Making Your Videos Look the Part (Part 3)

Welcome back to the final part in our series looking at simple techniques you can use to improve the quality of your marketing videos.

So far we’ve looked at the importance of planning and the use of framing to help give your videos an edge. This week it’s time to add the finishing touches, by looking at how lighting can be used effectively to create a professional finish.


Natural Lighting

This might sound obvious but natural lighting often impacts more videos than any other type. It’s free to use, which means you don’t have to factor in additional costs, however it’s the hardest to control which is why it’s potential is often overlooked. Natural lighting has a unique set of tonal characteristics that are hard to match with studio lighting or in post-production and it often brings out colours and hues that can really enhance a video.

Some simple techniques to make the most of natural light available to you are;

Plan ahead to make sure you’re filming at the time of day which produces the best lighting for your given filming location. If it’s a location you are intimately familiar with then this will be straightforwards. If you are travelling offsite to a location, try and take the time to visit location beforehand to check it’s characteristics.

Use bounce boards, or a simple alternative such as a sheet of white material or a large sheet of paper, to reflect natural light so that harsh shadows aren’t created due to the unidirectional nature of sunlight. This technique is also referred to as…

Fill Lighting

Fill lighting is the use of a secondary subtle light source (such as reflected light or a low output light) to reduce the appearance of harsh shadows created from a single light source, commonly referred to as ‘key’ light.

Key lighting with harsh shadows

Key lighting with harsh shadows

Fill lighting used to reduce shadows

Fill lighting used to reduce shadows

In the example above you can see the subtle, but noticeable difference between key and fill lighting. Notice how on the left hand image, her face is in shadow, particularly around the cheekbone and back towards the hairline. On the right hand image we’ve introduced a secondary subtle light source which helps to reduce the shadows and give a more even tone across her face.

Three Point Lighting

This is probably the most difficult of the techniques I’ll discuss today in terms of having the equipment, but if you can do it, it will likely produce the best results. Three point lighting very simply means lighting the subject from three angles; the key light, the fill light and the backlight.

The merits of the key light and fill light have already been discussed, but the benefit of backlighting is that it can separate the subject from the background giving added depth to your videos.

Image courtesy  PJ Pantelis

Image courtesy PJ Pantelis

In the example above you can see how the addition of the backlight in the middle frame helps to pull the subject forwards and stops them being lost in the background. Again an additional fill light is used in the third frame to help reduce the harsh shadows under the jawline.

Whilst the examples I’ve shown are studio based and use camera lights, you can easily apply these principles using natural and ambient light available to you. Office lighting can serve as a primary source, a window can provide a secondary source and any surface that reflects light can provide a subtle fill light.

This concludes our series looking into simple techniques to improve the quality of your marketing videos. Until next week…

Nicholas Langdon