Lighting plays various roles in a video – setting a particular mood/feel, emphasize or de-emphasize different attributes of the subject. Lighting plays the key role of directing your viewers’ eye and to make your subjects have a certain ‘look’. You can make them look beautiful, ugly, evil or innocent all by the use of clever lighting.
This article attempts to cover some basic concepts that will help you in successfully controlling light in your next video production. The most important thing is to understand the coherence or quality, which refers to the hardness or softness of the light used.
When light is generated directly through a small source, it results in relatively coherent rays. This casts hard, well-defined and crisp shadows. Hard light is not flattering when used to illuminate a face, as it brings out all the flaws. However, it works great to bring out the texture of an object. Lighting instruments like a beam projector and the spotlight can be used to create hard light; the noonday sun is the hardest source of available light.
On the other hand, soft or diffused light has an opposite effect on the subject. Usually, people look better under soft lighting. Simply making your light source larger can result in softening the light. One way of turning hard light into soft light is to put a large diffusion material in front of your light source – you can use a soft box to do this.
One of the most important decisions when it comes to making a video is the placement of the key light. The direction of light can create different effects and help in implying different meanings. For instance, when you place the key light directly off the side of the subject, it’ll split the face in half and is known as side lighting. This can help in representing the dual sides of your character or even imply that the character is in conflict about something. Side light is also used to bring out shadows and is usually very dramatic. It can be used to bring out texture.
Another important step to create good lighting in your video production is to control the light intensity. It implies the amount of light that hits your subject. Light intensity is usually measured in terms of foot candles, f-stops, lux etc. Simply move the light away from the subject to reduce the light or closer to the subject to increase the intensity.
Play with various lighting techniques, see what works. Experimenting is the key. Understanding different techniques of lighting is very important so that you can intentionally create what you want.
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