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All you need to know about Film Lighting: Part 3

Film lighting Techniques and Tips Part 3

Film Production

All you need to know about Film Lighting: Part 3

In the past 2 articles, we have talked about some important concepts and techniques of Film Lighting like Highlights, Shadows, Key Light, Fill Light, Three Point Lighting, etc. Do read the first two parts.

Part 1: Film Lighting methods: Hard & Soft Lighting

Part 2: Film Lighting Tips and Techniques: Light Source & Direction.

In this article, we are going to discuss two Specific types of Lighting Setup used in Films. These lighting setups create the mood of the scene. Some Genres of Films uses specific kinds of Lighting to give the audience the feel of that genre. The two setups we are going to discuss are- Rembrandt Lighting & Noir Lighting.

Rembrandt Lighting-

The Setup of Rembrandt Lighting requires minimum-number of equipments and yet it can create striking and convincing portraits. The idea is to illuminate a face by directing a light from a side such that in the opposite (less illuminated) side of the face an inverted triangle is created below the eye.

Rembrandt Lighting is named after the Dutch Painter “Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)”. The term was coined by Hollywood Film Director Cecil B. DeMille when he was experimenting with lights in his films and used the type of lighting used in Rembrandt Paintings in his films.

In this Self Portrait Painting (1630) by Rembrandt, the left side of the face is brightly lit while the right side is relatively dark and just below the right eye there is light in the form of an inverted triangle. This style is typical of many of Rembrandt Paintings.

Film Lighting Technique Demonstration

Film Lighting Technique Demonstration: Rembrandt Lighting

Rembrandt Lighting is heavily used in Photography and Films to light up a subject’s face. This is done by using one Key Light directed towards one side of the subject’s face and a reflector to reflect the key light or a separate fill light. To see Rembrandt lighting in action watch this video-


Noir Lighting-


Noir Lighting was created for necessity by filmmakers in early 1940s with the tight budget who, cannot afford expensive Lighting Equipments and has to do it with bare essentials. But, in later years, Noir became a popular style used by many filmmakers even in Hollywood extravaganza films. Noir Lighting is a deep and complicated subject and needs practice to master.

The basic aim of Noir lighting is to create the Chiaroscuro effect which uses high contrast between light and dark elements. To do this Hard Lighting is used, with a strong Key Light and a backlight. Fill light is often omitted or is present but not very prominent. The idea is to emphasize shadows to create a mystery effect and also give the frame a sense of depth.

To know more about Noir Lighting, watch this video-



This ends our discussion on Film lighting. You may have learnt some concepts and can go on to research more to light your films better.


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Related Read:

  1. Basic Film Techniques Glossary – Part 1
  2. Basic Film Terms Glossary Part 2

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Dibakar is a keen observer of Music and films. He reads and writes about films and is also interested in composing instrumental Music. He has a knack of researching about anything that interests him. Usual talks of him are mostly about the contemporary cinema and its analysis. Dibakar is a graduate, specialized in the field of computer Application.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Nikhil

    June 22, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Good, i noticed a term “film noir lighting techniques” exactly what does it refer to? I noticed the same video tutorial that you given on another website. But, the explanation shown there didn’t works me. Can you guys simply explain me what’s it about. where it is used? and what are the names of lighting equipment used to create this?


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