Five Lighting Techniques Used in Filmmaking

Five Lighting Techniques Used in Filmmaking

Five Lighting Techniques Used in Filmmaking

Do you ever watch a movie and wonder how they achieve particular moods or atmospheres?  Whether you are watching the creepy scene of a horror movie or the perfectly lit beach scene in a drama TV series, there are ways that the lighting department creates mood on the scene.  In fact, the lighting department is full of technicians that specialize in these techniques, such as gaffers, best boys, and grip electric technicians.  They are trained professionals who help directors achieve the look they desire.  There are a few different lighting techniques used to create certain aesthetics in filmmaking.

Key Light

Key lighting is used to when you need a primary light source that focuses on a strong part of the scene.  This is great for monologues on stage and in many older movies.  The key light is set on one side of the focal point at an angle, which casts a contrasting shadow behind them.  This effect will strongly expose the main subject, making them the audience's only concern on the screen or stage.

Fill Light

Fill light is frequently used in conjunction with a key light to provide contrasting shadows to the scene behind the main subject.  It is great when you want to have a lit background but still want to establish a focal point.  This works to highlight a subject but still include background or secondary characters in the scene, as they may react to what the main subject is doing or saying.

Butterfly Lighting

Butterfly lighting is one used to highlight certain parts of the actor's face by placing a key light directly above and in front of their face.  This technique creates a shadow under the actor's nose or chin, which highlights their emotional response in a scene.  This technique is extremely popular in old Hollywood movies, where many focus on the drama created solely by the actor.

Split Lighting

If you are looking to add drama or emotion to your scene, you may need to use split lighting techniques.  This is frequently used to create evil or scary characters, as it splits the character's face into two equal parts.  This is done by placing a key light at an angle and casting a shadow on the other half of their face using different props in the scene.

Rembrandt Lighting

This lighting technique enhances particular features of a character's face, adding definition and focus to their features.  This is used in many dramas to enhance the emotions of a character.  It is achieved by using a key light at a high angle to form a triangle of light on the character's face.  Grip electric technicians may even need to use a reflector to help enhance the definition and cast a stronger shadow.

These are just a few of the lighting techniques used to create certain moods or atmospheres in the filmmaking industry.  Whenever you require special lighting effects, you want to trust the best equipment and grip electric technicians to do the job.  Contact us to hear about how Tiki Grip Electric is the right choice for you today.


Truck can only go out with a Tiki G&E approved driver.
Certificate of Insurance and signed Rental Agreement are required for all rentals.

To Top