Using lighting effectively
Use lighting to engage your fans and make your videos look great. Effective lighting can capture our attention, tell a good story, and create a mood. A combination of natural light, a light kit, and a good eye can help your audience see your videos the way you want them to. When you think about lighting, consider how you want your audience to feel when they watch your video.
Find out why lighting is important for your videos. See which lighting setups and techniques can help enhance your story.
Why lighting matters
Good lighting encompasses much more than whether or not the viewer sees your subject. Lighting can help create the mood and look of your videos. Ask yourself:
- How do you want the audience to feel? Different kinds of lights, with varying styles and intensity, can give audiences tonal cues. Think about how your lighting helps convey the mood that matches your message.
- Where do you want viewers to look? Contrast in lighting can naturally draw viewers’ eyes. For example, high contrast can make people or objects stand out. (Note: you also can adjust the contrast in editing.)
Before you shoot your next video, define the mood you wish to convey and evaluate what lighting conditions can contribute to that mood.
- Front lighting creates fewer shadows and is less dramatic than side or back lighting.
Common lighting setups
Some of the most engaging videos use a simple lighting setup or natural light. If you’re inside, you can use practical lights like a lamp, a simple lighting kit, or natural light from a window.
Natural light or lamps are good if you have limited resources. A lighting kit may give your video a more polished feeling. Keep in mind that lighting sources don’t need to be complicated or expensive.
A classic setup is “three point” lighting, which combines these light sources:
- Key light: the main light, usually placed off to one side of the camera.
- Fill light: a diffused light that serves to fill in the shadows.
- Back light: a light that separates the subject from the background.
Once you’ve determined your lighting setup, you can add more components to achieve the intended effects. For example, some creators use a “soft box”, which is an attachment for a light fixture that diffuses the light and makes the source larger.
Beauty vloggers often use a “ring light” because it provides uniform light from the camera’s point of view. This delivers a soft glow along the edges of the face, which tends to be flattering. (Check out how these creators make their own ring light.)
Simple lighting techniques
A few easy tools can create intriguing moods and change the whole feel of the scene. Experiment with decreasing or increasing the light intensity:
- Shine the light through a white diffusion sheet, or obscure part of the light with a shade. Diffused lighting provides a softer look for your subjects. Just never put materials too close to a hot light to avoid a fire hazard.
- Use a bounce card to give your subjects a highlighted glow or even out the quality of light.
- Intensify your backlight to put a glowing “edge” on your onscreen talent, for a professional look.
Don’t forget: when working with lighting equipment, take the time to read the instructions and prepare a safe environment.
Finally, the sun can be a great (and free) source of light. The best sunlight typically happens during the early morning and late afternoon, so avoid shooting between 11am and 3pm as sometimes the overhead sunlight can produce an unflattering effect.
Have your lighting choices made your videos feel more impactful?Try it now
Compare videos where you’ve implemented lighting design to those where you didn’t consider the lighting. Check your Views reports and compare your videos. Are more people watching the videos with improved lighting? Check out your Audience retention report to see if they’re watching longer.
Have you had less work in post-production since refining your lighting strategy?
Time yourself to see if your post-production workflow is faster since you’re spending a bit more time up front on your lighting setup.