Proper Use of Lights in Film and Theatre.

One 2 Theatre lights

Ever thought what make a theatre play more beautiful and pleasure to watch? What is the magic behind the cinematic video quality? What gives the life to a movie scene? What makes a scary scene even more scarier? And what is the reason behind the realistic VFX movies? In this article we will discuss about Lights and how it makes a film more realistic and cinematic. Lights in film & theatre is just like Salt and spices in a delicious food.

Making a film is not about just a camera capturing the actors. You must have heard a phrase “Lights! Camera! Action”. One of the most important department in the crew of any movie is LIGHT department. Light is the reason behind realistic effect and high quality of a movie. Type of lights used in film and theatre depends on the budget and requirement of the movie. If VFX is used in movie then it requires a lot of light work and proper adjustment of lights at perfect angles but in case of a dark scene in movies like a horror movies, little bit of light is used.

Three Point Lighting Technique

On the film sets, studio lights are used to shoot a scene. Generally, 3 studio lights are used at 3 points. This is called Three Point Lighting Technique. 
The Three Point Lighting Technique is a standard method used in visual media such as video, film, still photography and computer-generated imagery for lights in film and theatre. It is a simple but versatile system which forms the basis of most of light setting. Once you understand three point lighting technique you are well on the way to understanding all lighting.
This technique uses three lights called the key lightfill light and back light in film and theatre.The principles are still important even if you use only one or two lights. As a rule:


  • If you only have one light, it becomes the key.
  • If you have two lights, one is the key and the other is either the fill or the backlight.

Key Light

It is the main light. It is generally the strongest and has the most influence on the look of the scene. It is placed on the one side of the subject/camera so that this side is lit properly and the other side has some shadow.

Fill Light

It is the secondary light and is placed on the side opposite to the key light. It is used to hide the shadows created by the key light. The fill light will usually be less bright and softer than the key light. To achieve this, you could use some spun or move the light further away.

Back Light

Back light is positioned behind the subject and lights it from the rear. Rather than providing direct lighting like the key and fill, its main purpose is to provide definition and subtle highlights around the subject’s outlines. This helps separate the subject from the background and provides a 3D look.

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