Nothing replaces quality lighting!

Nothing replaces quality lighting!

During our last article, we discussed the different types of cameras that you can use while recording your videos; previously, we talked about streaming platforms. In this article, we are going to break down the second of three important items you should consider when getting started recording video and going live online.

  1. Camera
  2. Lighting
  3. Microphone
  4. Green screen

Those who know me have heard me say this numerous times: “It is really easy to forget what you had to learn.” When it comes to recording videos or live streaming, understanding proper lighting is the best example of such a quote.  Regardless of the amount of money you spend on a web cam or digital camera, there is no substitute for a video that has been properly illuminated.

Lighting options

Natural light. Not only is this the most cost-effective option, but it also often provides the best video quality. Unfortunately, this amazing resource is only available a portion of the day that seldom aligns with my recording schedule.

Whenever possible, try to position yourself in front of an open window, with the camera pointed the same direction as the sunlight and away from the window. By keeping the brightest light pointed at you, people watching the video will have an easier time seeing your face. The goal is to avoid any bright lights pointed directly at the camera, which would cause it to overcompensate and underexpose you and your surroundings.

LED & RGB lighting. There are many different types of lighting configurations, but here are the two most popular currently:

  • Bi-Color (3000k – 6000k) dimmable LED lighting: 14”– 18” Ring with Light Stand ($39.00 – $99.00)
  • RGB LED lighting with Smartphone application or IR remote control: 12”–18” RGB Ring with Light Stand ($69.00 – $129.00)

Ring lights. Ring lights have quickly become the most popular type of video lighting for vlogger, YouTubers, and TikTok stars. Their shape makes it easy to mount a webcam, cellphone, or camera in the center of the ring to provide even lighting while recording.

Clip-on lights. Many vloggers get started with a small light they clip on to their smartphone. This type of setup does a great job for close-up video, where backlighting is an issue. Unfortunately, this type of setup usually requires the user to be holding the phone and light while recording, which can cause a shaky video.

USB-powered ring lights. As the size of the ring light increases above 6 inches, they often have a USB cable that plugs directly into your computer as the power source. These lights usually come with a collapsible light stand, or a clamp for your desk or monitor. In general, these lights are stationary and have only a couple brightness adjustments to choose from.

Battery-powered ring lights. Most ring lights provide an adjustable brightness and variable color temperature that allow users to fine tune the lighting to their specific needs. They often come with a light stand and a smartphone or camera mount. These ring lights tend to provide a softer light for smaller environments, but may not be powerful enough for larger studios.

LED panels. LED panels bring a high concentration of LED’s in a single panel that provides the brightest, yet hardest light while recording. Like the larger ring lights, these panels provide the same adjustable brightness and variable color temperature settings. They can be powered by rechargeable batteries, or be plugged in for long recording sessions.

Lighting accessories

Soft box. This is probably one of the most important accessories to consider purchasing. Soft boxes help soften the harshness of LED lighting. They help diffuse the light to eliminate shadows caused by bright lights.

Barn doors. Barn doors provide very specific control over your lighting. They make it possible to specifically direct the light by closing the side panels.  Directors will often use barn door lighting to highlight a specific person’s face in order to make it brighter than the surrounding area, or use two of them in a cross.

Flags. Like barn doors, flags are panels that can be mounted to a light stand and used to block or diffuse the lighting. These are often used in bigger productions.

As you can see, there are many different options to choose from when purchasing a lighting for your setup. No matter how much money you spend on a camera, your video will never be as clear as you want it to be without quality lighting. Be sure to check out our next chapter when we discuss the different types of microphones available to make sure your audio rings through loud and clear.