Digital Media Design


Short Form Video – 3 Point Lighting Techniques & Stop Frame Animation

3 Point Lighting Techniques – Tuesday 18th January 2011

3 Point Lighting Techniques

3 Point Lighting set-up

3 Point Lighting set-up

We began today’s lecture with a quick look at 3 Point Lighting Techniques a set-up familiar to everyone who has done some filming using artificial/continuous lighting.

The basic set-up consists of 3 light sources:-

  • 1 positioned behind the subject being filmed and facing towards the camera – known as the the back light.
  • The 2nd light is set-up to the left of the camera and side on to the subjects right hand side and is termed a fill light.
  • Finally the Keylight which is positioned level or just behind the camera and on it’s right side, directed towards the front of the subject.

The lights should ideally be positioned wherever possible, directing the light down and towards the subject at a 45 degree angle.

Space may dictate changes to this ideal set-up regarding the exact positioning and in some cases more light sources would be required to eliminate shadows for example a 4th light on the right side as a second fill light.

Short Form Video – The Light bulb (a Stop Frame Animation)

Our team – Group 2 was tasked to produce a film using a light bulb as the subject and employing the 3 Point Lighting Techniques set-up introduced in the morning session.

The group decided that the best way forward was to produce a stop frame animation. An important part of the animation would be the filming of the bulbs filament lighting/flashing on and off. Filming was delayed due to the lack of a suitable means of delivering power to the bulb but fortunately an angle poise lamp was secured and so filming could then go ahead.

We decided to film the bulb and angle poise lamp against a black background in the hope that the clear bulb would be more visible. We then set-up the lighting using 3 Point Lighting Techniques and it was at this point that we found that by using all 3 lights overwhelmed the subject and space in effect overexposing the video. Through testing we ended up using just one light. This was reflected off the surface of the table and against the background which helped to further diffuse the light source, reducing the overall intensity (No controller was available) and correctly exposing the subject.

Our video sequence was then edited in Premiere Pro CS5 where a suitable music soundtrack was added and the completed video was then uploaded to YouTube. The whole operation from concept to finished video took less than a few hours which I thought was impressive considering how long previous Stop Frame Animations in the past had taken to produce.

The final video owes a lot to Pixars Luxo Jr. and to the style of current Apple iPod marketing, advertising. (no copyright infringement intended)

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