If there is one factor that affects how good videos look more than any other, it is lighting. Good light can make your video look really impressive and professional, whereas poor lighting can make it look like a low quality amateur production. In this article, apart from some known methods to improve lighting in videography, such us :
- using a lens with wide aperture (low f value),
- having proper low f settings on camera,
- using larger sensor camera,
- understanding stop value
…and so on here are three extra tips. Ideally you should do everything you can to improve your lighting when you record videos, and the following tips can help with that. Remember that, DSLR/DSLT/Mirrorless are not manufactured in the manner that of video cameras. All tips of videography (outside current discussion) many not work with DSLR/DSLT/Mirrorless cameras.
Use soft light that is diffused when recording videos
Save for a few exceptions, soft light is generally preferable when you record videos. The diffused nature of this light will reduce the shadows and make them less visible, making it much easier to work with.
While there are many ways that you can get soft light indoors, the most common are to use diffusion paper or a softbox. If you are recording outdoors however your options are more limited – but shooting during golden hour is a good idea, or on slightly overcast days.
Ultimately your goal should be to make the shadows as invisible as possible – unless there is a specific reason why you want them to be present. For example if you want to create a film noire style of video, the presence of shadows could be important.
Adjust the distance relative to size
Diffusing the light alone is not enough, and if you want to make the shadows in your videos softer you will need to adjust the distance relative the size of your light source and your subject.
That may seem like a complicated relationship, but simply put a light becomes softer the closer it is because its relative size is larger. That relative size needs to be large enough compared to the subject for the shadows it produces to be soft.
For example a softbox about 2 meters away may produce soft shadows for portrait. However that same light in the same position would produce harder shadows on a large object, such as a vehicle.
Try out three-point lighting options
The best lighting option for indoors is really to use three-point lighting. Essentially it consists of three lights: A key light that acts as the main light on the subject, a fill light that fills in the angles the key light doesn’t cover, and a back light to illuminate the silhouette of the subject.
Porta umbrella light commonly used solution for videography. These days there are cheaper made in China porta umbrella light available with hallogen and LED as options. Hallogen known to produce better results but has issues like heat production, blowing away of filament etc. Porta umbrella light can be used in two directions – umbrella’s outside towards the subject and umbrella’s inside towards the subject. Each of them produces different lighting effect. Bounced light and ligh passed through white has obvious difference in color temperature.
Not only will this setup make your videos look a lot more professional, but it will also give you greater control over the light and allow you to make subtle adjustments to it. All that you essentially need to get started are three decent softboxes, though you could DIY a similar setup using diffusion paper if you need to.
It should be noted that varying the position of your lights can help you to produce other types of lighting – and there are various setups of three-point lighting that you can experiment with.
Just remember that despite the steps that you take to improve your lighting, there may be factors outside your control. That is why it is important that you’re able to post-process the video and correct any issues with the lighting and improve the white and color balance too if need be. For example you can use video editing software for Mac such as Movavi Video Editor as a place to start.
Ideally you should try to improve the lighting before you record any video footage, but to do that it can help to record a little bit of test footage in advance. Based on that you should be able to identify whether or not the lighting needs improvement, or whether it is good enough as is.