Self-Tape Auditions: Lighting

Lighting Your Self-Tape Audition Video

If you're creating a self tape audition video, you'll want to get the lighting right. Typically, lighting and audio quality are considered more important than video quality. Poor lighting and sound are a real turnoff for Casting Directors. 

There are two potential light sources. Artificial and natural. Let’s deal with Artificial First:


The basic lighting setup  in film photography is called Three Point Lighting. Key Light, Fill Light, and Backlight. Lighting for a Self-Tape should also use three points of lighting. Natural light is wonderful as key light, but it's often difficult to get the right levels if you don't include the other points of light.

Key Light illuminates the right side of your face. Fill light illuminates the left side of the face. Backlight illuminates your outline, gently lifting you away from the background. 

The purpose of three point lighting, is to give your face and natural look and three-dimensional depth.


Key light is the brightest of all your lighting sources. And is usually positioned at a 45° angle to your face. The light should also be raised so that it can point down on you and a 45° angle.

Even though the light is positioned at a 45° angle, it should still hit your face from the front and light both sides of your face.


You will notice that the left side of the face is in shadow. To fill in this shadow side, we use fill light. Fill lighting is never as bright as key lighting. Equal lighting from the front makes the human face seem very flat. Combining key and fill light creates depth on the face, making it seem more natural.


The final light in the three-point set up is called back light. as its name might suggest, this light goes behind you. Generally, this light points at the camera. but take care that it does not appear in the shot. 

Back light is usually the dimmest of the three points. Its purpose is to give you a warm glow on your hair and shoulders.  Back light creates an noticeable separation between you and your background.  


Natural lighting is often the best choice. Being lit from the side is the best option. Being lit from behind is a common mistake and should be avoided at all costs. Being lit squarely  and strongly from the front isn’t ideal, as previously stated, it creates a flat dimension to your face. 

PRO TIP: Once you’ve chosen you lighting source check that it isn’t too dim or too hot (bright). 

I hope that helps. Also, I've written a Guide to Self Taping Auditions that's Free to Download. 


If you found this blog post useful, please consider sharing it.  

To You, The Best


Mark Westbrook is an Audition Success Coach. 


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