Video Lighting Tips | Unskippable - Marketing Keynote Speaker - Jim Kukral

Category Archives for "Video Lighting Tips"

OnlineVideoToolkit.com Is Live – Win My Flip Camera

In this world, you have to give to get back. So when I started getting about 10 emails a day asking me how I make my web videos, I had two options.

1. Create a guide about how I do it and sell it for profit. Or…
2. Create a guide about how I do it and just give the darn thing away, for free.

I choose the free route. Introducing, OnlineVideoToolkit.com. A free video guide that shows you everything I know about making web videos using inexpensive equipment. I produced about 10 videos showing you all my secrets about lighting, set design, cameras to buy, clothing tips, sound, etc… It’s all there, with more to come.

I even have a contest for the launch. Want to win my Flip camera? Watch the video below. Note: The dates have been extended on this video, you have plenty of time to enter, don’t worry about it.

I hope you enjoy it!

How To Make Professional Online Videos For $3k Or Less

Ready to start doing online video, but don’t know what equipment you need to buy? I know, I know, the costs can be high. But as I’ve been saying, if you do it right, it will pay off for you down the line.

Don’t believe it yet? We need to look no further than Google’s Universal Search announcement last week to realize that video is a MAJOR part of the future of search.

Recently I was able to purchase some equipment that will enable me to take lots and lots of videos. So I figured I’d show you what I bought here, and why, so you can use this as a benchmark for your future plans. Don’t want to read my full analysis? Just scroll to the bottom for a list of links and a summary.

Jim Kukral’s How To Make Online Video Equipment Toolkit For $3k Or Less

First off, let me talk about what kinds of videos I wanted to make. The goal of this setup is flexibility. I wanted to be able to shoot inside and outside, and in low light and in bright sunlight. I also wanted to be able to get good sound. That being said, here’s what I bought. All through Amazon.com because I needed it fast. (My affiliate link is in every product below).

First Off, The Camera…
The first thing I went to find was the camera. I knew that I needed something better than a home camera, but I knew as well that I wasn’t going to drop $10k on a used betacam. These types of cameras are called “prosumer”. Get it? Professional and consumer mixed together?

Based upon insight from my video gurus I know, I went with a Sony for quality and durability. I ended up choosing the Sony DCR-VX2100 3CCD MiniDV Handycam Camcorder.

This camera has a 5-star rating on Amazon and was reasonably priced at $2,216.29. A few technical details include:

* Digital MiniDV Handycam camcorder with a 58mm aspherical lens and 380,000-pixel CCD
* 12x optical zoom lens (digital zoom to 48x) with Super SteadyShot image stabilizer
* 2.5-inch rotating LCD and color viewfinder
* Manual controls for shutter and exposure, Stamina Power Management, and intelligent accessory shoe
* NP-F330 InfoLithium Rechargeable Battery

A few reviews from Amazon on the Sony camera.

This camera is excellent! I used something very similar as a Videographer at the local TV station. This camera to me is just as nice as the $40,000 DVC Pro camera!! Great quality picture, excellent for Johnny’s Soccer games! Has a built in digital stabilizer for those with shaky hands. Overall the best small camera I have EVER USED!!!

I purchased this camera to use with my previous church’s media ministry, based on my trial use of the VX2000. That was three years ago. This camera is STILL running as well as it did when I bought it. I use it upwards of 3 times a week to create content for web and DVD production, plus, I get great digital audio recordings when I plug directly into my current church’s sound system. The ability to tweak audio and video input on the fly is incredible. Now that I am creating a multimedia team for our church, I’ve convinced the church to buy one for themselves.

My assessment so far? I have to say I’m pleased with the camera. I’ve only shot about an hour of video with it so far, but it’s easy to use and takes excellent quality video. The sound is fantastic, although I would recommend getting a wireless mic too, but not needed.

I was a bit surprised that they didn’t include a few key things with the camera. Those being a Firewire cable that you need to connect to your computer and a Mini DV tape. Both of which I had to go buy on my own at the local Circuit City. The Firewire cable was about $50 for a 6-foot cable, and the Mini DV tapes were about 10 bucks for 4 60-minute tapes.

Note: You can spend another $900 or so and buy the HD version of this camera if you want to. Sony HDR-FX1 3-CCD HDV High Definition Camcorder w/12x Optical Zoom.

Next, The Tripod…

While the camera does have a thing called “steadyshot”, which “steadies” the picture as you’re holding the camera, there is a point in filming when you need to set the camera on something and take shots of yourself, etc… To do that right, you don’t want to put a $2k camera sitting on some table and hope it doesn’t fall off and break.

Instead, you need to get a tripod that is sturdy and can give you enough range in height to shoot at eye-level and lower if need be. I ended up going with the Sony VCT870RM Tripod w/Remote for Sony MiniDV, DVD, HDR-HC5 & HC7 Camcorders.

This tripod is built for this camera and also has a nice remote camera control built into it. It’s priced at $119. I’m very pleased with the quality of this tripod and I feel like my camera is safe and secure when it’s sitting up there. It would take more than a misstep by someone to knock this tripod over. I also like that the tripod goes up and down very easily and gives me the ability to shoot at eye level (I’m 6’2) and can lower down to use to sit on top of someone’s desk too if I wanted.

Lastly, Some Accessories You’ll Need…

Get the Sony LCSVCB Camcorder Carrying Case for most Sony Camcorders and be safe. While this isn’t a hard case, it’s good enough to use to transport your camera around so that you don’t break it. Priced at $139.56.

You don’t “have” to have the following, but I highly recommend them.

Get an extra battery. I got the Sony NPF970 L Series Camcorder Battery for the DCRVX2100, HDRFX1, HDRFX7 & HVRZ1U.

You may also want to get a battery charger that you can plug in that extra battery into while you’re filming with the other battery.
Sony BCV500 Dual Battery Charger for MCVDFD100/200, DCRVX2100 & HDRFX1

Lastly, I recommend you consider getting the external light as well. I found that this light adds a nice level of brightness onto my recording that lets me not have to adjust my levels.
Sony HVL-20DW2 Video Light for use with DCRVX2100, HDRFX1 & FX7

One More Thing? You Need Video Editing Software?…

If so, I highly recommend the Sony Vegas 7 + DVD Production Suite. While it is priced at $400 or so, I do think it’s worth it. The software is easy to use and the extra DVD suite allows you make some pretty neat DVD’s.

If you have a Mac, well, just use Imovie or Final Cut (if you can afford it), you don’t need this software.

Video Toolkit Summary

I hope you enjoyed my guide above. I’ll update it as I can, but I believe that if you use this setup you’ll be able to begin to produce high-quality videos that will get your business more exposure in the coming future of search engine marketing.

Here’s a summary list of the products I’ve recommend above.

1. Sony DCR-VX2100 3CCD MiniDV Handycam Camcorder – $2,216.29

Optional HD Version – Sony HDR-FX1 3-CCD HDV High Definition Camcorder w/12x Optical Zoom.

2. Sony VCT870RM Tripod w/Remote for Sony MiniDV, DVD, HDR-HC5 & HC7 Camcorders – $119

3. Sony LCSVCB Camcorder Carrying Case for most Sony Camcorders – $139.56.

4. Sony NPF970 L Series Camcorder Battery for the DCRVX2100, HDRFX1, HDRFX7 & HVRZ1U – $102.44.

5. Sony BCV500 Dual Battery Charger for MCVDFD100/200, DCRVX2100 & HDRFX1 – $96.99.

6. Sony HVL-20DW2 Video Light for use with DCRVX2100, HDRFX1 & FX7 – $86.17.

7. Sony Vegas 7 + DVD Production Suite – $405.99.

Total: $3,166.44

Ok, I know I said in $3k or less. If you just want to go bare bones, I recommend the camera (of course), the tripod and the case. The rest you can live without.

Digg this story?

Online Video Lighting Tips To Help You Produce High-Quality Online Videos

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.