Video Production Lighting Set-up
by eguaogie-eghosa Apr 25, 2023 Views (412)

Lighting is a crucial component of video production planning. Your cameras must be able to capture both subjects and backgrounds with clarity, therefore you must have a lighting strategy that works for any scene. This entails having a plan to clearly light each shot you'll film as well as a key light, fill light, background light, diffusers, and reflectors. While lighting in a static interview studio just requires one setup, lighting a story or a traveling performance will require ongoing setup and preparation.

There is a reason why filmmakers everywhere invest in expert lighting techniques: lighting and backdrops frequently make up the bulk of the equipment needed for modest movies. Your lighting's quality has a big impact on the video you produce. You need lighting that breathes life into your subjects and draws the viewer into the lighting of the scene itself if you want to create a video that is colorful, sharp, and immersive.

Unfortunately, very few video producers know how to do it properly.

You don't need to buy expensive filmmaking equipment if you have the appropriate lighting to create videos that look truly cinematic on just your smartphone.

So, in order to help you make better videos, we're going to walk you through seven lighting fundamentals.


The significance of video lighting

A good video project can succeed or fail based on its lighting. Even with a fantastic script, stellar actors or guests, a polished performance, and a gorgeous set, poor lighting can make a film unwatchable. Excellent lighting enhances your content and immerses the viewer in the action. At each point in your film, you should have lighting that is coming from the perfect angle, adequately spotlighting your subjects, and setting the ambiance you intend.

Music videos frequently use dramatic lighting or hazy lighting to give the impression of a dream. For clarity and to put the subject(s) into focus, interviews, reports, and how-to videos should be lit. Television and film lighting is influenced by the screenplay, the time of day, and the mood of each scene. Clear and moody lighting will engage your audience, whereas excessively dark, bright, or flat lighting, unclear lighting, or lighting that emphasizes the wrong elements can break immersion and drive away your audience.

That is why every scene's lighting design receives so much attention from filmmakers.


Recommended lighting for video:

What lighting supplies are needed to start lighting videos? Selfie vlogs can be started by anyone with a basic ring light, but for shooting sequences, you'll need a bigger gear.

1. Stage lights

- Open-Face lights

- Tungsten lights

- HMI lights

- LED lighting

- Fluorescent lighting

- LED lights

- Floodlights

- Spotlights

2. Light stands – To position your lights off-camera throughout the action, you will need to use adjustable stands and lights at high and low angles.

3. Diffusers – These are typically pieces of fabric or gel that are placed over the emitter to soften your lights.

4. Reflectors — Reflectors can be used to backlight or fill your key light, as well as to illuminate a complete scene with just one source. They offer more softer, diffused light.

5. Cookies, also known as cucoloris, give your light a cutout that resembles a tree branch or a set of dark shades.

6. You may alter the hue of the light coming from your light stand by using color gels. This can alter the atmosphere or create a scenario.

7. Light shapers can let you modify the size and contour of your light. Examples include foldable coverings and barn doors.


Typical video lighting configurations

Depending on what you are filming, video lighting setups might be straightforward or intricate. The three-light configuration is the ideal setup for the majority of narrative or layered scenes. However, the three most popular video lighting layouts allow you to gradually progress to this. In addition to the conventional three lights, you can pick from a variety of effect lighting setups. 

Single-light Set-up:

1. Key Light

The main light is always the first light in a scene and is usually the primary light source for your subjects. The key light is where the illumination in your scene comes from and how you ensure that the camera captures the intricacies of your subject. Your camera can be placed directly in front of the key light or at right angles to it for elegance.

Ordinarily, a single-light set-up is usually ideal for close-up and small-scale scenarios. The single key light will also be needed to provide light for the background, so you will need to make arrangements for the right light-to-scene size ratio and to get rid of unwanted shadows.


Dual-Light Set-up:

1. Key Light

2. Fill Light

A fill light is added to your primary light in a two-light configuration. On the other side of your primary light, a lower-intensity fill light is positioned. Its goal is to diffuse or lessen harsh shadows and illuminate the environment. Given that its sole purpose is to balance the key light and provide your objects with more definition from the opposite side, the fill light is frequently more diffuse and virtually always softer than the key light.

The intensity of fill lights is evaluated in relation to that of the primary light. As an illustration, a fill light with a ratio of 1:2 will be half as intense as the key light. Depending on your key, scenes will have a varied tone and level of intensity.

For a two-light configuration, a second light is not usually required. The effect of a two-light setup can be achieved by using a reflector at the proper angle to reflect back the key light.


Triple-Light Set-up:

1. Key Light

2. Fill Light 

3. Background Light

The ideal video lighting arrangement for controlling shadows and making the background stand out is a three-light setup. The fill light comes after the key light in a three-light configuration. From there, you also create a backdrop light that emerges from the background and illuminates the subject from behind. A more comprehensive and immersive atmosphere is created by the background lights, which are occasionally reflected off the background objects themselves.

You have control over how your actors stand out from the scene or blend into the background thanks to the three-light configuration.


Additional lighting strategies

1. Practical lighting is illumination provided by a scene-specific object, such as a lamp or candle.

2. Motivated lighting is the enhanced light that comes from a scene object; for example, if your set candle is too dark, you might simulate a stronger candle flicker.

3. Lighting your subjects from the side to create drama

4. Reflected light from soft or firm reflectors is known as "bounce lighting."

5. Ambient lighting, as opposed to directional lighting, is soft and all around the subjects. This light might already be present in the scene.


Choosing the right lighting for a music video

The lighting in music videos is created to complement the tone of each song and setting. Compared to movies or most other forms of production, music videos typically have scenes that are more vivid and powerful scene by scene. Lighting is now more crucial than ever because of this. A very good video production company in Dubai can use lighting in music videos to really make subjects jump out of the screen, grab the listener, and pull them into the experience. Practically speaking, lighting creates immersive effects like in-scene spotlights and color shifts while also separating your subjects from their surroundings.

Depending on the type of music video you want to create, you should choose the appropriate lighting effects.


Dramatically lit music videos

Shadows must be specifically created in your scene for dramatic lighting to work. Using a combination of key lights and hard lighting for shadows, you want to give your subjects presence in the setting while using your backlight to make the subjects sparkle. Dramatic silhouettes are created by backlighting without a key or fill light, while side lighting and light cookies are popular for a faux-noir look.


Ethereal and gentle music video lighting

Diffuse, reflected, and ambient lighting are the best choices for a dreamy music video. Make it appear as though there is a lot of light by softening the main light that falls on your subjects. At the same time, ensure that your subjects are in focus and have the best lighting possible.


Stunning and stand-out music video lighting

Play around with lighting and camera angles if you want your artists to pop out of the frame. Dramatic lighting effects enhance the presence of your artist, while well-lit movement toward the camera can boost the immersive and powerful experience of a music video.


Quick suggestions for illuminating a green screen appropriately

What kind of lighting setup works best for Chroma-key when using a green screen? Here are a few recommendations for lighting a green screen.


1. Separately illuminate the screen

Never, ever, ever illuminate your green screen together with your subjects. Avoid using the same lighting that is directed at your subjects if you want to avoid casting shadows. Aim to limit the amount that your key light interferes with the green screen light.


2. Ensure that the entire green surface is illuminated evenly

Make sure that your green screen has a uniform distribution of light throughout. The best Chroma key results come from surfaces that are exactly the same shade of green throughout. If required, use additional lights.


3. Use a soft background light

Your best buddy when lighting a green screen is a diffuser. A uniform cast of light should be cast across the green screen surface rather than a focal point of light that radiates outward. Diffusers and reflectors can support this.

- Soft Light: This light is uniformly distributed, produces soft shades and highlights, and makes your subject and frame appear more even and less dramatic. Outside on a gloomy day without any direct sunshine is the ideal illustration of soft lighting. Diffusers or softboxes placed over the studio's light source will help you do this indoors.

- Hard Light: On the other side, hard light is fantastic if you want to add drama to your videos. It produces stark contrasts by using brilliant highlights and deeply shadowed areas. Although hard lighting is frequently utilized in filmmaking, it is not favored for professional projects because the results can be challenging to edit.


4. Remove creases and shadows

Have an eye on your green screen and have your steamer close by if it has a tendency to wrinkle. Remove creases and keep the surface of the green from casting any shadows.


Tips on How to Light-Up a Video Production:


Tip #1: Properly Illuminate the Topic

Let's begin with the most fundamental but crucial piece of advice. When creating video content, it is important that you ensure that both the subject in the scene and the scene itself are adequately illuminated. This accomplishes a number of tasks, including grabbing the viewer's attention, setting the scene's tone, and making sure the audience is clearly seen.

But how precisely do you properly light the subject? You can do so by producing a lighting arrangement that illuminates your subject adequately or by utilizing natural light. It is advisable that you always take a test shot once you have put your frame in place in order to have a clear idea of how it appears on camera.

You will be able to tell if the camera sensor is capturing enough light after taking the test photo. You may need to alter your settings in order to acquire the ideal lighting in your frame because cameras don't see light the same way that our eyes do.

To learn how to adjust the light settings on your camera, go to this manual. Moving your subject or your light source around can also help you make lighting adjustments.

- If the subject gets subjected to an excessive amount of harsh shadows, relocate them closer to a diffused natural light source, such as a window.

However, if the subject is overexposed, you need to relocate them further away from the light source or reduce the brightness by using light-blocking materials like blankets or drapes.

Learn how to make use of natural light when you first start out. But you can start by spending as little as $29 on a pair of ring lights if you can't schedule your shoot in advance or at a time when it will be well-lit.


Tip #2: Avoid Using Overhead Lighting

Have you ever noticed how the sun casts shadows when it is directly overhead? When you shoot a video with a light source set up overhead, the resulting angles are often harsh and usually unappealing.

Beginner video producers frequently make the error of employing ceiling lights in the majority of rooms as their only light source. This frequently results in the picture being tinted in a single hue and casting ugly shadows on the face of the subject.

You should convert to moveable lamps, LED lights, or ring lights that may be positioned in front of your subject rather than overhead illumination. Even better, you may utilize them to augment the overhead lighting by casting light in the opposite direction to lessen shadows.


Tip #3: Position Your Light and Camera

The next tip is to position your light and camera to emphasize shadows and add more depth to the scene.

Even if you don't want your frame to be underexposed, using shadows correctly in your scene may give your videos a ton of depth and make them appear really theatrical.

To do this, set up your scene so that the camera and light source are both positioned on the subject's opposite side at around 45° angles. Picture your subject, camera, and light source as the three points of a triangle. 

In the world of filmmaking, this lighting arrangement and method are quite popular.


Tip #4: Use A 3-Point Lighting Setup

One of the most popular lighting arrangements in expert videos is this one. Three lights—a key light, a fill light, and a backlight—are plainly required to construct a 3-point lighting configuration.

Think of your subject as being in the middle of a clock, with the camera being positioned at the number six. The backlight is positioned between 1 and 2, the key light will be roughly at 4, the fill light at 8, and the backlight at 1.


Tip #5: Don't mix different color temperatures

Even seasoned video producers occasionally struggle with the use of lighting with varying color temperatures, such as warm light from a tungsten lamp and cool light from a fluorescent lamp. Therefore, it is wise to steer clear of changing color temperatures when first starting out.

It could be challenging for your camera sensors to adjust the white balance in your picture when there is mixed illumination. Depending on how your cameras perceive this, you may end up with images that are extremely warm, yellow, pale in color, or blue.

If you want to create cinematic photos, it is best to adhere to using light that has a single color temperature unless you have a greater understanding of your camera's capabilities and how it collects light.


Tip #6: Use mild illumination from dispersed light sources

While strong lighting has its place in filmmaking to produce dramatic effects, it's simpler and frequently much more pleasing to use soft and diffused lighting if you're shooting professional videos or are just getting started.  


Tip #7: Take Notice Of The Catch Light

A catchlight is the light source's reflection in the subject's eyes. Although it's a minor distinction, it has a significant impact since it gives the individual in the video a more human and alive appearance.

As a result, when photographing indoors, you may place your lighting so that your subject mimics the same appearance and feel. With a 3-point setup, it is simple to accomplish this.


Lighting Impacts and its Advantages:


Colour gels

Using color gels, you can cast a certain color of light from a single source of light. Colored lights can be combined or used to give the entire scene a specific hue. While a color gel on your backdrop or fill lights will reflect a particular color back into the scene, a color gel on your key light will significantly alter the appearance of your subjects.


Flashing lights and Strobe

When used properly, flashing lights can heighten the scene's drama or sense of immersion. This can be accomplished by using a light shutter or by turning your lights on and off. Depending on the sort of light you are utilizing, the right move will frequently vary.


Light shapers and cookies

While light shapers have control over the light's exterior size and shape, light cookies project a shape or shadow onto the scene. When used together, both produce fantastic results. For instance, a light shaper can mimic a door opening or closing with light leaking from the opposite side.


Soft light and hard light

While soft light diffuses and gets rid of shadows, harsh light produces hard shadows. When you understand how to precisely manage the shadows that you'd like in your picture, you may employ this to dramatic advantage.


Enhancing the video brightness after recording

Can a video be brightened after being recorded? After a scene has been shot, many filmmakers, including seasoned directors and cinematographers, discover that the lighting was not quite right. Can you make a scene that washes out or is too dark after you film it? Thank goodness, sure. Light balancing capabilities in expert video editing products like VideoStudio can assist you in partially re-lighting a scene. In fact, if you know how to use the tools, you can even add some artificial lighting to the picture thanks to advancements in video editing technology.

With editing videos, you may adjust the focal point of each shot as well as the contrast, color balance, and color filter. This makes post-production essential for enhancing the lighting effect on a scene, even if you are an expert at lighting setups.



Whether you're shooting a music video, a personal blog, or a piece of professional filmmaking, video lighting is a crucial component. Good lighting design is the first step for a good Video Production Company in Dubai, and expert video editing software is the last.

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