How do I Light for Video? – Learn Stage Lighting .com

How do I Light for Video?

I recently had a conversation with a coworker who had just returned from a 4-day conference gig run by some sort of church organization.

He, a video guy, mentioned that he wished we had provided the lighting too- apparently it made his job tough since the lighting was sub-par.

But as I know, and you may also know, good lighting isn’t as much about buying the right gear as it is setting it up properly.

I know that I can create a good wash of light with a bunch of fixtures as long as they are the same type of fixture.

So how do you light for video?  What things are important to the camera?Moving Lights

“Good lighting is based off of a good wash”

The first thing that I want you to understand is that good lighting is based off of a good wash.

Years ago, a mentor mentioned that to me when I started getting all crazy and wanting lights to change color, chase and move like crazy.

He told me “Take a step back and go watch some shows you work at.  See if there’s a good wash first, before all of the eye candy.”

So I did.  And I saw.

Even when not shooting video, having a great wash in place makes your lighting rock.

It is especially important for video, because people and objects will completely disappear if you don’t light them.  The camera’s iris can’t quickly adjust between different light levels and it doesn’t look good when it does.

A good even wash has all fixtures with the same lensing, and from the approximate same distance, at a proper angle.

You also need to cover everything you want to see on camera.  This includes set pieces, walls, stairs and the house.  If you’re going to point a camera at it, make sure that you light it.

Now, with that said, if it’s not a person singing, you don’t have to light it in white- a color looks great for set pieces, walls, and parts of stage where nobody is standing.

You also want to make sure that you are (mostly) not pointing lights directly at the cameras- unless necessary.  The video team can move the camera if needed, but your lighting angles really can’t be moved a ton.

Color Temperature and Technicalities

The other thing you need to consider is color temperature.  This is something you run into when you are dimming lights.

It is important that you use the proper lamps for the brightness you need based on the distance you are throwing light.  If you have to dim a light down below 70%, you want to look into a lower-wattage lamp.

This is because of color temperature, or the color of white that your lights are putting out.  As you dim lighting, the color temperature goes down and gets more orange in tint.

Your eyes can adjust to this okay, but the camera will not pleasingly display that light on someone’s flesh.  One tool that may help you with color temperature and light level overall is a light meter.

This is not essential unless you are really serious and/or have a TV broadcast, but it is a nice tool to help you get your lighting perfectly even.

Unlike my coworker who had to deal with bad lighting for his video production, you don’t have to.  With some basic tweaks to the lighting you already have, you can really get a lot better lighting out of your lighting system- improving the look for both the eyes of your congregation and the eye of your camera.


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