Basic Video Lighting- Three Point Lighting

If you are serious about creating great videos or looking great on camera, then you must implement some good basic video lighting.

Lighting can make or break your video or live on-camera efforts in a heartbeat. You can have the best camera on the market it and it won’t make a difference if your lighting isn’t up to snuff. In fact, with amazing lighting and a so-so camera, you can achieve some pretty amazing footage. And for those of you appearing online in webinars, streaming live, coaching or teaching,  the energy you dedicate to your lighting will be well rewarded.  Luckily, a good basic video lighting set up isn’t hard to create and can be done on any budget.

Three Point Lighting

The Three point lighting technique is a classic technique and is the most commonly used lighting technique for video, photography webinars and basically anything involving a camera. It’s easy to learn and will quickly become one of your best friends behind and infant of the camera.

The basic idea of the Three Point Lighting setup is to have:

• A key-light which produces the greatest amount of light and shines on you or your subject.
• A fill-light that ‘fills’ in any shadows caused by the key-light.
• A back light that creates a soft glow on the back of the subject’s head/shoulders and creates contrast between them and the background.

Here are 4 easy steps to set up a good basic three-point lighting system:

Step 1-Camera and subject set up

Set up your camera and either position your self or your subject (or subjects if it’s an interview)  in front of the camera. If you’re working in front of your computer or doing any type of  streaming video or webinar work then sit in front of the camera.

Start with a darkened room if you can. This way, you’ll be able to properly see and appreciate the function of each light. Have someone help you out if you can so you can monitor how things are looking as they progress, however if you’re on your own, not a big deal, just take screen shots of your image as you go so you can make adjustments.

Step 2-The Key Light

Now that camera and subject are in position, lets set up your Key Light. This will be your strongest light.

Place the  key light  between 15 and 45 degrees to either the side of the camera (see step 2 image). The side your choose will be the “good side” key side of the subject(s).

If you are working from your computer (webcast or streaming), the light goes behind your computer or webcam and above.

The key light illuminates  the subjects face and front side of the their body body. Placing the key light at an angle  intentionally creates a difference in lighting on one side of the face compared to the other. It contours the face and will avoid the “flat” face that frequently makes people feel like they’ve added 10lbs on camera.

Step 3- The Fill Light

The fill light ‘fills’ out the shadows left by the key light. This light should be less bright than the key light.

Experiment and find the right brightness for each of the lights. This fill light is placed on the opposite side of the camera as the key light and shines on the subject at a similar angle (step 3 image). The objective is to not to completely cancel out the shadows created by the key light, but just to reduce or soften them. Again this placement of the key light and fill light is to avoid a flat looking image, which tends make people look heavier then they really are.

Step 4- The Back Light

Back lighting creates a glowing effect on the edges of the subject. It is also a technique used to separate the subject from the background. It drastically improves the quality of your video or online appearance. This light should be about as bright as the fill light or less. Again, experiment to see what suites your eye. The backlight is generally place close behind the subject, just off to the side (see step 4 image) or it can also be rigged just above the subject.Content goes here.


Lighting quipment

Now that you understand the  3 point point lighting system, it’s time to gather some lights and put it to use.

Lighting kits

The easiest and most fantastic results come from pro-type lighting kits. You can buy a kit on Amazon for about what you’re spend piecing items together at your local hardware store. They are made for what we do, set up is easy and you can buy kits at about every price range. If you do not do professional videography or photography for a living, you don’t need to get the best equipment. Just get a simple 3 point lighting kit, have it shipped, open it up and you are off to the races.

If your efforts inspire you to “go-professional”, then you can invest in high end equipment. But for now, you are more than okay with a basic kit, especially if you are making instructional or educational type of videos.  I do a lot of online coaching and webinars and amateur kits work well for me.


If you are really on a budget or just want to test things out, then you can simply gather lights from around the house and assemble them around your camera. You can even use natural light for your key light. You can improve the home set up buy purchasing brighter bulbs. Just be sure the bulbs are LED, daylight balanced bulbs.

Using a couple flexible “goose neck” lamps (see image) with a clamp works really well, especially for working online and live.  You can clamp these babies anywhere and they are super inexpensive.

Ring lights-

I love, love, love my ring light.  I use it for everything from shooting videos to webinars and online coaching. Using a ring light and a supplemental fill light to brighten the background do the trick real nice and the set up is amazingly easy.

As you seen in the picture, the ring light has a huge opening in which you can place your camera or you can place the light behind you PC for online work. They are extremely adaptable and you get a lot of bang for the buck.

Here is a review of my favorite Rings!

That’s a wrap

Do not underestimate the power of excellent lighting and how well polished it will make you or your work look behind the camera. Now you know you can head into your production or log into your next webinar looking totally professional, and create some amazing work for whatever your budget will allow.  So what are you waiting for? You know you want to test this stuff out, go do it now!



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