I’m no video lighting expert. But I’ve been forced to learn enough to get the BensTechLab youtube channel looking good!
Video Lighting Articles and Videos
Basics of Video Lighting
The most common lighting technique for video is called 3-point lighting. The 3 points refer to having 3 lights, a key light, fill light and rim light (or backlight).
Start with a Key Light
Generally speaking you want one large primary light - like the sun! While the sun will work, if you want to be able to record video at any time of day, in any season, consistently… then you’ll want to buy a good video light that takes the role of “key light”. The key light is your main light that is standing in for the sun.
The larger your keylight or the difuser on your keylight, the softer that light will look on camera. Softer light is more flattering and smooth, whereas hard light will be less smooth and more contrasty, so shadows off your facial features are more exagerated which can be less flattering.
The key light is usually placed around a 45-degree angle off your subject being filmed.
Then add a Fill Light
You can make videos with only one light, particularly if you have a very large soft box on the light which makes the light “wrap around” your face a bit more. But you will end up with a contrasty look and might want to fill in the light a bit on the shadow side of your face.
A super cheap way to get some fill would just be a large white foam board from the dollar store. The white board placed on the oposite side of you from the key light will reflect some light back to the shadow side of your face to fill it in. But then you do end up with a foam board you have to carefully place to be at the right angle and distance from you to achieve the desired lighting without being visible in the shot.
Eventually you’ll want a second video light to take the role of a fill light. This second light can often be smaller, maybe have a smaller light modifier on it, and/or be turned down lower than your main key light.
Then add a Rim Light
For bonus points, you can add a rim light (or backlight) to the mix. This light most often goes just behind you overhead to add a bit of a “rim” on your silhouette which helps separate you from the background. This is often a fairly small light, and the amount of light it adds to the scene is quite small, but nuanced. This little detail is definately optional, but helps set you apart from the newbies and amateurs if you want to pursue a really professional looking video standard!
Beyond lighting the main subject in your video, you may want a few more lights to kick things up a notch.
The industry uses the term “practical” to describe lights that are in your scene not necessarily to light up the subject, but rather to provide some visual interest and “spice things up”. Practicals can be a table lamp in the background, an edison bulb off to the side, or some RGB lighting to add a splash of color somewhere in the frame. The goal isn’t to light up a person on video, but more to add splashes of color or shimmering bokeh so the video isn’t as plain.
Posted By Ben
Ben is a software architect and developer who loves all things tech. When he's not at work he likes to play with computer tech, home automation and video production.