Importance of Lighting in Production

Video-Fader image by Frank F. Haub from

The foundation of any video is the story it is trying to tell, and the setting where it takes place. However there are also some aspects of production that a filmmaker can use to influence the meaning of the film. Lighting is easy to control, and has a huge impact on the overall impact of the video.

What Lighting Does

Lighting, audio, and editing are the three technical elements that a filmmakers can manipulate to add meaning and depth to a production. Lighting is the visible element that dictates how a character or scene is supposed to be interpreted. According to the Digital Film making blog, "All visual impressions on the viewer depend on proper lighting arrangements."

Natural Light

Natural light is considered the default lighting. It shows the image exactly as it is, without any bias or indication of meaning. When a filmmaker uses natural light, the only visual impressions on the viewer come from the setting, and the events of the scene.

Lighting Styles

There are a number of different lighting styles that a filmmaker can use to add an additional layer of meaning to the image they are presenting, with ambient, flood, spot, soft, and reflective being among the most popular. A more complete list of techniques, as well as examples and information about each one, can be found through the resources link below. These techniques can be combined with one another to create multiple layers of meaning. The best way to learn the effects of possible light combinations is to experiment with as many as possible.


Creating artificial light also gives the filmmaker control over the colours being cast onto the image. Different types of lights will produce a slightly different coloured glow, which can affect the message of the image. Coloured filters can also be added to light to produce a more obvious effect.

Lighting Components

While lights can be arranged in any way the filmmaker wants them to, there are a few common kits that are used for various occasions. A list of lighting kits, and the best times to use them, is available through the resources 2 link below. Your kit should include various bulbs and reflective surfaces, clips to suspend the lights on support objects, extension chords that provide versatility, and a light diffuser to control the impact of the light.