How to Set Up Good Video Lighting

GreatVideoLighting_HowtoWe’ve all seen those dark homemade videos where nothing looks crisp or worse, the person is backlit, making them look like a silhouette. It doesn’t take a lot of money to fix these problems. All it takes is a little foresight and planning as well as some innovative thinking.


Set Location

Picking out where you will shoot your video is the first step in determining what light you will need. Will it be indoors or outdoors? Try to avoid windows in the background (Unless you’re filming at night), though windows behind the camera can add good natural light. If you’re recording outdoors, take note of where the sun is and how sunny or overcast it is. If you have a cloudless day you might need some shade so your subject isn’t squinting all the time.  Remember your background doesn’t have to be especially detailed. Many small business videos use a backdrop of a simple curtain, sheet or bookshelf to give a professional look to their video despite possible recording in some strange places. (I’ve heard of small business videos being recorded in closets, dorm rooms, the corner of a warehouse, offices and living rooms. You only have to dress up a small area for your recording needs!)


Review Your Current Lighting

Go ahead and set up your tripod and camera. (Even if it’s just a smartphone and a GorillaPod!)  Record your subject and review the test video both for positioning, framing and for determining if you need more light.


Add More Lighting

Borrowing lamps (tall and short) Can be a great cheap lighting solution, especially if you’re not going to be shooting many videos and your location is somewhat temporary. It is ideal to diffuse the light so you don’t have light bulb glare on glass surfaces. Using any semi-translucent material and some alligator clamps you can often rig up some diffusion if needed. In the picture from my most recent video set up, you can see I borrowed two $20 lamps I bought from Target to add more lighting. I set them up behind the camera shot but close enough for the most lighting possible. Extension cords will be a big help here.


Buy More Professional Lighting?

If you’re ready to move to the next level, there are professional lighting set ups you can purchase. This LimoStudio-Photography Photo Portrait Studio Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit usually lists at $134 but right now it seems to be selling on for about $40. There’s also a slightly brighter version for $53 here.


See the video from the above setup:

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