In video production, lighting is primarily used for obtaining proper exposure. However, it can also be used to help enhance story elements.
Often lighting is used as a visual clue to inform the viewer that they should feel a particular way about a scene or character. Soft, even light works great for a natural and more flattering look, but if your character is a rugged individual, or the villain of your movie, soft lighting won’t help their tough-guy persona. In fact, it will lessen the appearance of any shadows and facial lines that can accentuate a menacing scowl or mischievous smirk. For lights that add to your character’s unpolished demeanor consider lighting placement and intensity.
In order to step away from the more glamorous effect of soft and even lighting, try using smaller light sources to light your subject. The harsher light will create more shadows and highlights, emphasizing facial creases and pits. This style can hint to the audience that the individual is a force to be reckoned with.
Placement of your lights can also add depth to your character. By placing your key and fill lights further from the center of your subject’s face (away from the camera), and by raising the position of the key, you’ll be able to create more shadows. Try experimenting with the position of the key and fill light until you find the desired look.
Whether your subject is the glamorous or rugged type, putting them in the the right light will tell your audience more about the their character. Learning how to emphasize your subject’s facial features with the proper light will help you create a great story with convincing characters.