Fact 1: Getting the right camera will fix your video
Fact 2: Getting the right lighting will fix your video
Again, so many people buy these lighting packages hoping to solve their problems. This is where things get really weird.
I can’t post some of these videos I’ve seen, because I’m a nice guy. But Damn! How can you publish a video that makes you look like your skin is glowing with some crazy inner light?! And green?! Especially if you’re calling yourself an expert on video.
The truth is, lighting is useless if you don’t know how to use it.
Fixing your lighting problems is easy with just a little know-how. You don’t even have to buy a lot of gear. Here’s what you need to know.
Even lighting is better
Don’t create a situation where one part of your shot is really bright and another is mostly dark. Unless you’re creating a ‘look’ this is just bad.
This picture shows the subject exposed somewhat correctly, but the window is completely blown out. Classic uneven lighting. There is no fix for video shot like this. Make sure to get your lighting evened out for the whole frame.
Balanced lighting is essential
By balanced lighting, I mean lighting that matches in color temperature. You’ve seen the LED lighting craze if you’ve bought lights for your home recently. LED lights are getting better, mostly because they are paying attention to color temperature.
Here is the nicest shot I could find for you to see what color temperature does. The left side of the subject’s face has a nice warm glow. Probably too warm. The right side of his face has a blue cast to it. Maybe that’s the look he was going for. Unless you’re trying to make this look happen, you probably want to think about balancing your color temperature.
If you mix incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs, with daylight, there is nothing you can do to make it look good. Just make sure your lighting is consistent and you’ll be fine.
Daylight is free and best
The easiest solution for most people is daylight. It looks natural and is almost impossible to mess up. Caveats: Daylight changes throughout the day. It changes if it’s cloudy and the sun goes behind clouds while you’re shooting.
Some days it’s just not bright enough. If you film at night, daylight will never be bright enough (sorry, I had to say that).
Fact 3, your software won’t fix your video problems with facts 1 and 2
Instagram has really spoiled us with filters. I see lots of people who shoot bad video and then apply a filter over it, hoping it will fix their mistakes. Unless you’re a professional colorist, this is almost always a mistake.
Unless you’re a professional colorist, this is almost always a mistake. Often, this just makes the problem worse than it was without the filter.
There’s no substitute for getting the shot right from the beginning. Trust me, I’ve tried. There’s nothing like editing a video where the color balance is off. You can see it isn’t right, but nothing you do can fix it.
This is going to sound trite, but… just take a little time to know how to use your gear. Here is what I’ve learned. Spend an hour or two learning how to white balance your camera. Experiment with using the right light bulbs. This will save you hours of frustration trying to fix those problems after you record your video.
There really is no substitute for know-how.
If you want to get your video right and need help, sign up for my video crash course. It’s in beta right now, but you can be the first to know about it when it becomes available soon.