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Lighting in multimedia broadcast


Students will learn basic lighting terms, three-point lighting, how to light a green screen, outdoor lighting and lighting safety concerns.


  • Students will Identify lighting terms and analyze their meaning.
  • Students will relate green screen concepts to the physical environment and illustrate studio green screen placement.
  • Students will analyze the difference between lighting a wall/screen and a subject.
  • Students will classify the difference between indoor and outdoor lighting and identify the possibility of outside overexposure.
  • Students will relate the placement of the sun to lighting in a scene and experiment with alternative reflecting surfaces.
  • Students will understand the differences between key, fill and back light.
  • Students will model the differences between three-point lighting pieces.
  • Students will identify lighting safety concerns and apply those concerns as they develop a safety guide.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.


Eight 50-minute classes


Slideshow: Lighting

Handouts: Lighting a green screen with a subject, lighting a green screen Image (combine)

Handout: Three-point lighting image

Lighting quiz and key

Reflector or poster board (one per group)

Rubric: Lighting terms presentation

Rubric: Reflecting presentation

Rubric: Three-point lighting

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Discuss and introduce the concept that lighting will make most if not all video and broadcast productions better. Ask students to discuss what they know about lighting and terms that they think they may already know.

2. Slideshow — 20 minutes

Present the Lighting slideshow, stopping to discuss new terms and ask students if they know of any examples that might illustrate each concept. Guide students as they take notes on new vocabulary. You can administer the lighting quiz as a formative assessment anytime following the slideshow.

3. Think-pair-share — 20 minutes

Ask students to to work in pairs or small groups to create a presentation that demonstrates each of the terms listed in the slideshow.

Day 2

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Introduce students to the concept of using a green screen.  Explain how subjects can have backgrounds removed and then be layered with other video to put the subject into an artificial setting. Explain why chroma green and chroma blue were selected as standard color and discuss uncommon skin tone and clothes color.

2. Demonstration — 40 minutes

Discuss and demonstrate the idea of using two soft lights to light your green wall or screen. Be sure to change the distance of the light from the wall or screen to demonstrate to students how the beam of light changes intensity. Also, be sure to explain to students that some green screens require additional work. For example, if you are using a fabric, it is suggested that all wrinkles and folds be pulled tight to avoid shadows.

Demonstrate and explain that if students know the intended purpose of their video it is better.  That is, if someone will be “keyed” out to be in a closet, or in a desert, you would want to light your subject differently.

This should lead to the discussion about using two additional lights to light your subject. Ask for student volunteers to stand in and move the lights around. When doing this, point out the space that exists between your subject and the wall or screen. Pay special attention to the shadows that develop on the wall as the subject moves closer.

Day 3

1. Review and practice — 50 minutes

Students should review the notes that they took the day prior and then in small groups take turns lighting and filming a volunteer from their group. The volunteer should read a short script to make the video a little more lively. You may consider allowing the class to observe and make suggestions on how each group can improve their attempt.

Day 4

1. Review and practice — 50 minutes

Depending on your capabilities, guide students through removing the green screen background and adding a new artificial one. Once you have done a step-by-step guide with students through the process, ask them to close the project without saving or to create an entirely new project altogether. Then, ask students to complete the process of removing the green screen again to ensure that they have a firm grasp on the procedure.

Day 5

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Introduce to students the concept that the best lighting source that anyone can get for free is the sun. Then, discuss the fact that too much lighting can cause overexposure. Be sure to point out ways to notice overexposure as it happens.

2. Presentation — 10 minutes

Before showing the slide that talks about ways of fixing overexposure, ask students to brainstorm ways they would try to fix it. Next, discuss the different issues that come with shooting outside. Point out the different ways that shadows move across the screen over time. (For example, the earth rotates around the sun, meaning your lighting source is always moving. Also, clouds can change the amount of light on your subject very quickly; camera operators should always be aware of the ever changing sky.)

3. Exercise — 30 minutes

Divide the class in to small groups of students depending on the amount of equipment you have.  Assign students to go outside to practice locating and using the source of natural light. Using digital cameras in a manual setting, have students use a reflector, poster board or cardboard wrapped in tin foil reflect light onto a subject in different ways. Encourage students to experiment with different lighting situations and scenarios to see what kind of different results they can achieve.

Day 6

1. Follow-up — 50 minutes

Take a few minutes to debrief your students regarding their overall reflecting experiments from the day before. Once you are satisfied that all students have a solid understanding of what they were doing, ask the students to create a Reflecting Digital Presentation of their photo shoot. The digital presentation can include slideshows, videos, websites — whichever works best for your class.

Day 7

1. Building Background — 10 minutes

Introduce the concept that lighting stationary scenes or subjects is best done with three lights.  Before beginning your discussion, ask a class volunteer to sit in a chair where you have your lights placed. Then, ask another volunteer to create the best light on the subject with three lights.  Survey the class to see whether it has been done correctly and discuss.

2.  Presentation — 30 minutes

Use the slideshow to present and explain about key, fill and back light and their intended purposes. Then, ask for another volunteer to sit in a seat and place the lights around the subject correctly. You may consider putting up the graphic in the slideshow when doing this, or even distributing a printed version of this to your students. Be sure to show the students the difference as you move lights closer to and further away from the subject as well as higher and lower.

3.  Skill development — 10 minutes

Introduce the Three Point Lighting Timeline assessment. Students should each practice using the lights and take a digital photo for each step as follows:

  • Only key light
  • Only fill light
  • Only back light
  • Key and fill light
  • Fill light and back light
  • Key and back light
  • All three lights
  • Three point lighting with no other lights on in the room
  • Three point lighting with all other lights on in the room

Students should then create a digital presentation that demonstrates and labels the differences.  This can be done as a slideshow, website, video or whatever method best suits your class situation. (This can also be done using cell phones and tablets with some free apps.)

Day 8

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Introduce the concept of lighting safety and discuss the seriousness of this subject. Students and professional across the country are burned, shocked and injured by lights in studios and while out on productions. Go over the safety tips that are in the slideshow and ask students to point out if they can think of any others.

2.  Discussion — 40 minutes

As a class, prepare a Multimedia Broadcast Lighting Safety Plan. Consider even having the class get up and inspect each individual issue that you might have in your lab. Things to consider putting in your plan include:

  • Trip Hazards
  • Burns
  • Electric Shock
  • Lights Tipping Over
  • Equipment Wear and Tear
  • Fire Plan