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Three Quarter Cross-Key Light – Lighting the Hollywood way

Ever wondered the key to a successful lighting? When I started out in this field, I learnt the three point lighting and stuck with it ever since , and sometimes I wondered if there was really any other way to properly place lights.

Three Quarter Cross-Key Lighting

Ever wondered the key to a successful lighting?  When I started out in this field, I learnt the three point lighting and stuck with it ever since, and sometimes I wondered if there was really any other way to properly place lights. I also knew that something was off with the way Nollywood movies were lit. Then came film school, and even though  seeing Hollywood films, I had an idea what a great light looks like , I never really had a name for it. Then one day I found the secret called the Three Quarter Cross-Key lighting.

This method of lighting is a modification of the three point lighting systems but with a slight difference, usually the three point light system requires three lights –

  • The key,
  • Fill,
  • Back light.

With the Three Quarter cross-key — light increases to 4 and sometimes 5. Here’s a diagram to illustrate

three quarter cross-key light

Three Quarter Cross-Key Light

  • The key light –usually is the strongest of all four lights and can be either direct or diffused (depending on the intensity of light used )
  • The fill light can be a direct light but few stops below the key light and also can be a bounce from the key light (in cases where you don’t have the another light )
  • The rounder — helps reveal details on the face of your actor ( the rounder can be eliminated, depends on the mood you are going for )
  • The back light — separates the actor from the background
  • The background light –( which can be either from a natural source or created using another light –the helps illuminate the BG but what makes this light stand out is the shape (throwing any light at the BG just may not do the trick –here is an example)

Three Quarter Cross Key Light Shape

Practicals –are different lights found on scene –they make the illusion of the light source and sometimes serve as the Background light

Victor O’Frank has this topic on his vlog –Watch the Episode here.

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ForteFilm

Forte Film was born out of the passion to bring the necessary change to African film making. We Blog about gears, films, filmmakers & keep the African Film maker updated.

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