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The Importance of Lighting in Film & Television

Lighting is a fundamental aspect in film, as it creates an atmosphere for your content and plays a large role on how the film will look to the audience. After all, film is a visual medium. Video cameras do not capture light and detail the same way our eyes do, so it is imperative to have the proper lighting.

Understanding the space in which a film is being created, is a key factor when determining lighting. Is filming taking place indoors or outdoors? Will the person on camera be moving? Is the room large or small? These are questions you need to ask yourself when determining the ideal lighting for a space.

What does lighting essentially affect in film?

Mood and Temperature

The lighting in a film needs to match the mood of a specific scene. For more serious films the mood is usually emotional, so utilizing warm lighting helps to create that mood. Horror movies tend to create a space that leaves viewers on edge. These scenes tend to be dark, often times utilizing key lights – which also illuminate a moving object, such as the villain. Hospital scenes are usually clean and bright, utilizing soft lighting. All of the instances can be manipulated with lighting to create the perfect environment.


The direction of your lighting plays a role in how the subject and environment of a scene is perceived. You can direct your light on an object to create less shadows or adjust the light to create more shadows. Less shadows on an object tend to create a neutral and nonthreatening subject, whereas shadows tend to create dubious and dark subject.


Color has much to do with psychological interpretations, influencing perceptions that are not obvious and causing certain emotions in people. The color you use in lighting has a huge impact on the message you are sending to the audience about the emotion of the scene.

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