ListsTips & TricksWhy is The Three Point Lighting Technique Important for Video Content Creators?

Sidharth Jena3 years ago

Video has become the most important marketing tool or medium of marketing communication in 21st century. There is no limit to creativity that can be put in a video and with the innovation & launch of multiple digital platforms, the demand has surged beyond imagination. It has evolved from black & white to 4K resolution, from 2D to 3D & from 180 to 360 degree video. Whatever the format or category the video has been made for, all have one in common, i.e Optimum & professional lighting to make it look attractive to viewers. One of the basic lighting technique used by many cinematographers, filmmakers or vloggers worldwide is The Three Point Lighting Technique for Video. In this blog we will go deep into Why is The Three Point Lighting Technique Important for Video Content Creators?

Importance of Optimum Lighting for Video

Importance of Lighting for Video


21st century cinematography has seen the likes of the Best Video cameras used for filmmaking. Extreme detailing and high-quality graphics which no one had ever dreamt of during the 90’s are now an essential part of any film team. But great technology also comes with a baggage of negatives and the biggest advantage of HD camera is also its low point. High Definition cameras bring extreme detailing into the frame so every subject in the frame is shown crystal clear. The downfall is irrespective of the quality of camera or lens, the output completely depends upon optimum lighting conditions focusing on the subject, background and surroundings. There is a myth among many people that using a good quality video camera would ensure great shots but with a better camera, handling has to be better as minor flaws are also visible louder.

This what differentiates an amateur video camera operator and an experienced director of photography. A DOP always looks for the perfect shot with optimum light focusing on the subject, background & surroundings.

What is Three Point Lighting for Video?

Three point lighting for video is the most basic lighting approach used my many cinematographers, vloggers, and filmmakers to ensure best quality output with minimum budget. Three point lighting for video includes three lighting points namely Key Light, Fill Light and Backlight. In many cases the fill & key light are substituted with natural light, reducing the requirement to 2 artificial lights.

Three Point Lighting for Video: KEY LIGHT

Key light in Three Point Lighting for Video

The most important & high-intensity part of the three point lighting for video arrangement. According to industry experts, there is no pre-defined wattage for key light and depending upon the subject and natural lighting conditions the wattage can vary from 150 Watts to 10 K Watts with a recommended range varying from 500-1000 Watts.

The light should be placed between 15-45 degrees to the side of the camera instead of putting it directly in line to the subject. In case the shoot is an Interview, the recommended position for the interviewer would be somewhere between the Key light and camera. The main function of key light is to light up subject’s face and front body. The angled position of the key light ensures a difference in lighting on one side of the face compared to other.

Three Point Lighting for Video: FILL LIGHT

Fill light in Three Point lighting for Video

As the name says, the light is used to fill shadows if any created by the high-intensity Key Light in Three Point Lighting for videos approach. Fill light is positioned just opposite side of the camera to that of key light but facing the subject in the same angle. The Wattage of the fill light completely depends on that of key light as it is always kept on the lower side than the wattage of the key light. Based on the feedback shared by leading cinematographers, the recommended wattage for fill light is always 50% lower than that of the Key light.

The angled positioning of the key light produces shadows from the subject which is nullified by fill light. However, the main purpose is not to eliminate the shadows completely from the frame but to ensure a soft transition of light from one side of the face to other. In case the need arises the intensity of the fill light can be adjusted by moving the light near or away from the subject.

At times a diffuser or bounce is also used by technicians to soften the intensity of light for a smooth transition.

What is a Bounce in Three Point lighting for Video?

Any object with a high reflective surface can be used as a bounce. This is done to use a softer intensity of any light instead of direct lighting on the subject.

For Example: In absence of a complete three point lighting for video kit, you can also use a bounce as a fill light. Here a reflective object like thermocol is used to reflect the high intensity of the key light as a replacement for artificial fill light. The bounce is placed at the position of fill light and key light is reflected to the face of subject’s face.

What is Diffusion in Three Point lighting for Video?

Using a translucent object in-front of the light to reduce the high intensity and color temperature for a softer lighting condition. This also ensures the lighting conditions look more natural even if generated from an artificial source.

Three Point Lighting for Video: Back Light

Back light in three point lighting for video

Even if Key & fill lights are sorted the graphics quality highly relies on how good the backlight is put to use. Backlight also called as Rim light adds depth into the frame and also helps in separating the subject from the background.

Position of Backlight has to be just behind the subject pointing towards the back of subject’s neck. Ensure the light is out of frame. Back light can also be used with a diffuser to make the transition softer. The wattage of a Backlight should be less than or equal to that of fill light.

Why Cinematographers Prefer Three Point Lighting for Video?

Three Point lighting for video is used mostly used by film technicians as the science behind this approach is similar to that of natural lighting we get from SUN.

The subject needs to lighten up using at least 1 light for exposure which is the key light. While making any sort of movements the subject is hit by various other sources of light other than the normal sources on a film set:-

  • The Sun bouncing or refracting through different materials
  • Artificial Light from any Man-Made Sources
  • Light gets reflected or refracted from manmade sources. (Light Passing through a Curtain)

Light from Sun can also be used as a backlight, when the subjects are turned towards the Sun to hit the subjects from behind. In maximum cases, the light from Sun during Sunrise and Sunset is mostly used as backlight during video shoots.

Why use three point lighting for Video?

In a nut shell, three point lighting technique for videos is the most basic approach to lighten up the video frame and subject as the technique is derived from Natural lighting of sun and also is a go to approach for optimum/Natural lighting conditions while using a high end video camera.

Three Point Lighting for Video: Important Points to keep in Mind

  • Keep an eye for glares from objects such as glasses, clothes,the dial of watch, mirrors etc.
  • In case there are multiple subjects keep an eye for shadows.
  • Ensure proper settings are enabled in your video camera, recommended to go for natural shooting settings under the right ISO.
  • Ensure the right intensity for the above mentioned light type arrangements in Three Point Lighting for Video arrangement.

Now start seeing things like a Director of Photography rather than an amateur video camera operator.

Thanks for reading the blog. If you are a creator and want more insights related to the performance of your videos. Reach us at 8527863094 or send in your queries at

Sidharth Jena

Sidharth is a Sports and Travel Enthusiast with keen interest in the field of Marketing especially Digital Marketing. He finds ultimate happiness in small things and doing simple yet un-common things. Helping brands/companies go Online.

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