Videos require stories, stories require story-telling, and story-telling, well, it requires lighting. Wait? What? Let us explain, at SkEye Studios we ask a lot of questions: How do you make an interview stand out? What is the most important part of an on-camera interview with a subject? Does three-point lighting really matter? What is three-point lighting?

The Experiment

Who doesn’t like experiments? Besides, why take the advice from experienced greats like Errol Morris? He has only won several Academy Awards and Best Documentary Film a couple times 😉  Prior to the production of our latest project with iTech Painting (Lead Paint PSA), we decided to spend a few hours in the studio experimenting with lighting an interview. We asked ourselves, is three-point lighting really necessary? And, is one of the lights more important than another?

Key Light

  1. the main source of light in a photograph or film.
Key Light Example

Arguably one of the most important lights on an interview, this is the main source of light in an interview. If you don’t have a key light you probably won’t see too much of the subject. If you only have one light, this would be the place to use it.

Fill Light

  1. a supplementary light used in photography or filming that does not change the character of the main light and is used chiefly to lighten shadows.
Key Light Example

The fill light is more optional than the key light. It is used to reduce the amount of contrast on the subject’s face. It is typically set up directly opposite of the key light and farther away from the subject to evenly spread the light across the scene.

Hair Light (also known as back light)

  1. illumination from behind.
Key Light Example

The hair light (which is nearly synonymous with the term back light) is placed behind the subject around 3 feet above their head. It is arguably one of the coolest and most interesting lights on the set. It has the ability to make you look like an angel, but if it is not used properly it can cause an unwanted lens flare. It is also the light you would use if you are trying to keep someone’s identity secret…as you can see from our screenshot.

All of this aside, the hair light, when used in conjunction with the other lighting, provides a very nice silhouette around the subject and makes them pop off the background. This is a very nice added touch to an interview as it adds depth to the shot.

Hair light

Using only a hair light might seem a little humorous, but it is quite useful if you are trying to protect someone’s identity.

No Hair light with Key Light

You can see in this picture that the set does not look as deep. The lack of light on the shoulders and hair makes the subject blend into the background more of the set.

Back Drop

  1. a painted cloth hung at the back of a theater stage as part of the scenery.
Key Light Example

Lighting the back drop is probably one of the most overlooked aspects when lighting an interview. This is because it is a very subtle addition to set. However, you will notice that it definitely adds another interesting element to the set of an interview. One common mistake when lighting the backdrop is letting some of the light spill onto the subject. It is very important that you use barn doors or flanges to focus the light onto only what you want to light.

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