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How to Simplify Video Production Part 2

foggy river

LIGHTING 101:
Light comes in two basic categories:

  1. Diffused
  2. Direct

Direct light is what you have on a sunny day.
Diffused light is what you get on a cloudy day. The clouds act as a diffusion filter. In this beautiful sunrise picture, the fog is acting as a diffusion filter.

Think back to elementary school science. Light rays do not bend. If you point a flashlight, the light won’t bend around the corner of the building, you’d have to move the flashlight to see the side of the building.

  • Direct light (sunny day) creates deep, harsh shadows that have distinct edges.
  • Diffused light, (cloudy day) can be very bright but completely shadow less.

Generally speaking, diffused light is best for simple video production.

Here are two examples of direct and diffused lighting.

cat picture dramatic lightingAmber the kitty looks dramatic in relatively harsh, direct light supplied by a standard 40 watt bulb, which you can see in the shot.  Notice how the shadows are deep and well defined.  butterfly in soft light

This butterfly shot has virtually no shadows. It was taken on a fully overcast day.

The easiest way to transform a direct light into a diffused one is by bouncing it off the ceiling or wall. Do this by simply placing the light near the wall (or ceiling) and pointing it toward the wall, not your subject.

The light bounces off the wall and is diffused nicely. (Don’t get it too close though, I once burned a guy’s wallpaper because a 500 watt tungsten lamp gets awfully hot. Oops.)

Bouncing a light is the quick, cheap, no hassle way to do it. However, if you want to spend money and achieve better effects, professional photographic lighting uses tools like soft boxes, umbrellas, cloths and filters to produce diffused light.

A professional light kit with one umbrella, a soft boxes and two barn door. Umbrellas provides moderate diffusion and the soft boxes give extreme diffusion. Barn doors are used to point and shape the light beam.

light kit for video productionThe only drawback to diffusing your light is that as you diffuse, you lose intensity. Diffusion is so desired though most people accept that trade-off. Have you ever wondered why they bother to paint the inside of most light bulbs white? The answer is that the white paint diffuses the light and makes it more pleasing to the eye. On top of that, people usually add a lamp shade for even more diffusion.

Quality lighting is key to quality video production. That doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult.

I hope Video Production Tips helps you make great videos!

Lorraine Grula, Internet Video Gal

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Lorraine Grula


Lorraine Grula enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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  1. Hi Kitchen canisters
    Compact Florescent light bulbs are really nice, I like them a lot. I use them myself. The bulbs stay so cool that I have used regular printer paper as a diffusion filter. You can not do that with an incandescent bulb.
    Lorraine

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