much more interesting this image becomes when we add the Back light. This is a look youll see a lot in dramatic/crime programs. Strong contrast between the left and right sides of the face.

You can accentuate this even more by moving the key light more to the right, creating a rim of light around the actor, leaving the rest of the face in shadow.

Fig 5: Here, the Key, Fill and Back lights are all on. Notice how the face has shape and depth, though the dramatic intensity of the image is significantly reduced. This lighting is typical for interviews, where you dont want to scare the audience, but, instead, want to make the actor pleasant and inviting.

Fig 6: Now we have everything turned on: Key, Fill, Back and Set. This is typical lighting for many interviews and talk shows. It has a light, cheerful, non-threatening feeling.

Fig 7: Heres an example of why you dont want to use ceiling lights for your interviews. Lisa is lit from above with only a Back light to provide separation from the set. Look at the strong, unnatural shadows under her eyes and chin. The forehead is too bright, while the chin is too dark. Its impossible to get your talent to look good when lit from above.

Fig 8: This is under-lighting, where the light is immediately under her chin. Every evil villain in history is lit from below. Now you see why - highlights and shadows are reversed, creating a very unsettled, angry, mysterious feeling.


Tags: iss104 | lighting | studio | talent | key light | fill light | back light | set light | Larry Jordan#
Contributing Author Larry Jordan#

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • FilmGear LED lighting at IBC 2015

    FilmGear LED lighting at IBC 2015

  • LSC Lighting at IBC 2015

    LSC Lighting at IBC 2015

  • DoP Choice show the latest lighting solutions at NAB 2019

    DoP Choice show the latest lighting solutions at NAB 2019

  • Area 48 Colour from BBandS Lighting plus more announcements at NAB 2019

    Area 48 Colour from BBandS Lighting plus more announcements at NAB 2019

  • Area 48 Color and more from BBS Lighting at IBC 2018

    Area 48 Color and more from BBS Lighting at IBC 2018

  • BBS Lighting Force 7 at NAB 2018

    BBS Lighting Force 7 at NAB 2018

  • DOP Choice Lighting Bracket and Snapbox at IBC 2017

    DOP Choice Lighting Bracket and Snapbox at IBC 2017

  • Hive Lighting at IBC 2015

    Hive Lighting at IBC 2015

  • LCA - Snapgrid lighting control - BVE 2015

    LCA - Snapgrid lighting control - BVE 2015

  • Hive Lighting Wasp Plasma Par at IBC 2014

    Hive Lighting Wasp Plasma Par at IBC 2014

  • Lighting cameraman Jonathan Harrison shows the Celeb and Tegra at IBC 2013

    Lighting cameraman Jonathan Harrison shows the Celeb and Tegra at IBC 2013

  • Cineo HS2 at IBC 2015

    Cineo HS2 at IBC 2015

  • LiteGear at IBC 2015

    LiteGear at IBC 2015

  • LiteGear LED LiteMat at IBC 2015

    LiteGear LED LiteMat at IBC 2015

  • Cineo Matchbox at IBC 2015

    Cineo Matchbox at IBC 2015

  • Projects Department on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC

    Projects Department on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC

  • Zylight LED Fresnel at IBC 2013

    Zylight LED Fresnel at IBC 2013

  • Dedolight Felloni Turbo and Felloni 3 shown at BVE 2018

    Dedolight Felloni Turbo and Felloni 3 shown at BVE 2018

  • Rotolight Anova Pro 2 shown at BVE 2018

    Rotolight Anova Pro 2 shown at BVE 2018

  • KitPlus filming rig used at NAB 2017

    KitPlus filming rig used at NAB 2017

  • Cirrolite and Kino Flo at BVE 2017

    Cirrolite and Kino Flo at BVE 2017

  • Photon Beard at IBC 2016

    Photon Beard at IBC 2016

  • Litepanels at BVE 2015

    Litepanels at BVE 2015

  • LCA - LITEGEAR at BVE 2015

    LCA - LITEGEAR at BVE 2015

  • Rosco at BVE 2015

    Rosco at BVE 2015

  • Photon Beard Platinum Blonde at IBC 2014

    Photon Beard Platinum Blonde at IBC 2014

  • Photon Beard Photon Beam at IBC 2014

    Photon Beard Photon Beam at IBC 2014

  • Zylight Fresnel updates at IBC 2014

    Zylight Fresnel updates at IBC 2014

  • Photon Beard on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Photon Beard on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Ianiro on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

    Ianiro on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

  • Photon Beard: Cyc Hood at NAB 2013

    Photon Beard: Cyc Hood at NAB 2013

  • Photon Beard: Space Light at NAB 2013

    Photon Beard: Space Light at NAB 2013

  • Photon Beard: Square One Light at NAB 2013

    Photon Beard: Square One Light at NAB 2013

  • AC Entertainment Technologies at BVE 2013

    AC Entertainment Technologies at BVE 2013

  • Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2012

    Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2012

  • Rotolight at NAB 2012

    Rotolight at NAB 2012

  • Litepanels at NAB 2012

    Litepanels at NAB 2012

  • Rotolight and TNP at BVE 2012

    Rotolight and TNP at BVE 2012

  • Datavision at BVE 2012

    Datavision at BVE 2012

  • Litepanels at BVE 2012

    Litepanels at BVE 2012

  • Rotolight at ProVideo2011

    Rotolight at ProVideo2011

  • Flaghead Photographic at ProVideo2011

    Flaghead Photographic at ProVideo2011

  • Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2011

    Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2011

  • Cirrolite at BVE North 2011

    Cirrolite at BVE North 2011

  • Litepanels at IBC2011

    Litepanels at IBC2011

  • PAG at IBC2011

    PAG at IBC2011

  • Gekko at IBC2011

    Gekko at IBC2011

  • Photon Beard at IBC2011

    Photon Beard at IBC2011

  • IDX at IBC2011

    IDX at IBC2011

  • Bionics show the Bionic Studio, Telos TV Solutions, IQOYA TALK and much more at BVE 2019

    Bionics show the Bionic Studio, Telos TV Solutions, IQOYA TALK and much more at BVE 2019

  • Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K at NAB 2018

    Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K at NAB 2018

  • Broadcast Bionics show the Bionics Studio at BVE 2018

    Broadcast Bionics show the Bionics Studio at BVE 2018

  • Glyph External Storage including the Studio and Atom raid at IBC 2017

    Glyph External Storage including the Studio and Atom raid at IBC 2017

  • ATEM TV Studio Pro HD from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

    ATEM TV Studio Pro HD from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

  • The Media Experience Studio from Verizon at NAB 2017

    The Media Experience Studio from Verizon at NAB 2017

  • Infinity Arm - Matthews Studio Equipment at NAB 2016

    Infinity Arm - Matthews Studio Equipment at NAB 2016

  • CHYRONHEGO STUDIO MEDIAMAKER at NAB2015

    CHYRONHEGO STUDIO MEDIAMAKER at NAB2015

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2012

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2012

  • Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

    Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

  • Brainstorm Multimedia at BVE 2015

    Brainstorm Multimedia at BVE 2015

  • JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

    JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

  • Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

    Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

  • Brainstorm Multimedia at NAB 2014

    Brainstorm Multimedia at NAB 2014

  • aQ Broadcast Production Suite at BVE 2014

    aQ Broadcast Production Suite at BVE 2014

  • Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • TSL Products PAM1, SAM1 and PAM PiCo at IBC 2013

    TSL Products PAM1, SAM1 and PAM PiCo at IBC 2013

  • TSL Products at IBC 2013

    TSL Products at IBC 2013

  • Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

    Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

  • TSL Systems at BVE 2013

    TSL Systems at BVE 2013

  • Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at BVE 2013

    Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at BVE 2013

  • Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

    Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

  • Clear-Com Tempest at NAB 2012

    Clear-Com Tempest at NAB 2012

  • Sonifex at BVE 2012

    Sonifex at BVE 2012

  • Xpertia at BVE 2012

    Xpertia at BVE 2012

  • Blackmagic at IBC2011

    Blackmagic at IBC2011

  • Glensound at NAB 2012

    Glensound at NAB 2012


Related Shows
  • LED Lighting with Den Lennie at BVE

    LED Lighting with Den Lennie at BVE


Articles
Making the Workflow Flow
Bruce Devlin - new The toughest things about being the Standards Vice President (SVP) is that everyone expects standards to be the most important thing. In all the systems that I’ve designed and deployed over the years, I've yet to find any production workflow that is 100% standards based. True, the core technologies may well be standards based, but the overall workflow is made up of many technology pieces from open source code, through de-facto delivery specifications based upon SMPTE or Trade Association Specifications that in turn depend on full, International Standards to work. I can already hear some folks saying "In the good old days, everything used standards", but I beg to disagree.
Tags: iss138 | pye museum | pye-philips | smpte | ietf | ieee | w3c | aes | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
Centre Stage for Cameras with All About Eve
Anthony Newton Taking its inspiration from the classic 1950 film, Ivo van Hove’s stage production of All About Eve, starring Gillian Anderson as theatre darling, Margo Channing, and Lily James as the eponymous Eve, retains the themes of ageing, celebrity and obsession. The piece, produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Fox Stage Productions garnered stellar reviews during its recent run at London’s Noel Coward Theatre.
Tags: iss138 | blackmagic design | micro studio camera | ronin | smartscope duo | Anthony Newton
Contributing Author Anthony Newton Click to read or download PDF
How the Womens World Cup was Boosted by Broadcast
John Griffiths As we write this article, England’s Lionesses have just beaten Norway 3-0 and are smashing viewing figure records, with 6.9 million viewers tuning in to watch them play Cameroon on BBC One. Rewind to the previous World Cup in 2015, and England’s group and early stage knockout games tempted up to 2.5 million viewers for each match. It’s safe to say that women’s football is finally having its moment; what was perhaps once considered a niche sport is finally gaining momentum in the mainstream space with broadcasters giving it the attention it deserves.
Tags: iss138 | wwc | world cup | spicymango | diversity | John Griffiths
Contributing Author John Griffiths Click to read or download PDF
Make Time for Remapping
Alex Macleod For my 4th Kitplus article I thought I’d highlight an effect in Premiere Pro that frankly I would be lost without. Namely - time remapping.
Tags: iss138 | premiere pro | post production | editing | speed remapping | remapping | mediacity training | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation: Wings, Fine Coffee and Fake Nudes
Dick Hobbs - new One of the many attractions of this time of year is that I get to meet with my fellow judges for the IBC Innovation Awards, and see what the industry sees as the most important, most forward-looking projects of the day. For me, this says what the key talking points are going to be in September, far more eloquently than the endless press releases from vendors which are already tumbling into my inbox.
Tags: iss138 | ibc | smpte 2110 | deepnude | cisco | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF