Professional Video Lighting for $0 – Quick and Easy in 5 Steps!
You are well prepared and know how to interview someone in front of the camera. However, you don’t know how to put a person in the right light? Besides, everyone tells you that professional video lighting is the result of elaborate and expensive gear combined with lots of expertise and creativity?
So yes that’s right – if you want to shoot the latest Batman movie.
If not, you can easily use the light that surrounds you to create a professionally lit video yourself.
Follow the tricks in our blog article, and you’ll be able to create chic and professional video lighting for great video recordings with no lamps at all.
But first let’s start with some basics:
Video Lighting following the 4-Point Technique
The traditional way to illuminate a person in front of the camera is the 4-point technique. Here, you use four light sources with different functions:
1. Key Light:
This primary light source determines the orientation and intensity of all other lights. The leading light is usually placed sideways in front of the person and is the most intense of the four light sources.
2. Fill Light:
This light source attenuates the shadows on the person’s face generated by the key light. Position this light also in front of the person, but on the other side of the camera. Adjust the intensity of the fill light depending on the contrast you want to achieve between the two sides of your subject’s face.
3. Back Light:
This light illuminates the back of the person, which models the edges and makes it stand out from the background.
4. Background Video Lighting:
This light source illuminates the background of the scene. It makes sure your protagonist does not stand in front of a black backdrop.
Hard and Soft Video Lighting
There are two different qualities of light, which you can easily recognize by its shadows:
In hard light, the shadow is sharp as in a silhouette. Soft light produces shadow you can hardly see.
How do these two types of light come about?
This phenomenon is related to the size of the light source.
Tiny light sources create hard light. The sun, for example, produces very hard light because it’s extremely far away and therefore very small.
When the sun is filtered, i.e., through clouds on a cloudy day, the sunlight scatters through the clouds.
The clouds “shine”, which creates a vast illuminated area. The light becomes soft, and shadows disappear.
You can also artificially sprinkle the sun by filtering it through a piece of white cloth. Try it, and you will see how different the shadows are.
Different Light Colors
Different light sources have different color temperatures: daylight, also known as available light, is blue. Artificial light, aka tungsten light, is red.
This is important if you want to use different light sources at the same time.
So much for the basics.
The following tips will show you how to create very professional video lighting by using available light only – without a single lamp on set.
Video Lighting Like a Pro
1. Choose a location with windows for your shot.
If you do not have lighting equipment, windows are your sources of light. Choose a location that has at least one or more windows.
2. No direct light
As you already have learned, soft light creates fewer shadows. This is what you want to achieve: the so-called “Beauty Light.”
Because beauty light benefits everyone in front of the camera.
So, avoid direct sunlight hitting the person in front of the camera. Alternatively, place a curtain or piece of white cloth between window and subject. That will enlarge your light source and creates Beauty Light as well.
3. A light source behind the camera and on eye-level
Now the window is your key light. Therefore, it should meet the person frontally. That means the window should be behind you and the camera.
Also, make sure the light’s angle is not too steep, e.g., through a skylight, to avoid unsightly shadows on the face. Ideally, the window is at eye-level.
4. Avoid mixed color temperatures for your video lighting
As we’ve already mentioned, different light sources also have different color temperatures.
If you record your video in automatic mode, i.e. with a smartphone, the camera automatically adjusts to the most dominant color temperature in the frame.
What most cameras don’t like is mixed lights – a mixture of extremely different color temperatures. So before you start recording, decide on the primary light source and thus a color temperature. Switch off all other light sources with different color temperatures.
If the window is your primary source of light, the light is mostly blue. Warm light sources in the frame like floor lamps will appear red. So you better turn them off. Your camera will thank you.
5. Avoid dark backgrounds
The background is a large part of your picture and therefore it is very important for the picture design.
So unless you’re shooting a corporate video for a funeral home, avoid a dark background.
A tidy and bright background will create a friendly aesthetic that appeals to the customer. And furthermore, you don’t need additional background lighting, because it’s already lit well.
With these 5 tricks, you put the people in front of your camera in the right and professional light.
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