Lighting for video can be the difference between a professional-looking shoot and an underexposed/overexposed amateur mess. Mastering the perfect lighting will enhance your videos and ensure your message doesn’t get lost in poor production value. Believe it or not, we don’t need a huge budget or state-of-the-art equipment to achieve good lighting in our videos. The way you go about your lighting for video recording can give you the perfect shoot without breaking the bank.
In this article we’ll help you understand the importance of video lighting, the factors to consider when choosing lighting equipment, and the process for setting up the perfect lighting for your videos.
Why Lighting Matters For Video Recording?
Before discussing video lighting kits, equipment, and best practices, it is worth discussing why you should even care about lighting for video recording.
Lighting impacts your video in more ways than you can imagine. Let me share a few reasons why lighting is critical for a video's success.
Lighting has a direct impact on your video quality. For example, a video with dull or poorly lit objects does not allow the viewer to fully understand your video’s context. Similarly, overexposure to light can also hide key image details and distract the viewer.
This is why you need a balanced lighting setup that exposes all the crucial details in your video without overtaking your main object and distracting the viewers.
Brands use various lighting themes in their video content to make their content stand out and easily recognizable. For example, some brands like to use dull lighting and dark shades as general video themes. Others use specific colors that resonate with their brand identity.
Of course, a video with inconsistent or low-quality lighting also harms your brand image. This is why it's crucial to find a consistent lighting theme that perfectly balances your brand colors with lighting quality.
So, when choosing a lighting setup for your videos, consider its impact on your brand image and whether you want to communicate your brand identity through lighting effects.
Viewer Experience And Engagement
You want people to see your videos till the end, right? Then you must pay attention to your video’s lighting quality.
Why? Because an average viewer is already distracted by their smartphone notifications, social media, different apps, and a million other things. They won’t watch your content for long if your video isn’t properly lit and distracts them from your core message.
According to research, 93 percent of human communication relies on body language, facial expressions, and other nonverbal factors.
So, when your video’s lighting isn’t clear and the viewers can’t focus on your body language because of it, you won’t be able to communicate your message. In fact, people might misunderstand your message because they're unable to properly see your facial expressions and gestures.
So, investing in high-quality video lighting is critical for ensuring the clarity of your message and communication.
People take action when you successfully persuade them to do so. But when they’re distracted by your video’s poor lighting quality, they won’t pay much attention to your message.
And when that happens, you’ll struggle to persuade them to take action. As a result, your conversion rate will take a hit and your content’s ROI will go down.
Viral content is easy to consume, clearly visible, and highly engaging. Videos with poor lighting rarely go viral because they lack engagement and are hard for viewers to see.
Understanding the Different Video Lighting Sources
It may seem obvious, but where does light come from? Whenever you plan the lighting for videos, you need to be aware of the light sources that can make or break the final result.
Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to tell the difference between what a light source will look like in person and what it looks like behind the lens.
Firstly, standard room lights are the default option for light sources. Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs are both affordable and will suit most video shoots. The biggest piece of advice when using these bulbs for setting lighting is to only use one type of bulb at the same time. If you need more bulbs, make sure they have the same light intensity and color.
But what if you want something more advanced for a video?
Studio lights may be the right option for you. Energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs are slightly weaker than other bulbs, but the trade-off is that they’re more cost-effective and produce almost no heat. If you need something more powerful, consider tungsten bulbs. However, keep in mind that these do produce large amounts of heat.
You may want to consider LED lights for the best lighting for video shoots. These consist of lots of small electronic lights. Their benefits include being inexpensive, cool, and long lasting.
The right video lighting largely depends on what your videos are for, how often you want to shoot videos, and where you intend to make videos.
Artificial vs. Natural Light: Which One Is Better For Video Recording?
When comparing artificial and natural lighting for video recording, it’s not a question of which one is better. Instead, it is about the kind of lighting you want to create in your video and what you’re looking to achieve with your content.
Artificial light gives you absolute control of your video lighting and allows you to create any lighting effect you want in a closed indoor location. You can use artificial lights to shoot day scenes in a studio or add distinct brand colors to your content. It also allows you to change lighting effects according to the mood or the tone of your content.
However, artificial lighting is expensive compared to natural light which costs nothing. In addition, you require technical skills and expertise to control indoor lighting and create your desired lighting effects.
In comparison, natural light is a free and high-quality source of video lighting. It is ideal for beginners with limited resources as it allows them to create clear video content without any investment.
But like artificial lighting, natural light also comes with challenges.
Firstly, you can’t control the tone of natural light and get only a limited time every day to use it. For example, you might start shooting a video with a clear sunny sky but you can’t do anything if it gets cloudy half way through your video. You can control outdoor light effects using reflectors to a certain extent, but it still doesn't give you the control of an indoor lighting setup.
Secondly, you can only shoot limited types of videos with natural light and can’t create custom branded lighting effects.
So, if you’re creating vlogs or videos with a limited budget, going outdoors or shooting in front of the window to use natural light is a great idea.
However, if you want greater control and have the budget to invest in a lighting kit, artificial lighting is the better option.
What’s Included In A Video Lighting Kit?
A lighting kit consists of all the essential equipment and tools to help you create your desired lighting effects for video recording. Video lighting kits come in all shapes and forms and can include various equipment types depending on your goals and budget.
But here’s what a beginner-level video lighting kit can include.
Ring lights are ideal for close-up videos of different objects or camera-facing content. They’re used indoors for illuminating products, highlighting specific areas, or people. Ring lights can be handheld or used with light stands depending on your goal.
They’re also ideal for beginner content creators looking for an affordable indoor lighting kit. This is why you’ll see makeup artists, vloggers, TikTok and YouTube video creators, and even Zoom meeting participants use ring lights for video lighting.
Softboxes And Umbrellas
If you want to control light intensity and uniformity, cast shadows on specific product sections, or create limited lighting effects, softboxes and umbrellas can come in handy.
They not only help you control light softness but also give a professional look to your video objects. You can use them with both natural and artificial lighting sources when recording your videos.
Boom lights provide greater control over your video lighting and allow you to illuminate backgrounds and add lighting effects to your indoor or outdoor settings.
Boom lights are usually mounted on steel stands but can be used with flexible handles as well to easily move around.
LED panel lights are easy to carry and require low voltage supply but produce excellent quality lighting. You can use video lights to create a moonlight effect or increase the clarity of our outdoor shoot.
Reflectors allow videographers to illuminate objects with indirect lighting effects. They reflect natural light on the target object and make it more prominent. Photographers and filmmakers use different types of reflectors depending on their light source and object.
Factors You Must Consider For Your Video Lighting Setup
Before we dive deeper into video lighting, let’s discuss the factors you must consider to create the perfect lighting for video recordings.
Business Goal And Video Type
What are you trying to communicate with your video?
Are you doing an outdoor shoot or an in-studio video?
Will you be talking directly to the camera or showing the surroundings along with your narration?
How many participants are there in your video?
All of these questions are critical to choosing the perfect video lighting setup.
Why? Because your video’s goal and content determine its lighting needs. There’s no fit-for-all lighting solution. For example, if you’re interviewing someone in your studio, you’ll need to ensure you and the guest are clearly visible.
This would require a different lighting setup from a product shoot, tutorial, or a vlog where you speak directly to the camera.
So, before investing in a lighting setup, think about the video types you create more frequently.
Do you need to carry your lighting setup to different outdoor or indoor locations? If yes, you must consider the size and weight of your lights. Even if you don’t move your light around too much, you’d still have to consider their size and how they’ll fit in your studio.
How many watts do your lights consume and what power supply sources do they need? Can you easily energize them when on an outdoor shoot? Or do you need backup power to make sure your light keeps running?
In addition, what’s the maintenance cost of your lighting setup? How frequently do you have to get it serviced? What’s its average lifespan?
Even if a video lighting setup appears affordable, always double-check its running and operational costs to ensure they align with your expectations.
Price is an obvious factor to consider when choosing the right video lighting equipment. If you’re creating personal videos or casual content that doesn’t directly drive revenue, you might consider DIYvideo lighting setups or cheaper options depending on your content type.
However, for professional indoor or outdoor lighting setups, you need to carefully consider your options because you can find equipment on Amazon and other retail sites starting from a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on its brand and utility.
If you’re shooting indoors, what’s your studio like? Do you have green screens or ceiling light holders? What about the background furniture, wall color, wall hangings, and anything else that comes in the frame? Is there natural light coming into the studio from any window, ceiling, or any other source?
Your surroundings play a vital role in shaping your video content. So, it's critical to consider how your lighting setup illuminates your surroundings when choosing your equipment.
Soft vs. Hard Light
When choosing your video lighting equipment, consider the lighting effect you want to use in your content. Videographers use both soft and hard lighting depending on what they’re trying to portray in their content. Soft light wraps around your object and blends into the overall picture. Hard light, on the hand, is clearly visible, leaves strong shadows, and illuminates the object more thoroughly.
What angle do you want your lights on? Do you want them in front of the object, in the background, or from the top? Considering this is important because you’ll need different lighting equipment for every angle. For example, if you want a soft light effect the subject’s face, a dimmablering light or softbox lights might do the job.
But if you want the light to come from above the object, you can’t use the same lights. Instead, you’ll need to use overhead lighting or attach a taller and more flexible stand to your existing lights.
How to Create the Perfect Lighting Setup for Video
So, you’re ready to start creating your video, but before you start shooting, lighting is key. Do you need a good lighting screen? Where should you put each light? How many lights do you need? These are all questions you need to answer. Here’s how to get started creating the perfect lighting setup for videos.
Step One – Prepare Your Shoot
It’s always a good idea to walk around your set and determine where different light sources are coming from and their effects on the shadow. For example, natural light can be a pain to work with as the weather can change quickly and alter the lighting in the middle of your video. Be aware of any risks to your lighting setup. Ideally, you want to film a video in a place where you have as much control over the light as possible.
Step Two – Choose Your Lights
Since you’re unlikely to get the perfect natural light, you’ll need an external video lighting source you can control. There are many different lighting options on the table, from cheap bulbs to high-end industry-ready equipment. Most people, however, can get a professional-quality production with simple clamp lights. We love clamp lights because they cost about $10 and can be mounted and moved around in various ways. The downside is you won’t find any dimming or diffusion controls, so you might need to get creative or invest in professional shooting lighting setups.
Step Three – Create Three-Point Lighting
When planning lighting for video shoots, we recommend the three-point lighting system, which includes a key light, fill light, and backlight. For visualization purposes, imagine standing at the center of the clock, and your camera is at six.
Now, here’s how to place your lights using the three-point lighting setup:
Key Light – The brightest of the three. Located at four on the clock.
Fill Light – Place this light at eight to eliminate shadows. Half the intensity of the key light.
Backlight – Located between one and two. Creates depth and separates the background from the foreground.
Step Four – Select Your Color Temperature
On camera, bulbs can appear cooler or warmer, with the former containing more blue tones and the latter more yellow tones. The “go-to” option is a 5000k bulb, which is essentially daylight color. You can mix and match if you want to, but most videos won’t need more than 5000k.
Step Five – Beware of Glare
Harder, direct lighting for videos may create glare on the camera. An easy fix is to raise your lights higher. You can also try moving the key and fill lights further away. It’s wise to get someone to help with this, as making micro-adjustments alone can be difficult.
Best Lighting Tips for Video Recording
Ready to start shooting? If your video lighting isn’t quite right, follow these tips and tricks to get a better-quality result.
Look Through Your Camera
Don’t look at your subject with your own eyes. Look at them through the camera’s viewfinder to see what your viewer sees. This way, you’ll be able to notice any lighting issues that would have otherwise escaped your gaze. If you’re shooting a piece directly to the camera, ask a test subject to sit in front of the camera so you can look at the subject through the viewfinder.
Orientate Yourself Towards the Window
When using natural light, make sure you maintain an even lighting balance by positioning the window in front of the subject. This prevents shadows and avoids the subject from squinting at the camera. While natural light is the best type of lighting for video, beware of any chance of intermittent weather while filming. Changing light can ruin even the best videolighting setup.
Use a Desk Lamp at Night
Believe it or not, some of the best night lighting for video can come from a simple desk lamp. The diffused lighting softens the light source and prevents shadows from appearing across your face. While professional options are available, simple desk lamps often come with diffused lighting and are perfectly adequate for shooting quality video.
Tone Down Your Backlight
Backlighting is an extremely popular artistic option for professional-looking videos. It’s easy to go overboard with your backlight, though. If you’re shooting a video using a webcam, the chances are it will have an auto-exposure feature. When there’s too much backlight, the auto exposure feature will adjust itself based on the backlight, leaving you in shadow. Sometimes, less is more!
Use Street Lamps for Night Videos
Shooting night videos outdoors is one of the most challenging environments you’ll have to deal with. While not an ideal lighting setup, consider using street lamps for your night videos. Stand underneath the streetlamp without going too far to the center. It’s very much a matter of trial and error when getting this right, so play around with your positioning until you find your perfect shot?
Ready To Create The Perfect Video Lighting?
Mastering lighting setups is essential for producing videos to a professional standard. If you’re serious about making impressive videos, go out of your way to play around with different lighting options. Filming quality videos doesn’t have to break your budget. It can be done affordably with a bit of creativity. For a video solution that’s easy and can be used right out of the box, explore your options with Loom. Creating quality video content has never been easier.