The Ultimative Guide to Get The Best Lighting for Your YouTube Videos

by Karin Schmid | | Category: YouTube Marketing

You want to create a professional YouTube video? But you don’t know how to light your videos and what equipment to use? We will provide you with some tips to get the best lighting for your YouTube videos.

So, let’s get started!

The main reason that many YouTube videos look bad is mainly lighting and not so much the camera. Lighting has a huge effect on the look of the videos and it’s mostly underrated how to light your videos properly – we’re going to look at this in this video.

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Video Transcript

Hello and welcome to the tubics YouTube channel!

I’m Jan Fassbender of “So geht YouTube” and lighting has a huge effect, not only on the quality but also on the feel of your videos.

That’s why we’re going to take a closer look at it today.

Types of Lighting

First of all, let’s look at types of lighting. What can we use to light our videos?

  • Natural light
  • Available light
  • Artificial light

1. Natural Light

Of course, you can use natural lighting for your videos…

Just sit in front of a window, use the sun as your source of lighting. That’s probably the cheapest way to light your videos, but also not that dependable. First of all, the sunlight is not always available. Especially in the wintertime, when it’s getting darker quite early, it will be difficult to get proper lighting for your videos.

lighting youtube videos with natural light

The second reason why natural lighting can be difficult is, that it changes a lot, especially if there are clouds in front of the sun. It can get really bright and really dark during just a couple of minutes and also you cannot change the sun. You cannot change the direction, you cannot change how bright the sun is. It will always be this one constant thing, that you just need to work with.

2. Available Light

One broader way to look at the natural light is if you look at the available light. That’s a term we use a lot in filmmaking, which means not only like the sun, which is natural light, but also just the regular lamps you have at your ceiling. Those are a little bit more dependable. You can turn them on if it gets dark, but they might not work properly for videos.

youtube lighting with available light

3. Artificial Light

So if we look at actual artificial lighting for videos, it is pretty much necessary to use special lamps for video production. If you use actual lights for videos, your videos will look way better.

First of all, they’re probably brighter. So if you use brighter lights, your camera doesn’t need to brighten up the image afterward, which always causes noise in your videos.

using artifical light for youtube videos

The second reason, regular lights can cause weird effects in the videos when their frequency doesn’t match the frequency that the camera has. And the third reason, you just have more flexibility. You can put them wherever you want, you can have the image look exactly like you want to. How to do that, we’ll discuss it later in this video, but you just have more flexibility. It comes at the cost of – first of all… costs. Video lamps just cost more than regular lamps and of course more than the sun. And you will need special lamps, you can’t just use any. But it gives you huge advantages in how your video will look afterward.

So if you’re looking at making professional videos for YouTube, definitely look into proper lighting.

The Different Temperatures of Light

One important thing, especially when mixing natural and artificial lighting, is, that light has different temperatures. If, for example, we use sunlight, it has a temperature of roughly 5600 Kelvin – that’s the unit we measure the temperature of light in – so that’s daylight.

If we just look at a regular lamp that you might have on your ceiling, it usually has a temperature around 3200 Kelvin. Those 3200 Kelvin will look very yellow compared to the blue light of the sun. So if you mix those two, you might get different lighting temperatures in one image. So it’s always easier to use lamps, that have a light temperature of daylight when you combine it with actual daylight. And also if you’re just using artificial light you want to look at getting lamps at the same temperature.

Make Sure You Buy the Right Lights

When you’re looking at buying lights for your videos, you will encounter different types of those:

  • Classic spotlights
  • Softboxes
  • LED lights

1. Classic Spotlights

First of all, there are the classic spotlights – you definitely know those. Those are the standard way to light from TV, for film, for videos, for theater productions even. So those are the classic way, but they drain a lot of energy – that’s the first thing… and they always have a really hard shadow. If that’s what you want, that’s great.

spotlights for youtube lighting

2. Softboxes

But… if you want a softer look to your videos, a softer shadow or no shadow at all, you probably want to look at softboxes. The light of softboxes is like their name suggests… way softer. They have kind of a cloth in front of them, which makes your shadows and also your overall image just appear softer.

lighting youtube videos with softboxes

3. LED Lights

And then there are LED lights, especially LED panels. Those might come in way smaller sizes and they are quite good, especially for traveling and they might have batteries, so you can use them everywhere. Also, they drain way less power, than those big lamps and they don’t get as hot.

youtube lighting with led panels

Okay… so now we’ve looked at a lot of different types of lighting.

How to Light a Scene

So let’s assume we have got our lights, how do we actually light a scene?

For this very standard way of lighting a person you use three lights:

  1. one main light
  2. one fill light
  3. and one hair light, that comes from the back.
3 point lighting setup for youtube videos

One important thing that I do not want to leave out is, that with lighting there always comes shadow. You cannot light something without causing shadows, so you need to be aware of this. There are of course more visible and less visible shadows like we talked about with the softboxes, which have a shadow that’s often so soft you don’t even really see it.

It’s very easy to hide the shadow if you don’t want it in the background. But if you have a harder light source, it helps you to use the three-point lighting, because if one source of light comes from one direction, the other one comes from the other direction. The shadows might be out of the image at the sides. So you don’t actually see it if you don’t want to have a clearly visible shadow in the background.

1. Main Light

The first type of light that you use in three-point lighting is your key light or your main light. We turn out all of the other lights and are just using this one light. So you see the effect, you just have the light on one side of your face, the other one is quite dark.

Your key light will be the main source of light that the viewer will see in the end. So it kind of is the main direction of the light. Always be sure to have this side of your face turned into the camera so that there is more space on this side than this side. Otherwise, it will look kind of weird.

2. Fill Light

Now we’ve turned on our second light: the fill light.

It’s used to fill in the dark of the other side of the face because it looks kind of harsh if you just have one side lit. You want to be evenly and properly lit, but still, have more light on your kind of the main side of your face – and less on the other side.

You can use this to light to add more or less contrast to your face if you put it further away or make it darker. Your face will have more contrast if you move it closer and have it pretty much be as bright as the other light you will get less contrast.

3. Hair Light

Now we’ve added a third light clearly visible for you.

youtube lighting with hair light

So you can see what it does: it lights up the outer edge of my face and that’s called a hair light because it lights up your hair. And that makes you stand out a little bit better, especially if you have a crowded background. That can help to make you pop out of the video just a little bit better.

We can also use this third light to light up our background if we – for example – put a light right behind me… like this and turn it on, we have a brighter background. That’s also how we can use this light, or to make the background more interesting by putting the background light on one side.

youtube lighting with led light behind the back

You can, for example, make one side brighter and the other one darker. Or add other types of details to your background. If you want to get an idea on which exact lights you might want to use, we’ve added a suggestion into the video description, as well as the lights we are using right now.

Executive Summary

Okay, so let’s quickly sum up what we’ve learned in this video as usual in our executive summary:

  • First of all, you probably want to use artificial lighting for your videos, even if it comes with higher costs. It is clearly worth it and will have huge effects on how your
    videos look.
  • The second thing we’ve learned is to use three-point lighting. If you’re lighting a person at least use a main and a key light to properly light the person.
  • And third: when you’re lighting always be aware that you’re causing shadows and be mindful of where you want to have the shadows.

Okay… So that’s it for this video.

If you liked the video consider subscribing to the channel because there will be way more interesting topics like this one on this channel… and as usual, see you in the next video!!

That’s it for now.

Goodbye! Yours Jan.

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