Shooting the Video

Lighting Tips

Lighting serves several purposes in a movie. It controls the mood, directs the viewer’s eye, and emphasizes elements in the frame. While natural light is ideal for making a movie, it’s not always available. The following tips will help you set the lighting for your movie.

Create different effects by controlling the direction of the light.

Three point lighting is the use of the key light, back light, and fill light to add dimension.

The Key Light is the main light that shines on your subject
The Fill Light fills the shadows created by the key light
The Back Light separates the subject from the background

For your movie, a Key Light will be sufficient. You can use lighting you already own or simply just shoot using daylight. If you do invest in a lighting setup change the direction of the light, you can even do this using the available light and repostion your subject.


Change lighting angles to create different moods in a scene.




















To create shadows, choose hard or soft light.
You can tell the quality of a light—hard or soft—by the shadows.

Hard light creates crisp shadows, exposing textures and shapes. Create hard light by moving a flashlight or light bulb close to the subject.


Soft light creates shadows with blurred edges for a cleaner feel. Create soft light by moving the source away from the subject.


Change the mood with high or low key lighting.
High key lighting is saturated with plenty of light and little contrast. It is used for scenes displaying positive emotions like happiness. Create high-key lighting by placing multiple soft lights in the scene.


Low key lighting creates a dark tone and emphasizes shadows. It is used to create drama or tension in a scene. Create low-key lighting by turning off all of the lights but one in the middle of the room. Move that light to create the shadows you want.


Look for a smartphone with built-in lighting features.
For instance, newer smartphones like the iPhone 6 have image sensors that will automatically adjust to the light around you. You can even change the exposure of existing light in low-light situations. However, try not to point the camera directly at bright light sources to prevent overexposed footage.


Bonus: Shooting at night? Check out this app.

NightCap Pro ($1.99 iTunes) allows you to take better videos as it gets dark. Just tap the Record button and the camera will adjust. Extra features include:

Light Boost to brighten the image
Night Mode for better performance in low light
Noise Reduction to remove graininess