Use 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.
Simple lighting techniques can set the mood and tell your story effectively. Learn how to use them to your advantage.
Let it glow
Good lighting encompasses much more than just whether or not the viewer is able to see your subject. How you choose to use lights helps to create the mood and feel of your videos. Do you want your audience to be excited or scared? Do you want them to laugh or cry? Comedic videos are often very brightly lit, whereas more dramatic stories often use strong visual contrast. Different kinds of lights, with varying angles and intensity, can give audiences tonal cues. For example, front lighting creates fewer shadows and is less dramatic than contrast-rich side lighting or back lighting. Why not pick the right kind of lighting strategy for the style of video you want to make?
- Light a scene (Video in English)
- Cinematography community
- Lighting information resources (Resource in English)
- Assess your lighting, sound and image quality
See it in action
Michelle Phan uses basic lightingThis video has basic lighting: the light is soft but bright, and Michelle Phan's face is shadowless. You can achieve this effect by placing one or two soft white light sources (a soft box kit works well here) next to the camera as the main light source, and another to light the background. (Video in English)
A sci-fi web series trailer has cool and dramatic lightingThis web series is set in a frozen sci-fi world. The creators establish the feeling by using blue filters to make each outside scene feel cold, and by using strong contrast, which signals that this is going to be a very dramatic show. High-contrast lighting can be achieved by placing a light on one side of the subject, and cool colors can be achieved with fluorescent bulbs and blue gels. (Video in English)
Lighting helps create the world of your storyThis series uses lighting to establish two distinct worlds: fantasy vs. reality. In the fantastic scene, the lighting feels hyperreal, with characters brightly accented against a dull exterior backdrop. The “reality” scenes are naturally lit with traditional lighting techniques. (Video in English)
Light it up
Some of the most engaging videos use a simple lighting setup. First, decide whether to shoot inside, outside or both. 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 practical lights are good if you have limited resources or want to give your video a simple and informal vibe. A lighting kit may give your video a more polished and formal feeling. You can use lighting to help set the mood. Keep in mind that lighting sources don’t need to be complicated or expensive.
Pique interest simply
Unique lighting can help you tell your story in a more powerful way. A few easy tools can create intriguing moods and change the whole feel of the scene.
One technique is diffusion, or when you decrease the light intensity. You can try this out by covering a light with a simple material, like a white sheet or diffusion paper, to soften it. Or try blocking part of the light with a shade or cover. Diffused lighting makes your subjects look a bit friendlier. A bounce card has the opposite effect and can give your subjects a highlighted glow. Simply use a white card, a sheet of paper, or reflective material to increase the light on a subject. To create other moods, you might consider using colored gels placed over the light source to cast different colors on your subject.
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.