Lighting tools for your dream video
Last week, in my live video I talked a lot about light. As this course is designed to be interactive, I take inspiration in the information that I focus on from what I see that are your needs. As an example, I have not yet discussed the technicalities of what lights to buy because I wanted to get a clearer picture of what your overall needs actually are. The whole purpose of this course is to reduce unnecessary buying and going straight for the tools that will benefit you the most. I am now ready to recommend the products that I think will work great in your setup. The following recommendations have been thought out to cover the following:
the type of rooms they will be used in
the type of light they offer
portability / space they occupy
durability / ability to be recycled when the time comes
The common thread in this group seems to be that we are working from home, our rooms are not very large and we need flexibility in our setup, as in, we need to be able to transform the functionality of the space according to the different tasks that we need to perform in it. We also want to be able to take some of the tools with us in case we want to go away for a holiday.
If in dedicated studios medium to large it might be more practical to invest in a light stand with a diffuser - the umbrella type light, the sheer size of them makes them a pain to fold away and store in a moment's notice.
So let's break down our needs by setting:
Headshot or Bust - videos done in your virtual office
These are videos where you are usually seated, either at a desk, couch or some other place in your room. The camera is close to you and you do not plan on being very active.
In this scenario, you could invest in a ring light or an LED lighting lamp. There are pros and cons for each choice.
Ring lights are cheap, come with 3 shades of light and a dimmer function and are easy to use. They give the "light ring" look in your eyes. This feature can be both a pro and a con, depending on which effect you are looking for. They are not very durable though and could easily break during transportation. They are only plug powered. The price however is very affordable, going for £19 as a simple light with a small stand.
Personally, I use a ring light as my budget when I bought it was not the highest. It does its job, but when travelling I had to pack it away very carefully. I am down to my second one now, because my first one broke while travelling, and being in Romania it was the easiest purchase option. I always place it a little on the side of my face, as I am not a big fan of the light-ring look. However I am very pleased with the results I am getting from it. The light is soft and compliments my features, plus I love the versatility in colour tones.
Temperature adjustable LED lights - these lights have only 2 colour adjustment settings but they do come with a dimmer function. They work both with batteries as well as with a plug socket. They are very easy to pack away and travel with and the design is sturdier. As a pro or con, depending on your preferences, they do not give off the ring-light look in your eyes.
This light is more expensive though, going for £44 the light alone and selling for around £80 as a whole kit, with two batteries, battery charger and power adaptor. Of course, cheaper versions of this same light can be found as well, but they might not be as durable. When I decide to upgrade my lighting kit, these will definitely be my go-to choice.
Full Body Videos - Yoga, Dance, etc
As I mentioned above, one of the most used lighting solutions for a standing video are the "umbrella" lights or softbox lights.
While these lights are great in a professional setting for those specialised in video content. They are great for bigger spaces, like a big Yoga room, a big kitchen, filming outdoors, or a dedicated filming studio. They are also really good if we are trying to film with our backs at a window. However, for most of us they can be a bit cumbersome with the amount of space they occupy. After all, we are mainly looking at enhancing our videos so that we and our clients feel more comfortable in it, and we are not really looking to work as video specialists. As they use lightbulbs they also tend to give off heat and depending on the time of year it might make it more difficult to film.
Personally, I would only invest in these kind of lights if I was looking at creating consistent video content for example, yoga videos or other type of physical training, cooking tutorials or other such types of videos, and I wanted that crisp "professional youtuber" look.
I actually think that there is so much more that we can achieve by playing around with the lights that we already have around the house and with the decorations we have at our disposal. In my view, having the feeling of cosines in my own space, a place that I can setup easily and forget about it, so that I can focus on my message, is what I prefer in a space.
This is why I personally would much prefer having an LED-type lighting. Most LED lights come with a variation of colour grades and adjustable brightness. They also come with stands and can be used both in an office and a medium room.
Some options also come with batteries so you will not always be depending on a power-socket, giving you a lot more variation and versatility. These lights range in price from £40 to £90 and come in a bundle of two.
Of course, there is also the option of a large ring-light, for which I have discussed the pros and cons above. The bigger version will be more expensive than the small one, ranging from £50 to £100 for a single light.
Upon writing this article I am realising that I come accross as more inclined for some options than the others, so please bear in mind that these recommendations come from a personal preference due to my personal experience with such items. I therefore encourage you to always choose what is right for you and look into all the options that are attractive.
As I closing note, I wish to remind you that
The best light is always the natural light. Not only it lights the best but it is also free both in money and planet resources.
2. Before investing in a new type of light, please play around with the resources that you already have at your disposal, the lights, lamps and other lighting equipment you no doubt have laying around the house. In this picture you can see how I've used a desk lamp, by covering it with a piece of paper to soften the light coming from it. In some cases this could easily replace a ring light or another fancier light, with the added benefit of not being a strain on the environment.
My view is that wherever possible simplicity is key. So embrace the option that feels better and and easier for you, allowing you to simplify your work.
And remember: the most important thing in all of this is You and Your Message. Never let not having the greatest equipment stop you from sharing your message. All of the above are just the beautiful package of your bright, valuable service. Your clients ultimately follow you for the transformation you are offering them, not for how brightly lit your face is. What we are doing here is only bringing an extra level of professionalism and beauty to what already is a very valuable service.