Lighting tips for more professional looking videos

Lighting tips for more professional looking videos
Lighting tips for more professional looking videos

This is the thing about lighting, it doesn’t just affect image quality. It also sets the mood and tone for any video you’re creating. So if you’re looking for tips on how to use on-camera lighting to your advantage, this episode of The Visual Lounge is a good place to start.

TechSmith Video and Learning Ambassador Matt Pierce delves into everything you need to know, from using natural and artificial lighting to getting great lighting on a budget.

It’s an episode packed with helpful information that will get you one step closer to mastering video lighting.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, listen to the podcast episode, press play below, or keep reading to learn more…

Why is video lighting so important?

Matt starts by saying that proper lighting goes a long way in improving the quality of your video, even if you’re working with a poor quality camera. If that doesn’t highlight the importance of camera lighting from the start, then nothing will.

But good lighting is much more than just improving the overall quality of the image. It also has a great effect on the overall mood and tone of a video.

The most important thing to remember? Your camera loves light.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a DSLR camera or a cheap webcam. Cameras are designed to capture light and help make the camera’s view clearer and sharper.

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Can you have too much light?

Short answer, yes. Using lighting in videos is all about finding that sweet spot that highlights your subject in the most flattering way possible.

Having too much light does the opposite of that. While some parts of the image may look fine, the subject may lose some of its sharpness or even go out of focus.

Matt’s solution:

Experiment and tweak things a bit until you hit that sweet spot.

What to do when you have no lights?

Before backlights and fill lights, people relied on good mother nature for display lighting. Fortunately, that method still works today, but it has one major drawback: unpredictability.

Unfortunately, we cannot change the weather.

A rule of thumb that Matt has when using natural lighting is that you have to think carefully about positioning. Let’s say light streams in through his window, he should face the window instead of his back to it.

Why? Well, when you are facing the window, you might find that your shot has too much light and your image is distorted.

But positioning isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to natural light. Weather conditions also play a very important role.

You may think that you will get better picture quality on a sunny day than in gloomy weather.

But as Matt tells us, gloomy weather wins this round.

Remember, natural lighting is highly unpredictable. With the sun hiding behind clouds from time to time, you will have a hard time controlling the intensity of the light.

It is exactly the opposite on gloomy days. The lighting is more or less one tone. So while you may not appreciate the monotony, you can be sure you’ll get the same level of brightness for your videos. That’s ideal when you’re doing multiple takes for a video.

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lighting on a budget

The great thing about video creation is that there is always a solution, regardless of your budget. Sure, the image quality may differ from someone using a full studio to one using a smartphone camera, but you can still get solid video either way.

If you’re on a budget, go for options like metal cans with LED light bulbs or curly light bulbs. Regardless of what you end up settling for, remember to even out color temperatures while you’re at it.

Avoid mixing blue bulbs with orange bulbs or choosing bulbs that don’t match your background.

Here’s a helpful tip, let’s say the general lighting in your background is fluorescent, it’s worth finding out what temperature the bulb is at. That information is usually printed on the packaging or the bulb itself, and you can use it to match any additional lighting you want to use.

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Ring of light, yes or no?

First of all, Matt encourages everyone to make the most of the lighting they have. So while he shouldn’t throw away that ring light just yet, it’s a good idea to figure out how to use it to its full potential.

But this is the thing with ring lights. Since your camera is in the middle of the light source, some of the angles are not level. You can get an even glow from above, but without the sharp angles that three-point lighting offers, you end up creating shadows under your eyes.

The only exception to this is if the subject is positioned fairly close to the ring light. But with the light so close, he may end up getting a little more light in his shot than he bargained for.

One thing to keep in mind is that ring lights are better than no lights at all. So experiment with it as much as you can to find what works.

There are many moving parts that work together when it comes to video lighting. In Matt’s words:

There are a million other things you can learn about lighting.

So this is a small thing to give you a push in the right direction.

If you want to dig deeper to learn more about lighting, there are several resources available on the TechSmith Academy.