The Importance of Lighting in Videography and Film Making

The Importance of Lighting in Videography and Film Making
On:Apr 28, 2022

Anyone who’s ever used a camera has seen what lighting does to an image. The right light can make all the difference in crafting a good picture, providing detail or contrast, or enhancing color. Light in photographs can create mood, focus the eye, and provide drama.

The same is true of lighting in videography.

Good lighting is one of Gillespie Productions‘ principal concerns when shooting corporate video productions. We want to make sure the light – natural or otherwise – is ideal for the content we’re creating.

Understanding the importance of lighting in cinematography is critical before you begin shooting.

Why Lighting in Videography Is So Important

Cameras process light very differently than the human eye. The lens doesn’t allow for anywhere near as much detail and contrast as our eyes do, because our eyes have the ability to adjust and react to what we’re seeing. They have little muscles that can tighten or relax to allow more light or bring images in better. Camera lenses are fixed and can’t do this as well.

Lighting in film production is one of the ways we try to compensate for that.

In our video production process, we take lighting very seriously. We use lights to create mood, set a tone, show the audience where to focus their attention, and make scenes look natural or enhanced.

Lighting Creates Mood

Purpose of lighting in film
Purpose of lighting in film

We’ve all heard the term “mood lighting.” Lighting is one of the easiest ways to create a tone and communicate to an audience how they should feel about a scene. When you want to express happiness, for example, you would use brightness. If you wanted to suggest sadness or mystery, you’d use darkness and shadow.

Think about any recent movie or TV show you might have seen, and you’ll recognize the importance of lighting in film for creating atmosphere.

In our promotional video production, we select lighting that conveys just the right mood for the project.

Using Shadow as a Tool for Video Making

Another of the great effects of lighting in the film is shadow, an ideal tool for creating mood. But it’s more than that. It also helps focus the attention, provides contrast, and allows you to add depth and dimensionality to a scene.

We tend to use two different types of shadow – hard and soft.

Hard shadow provides a dramatic contrast. You can use it to create silhouettes, focus the attention on lit elements, and define the foreground from the background. Soft shadow is much less stark. It allows the shadowed element to be seen more but you can also use it for a soft-focus sort of effect. This lets you hide detail if you want.

Most Common Types of Lighting

Importance of lighting in film
Importance of lighting in film

The purpose of lighting in film varies with the ideas you’re trying to convey. Listed below are the most common types of lighting you’ll find. Each provides a videographer with different elements to enhance a shoot.

Key Lighting

Just as it sounds, key lighting is the base lighting or the primary illumination for a scene. It’s the lighting typically used first and foremost during a shoot. The other types of lighting are then used against it, to provide different effects. Getting it right is, well, key.

Fill Lighting

If key lighting is primary, then the best way to think of fill lighting is secondary. It’s another source of illumination used to enhance a subject, draw out certain elements, and provide contrast to the main lighting. Sometimes it’s simply used to make a scene more natural-looking.

Back Lighting

Backlighting occurs when a subject is lit from behind. In other words, the focal element of the scene is between the camera and the light source. This is often used to provide drama, create silhouettes, and show depth in an image. It can also create halos and sources of glow behind a subject.

Natural Light

Natural lighting is using the sun to provide illumination in a scene. Sunlight, of course, changes during the day as the sun moves across the sky, so natural light can also be different at different hours. Another way to think of natural light is the lack of photography lights or artificial sources.

Changing Colors

Changing colors, just as it sounds, uses filters and hues to bathe your subject in color. This can be used to create drama and different moods, depending on the colors used. For example, using blue tones can convey coolness while reds are hot or sexy.

Contrast Lighting

Contrast lighting defines the relationship between the lights and the darks in a shot. Sometimes it’s used to create stark lines and shadows, and it’s often used to draw the eye to a particular part of an image. It can make the subject pop out of a scene and convey energy.

How Technology Advanced Over the Years

Lighting in videography
Lighting in videography

Just as it has in many other areas of life, advancing technology has improved camera lighting. Thanks to more compact systems, rechargeable battery packs, and communication with the camera, lighting has become much more efficient. It’s easier to transport, quicker to set up, and more able to be focused exactly as you want it.

We can carry far less gear for our video production than we once had to. LED lights, for example, are smaller and can replace huge light systems. And they can do a better job because you can use multiple little lights to more effectively illuminate a scene. Sets can be quieter thanks to silent lighting.


It’s difficult to overstate the importance of lighting in video production. It’s one of the most critical decisions a videographer has to make. Done right, it can convey just what you want to communicate and even make a film transcend the ordinary. Done poorly, it can ruin a shoot, rendering footage all but useless.

That’s why we’ve taken the time to become experts in video lighting, making the right choice of illumination one of our many strengths.

We – the team of Gillespie Productions – would be happy to share our knowledge with you and help you with any of your professional video production needs. So don’t hesitate to contact us!