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How To Set Up Lighting for Video

When filming video, it's important to ensure you're using equipment that properly lights your subject. The video lighting sets the mood and tone of your message. It also portrays your subject in a more flattering way to make the image more enjoyable for your audience to watch. These steps can help you learn how to set up lighting for video and what techniques to follow for a well-lit, quality video. 

Gather Your Video Lighting Materials

Before shooting, gather all of your lighting materials to determine which you'd like to use for the video. If you're purchasing your lights for the first time, set your budget beforehand, as lighting prices vary depending on quality. If you have a smaller lighting budget, clamp lights are less expensive than most lighting equipment and can be easily mounted in different areas of your studio. 

One challenge with clamp lights is their lack of dimming and diffusing, which can lead to harsh lighting on the subject. Some diffusers are expensive but well worth it if you plan to create videos regularly. If not, you can try more affordable diffuser alternatives, like clamping shower curtains or wax paper onto the light. Another way to create softer light is to bounce the light from your clamp lights onto ceilings or walls.

If you have a higher budget for lighting equipment or are planning to regularly film video projects, studio lighting kits can be a worthwhile investment. They use larger fluorescent lights and high-quality diffusers. Lighting kits usually have switches on the back that let you control the use of certain light bulbs, making it easier to adjust the softness of your light. 

Scout Your Location 

You should visit your shooting location at least one day before filming. This gives you enough time to set up your lights and practice shooting there. Where you decide to shoot your video can depend on your subject and story. For example, if you're filming an educational video on the importance of staying active, then a majority of your scenes may take place outside. If you're filming a promotional video for a coffee shop, your location could be inside the shop, interviewing the barista. 

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Schedule Your Filming Time 

If you know you're shooting outside, practice setting up your lighting for the video recording a day or two before to determine the best time to shoot. Pick the time you'd like to film and bring a friend or colleague to practice with. Place them in the exact spot you expect your subject to stand or sit. Take practice shots and pay attention to how natural lighting reflects on them. Try to avoid or balance out the shadows covering the subject's face and position them away from the sun to avoid squinting. 

Once you find the best spot to film, note the time you practiced and how well the natural lighting captured your image. Make sure this time works well for the subject and anyone else assisting you. Check the weather forecast for the day you're scheduled to shoot. This helps you plan for rainy weather, cloudy skies, or any other random weather pattern that may interfere with getting well-lit shots. 

Use a Three-Point Video Lighting Setup

Many professional video projects utilize a three-point video lighting setup when filming. This ensures your video receives the proper amount of lighting to best display your subject. Place your subject on a chair or instruct them to stand, then set the lights up around them. The main elements of three-point lighting include: 

  • Key light: This is the strongest light in your setup. It usually shines on your subject's face and the front of their body. Put the key light somewhere between 15 and 45 degrees next to the camera. The key light sits at an angle to light one side of the subject's face. If someone is interviewing the subject, instruct the interviewer to stand in between the key light and camera. 
  • Fill light: Your key light creates shadows as it films your subject, so the fill light should fill out those shadows. The fill light is less powerful than the key light and uses less wattage. Place your fill light opposite of the key light and use a similar angle to focus on the subject. Adjust your fill light accordingly until you've reduced the shadows reflecting on your subject's face and have created a more natural and well-lit look. 
  • Back light: Move this light as closely behind your subject as possible without seeing the equipment in the shot. If you're able to, hang your back light above the subject so the light shines down on them. If you're unable to hang it, simply place it behind them and to the side. This helps you separate the subject from the background, creating a halo effect. 

Find a Proper Color Balance and Light Color Temperature 

Each of the lights' bulbs has different filaments that make your light look warmer or cooler when casting on your subject. This is your light's color temperature. It's measured on a Kelvin scale from roughly 3000, which is a cooler, blue tone, to a warmer, orange tone of 5,500. 

You should set your color temperature according to the environment you're in. If you're shooting outside in the sun, you'd balance this out with a lower temperature. In a darker or more shaded area, you'd use a higher temperature. The most effective way to find the best lighting for your video recording is to balance your color temperature well enough to provide a natural image. 

When lighting for video, try to experiment with different styles while shooting. Learn how your video will look if you add more lights to your background or if you use different lighting gels. Understanding how to properly light a video allows you to feel more comfortable trying out new lighting techniques to build a quality product. 

Our highly-trained production team at Salvi Media dedicates themselves to creating impressive videos with the top equipment to capture and deliver your company's message. Contact us today to learn how we can build a powerful video for your business.