How to Set Up Lighting for an Interview

3 Techniques - How to Set Up Lighting for an Interview - FilterGrade

Lighting has been important since the beginning of motion pictures. Back in the day when people were recording on film, light exposure meant the difference of having a usable image or a completely black frame.   A century later cameras are able to get an image from almost any lighting condition. Now it’s less about just being able to see an image but more about the quality of the image. Good lighting will not only make your video look more professional it will also be more flattering to the subject on camera. Bad lighting can make even a beauty queen look horrific. Today we’re going to look at how to set up lighting for an interview to make your footage look more professional.


The first part of any video shoot should be pre-production. This is your chance to assess your lighting needs, troubleshoot lighting issues and make the best plan to tackle your video. Sometimes you may not know what you will be getting into and your preproduction will involve gathering everything you think you may need and being prepared for different scenarios.

Things to consider when doing your preproduction:

  1. Will your shooting area be somewhere where you also have sunlight?
  2. Will your location have the available plugs needed for lights.
  3. Do you have extension cords for your lights to give you the most freedom to move lights?
  4. Does your interview space have room to set up in or will it be a small area?
  5. How much time will you have to set up?
  6. If you can choose your location you probably want to choose one with most control and less variables like sun lighting
  7. Assess what equipment you’ll need and have access to for the shoot.

3-Point Lighting

3 point lighting visual\

Photo: Burst of Imagination

One of the most common forms of lighting for film and video is 3-point lighting. This is a good lighting technique for helping your subject look 3 dimensional and not flat. For this technique, you will need 3 lights. This technique utilizes distance and light intensity to create the desired look. The light locations are typically set up like a triangle around the subject. A light near the back of the subject (backlight) helps separate your subject from the background. Sometimes a person’s hair or clothes can blend into the background and a backlight can help with separation and sharper lines.

The Key Light should be focused on one side of your subject’s face. Its intensity will be stronger than the fill light. When you turn on the Key Light you’ll notice that it creates shadow from the curvature of the subject’s face and nose. Turning on a fill light on the opposite side will soften and remove much of that shadow. You still want some shadow to create depth. The Fill Light shouldn’t be as bright as the key because that will make the subject look flat and one dimensional.  The Key Light is normally twice as bright as the Fill light. You may have to adjust light intensities and directions depending on other factors like outside light spilling into the location, or if the subject is darker-skinned.


If your location has a big window it might be worth using this as your key light. You can do a similar three-point lighting setup. Use the window as a key light and have it hit your subject from one side. Sometimes window light is too bright, and you may need to put something in front of the window to diffuse it. Use a fill light to offset the shadows from the key light. When doing this you’ll need to make sure your lights are a similar color temperature to the daylight otherwise you may be getting really odd mixtures of colors on the lights. You can also use a reflector as fill.  You will still likely want a backlight to help separate the subject from the background.


Sometimes you don’t want a 3-point light and want something with softer features. You can use a lightbox, a light ring, or even a window in front of the subject to create a nice even light across the face. This can sometimes give a flat look to the whole image. It also sometimes makes the subject blend in with the background. Having a backlight can still help with this or even a lamp on in the background can too. The straight front light is good for opinion and beauty bloggers.

So here are a couple of different methods to light your subjects. Try experimenting with all of them to see if you like the look for your video projects. And don’t forget to check out our video luts and transitions to bring out even more from your videos.

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One Reply to “How to Set Up Lighting for an Interview”

  1. I tried all these techniques and they work! Thanks Macario for helping me.

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