Lighting for YouTube Videos – Ultimate Guide

With the rapid technological advancements in recent advancements, today you can create the most professional looking video without needing to have any training or qualification.

Add to this the fact that the large number of people who own a digital camera, which was estimated at 111.37 million in Spring 2017 in the US alone.

DSLR cameras are a rage among the youth almost everywhere in the world, which explains the global sales of DSLR camera totaling a whopping 10.8 million units between 2011 and 2015.

Other than their ability to take amazing stills, DSLR cameras have also become a prominent choice in making YouTube videos.

Many YouTubers who start making videos on a budget usually start with their webcam and smartphone but dream of eventually upgrading to an inexpensive camcorder and then ultimately a DSLR.

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Lighting is Key

Regardless of how great your camera is, your video will never be as great as it can be unless the lighting is just right. This is what usually separates the amateurs from the pros.

If you have good lighting, no matter how inexpensive the camera or smartphone you use might be, your videos will be of better quality, even capable of competing with videos produced using mirrorless cameras and even high-end DSLRs.

And, a key form of lighting that can help you create amazing videos is three-point lighting.

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3 Point Lighting for YouTube Videos

3 Point Lighting for YouTube Videos

This is the most standard and oldest method of lighting across any medium, regardless of the light source being used. This method uses an old formula:

  1. Key Light – Key Light is the main light in the scene. It will always be the biggest and brightest light source.
  2. Fill Light – Usually a less bright source, fill light is used to fill in the shadows. It is placed on the opposite side of the key light for this purpose.
  3. Hair Light – Commonly used to light the hair, hair light is also known as Rim Light or Back Light and is placed behind the actor in the scene. The aim is to separate the YouTuber from the background by creating a halo of light around the back of their head and shoulders.

Image credit – Frameforest

4 Steps to Set Up Three-Point Lighting Properly

  1. Start with All the Lights Off: When you are starting with the lighting, try to use as little as ambient light as possible to see where to place all three lights and turn on each one in an order.
  2. Start with the Key Light: Use a key light that can be adjusted for its brightness. For proper lightning, try to place the key light at a 30-degree angle, either to the left or the right of the subject.
  3. Add Fill Light: The fill light is kept opposite to key light and is almost half in intensity to the key light. It should be placed in front of the actor, at their face level. This will help take care of any shadows that might fall on the face.
  4. Turn on the Back Light: When placing the back light behind the subject, make sure that you angle it down from a high position. This will allow you to get a sharp outline to make the edges of the actor look prominent.

With 3-point lighting, you not only highlight the main subject of the video, you distinguish it from the background, creating a key focus for the viewer.

This is the first step in creating a high-quality, professional video with the potential to go viral on YouTube.

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Mani Karthik

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Mani Karthik

Startup Mentor, Tech Blogger & Entrepreneur.

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