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Lighting for Video: Setting the Perfect Lighting for Video Recording

Lighting for video can make the difference between a professional-looking shoot and an underexposed/overexposed amateur mess. Mastering the perfect lighting will enhance your videos and ensure your message doesn’t get lost in poor production value. Believe it or not, we don’t need to have a huge budget or state-of-the-art equipment to achieve good lighting in our videos. The way you go about your lighting for video recording can give you the perfect shoot without breaking the bank.

Understanding the Different Video Lighting Sources

It may seem obvious, but where does light come from? Whenever you plan the lighting for videos, you need to be aware of the light sources that can make or break the final result. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to tell the difference between what a light source will look like in person and what it looks like behind the lens.

Firstly, standard room lights are the default option for light sources. Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs are both affordable and will suit most video shoots. The biggest piece of advice when using these bulbs for setting lighting is to only use one type of bulb at the same time. If you do need to use more bulbs, make sure they have the same light intensity and color.

But what if you want something more advanced for a video? Studio lights may be the right option for you. Energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs are slightly weaker than other bulbs, but the trade-off is that they’re more cost-effective and produce almost no heat. If you need something more powerful, consider tungsten bulbs. However, keep in mind that these do produce large amounts of heat.

For the best lighting for video shoots, you may want to consider LED lights. These consist of lots of small electronic lights. Their benefits include being inexpensive, cool, and they’re designed to last. The right video lighting largely depends on what your videos are for, how often you want to shoot videos, and where you intend on making videos.

How to Create the Perfect Lighting Setup for Video 

So, you’re ready to start creating your video but before you start shooting, lighting is key. Do you need a good lighting screen? Where should you put each light? How many lights do you need? These are all questions you need to answer. Here’s how to get started creating the perfect lighting setup for videos.

Step One – Prepare Your Shoot

It’s always a good idea to walk around your set and determine where different light sources are coming from and their effects on the shadow. For example, natural light can be a pain to work with as the weather can change quickly and alter the lighting in the middle of your video. Be aware of any risks to your lighting setup. Ideally, you want to film a video in a place where you have as much control over the light as possible.

Step Two – Choose Your Lights

Since you’re unlikely to get the perfect natural light, you’ll need an external video lighting source you can control. There are so many different lighting options on the table, from cheap bulbs to high-end industry-ready equipment. Most people, however, can get a professional-quality production with simple clamp lights. We love clamp lights because they cost about $10 and can be mounted and moved around in a variety of ways. The downside is you won’t find any dimming or diffusion controls, so you might need to get creative or invest in professional shooting lighting setups.

Step Three – Create Three-Point Lighting

When planning lighting for video shoots, we recommend the three-point lighting system, which includes a key light, fill light and backlight. For visualization purposes, imagine you’re standing at the center of the clock, and your camera is at six. Now, here’s how to place your lights:

  • Key Light – The brightest of the three. Located at four on the clock.

  • Fill Light – Place this light at eight to eliminate shadows. Half the intensity of the key light.

  • Backlight – Located between one and two. Creates depth and separates the background from the foreground.

Step Four – Select Your Color Temperature

On camera, bulbs can appear cooler or warmer, with the former containing more blue tones and the latter more yellow tones. The “go-to” option is a 5000k bulb, which is essentially daylight color. You can mix and match if you want to, but most videos won’t need more than 5000k.

Step Five – Beware of Glare

Harder, direct lighting for videos may create glare on the camera. An easy fix is to raise your lights higher. You can also try moving the key and fill lights further away. It’s wise to get someone to help with this as making micro-adjustments alone can be difficult.

Best Lighting for Video: Tips & Tricks

Ready to start shooting? If your video setting lighting isn’t quite right, follow these tips and tricks to get a better quality result.

Look Through Your Camera

Don’t look at your subject with your own eyes. Look at them through the camera’s viewfinder so you can see what your viewer sees. This way, you’ll be able to notice any lighting issues that would have otherwise escaped your gaze. If you’re shooting a piece directly to the camera, ask a test subject to sit in front of the camera so you can look at the subject through the viewfinder.

Orientate Yourself Towards the Window

When using natural light, make sure you maintain an even lighting balance by positioning the window in front of the subject. This prevents shadows and avoids the subject squinting at the camera. While natural light is the best type of lighting for video, beware of any chance of intermittent weather while filming. Changing light can ruin even the best video lighting setup.

Use a Desk Lamp at Night

Believe it or not, some of the best night lighting for video can come from a simple desk lamp. The diffused lighting softens the light source and prevents shadows from appearing across your face. While there are professional options available, simple desk lamps often come with diffused lighting and are perfectly adequate for shooting quality video.

Tone Down Your Backlight

Backlighting is an extremely popular artistic option for professional-looking videos. It’s easy to go overboard with your backlight, though. If you’re shooting a video using a webcam, the chances are it will have an auto-exposure feature. When there’s too much backlight, the auto exposure feature will adjust itself based on the backlight, which will leave you in shadow. Sometimes, less is more!

Use Street Lamps for Night Videos

Shooting night videos outdoors is one of the most challenging environments you’ll have to deal with. While not an ideal lighting setup, consider using streetlamps for your night videos. Stand underneath the streetlamp without going too far to the center. It’s very much a matter of trial and error when getting this right, so play around with your positioning until you find your perfect shot.

Wrapping Up

Mastering lighting setups is essential for producing videos to a professional standard. If you’re serious about making impressive videos, go out of your way to play around with different lighting options. Filming quality videos doesn’t have to break your budget. It can be done affordably with a little creativity. For a video solution that’s easy and can be used right out of the box, explore your options with Loom. Creating quality video content has never been easier. For the latest in business video solutions, sign up for Loom for free today.


Sep 13, 2021

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