Week 3: Introduction to Lighting – Mike’s Lesson – Unit 1


In this task I’ll be looking into how we see colour and some different lighting techniques including a detailed analysis of Three-point lighting systems and how they work.

How we see colour:

Natural light – The sun shines light towards the Earth, when this light hits an object, for example a T-Shirt, all of the colours are absorbed into the t-shirt except the colour of the dye. This is then reflected into our eyes and so we see the colour of the object.

We see white colours by all of the colours being reflected when coming into contact with the object and we see black colours when all of the colours are absorbed.

Three-point lighting:

Three-point lighting is one of the most commonly used lighting systems in film production. There are three separate lights in this system called Key light, Fill light and Back light. All lights must have the same colour temperature to keep the colour balance on the object/person the same.


This is a standard three-point lighting system, however the fill light will usually be placed further back if there is no fader in order to make the light softer on that side.

All lights must be at eye level so that there is no shade underneath the eyebrows and around the eyes. If a lighting rig was used then there would be shadows, as the lights come from above.

The Key light is usually placed 30°-45° from the person in shot. It shines on the front and side of the face, as seen in the photo below, however due to the nose and cheekbone there is shading on one side of his face.


To combat this a Fill light is used on the other side of the person, however the light is not as intense as the Key light by half and is a softer light. The point of the Fill light is to light up the shaded side of the face to give a more natural look, otherwise it looks like quite dark and brooding to have half the face in darkness. Unless that is the kind of look you’re going for in the scene in question.


Lastly is the Back light. As film is in 2D, filmmakers have to use other techniques to portray depth in their movies. That is when a Back light comes in. The light is placed out of shot, but behind the subject. It defines the areas around the person so that it gives the impression that he is standing separately from the background even though it is still only a 2D screen.



Before this task I didn’t know anything about lighting systems, but now that I’ve done it I feel like I know a lot about three-point lighting and could recreate it myself for my own future projects. This is useful as it will make my videos look more professional.

Week 3: Introduction to Lighting – Mike’s Lesson – Unit 1

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