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Lighting for Film: Simple not Plain

Lesson 4 of 14

Three Point Lighting

Bill Megalos

Lighting for Film: Simple not Plain

Bill Megalos

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Lesson Info

4. Three Point Lighting


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:17:28
2 The Qualities of Light Duration:48:08
3 Hard Light vs. Soft Light Duration:22:54
4 Three Point Lighting Duration:12:17
6 Basic Light Safety & Gear Duration:11:48
7 Lighting a Subject Duration:15:36
8 Lighting a Room in Daylight Duration:12:55
10 Creating Drama with Light Duration:38:03
11 Lighting at Dusk Duration:18:23
12 Lighting in the Shade Duration:21:04
14 Lighting for Night Duration:11:30

Lesson Info

Three Point Lighting

You gotta know three point lighting just to start this is this is the way people talk about things and this is something that was designed for portraiture for filmmaking but it doesn't mean that everybody uses and one of the reasons we don't we don't use it anymore is it's kind of restrictive? It was designed for when people needed a lot of light and things were much more straight forward and this is you know, you see a movie and even if they were in a nightclub everybody was pretty brightly lit and things like that a lot of times now you won't use all these terms but basically the three things you just need to know more than anything is key light fill lightened back light and there's some version of that in most in most pictures that people take so the key light we described that before as as a light that is the main light that you think is lighting this scene so in this scene which yes it's an outdoor scene the the key light is this skylight that's coming up here is the brightest lig...

ht it's the main light that hits him okay, but if we just used one light for their wherever it didn't hit would be in shadow it would be in shadow and it wouldn't look natural so what we sow the light that that fills in those shadows is called a fill light right and the phil light is except in very rare circumstances lower in intensity than the key light if it was the same brightness of the key light it looks like bad lighting or fake or something like that it just doesn't look right because the film light is basically filling in enough so you can see the details in the shadows but still giving you that sense of of three dimensionality that shadows have um then there is a back light all right the backlight the primary the primary reason for a back light and the reason there's a back light right in here on me he is to separate me from the background all right it's to make it more three dimensional pull me out from the background okay that's what the backlight does um now we don't always need a back light one of the first things that shot said today when he walked in his he mentioned how bald I am in a in a manner of speaking and the the back light you want to be careful with backlight with balder people it's very some people are very sensitive about I happen to not be but some people really are and it's not on ly back like you have to be very careful if people have white hair or blond hair it it can be over so sometimes you don't really want this backlight the backlight to me says tv lighting very often this is ah hardback light you can see that it makes hard shadows on me and it really feels like I'm in a tv studio most of the time I don't want it to look like I'm in a tv studio so if I'm going to back light I'll use a soft backlight which is a lot more of a pain in the ass because it means you have to put this big thing rig it outside of frame and it's got you got to do a big thing with it um or I won't use back light instead of that I would use a light on the background okay, maybe what they would call the satellite or something on the background again remember when we talked earlier in the first segment about make being people out from that about contrast building in contrast, this is a very this has a very good contrast this it looks very three dimensional this the white of this stands out against the darker background with light the light the key light on his face brings you right to him there and then you start investigating the rest of the rest of the shot but everything stands out from from itself all right, so so that he's not blending into the background well, um this this is this diagram shows you the kind of lights this is a theoretical set up where the key light this is obviously clearly an overhead shot. This is the international symbol for camera. It looks like a square with a triangle that signifies the lens and then you can see where people are looking and where the camera is pointing these these air traditional signs for like they don't really look like the lights, but they're just kind of symbols like an architectural drawing or something. So the key light would be coming here in this in this in this scene, these air different ways, these air, different things, it's probably unlikely that you would have both. He would have all these lights in on one side, but this is a good opportunity to see the different types, so the camera would be on this way. This is the access between here off access you've got the key light, the key light would be the brightest light it would be hitting the person here, you've got a floorboard bounce. This is, um, like, like I say, you wouldn't use that on everybody, but you would have a bounce card like this or like this on the floor down below that's bouncing like taking rid of the shadows underneath here, maybe you can see what that's doing if I take it away, right, um this's, another one if I wanted to make it much brighter ideas a shiner I jam that's kind of weird looking but maybe maybe I need that for something we'll talk about that later um so this will be the key light the fill light would come from here more often than not the feel like sometimes you have a feel like that's a hard light that's a hard source but more often than not you use a softer source so you can't see where it's coming from you don't recognize it when we go back to this this key like this I feel like this is the opposite obviously what we're showing in this diagram here but the fill light is softer so then then there's another there's a side key maybe going through diffusion going through a diffusion like this that would make it quite soft that's another another way of doing something um this is a top light that would be right overhead sometimes you need that will sweep generally we kind of stay away from that because it can it creates more shadows that you don't normally you're back light would be further back here they've got a picture of it with diffusion material in front of it so it's not so hard it's not giving that studio look that that tv studio look here they've got another edge light they call this an edge a kicker picker or on edge or what we were calling a three quarter back light in this case, they've bouncing it through aboard there, they're putting the light over here and they've gotta bounce board like a shiny violence board like that on it, and then here's a light that's hitting the background. So it's not unusual to have all these things in one situation, let's say you had someone like a spokesperson doing a commercial where there in front of a psych or they're walking in, they're walking and talking and talking about see alice, where they're talking about, um, you know something for, for whatever depends, whatever it is, they're talking that you might like them with all these things to make them look that way, and maybe they're talking about insurance or whatever they're talking about. Um, let's, go back and pick up. Yeah, highlight uh, miss that good, good catch and I light is a light that is very old fashioned. In fact, most of the time, we don't use it what an eye light is. It comes from the old days in hollywood and I never used to use them because I didn't like the way they looked. But for a number of years I worked with I worked with lee grant who's, an actress who, uh, she was also a directive she she won an academy award for shampoo but she was an actress who was actually blacklisted. So she came from the old days of hollywood and she always insisted on highlights. What a nylite is's it's a little light it's right at the camera. All right, it's right at the camera and put it right above the camera. Usually. And what it does is it puts this sparkle in your eyes that I see in your eyes there just a little twinkle in the eyes. All right, right now I'm using they're using soft light here. So you're saying multiple multiple twinkles, right? But if I let me focus in on one of your eyes for a second, do you guys see how there's there's these very the points in his eyes? They're just tiny little points rather than being rather than being bigger sources like in my lights. Alright, well, within I light, what you do is you take this light and it's just designed to put a pinpoint in the light. But you keep putting scrims, innit? You dark, innit? Dark, innit? Dark, innit? Dark, innit? Dark in it. So it's not actually lighting you, you darken it so that it's not putting any light on your face, you're just seeing the reflection of it. In your eyes so that's what an eye lights for it it's an old fashioned thing and league rat she said using I like using I like and so I did use an island and I came to like it there are times for it you know it it does it does you know it's made it made her feel very comfortable as an actress she always had one and so she always wanted one so on the other people you know not just on her it doesn't change the lighting on your face it just puts a pinpoint in your eye what happens very often is that someone invents a new way of doing something and um you know everybody takes it up that's like you know but a lot of these you know, the early cameramen and they each came up with with different ideas with different different tricks and that's how they get hired they would get hired because oh, he makes women look good or oh he does this he's really good with redheads are it still works now and in commercials oh, you want you shouldn't pee so you got to use joe he's the only guy who does pizza or this one does dogs and this one works with kids or you know this one's beer oh yeah so let's let's run back real quick before we get into electricity I want to talk about electricity and safety let's, talk a little bit about color when we stopped before we stopped with soft light and one of the soft lights that were going to use if you could pull out ah ah ah ah, china ball. This is a very cheap and very well what I was talking about different different cameramen having different tricks about twenty, twenty or so years ago. A cameraman by name of haskell wexler. Maybe maybe thirty years ago that this guy, haskell wexler, probably the oldest, really great camera and still alive. I'm going to be working with them next week or two weeks, which I'm really I hope he stays alive. That line he's in his nineties. He's. Really great he's. Really fantastic. He's done a lot of great films. He would. He won academy award for who's afraid of virginia woolf, which was with elizabeth burton and elizabeth taylor and richard burton. And amazing black and white photography. That was mike nichols first film. He won another one. He did for bound for glory, which was a film about what he what do you got? Three. Anyway, he came up with this idea of using soft lights. And filling using these is soft lights and putting them all like filling the whole top of place with these. These lights, they're very light, very easy toe hang their very cheap. They cost about three or four bucks apiece. You just have to be careful when you put the light bulb in it that you don't hang it. And the light bill doesn't touch this because the lights of pretty bright and, you know, as long as they're hanging straight, it will put hard light out the bottom. This will defuse all the light, will use it, and we'll see. We'll see how it works, but general, you put a little bit of diffusion on the bottom, so that so that it doesn't make a harsh shadow, but it's in that little hole, you know, have you ever seen these hanging? There'll be a hard light coming down from the bottom of

Class Description

Young filmmakers are often taught to de-prioritize lighting. They are told that lighting takes too much time, money, and expertise to have any profound effect on their work. Lighting for Film: Simple not Plain with Bill Megalos changes that.

In Lighting for Film, Bill will show you how to light technically, instinctually, and cinematically. You will learn how to light for both interior and exterior work and how the simplest lighting techniques can produce the most dramatic effects. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Produce story-altering lighting effects with minimal equipment
  • Light for both of interior and exterior content
  • Choose instruments that suit your budget and filming goals

Bill will teach professional lighting techniques you can use on your own or with a crew that defy the everyday budget and common-wisdom of filmmakers having to tell a story "in the dark."


a Creativelive Student

This is a wonderful class with a very knowledgeable and experienced instructor. It starts with the principles you need to understand and then walks you through the process of actually doing the work on set. You can see what it takes to accomplish the work. I will be watching this over and over to let it all soak in. Thank you Bill for putting this together.

Joe Stevens

Great class, learned a lot. Would highly recommend!

Abel Riojas

great class! i've struggled with proper lighting and he broke it down in a matter of minutes. very simple and easy to understand. i would recommend this to someone that is still trying to find their "voice"