Share this Page URL

Lighting Basics > Lighting Basics - Pg. 51

more detail accurately. (When watching a movie being flmed, you sometimes see huge lights set up, even in daylight: they're there to fll in the shadow areas, so that the camera can "see," for example, the actors' eyes.) Film cameras can photograph details in a scene that has a 10:1 contrast ratio (high- lights are 10 times brighter than the dark shadow areas). Video, on the other hand, can't capture details outside a contrast ratio of about 3:1 or 4:1. That's another reason lighting is much more important when using a camcorder, as noted above. Hard light vs. soft light Hard light comes from a small light source falling directly on an object. It creates hard edges between the highlight and shadow areas. For example, when someone's stand- ing in direct sunlight, the shadows on his face are harsh and dark. This high contrast emphasizes wrinkles, skin blemishes, baggy eyes, and other facial features. In other words, hard light is unfattering light. Soft light, on the other hand, is less direct, offering softer, smoother gradations of light from brightest to darkest areas. You get soft light from a large light source, usually refected or diffused, like the outdoors light on an overcast day or the light refected from the umbrellas used by photographers. The result: soft shadows or no shadows; everything is lit fairly evenly. Soft light is much more fattering to human subjects, because it de-emphasizes wrinkles and other facial contours. Unfortunately, soft light can also make your subjects ap- pear fat and lifeless. Harder light can reveal contours, shapes, and textures, making objects more interesting and three-dimensional. The best video lighting, therefore, comes from direct light sources that are mechanically softened. That's why many video lights have milky translucent covers. Key, fll, and backlight In professional flm and TV work, the most common lighting arrangement is called the three-point lighting setup. It requires that you set up at least three light sources, as shown in Figure 2-4: · The key light is the primary source of illumination in a scene. This can be the light on the camera, the sun, the overhead light above a table, or the light from a window, for example. · The fll light comes from a second light source. It's designed to fll in the shadows caused by the key light. By doing so, fll light reduces the contrast ratio, allowing the camcorder to pick up more details. If your camcorder has a built-in light, that's usually a fll light, too. It softens the shadows cast by the key light (such as the room lights). · The backlight comes from behind the subject. It helps to separate the subject from the background. Backlight is especially helpful in distinguishing a dark subject (such as a person's hair) and a dark background, because it casts a glow around the rim of the subject's outline. Video Lighting: A Crash Course chapter2:turninghomevideointoprovideo 51