The Do’s and Don’ts of Video Lighting
One aspect of video production that often goes unnoticed by viewers is lighting – but it’s one of the most vital keys in making a quality video, even if no one seems to realize it. We have unfortunately seen it time and time again: When a video production team looks to axe one aspect due to budgetary concerns, it always seems to be the lighting equipment. Most novices believe that if a shoot is taking place during the day, the sunlight is more than enough to light the set and no additional lighting is needed. Let’s take the weather possibly changing out of the equation for a moment – there’s always the chance that a shoot is taking place inside for a scene and there isn’t enough natural light to film it. What to do?
We’re here to make it clear that lighting can have an effect on a myriad of elements in a video shoot. You may not notice what it can affect, but that’s precisely why we’re presenting this blog…to clarify the importance of lighting in video.
Importance of Lighting in Film and Video
- Lighting Can Determine the Mood of the Video – Ever feel your hair stand on end or get a cold shiver that runs down your neck when watching a horror film? You best believe the way the scenes in the film are lighted have something to do with it. Contrast and shadows can have more of an effect on a scene in a film than most other elements – even in TV commercials or online content.
- With Poor Lighting Comes More Editing Room Time – Your editing team is going to end up paying for your errors if your lighting on a set isn’t up to snuff. Why? Because your editors will have to do their best to fix the lighting in the editing software, which could ultimately yield a longer, harder editing process.
- Light Determines the Quality of Your Project – Ask yourself this question: Do you want your video production to look like a cheap direct-to-video deal with amateur adult film-esque overtones? Of course not. If lighting isn’t prepared and implemented properly, a video production can go from top-quality to sleazy-looking in a snap. You’ll even notice bad examples of this when you catch a commercial that either uses too much artificial light or too little; think about it, though: If a commercial came on TV that screamed of low-quality with so much artificial light bathing it and making it look like a home-shot film, would you be interested in that company’s product?
Even basic lighting in a production will yield a massive difference on a set. One technique widely referenced by video professionals is three-point lighting, which is one of the most versatile lighting techniques and among the most basic – but also one that will make a huge difference in your production. Three-point lighting encompasses:
- Key Light: The main light of the three, placed to the side of the camera and which helps illuminate the subject of the video.
- Fill Light: The secondary light, always placed on the opposite side of the key light and which helps fill shadows casted by the key light.
- Back Light: The light placed on the back of the subject being shot, helping to distinguish the subject from the background of the scene to give them a 3-dimensional look on camera.
Getting Into the “Do’s and Don’ts” of Video Lighting Techniques
There are many mistakes amateur videographers make with regard to lighting. The lighting techniques in your video will make a huge impact – as we have covered – on the quality of your final image, so it’s vital to use the light to control the mood of your video, direct the eye of the viewer where you want it to go, emphasize and de-emphasize elements within the frame, add texture and color and make people look either beautiful, ugly, sinister or angelic.
• DON’T Light Just the Subject
DO Light the Whole Shot: The job doesn’t end when your subject is lit. You’re not done until the whole shot has been illuminated, so save a light or two for your background. Here’s a tip: Pinch your barndoors down to create a shaft of light across the background, or add a gel for a dramatic splash of color. At any rate, taking a little extra time to dress your set and bathe it in light will greatly improve the look and feel of your shots.
• DON’T Think Merely Using a High Quality Camera Makes all Video Look Great
DO Understand That Bad Lighting Marks a Video as the Work of an Amateur: A cheap camera with great lighting will produce better-looking shots than an expensive camera with terrible lighting.
• DON’T Take a Head Shot if Someone is Standing Right in Front of a Window or has a Light Fixture Behind Them
DO Reposition Everything so the Light Falls on Their Face Instead of Behind Them: Don’t stand your subjects directly in front of a window; switching positions will make all the difference in the world. You don’t necessarily have to change the lighting at all – rather you change the subject’s position and the camera’s position relative to the light.
• DON’T Assume You Can’t Use Home Lighting Fixtures
DO Take Into Consideration Color Temperature: If you do not own professional light fixtures, you can indeed utilize home lighting fixtures. The same rules regarding positioning and diffusion apply, no matter what fixture is being used, but what’s most vital is color temperature. This is critical for a professional video production, as it refers to the actual color of the light – while most light looks white to the eye, it’s not really so. Depending on the source, the light can have a blue, green or orange tint, with color temperature of lighting affecting the color of your shot.
• DON’T Practice Techniques on Very Important Subjects/Projects
DO Practice at Home: It’s a good idea, while you’re getting your feet wet in video production lighting, not to practice these techniques in the field when someone has paid you large sums of money; for example, you have been hired to do an important interview with the Chairman of the Board of a specific company, and he or she wants the video to look perfect. Practice your craft at home – maybe even on someone who has fallen asleep in a chair in the middle of the room and who won’t mind your blundering about for an hour or so.
• DON’T Confuse Architectural Lighting with Good Video Lighting Techniques
DO Understand How to use Extra Lights to Make a Shot Look Better: Architectural lighting is nearly always ceiling down, and will usually cast ugly shadows on the eyes and under the nose. Video lighting, conversely, is aimed into the subject’s face rather than down on the top of the head; this eliminates any ugly shadows and sends illumination into the eyes. And seeing the subject’s eyes helps your viewers connect with the subject.
Aside from audio, great lighting is the most important way to make your videos stand out. Think of video without proper lighting being akin to doing your laundry without detergent – sure, it will appear somewhat clean on the surface, but it won’t be as crisp and professional-looking as if you used Tide or OxyClean. The same could be said for good lighting: Sure, a video can be produced on your office webcam with whatever makeshift room lighting that may be available, but it won’t come off nearly as polished as if you took the time to light it right.
The only way to take your videos to the next level and make them shine is to learn how to light them properly yourself, or to hire an outside agency that knows what they’re doing. In the video production world, lighting is what separates the men from the boys – the professionals from the amateurs – and the box office hits from the home-generated films.
Multiverse Media Group is one such professional entity totally locked and loaded to bring all your video presentations to vivid life. We provide a wide range of video production services including corporate videos, commercial videos, training videos and more, so you don’t have to guess at the right lighting techniques.
When we say “Fully Loaded,” we Mean It:
Our 2,000 square-foot photo and video production studio in Jacksonville, Florida is equipped with:
- Green Screen Cyc-Wall
- Stands & Grips
- Abundant Power
- Much More!
Our studio is perfect for video shoots, photo shoots, corporate videos, special effects shots and beyond, yielding an optimum environment for independent producers, students, in-house corporate production teams or even church media production crews. All MVMG photo and video studio rentals include:
- Our Green Screen Cyclorama
- Basic Light Kit
- Makeup/Dressing Room
- Waiting Area
- Wireless Internet
- Abundant Free Parking
- Available HD Switchers, HD Monitoring and Recording; Audio Recording Booth and Video Editing & Color Grading Suites on Premises
If you don’t have your own gear, our very affordable lighting and HD video packages make it easy to obtain everything you need for your production. And, if you find that we don’t have what you’re particularly looking for, we will gladly point you in the right direction.
When you want to get serious about your lighting for film practices, look to Multiverse Media Group.