Guys, good-lookin’ vlogs are so important these days.
As we work hard to teach you all the basics of vlogging, we think it’s time to address a key subject: Lighting. A well-lit video will make all the difference for whether or not people stick around on your videos; or even come back for more.
There’s really only so much we can teach you about lighting on the cheap; so as we go along here, be prepared to invest a little in making your videos look the best they possibly can…
What difference does lighting make?
Lots. That’s the short answer; but really, there is a lot in the quality of your video editing that can depend on how well-lit the original recording is. Things like colour correction, resizing and even use of green screen can be a lot harder if the original recording is too dark and grainy.
Take, for example, Hank Green. Here’s a side-by-side of Hank’s first Vlogbrothers video from 2007, next to a much more recent one.
The difference is crazy, right? Not just in the ten years’ of age difference (sidenote: glo-up much?), but in how much more visually appealing the right-hand screenshot is, thanks to a more professional lighting set-up.
So how do you get better lighting?
For a beginner, there are two realistic options: One is free, one isn’t.
FREE: Get really good at natural light
Daylight is actually a nice primer for videos; but it can be fickle. The sun can go higher, or lower, or behind a cloud, all while you’re filming; and a good camera will notice.
If you plan on using a lot of natural light, then plan ahead:
- Find a room with lots of big windows.
- If you can’t, then make sure you film directly in front of a smaller window, so the lighting is focused on your face.
- Make sure nightfall isn’t going to happen when you’re filming; nobody likes to see a video get gloomy towards the end.
- Don’t be afraid to film outside! But if you do, avoid windy days; they’ll wreck your sound.
NOT FREE: Buy and use a softbox lighting kit.
Softboxes are basically a staple in every vlogger’s gear. Usually sold in pairs, they are fairly easily to assemble, balance each other out nicely, and make you feel just a bit more professional for having them. Plus, they’re pretty affordable; sets of two are sold for as little as £50 on Amazon.
When using softboxes, there are a couple of things to try out:
- Play around with angles. They don’t have to point directly at your face (you would get tired of this quickly, they’re v bright), but try them in different positions and see how you like the result.
- Watch out for reflections! Softboxes can be very obvious – and distracting – if they reflect in things in the background like mirrors, windows, and if you wear glasses, lenses. Try and point them in a way that makes the big white reflection less obvious.
- Just… be careful. If you set up a softbox to stand tall, they can tip over easily enough if you trip on a cable, and then it’s usually bye-bye lightbulb. The bulbs aren’t the cheap part of the light either, so always be careful when setting up and moving around.
That’s all for now!
Lighting is generally a no-brainer; but it helps to get some guidance on how to make your videos look the best they can in the simplest way. There are more advanced techniques that people use, like ring lights and 3-point lighting; but usually as it becomes more complicated, so does the budget behind it. So we’ll save all that for Vlogging 102…