Proper usage and storage:

A lighting kit will usually have 3 lights with it. It is important to note where each part is located in the kit so as to return it back the way it came in its case/kit. Before setting up lights, be sure your stands are locked in position and legs are spread far enough apart as to not fall. When you attach a light, be sure that the light is fully tightened and attached before raising or lowering the stand. When raising or lowering a stand, only do one section at a time making sure that one hand is on the section to be raised or lowered and one keeping the stand secure. Be sure to lock each section before moving onto the next section of stand. DO NOT overtighten a section screw. When rolling cables and stingers, use the over under method. Here you can find a video on that method. Be sure to secure the cable after rolling it with a velcro strap to keep it secure.


An extension cable used to power lights and any other necessities on set. Usually in lengths of 10 feet up to 50 feet.


Usually white or coated in a reflective material, these are used to reflect light from a source onto a person/object. These are used supplementary, never as a main source of light


Used to block light from reaching an object. Can be white or black. Also used to shape light or create shadows


Attached directly to the light, these are circular shaped filters that reduce intensity of the light source. Usually made of metal mesh. One light usually has 3 scrims with it.


Usually a paper type material that is flame resistant, used to soften light to even out harsh shadows. Comes in many different diffusion rates. Each rate will allow more or less light through, softening the light or making the light harsher. This is used to treat hot spots from the light.

3 point lighting:

The use of 3 separate lights (Key, Back and Fill) to light a given subject. Usually used in a stationary scene or interview setup.

Key Light:

The most important and typically most powerful light in a 3 point lighting setup. This light source usually has a higher angle, is bright and lights the subject the most. The main function is to highlight the form and dimension of the subject. It is also set up to one side of the camera to help create depth on the subject.


This light creates depth behind the subject. It usually will give highlights around the edges of the subject creating more darkness behind the subject. Also known as a hairlight because it shows through the hair to allow the viewer to see the actor/actress’ hair.

Fill Light:

Usually the least powerful light in a 3 point lighting setup, this light is used to help fill any unwanted shadows.

Side lighting:

Lighting from the side of a subject, usually at a 90 degree angle to the subject being lit. Can be used to help accentuate the shape and form of the subject. This can also be used to stimulate emotion.

Practical lighting:

Light sources that are visible within a scene. Examples include, lamps or street lights. These lights should not add light to a scene. A scene is usually lit with higher powered lights and practical lighting is used to make the viewer believe that the light is coming from that source.

Bounce light:

The process of taking a light and pointing it at a surface that can bounce the light to another subject. Usually materials are hard and white. Typical surfaces can include a wall, white board, or ceiling.

Soft lighting:

Will not cast shadows. Used sometimes to clean up skin imperfections on camera. Also used as fill lighting. Can also supplement practical lights.

Hard lighting:

Will cast shadows. Can be shaped easier using barn doors.

High key:

Used to insinuate a more peppy mood, also used heavily in sitcoms. This lighting creates less contrast between darkness and light.

Low key:

Used to show more dramatic action. This lighting creates greater contrast between darkness and light with the majority of the scene in darkness.

Motivated lighting:

Motivated lighting is when the light in the scene imitates a natural source within the scene. The difference between motivated lighting and practical lighting is that motivated lighting is the act of enhancing and replicating practical lighting.

Natural lighting:

Also known as the sun, this lighting is typically modified with reflectors or flags, or even diffused to help light a scene.

Expressionistic lighting:

Can often portray extreme pyscological states like madness. It is often subjective in its point of view. Makes strong use of shadows and distortion to create a world of mystery and threat.

Ambient lighting:

Lighting is already in the scene before any lights are added to the set. Usually from outside natural light coming through a window.

Terms on set:

Striking: Turning on or off of a light on set. LOOK AWAY FROM THE LIGHT!

Crossing: When a person is crossing in the frame of the camera, a warning and courtesy to the camera operators.

Flying in: Said when a piece of equipment, material, or person is on its way to the set.

Hot Points: Said when carrying equipment with sharp ends

C-47: Clothespin


A transparent material used to modify light color. Gels are flame retardant and come in many different colors.


Always wear gloves when dealing with lights. Lights that are on or have been recently turned off are VERY HOT. No open toed shoes or flip flops. Do not look directly at a light that is turned on, this can cause blindness. When moving and raising/lowering stands, be sure to make sure the different sections are tightened or locked down before moving to the next step. Use two hands to raise/lower a stand. Be sure the light is attached securely to the stand before raising. ALWAYS have at least one sandbag on the stand to prevent it from falling over accidentally.