June 8, 2016 \ Geoff Birmingham
Lighting for video

A little while back (3 and 1/2 years, actually!), I mentioned that for folks who are capturing their own video, I’m of the opinion that bad picture won’t ruin a video as readily as bad audio. And, with that in mind, it makes sense to spend a few dollars to purchase a simple microphone.

The videos we produce here at Reflection Films have always fallen into one of two categories: 1) client video or 2) home-grown, Reflection Films marketing videos. The biggest difference between the two is basically that for #1, we use one of our friendly camera guys who have nice cameras and lights. For #2, it’s been me…with my nice microphone.

But at least Reflection Films’ marketing videos sound good! Still, we decided it was time to save ourselves a little headache. The biggest issue was that every time we wanted to film, we were entirely reliant on the whims of the sun. No sun – dark picture. Lots of sun – over-exposed and contrasty.

Emma, with sunshine only. Right cheek is bright. Back room is dark.

Emma, with sunshine only. Right cheek is bright. Back room is dark.

So it became clear that light or two and would make our lives easier. Consulting my friendly camera guys wasn’t much help because they have fancy, expensive stuff. We aren’t in need of really rugged gear. Or lights that calibrate to exact color temperature. Or that need to be left on for long stretches of time.

We just wanted something simple to pull out of our closet, put on a stand, and brighten things up a bit.

So, after doing some online research and talking to the helpful folks over at B&H Photo, I chose a basic Genaray LED light kit. If two lights aren’t needed, just a single one can be purchased too. LED lights are nice because they are real easy to use – flick on the switch and use the dimmer knob to brighten or dim as needed. They also don’t produce heat like some other lights.

Emma, one light. More even, but back room still dark.

Emma, one light. More even, but back room still dark.

There are two main things that people will say about the cheaper lights. First, the lights don’t have great color accuracy. In other words, if you want to mimic daylight, they might not do that perfectly. And second, if you dim them down, they sometimes have the tendency to flicker.

We haven’t noticed either so far with the Generays. So far so good. And besides, we decided that for their price, we’re okay living with any deficiencies they might have.

Long and short, for organizations who, for example, might want to capture some basic testimonials, getting one of these lights can help take things up a notch. Microphone first. Then a light or two.

Emma, two lights. Back room no longer a dark cave.

Emma, two lights. Back room no longer a dark cave.


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