When planning a video shoot, it is important to plan the lighting. The reason is simple – the camera does not perceive light as well as the human eye. Generally speaking, anytime you shoot video indoors, the shoot will require artificial lighting. As we talk about lighting, we are not talking about the normal overhead office or shop lights.
Don’t Be Blue
If you only use the lights in your office or shop, you will find florescent lights tend to cast a blue hue over everything and regular incandescent lights tends to make everything have an orange tinge. This means you probably need a video lighting kit. Ideally, you should use lights specifically designed for video, or still, photography. However, there are ways around using a lighting kit, but more on this in a moment.
No matter what lighting you use, you should know about the three-point lighting concept. This is the basis for the lighting of most all indoor videos.
The main light source, or strongest light, is your key light. The key light is near the camera and slightly to one side. The second source of light is a fill light. Place this light on the other side of the subject to soften most of the shadows. This light is generally the same power as the key light. The final light in 3-point lighting is the back light. This light helps separate your talent from the background on video.
Shooting Out Doors
If you are shooting outdoors, your key light will most likely be the sun. Shoot during the morning or early afternoon with the sun behind the camera and to one side. This avoids having your subject look directly into the sun. You don’t really need a backlight when shooting outdoors. However, you should use a reflector for your fill light. You can find a 40-inch professional-type reflector online for $50 or less. A good alternative to a reflector is a large piece of white poster board. The type you find at most office supply stores. Use a reflector to bounce the light from the sun onto the darker side of your talent.
If you do not have access to a lighting kit, here are some tips to take advantage of the available light. Since most videos shoots occur during the day, there are times you can take advantage of the sun even if you are indoors. You can use the sunlight from a window or doorway if the windows or doors in your building allow you to take advantage of the sun. If so, plan your shoot near a window or door to take advantage of the sunlight.
You might also be able to take advantage of the sun by positioning your subject in the shop near an open bay door.
It is important to remember to position the window or door behind the camera. Never shoot toward the window or door as the camera will adjust for the brighter outside light and your subject will appear as a shadow.
If you cannot take advantage of the sun and do not have a light kit, try using some of the lights that you might already have in the shop. Work lights put out a lot of light. Just be careful in how you use them. Work lights tend to concentrate light in the center with much less light toward the edges of the lighting pattern.
If you use these types of lights, you will want to avoid lighting ‘hot spots’ in your scene. The camera will always adjust to the brightest portion of the scene. This will make some areas dark in the scene. Work lights with a reflector behind the bulb tend to produce move even light.
Work lights are great to help fill in areas you want to show in the background.
Speaking of the background, if want to show something important in the background of your scene, be sure there is enough light on that background. This will make it that area appear clearly on camera.
If you think your shop or office has good lighting, shoot a test video. Set up your camera and gear in the locations you are thinking of shooting your video. Have someone be in front of the camera if you plan using a spokesperson. Watch your test video on a computer or TV. It may surprise you how dark the setting looks on camera, compared to how it looks to your eyes.