5 Lighting Design Tips for Video Productions

By Eduardo Angel

© Eduardo Angel Visuals
The author at work. 

Photographer, filmmaker and educator Eduardo Angel shares his tips for lighting your videos. He'll be teaching "Filmmaking Fundamentals" at the PhotoPlus Expo conference on Saturday October 24.

1. Use continuous light instead of natural light
Video often requires shooting over extended periods of time where you have to tear down and reproduce scenes days or weeks apart. Using continuous light—and a light meter—allows you to replicate the same lighting for each shoot. Try to minimize the impact of uncontrollable natural light by blocking the light (e.g., covering windows). In short, try to minimize the unknowns—those things you cannot control.

2. Find the color balance
Knowing the color temperature of a scene is key for video so always have a colorimeter handy. Like matching the exposure, color temperature is critical for replicating shooting conditions. Additionally, without color temperature continuity, post-production is more time-consuming and expensive.

3. Use adjustable LEDs to balance mixed lighting
Continuous light fixtures with adjustable Kelvin temperatures like the Limelite Mosaic Bi-Colour LED Panel are ideal for balancing mixed lighting, almost eliminating the need to gel the lights. They can also be battery operated, so they are a great complement for outdoor shooting.

4. Harness and control sunlight when shooting outdoors
Place diffusion material between the sun and the subject when shooting outdoors to prevent harsh highlights and use a reflector to eliminate shadows, just as you would in still photography.

5. Control lighting direction with barn doors
This is especially important with LEDs, which tend to spill the light. By using barn doors (or creating your own with cardboard and gaffer’s tape), you can direct the light and, ultimately, the viewer’s eye, which automatically goes to what is highlighted.

For more information on these topics, check out Angel’s courses on Lynda.com, Video for Photographers: Filmmaking on Location and Video for Photographers: Filmmaking Essentials; follow him on Twitter @EA_Photo; and visit his website, www.eduardoangel.com.

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