You can create a mood with lighting just by the angle of the light on the face. The flat look is fine for broadcast interviews but if you want to make it more interesting try out these three different techniques. Short lighting, split lighting, and butterfly lighting. Three very different looks to give that talking head a mood. Add in a back light or fill and your good to go. This technique gets your key in the position first to create the look. Then it's all about how you want to mold the lighting around the subject. Check out the video and article. Do you use any of the three lighting techniques? Which one is your favorite?
Three Lighting Techniques
If someone has a round, “beach ball” type face, you may need “short lighting,” or “narrow lighting.” To do this, put your key light (main source of light) closer to the “short side” of the subject's face, creating a 45-degree angle between the talent, camera, and light. The “short side” is the part of the face that is furthest away from the camera's lens. Putting more light on this part of the face will make it appear narrow.
Want to add drama to the scene? Use split lighting. This has been called the “comic book villain” lighting style because some comic book artists would draw their villains this way. Change the position of the key light to be 90 degrees between camera, talent, and key light source. It lights one side of the face and leaves the other in shadow, giving it a super-dramatic feel.
This is also known as “clam shell lighting” and it's used to add a “fashion” or “glamour” look to your subject. This can be flattering for people with narrow faces or high cheekbones because there is very little shadow cast on their face, which is why it is often used to light female subjects. However, it may not be too flattering with those with a round or wider face. Put the light behind the camera and raise it over the subject's head. Shine the light down on the subject's head and you should see their cheekbones accentuated with a butterfly-like shadow below their nose.
(cover photo credit: snap from ReelSEO)