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Media College (Chương 2 : Ánh Sáng)(3) PDF Print E-mail
Written by tuyenphuc   
Sunday, 11 April 2010 08:32
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Phần 3: Lighting For Video & Television

Video lighting is based on the same principles as lighting for any other visual media. If you haven't done so already, you should read through our general lighting tutorials before reading this page, which deals specifically with lighting issues for video.

Light Sources

All video uses some sort of lighting, whether it be natural light (from the sun) or artificial lights. The goal of video lighting is to choose the best source(s) to achieve your goals.

First and foremost you need enough light. You must ensure that your camera is able to record an acceptable picture in the conditions. With modern cameras this is seldom a problem except in very low light or strong contrast.

Assuming you have enough light, you must then consider the quality of the light and how the various light sources combine to produce the image.

If you have clashing light sources (e.g. artificial interior lights with sunlight coming through the windows), you may find the colours in your image appear unnatural. It's best to control the light sources yourself if possible (e.g. turn off the lights or close the curtains).

When moving between locations, think about what light source you are using. If you move from an outside setting to an inside one with artificial lights, the amount of light may seem the same but the colour temperature will change according to the type of lights. In this case you need to white balance your camera for the new light source.

Contrast Ratio

Contrast ratio is the difference in brightness between the brightest and darkest parts of the picture. Video does not cope with extreme contrast as well as film, and nowhere near as well as the human eye. The result of over-contrast is that some parts of the picture will be too bright or too dark to see any detail. For this reason you need to ensure that there is not too much contrast in your shot. See Camera Contrast Ratio for more details.

Camera-Mounted Lights

28 cameralight

The camera-mounted light is an easy, versatile solution used by amateurs and professionals alike. Typically the light will draw power from the camera battery, although a separate power supply can be used. Be aware that lights which draw power from the camera battery will significantly shorten the battery's charge time.

This type of lighting does not create pleasing effects. it is a "blunt instrument" approach which is really only designed to illuminate the scene enough to allow normal camera operations. However it is a simple, practical solution.

Night-Mode Video Shooting

Some cameras offer a special "night vision" option which allows you to shoot with virtually no light. This mode uses infrared light instead of normal visible light.

This is useful in extreme circumstances when you have no other option. Unfortunately the results tend to be poor-quality monochrome green.

Of course, you can use this mode for a special effect if it suits the content.

Lighting Interviews

The normal rules of lighting apply to interviews. This page covers some general tips specific to interview lighting, whether or not you have your own lights. See our lighting tutorials for more detailed information about lighting technique.

If You Have Your Own Lights

You need to decide whether or not they are actually necessary. Although conventional wisdom says you should control interview lighting yourself if possible, in many situations the existing light will be fine and more practical.

28 2005-panelshow04

Shooting outside

The weather will obviously influence your decision. If the natural light is sufficient there may be no need to add artificial light. If you do use your own lights you will need to add the appropriate gels to match your lights to the daytime colour temperature. If the sun is too strong you could find a shady location.

Shooting inside

Find the best location - ideally a room with plenty of space and the ability to control existing light. Unless you have a good reason to use existing light sources, try to eliminate them all (close curtains, turn off lights, etc). Then set up your own lights.

If You Have No Lighting

In many situations you are limited to the available light. This is where a reflector board (pictured) can be a lifesaver. Easy to carry and use, it can create useful lighting effects and compensate for unfavourable conditions. If you don't have a reflector board you can sometimes improvise with other reflective objects.

29 reflector-board01

Shooting outside

With luck the natural sunlight will be fine, using the sun as the key light. If the sun is low, be careful not to make the guest squint. Strong sunlight creates strong shadows which can be balanced with a reflector.

Shooting inside

Try to avoid mixed lighting, e.g. sunlight through a window mixed with artificial light. Depending on the strength and quality of light sources, you could either turn the artificial lights off or block out the window light.

Overhead lights aren't desirable as they create ugly shadows on the face. If they are all you have you may be able to balance them with a reflector.

Editing Interviews

Before you shoot your interview you must know how it will be edited. For example, if there are going to be lots of other shots inserted you may want to hold a static shot throughout the IV so that these shots can easily be added anywhere. On the other hand, if there is to be little or no editing you may want to vary your shots to maintain interest.

Despite the many different styles of interview, most have a fairly common basic structure. The following example outlines a typical approach:

Establishing Shot

A very wide shot which shows the location. Not always necessary.


A visual introduction to both interview participants (interviewer and guest). Usually a wide shot or MCU.


Begin concentrating on the guest with an MCU and overlay name/title key.

Questions & Noddies

While most of the interview concentrates on the guest, the interviewer is occasionally shown asking and responding to questions.


When appropriate, relevant cutaways can be dropped in.

Cutting Between Interviewer and Guest

The most common edit is the cut between shots of interviewer and guest, whether it be live cuts between cameras or post-production edits.

The natural instinct is to cut exactly between the end of a question and the beginning of the answer. However this tends to look stilted. Try cutting a little before or after the question/answer is complete.

In live multi-camera situations it's easy to get caught behind the action, cutting to the wrong person at the wrong time. This can happen, for example, when you expect one person to speak but another person does. Do not "chase" the person speaking - it's better to have a shot of someone else listening for a few seconds than to cut quickly to the speaker and draw attention to your mistake. If you have the luxury of a wide shot, this can often get you out of trouble.


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