Video Editing: Obey the 45-Degree Rule

A primary concern for any video editing is whether or not your subjects were lit correctly during shooting. By obeying the 45 degree rule when shooting, you can achieve the best results while making video editing easier.

Fill Lighting

Fill lighting uses the 45 degree rule in creating a secondary source of light to the key light. It is also used to counteract harshness or shadows created by the key light while still allowing for contrast. The fill light is made softer than the key light by being reflected on the subject at a 45 degree angle.

Utilizing Fill Lighting

The following are the steps to use fill lighting and the 45 degree rule to aid in video editing. The materials you will need include:

  • Camcorder
  • Lighting on adjustable stands
  • White board or other reflective surface

Step 1: Determine the Type of Fill Lighting

Fill lighting is secondary to the key light, which is always the brightest light source. Determine the type of fill lighting you will need by knowing about the available lighting. If you are shooting outdoors, you can utilize the sun. While indoors, you can use additional lighting sources.

Step 2: Choose the Right Size

The key light is always larger than the fill light. It will complement your lighting if you choose the right sized fill light. Its job is filling in shadows while reducing the key light's harshness. A fill light that is equal in size to a key light will make your subjects appear flat or washed out. Make sure that fill lighting is about half the intensity of the key lighting for the best results.

Step 3: Position Fill Lighting

If you are shooting outdoors and are using the sun for fill lighting, a white board or reflective surface can be positioned to direct the light at a 45 degree angle to your subject. When indoors, use additional lighting that is mounted on adjustable stands. You simply adjust the height of the stand and the angle of the light to direct the light at a 45 degree angle to your subject.

Make sure to always position fill lighting at a different angle than the key light. It also can be placed at a different height that is typically lower than the key light. This allows for contrast through subtle shading rather than through harsh shadows.

Step 4: Make Adjustments

You will need to make adjustments after your lighting is initially set up, depending on the subject's positioning or if harsh shadows are created. You will also need to make adjustments if the lighting washes out your subject.

You can move your fill light closer or choose a brighter setting if there are too many shadows on your subject. If your subject is washed out, you can move the light further away or diffuse the light. You can also adjust the angles and the height of the lighting.

Step 5: Focus the Camcorder

To make video editing easier, try to focus your camcorder towards the subject at a 45 degree angle from each perspective. This will allow you to vary your shots while maintaining continuity.

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