The most basic lighting technique used in cinema is the three-pointlighting system. It was developed during the Hollywood big studio era andis still widely practiced throughout the world.Three point lighting creates a very natural, realistic look to the scene.
The primary light source, or key light, illuminates the dominant subject inthe shot. This draws the viewers’ eye directly to that point because it isthe highest point of contrast, usually of light and shadow. Acinematographer sets the key light up to direct attention towards theshot’s focal point of action, either psychological or physical. It is thebrightest light, usually positioned to illuminate the side of the person’sface that isn’t directly facing the camera.Fill lights, which are approximately half as bright as the key lights,soften the harshness of the key light. This soft, diffused light, is oftenbounced off a reflective umbrella, or shined through a sheet of diffusionor softbox. This light is gentler on the subject than the key light, and itfills in the shadows of the key light.
It’s used to illuminate the side ofthe face opposite the key light, and reveals subsidiary details that wouldotherwise be hidden in shadow.The third point of the three point lighting system is the backlight.Backlights work to separate the foreground from the background, creating agreat depth of field. Without a backlight the image would appear very flatand two-dimensional. These three lights are used together to create themost realistic shot possible, and although seen as one of the most basiclighting techniques, is still used in many major films today.