Video Lighting Tips

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This week we have another installation for our video production blog posts. So far we have covered video basics and a more in depth look at audio. Now let’s think about visuals, specifically lighting which you probably already noticed from the title. This is one of those things that isn’t the be-all and end-all of a video but if you put a little thought into your lighting it can definitely increase the quality. Let’s not make this too complicated and stick to some easier concepts to give you a beginners guide to lighting.

Unless you have lighting equipment available to you, natural light will be your best friend. Become aware of the lighting throughout the day if your recording room has a window. If you are relying solely on natural light this may predict what time of day is best for you to record.

This brings us into the different types of light that works best for video. Other than the fact that you might get incredibly warm there are many reasons why it is important not to use direct lighting. I’m not sure if I have to explain some of these reasons such as not being able to see and causing some funny faces. Direct lighting can cause very harsh shadows on a subject and is in general unflattering to most.

Now that we have determined that you should avoid direct lighting as much as possible I’m going to introduce diffused lighting. This is exactly what you want to aim for. Diffused light can be achieved by creating a barrier between the subject and the direct light source. This barrier should still allow light to come through but it will take away those harsh shadows. The easiest diffused lighting comes from an overcast day. We aren’t always that lucky so it can be created by moving into a shaded area or hanging a white sheet in front of a sunny window.

The principles of direct and diffused light are the same when it comes to artificial lighting as well. This is why you may have seen soft boxes or umbrellas used by photographers. Direct vs. diffused light is important but not the only things you have to think about when lighting your video. The direction of these lights can make a huge difference. It is recommended that the key light, which is the brightest light source, should be facing the front of the subject. If the key light is facing the back of the subject the camera might have problems with exposure and lens flare. The video could look too dark or hazy due to the direction of the light source and the angle of a camera lens.

In the end it is always best to try different lighting styles and see what works for you. Video production is a process and this is just another thing to think about!

Here is a short video to give you examples of direct, diffused and backlighting which we covered in today’s post.

If you have any questions about making an audio or video project send us an email at elearning@upei.ca!