If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve been harping on online video for quite some time now. Well, I’ve actually done more than just talk about it, I’ve taken the plunge off the high dive and worked very hard to create video content over the past month or so.
I’m here to tell you one thing. If you’re going to do video production, you gotta get the lighting right.
Case in point, here are two examples of videos of me talking on a white lit backdrop. The first is me using lights from Home Depot setup in my small little office. The second is a professional shoot for an entrepreneurial event I’m speaking at in May.
Jim’s Home Depot Lighting Setup
(The green border on the sides showed up because my white backdrop wasn’t big enough)
Professional Video Shoot Lighting Setup
Much nicer, eh? Video owned and shot by New Image Media, Inc.
Why Didn’t Your Home Depot Video Lighting Experiment Work?
It did, and it didn’t. As you can see from the two video samples above, one is much, much nicer than the other.
Online Video Lighting Problem #1
As you can see in all the videos that I shot, the first problem is that there is a green border appearing on the sides. That is because I first tried to shoot video on a green screen (so I could put scenes behind me), but I couldn’t get the lighting right, it’s very tricky. So I brought in a white backdrop instead, except, my home video camera picked up video outside of the white backdrop, even though the view finder only showed white.
Lessons learned: Never trust the view finder, and make sure you have tons of background space to work with.
Online Video Lighting Problem #2
The lights I bought from Home Depot were 300 watt Halogen work lights. I bought three lights for a total of $48.00 or so. I positioned one light on the floor shining on the wall behind me. The second light was on a stand to the side of me, but turned to the wall to reflect light onto me (you do this so it won’t make a shadow). The third light was in front of me, and I ended up bouncing that light off the ceiling back down onto me.
The arrows point where the light is pointing to. The front light is pointing to the ceiling.
Lessons learned: Cheap work lights are extremely hot, so be prepared to sweat when filming. Also, don’t think you’re going to set this up quickly, take your time and get it right.
Online Video Lighting Problem #3
It may look bright enough on camera before it goes into your computer, but it’s not. I used a piece of software called Sony Vegas Movie Studio + DVD 7 Platinum Edition (my amazon affiliate link) to import and edit my videos. After I imported my video in, it became very dark, nothing like how it looked on the camera. I had to apply a “levels” filter onto each video where I adjusted the contrast and the gamma to make the background drop out completely, and to ensure I didn’t look like I had a major sun tan. It was difficult to find the right settings.
Lessons learned: Cheap software like I used can get you by, but won’t really cut it. You’ll have to play with the settings and filters to achieve the effects you want.
Summary: Can You Shoot Videos Yourself Successfully?
Sure, but it’s not going to be easy, especially with non-professional equipment. However, I think that in time, and in practice of getting the lighting right, you can produce good quality video that is acceptable (and frankly much nicer) than yourself sitting behind a webcam at your computer.
Stay tuned to this blog as I’ll update my progress and findings about lighting videos over time.