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Video Taping Contrasts

July 15, 2010

When taking pictures or shooting video there is one singular important thing that cannot be overlooked. It doesn’t necessarily hinge on your equipment or your subject; it’s lighting! Not lightning (though that could add something) it is lighting.  It can make or break your project. Even Video Cameras that can shoot in low lux need lighting unless you want to shoot your video in “Night Scope” Green. Ugh. Now what does my last two video shoots have to do with lighting?Didn’t you read what I just wrote? Lighting is everything! What is so interesting about my last two shoots was the fact that the lighting conditions were completely opposite and I realized *after* it was all over what I could have done better.

  1. Wedding… Outdoors… in Summer…
  2. Interview… Indoors… in a Dark Room…

1. Having sufficient lighting is important, but having TOO much lighting is a killer, especially too much lighting that you can’t control. A wedding on a bright sunny day in July.  There are people out there better at outdoor lighting than myself but even they just can’t put up diffusers and additional lighting in a wedding and get in the way of the bride and groom.  UV filters can help but glare will disturb your shot. Aunt Bessy’s silver hat reflecting light into your lens will destroy the moment. And since the videographer never knows where things are going to happen (who ever invites the camera guy to the rehearsal dinner???) he has to pick his spots during the wedding. Now I got to the site early and mapped out what I was going to do and even then nothing happened quite like I expected it. Of course that is the fun of a wedding, right? Right??

2. Then there is the flip side: Not enough light. Just having a lighting kit is one thing, knowing how to use it is just as important. Working in a small space with 2 cameras and lights is cramped and hot but the ONLY way to get a good video. Not enough light is not something you can easily fix in post production. Well I can’t do it yet! Using Sony Vegas I added Gain and Saturation to my video to increase the white level and color but that introduced a lot of graininess; more than I would have liked. It also introduced problems when I applied a Zoom through Vegas and the software had to compensate for a lack of lighting at some points.

How to solve these problems?

A – I need to get more training/information/knowledge about lighting. It is one thing to know how to affecting lighting when you have equipment at your disposal but it is another thing to know what to do when you cannot manipulate the main source of light. What do you have to do then to get the shot and exposure you wanted? What about setting a particular mood? What do you need to do to achieve the look you want?

B – Equipment. While I don’t intend to do a tremendous amount of interview videos it is still a good source of income. If I am going to do it it should be done right and that means investing in a good lighting kit. Videomaker.com had a recent article on a DIY lighting kit that I used with some success but I still need diffusers and gels. I may have to get those online because I cannot find a local store that caries the equipment I need. If anyone has a line on a store in Montgomery Country, MD please let me know.

I wish I could get more in-depth with proper lighting techniques but that type of information can fill a library wing. As I learn more I will be more than happy to share it with you.

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