Key Light: The Basics

INCLUDED IN THIS LESSON:  2:30 Minutes of Movie Clips to enhance the Instruction and lighting schematics    –Supplied w/English Subtitles

IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN:  Three point lighting is the classic style of all illumination. Your first point of lighting is your key light, which is the light that exposes the face. The second point of lighting is a back light, which is a light that is placed behind your actor and is used to separate your actors out from the background. The third point of lighting is the fill light, which is your contrast creator. This light’s specific design is to fill in the shadows. Let’s start with the key light and your placement of the most important light. It is the one you start with, always. WHY? Because where you place your key light dictates where you place your camera. WHY? Let’s take a compass as a reference.

This lesson is designed for the Entry Level filmmaker who is looking to get his or her feet wet on understanding lighting.  We start at the basics of the KEY LIGHT.  What is a key light, where to position, types of Key Light quality, intensity, golden nuggets of instruction taken from my 30 years of experience shooting Hollywood Feature films I share with you.


<<<Alex>>> Great Lesson! Love how you take us to the core of cinematography in everything you share. You are a weapon of inspiration.
<<<Tomas>>> Awesome Lesson, especially liked the story behind switching the keylight side!
<<<David R>>> I feel like I’m going to film school for peanuts. Wow this Lessons and the others I have seen so far are just amazing. I’ve learned so much that I didn’t know prior.
<<<Kevin P>>> Position of key light in relation to OTS shots is priceless, thank you !!!! Also I love the tip on creating the contrast like you did with the background (using the blue to contrast the browns). I can finally put my Creative Color Wheel to good use Guess I will go back and reread the book “Light, Science and Magic” one more time and see if that was in there somewhere as well. You’re the man !!
<<<Lance T>>> Great Film, Love the lighting diagrams, they really help me to understand the lighting concept.
<<<Roger M>>> Shane, love the motivation that you took in the lighting to tell the story better!
<<<Renan A>>>OMG, I love this website! 
<<<Mateo C>>>I had to buy the book “Bound for Glory” to be honest, it’s amazing how you managed to capture the high contrast. Great Lesson!
<<<Justin M>>>Great Lesson!
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alainmunier 25 days ago

Thank you very much for this very instructive lesson. I have a question though : are the 18K sources bouncing on the bleach muslin Hmi or Tungsten with CTB ?