I know I make videos. I know I sell video production services. But sometimes there is no budget in a business or I am too busy or there are other factors where making videos yourself is the only option.

So let me give you some lighting tips I have learned from over 10 years of video production.  Of course it takes more than light but let’s start here and you will find other important tips on this blog.

These tips are in no particular order.

Be like God. (whatever God is your favorite) 🙂

Professional film making is about lighting. To make the images look good and clean, you need decent lighting. Think about it like this. Light tells a story. We are conditioned as humans to fear darkness. So when you have your subject in bright clean light, they are perceived as more trustworthy, more honest, and more pure.

So, think back to any movie where God is a character. Like Morgan Freeman in Evan Almighty. He wears a white suit and the environments relating to him are filmed in very bright light (high key)

I am not saying that you should be rockin’ a white suit. But think of light as telling part of the story. It is subliminally saying that you are good and too be trusted.

A few more tips with light.  Usually when lighting you want the light at a 45 degree angle.  Above and pointed down at the subject. You do not have to do this but you definitely want the light in front of the subject and you want it to be a little higher than the subject.

If you do not have any decent lights, the easiest thing to do is film using the window as a light.  You DEFINITELY do not want the light BEHIND the speaker.  It is called back-lighting and it can be a neat choice but almost NEVER in corporate video production.

Back-lighting is usually a bad idea when making a video

You want it in front (behind the camera) or to the side of the speaker. And make sure that there is at least a decent amount of  light on BOTH sides of the face.  Think about it. If one side of the face is in darkness….you are communicating that you have a dark side, literally.

One side of the face is usually a little bit in shadow which gives the image dimension but in most cases it is not strikingly different. Let’s take a look at Mr. Freeman again. Even in this high key lighting situation…they still gave him dimension with a bit of shadow on one side of his face.

Lighting example for filming corporate video

To some people, the idea of having too much shadow being bad, that may be laughable, but the mind does perceive those cues and does intemperate them literally.

This leads me to the next tip. Put a light near the camera. Not a blinding light. Not a bright light. What you are doing is putting a light in the eyes of the person on the video.

In film making it is actually called “eye light”. So it makes the eyes pop and adds a sparkle. In fact, when they have a villain in a movie they try their best to have no eye light. The psychological context is that the light, the sparkle, is your soul and a villain does not have that light and is soulless.  So to be perceived as having a soul 🙂 be sure to put a light by the camera. Even if it is just a regular household lamp close to the camera.




Notice the difference?

Pay attention to actors eyes when you are watching TV. You will most likely always see a nice eye light in their eyes. (unless they are a bad guy)

So next let’s talk about the color of light. People new to the subject often don’t even know about the color of light or even perceive the differences. I won’t get all technical but there is a rating system called Kelvins. Most light fits on this scale. Basically goes from Orange to Blue.  A flame is orange and gives off orangey light and it is around 2000 Kelvins and on a nice blue sky day the light is blue, around 6000 to 10 00 Kelvins.

shooting video using different light bulbs

Every light bulb in your house will be around 2500 to 5000 Kelvins. Orange light is perceived as dimmer and more intimate for example a candle light dinner, would not be as romantic in a bright white light.

There are exceptions, but you typically would want bright light closer to the blue spectrum to film your corporate video.  Most light bulbs that you buy will have a rating on them in Kelvins. They may just say “daylight” or “full spectrum” and will be around 4000 to 5000 Kelvins.

Here is an example from home depot.

It is best not to mix colour temperatures. It just looks bad (usually),

So, if I had to do a video shoot, and I had almost no budget, I would just go to Home Depot and buy some Daylight Bulbs and use them with some household lamps.

Some people might be tempted to film outside and that is a good option in most cases but avoid direct sunlight because it creates harsh shadows. An overcast, cloudy day, will provide a nice soft light, without harsh shadows and that is the best light to film outdoors with.

Now, if you want to get fancy. You can use diffusion. What is diffusion…basically it just softens the light and makes it more even and often more beautiful.

Diffused light softens shadows and makes a more even light.  So, let’s say you are shooting with a very bright light. if you put something in front of the light…it will diffuse it. An example of something you could put in front is a shower curtain or some parchment paper.  It does make the light less powerful, but it makes it more pleasing on the subject.

And, since people have short attention spans and I have some stuff to do…I will leave it there for now. Here is one last tip. AVOID florescent light! There are many reasons but it is not great light. For one it pulses at a very high rate which can cause a flicker sometimes. The other reason is it has a slightly green tinge to it quite often. Green makes you look sick and untrustworthy.

That is it for today. Have a happy day and check back often just in case I put up some more learnin’ goodness.