Monthly Archives: February 2017

Simple Lighting Techniques When Making a Video

So you’re making a video for the first time. Your first thought may be – where’s the script? And then – how much money is this going to cost? Can dry ice and glitter be involved? At some point, you will need to think about lighting. How do you get that picture-perfect, cinematic quality in the final cut?

The good news is that you don’t have to hire an entire production crew to master professional lighting. Here are three techniques to reduce harsh shadows, disperse light across your subjects, change temperatures or moods, and ensure your video looks and feels like it came straight from Hollywood (or close to it).

1.) Move

Okay – time for set up. You have the lights, but where do you put them? The most basic formula to light your scene is the 3-point system: key, fill, and back. The highest-powered light, key light, should be placed in front of the main subject of your scene. Position another light source to the side of the subject, usually in a lower position to balance shadows and harsh contrasts. Another light is placed behind the subject to separate from the background and to create highlights. Now move the lights until the scene illuminates that perfect shot. You can rent lighting kits that range in various prices, but ARRI Kits are favored for their durability and simplicity. They rent for $100-$125 per day.

2.) Diffuse

Cast, props and crew are in place. But you notice shadows casted across one of the actor’s face. And you are not necessarily going for that Maltese Falcon kind of tone. The best way to soften light and spread it over the entire scene is to use diffusion methods.

Three essential gear choices to correct your scene are 6×6′ Silks, Diffusion Gel, or Softboxes.

Diffusion gel is the most versatile tool because it’s disposable and easy to pack, especially for location shooting. They can be placed just about anywhere with a few C-47s. Clip onto your light’s barn doors and this heat-resistant material will soften extreme spotlights. Gels comes in ¼, ½, and full diffusion varieties for less or greater amounts of softening. You can buy one sheet for $5 or an entire roll for $100.

Silks are used to diffuse harsh, direct sunlight when shooting outdoors or can be placed in front of tungsten lamps and HMIs. The benefits to silk frames? They are easy to set up and move around set, you can reuse them for the next shoot (go green!) and they are available in multiple sizes. This is key if you want to have consistent lighting across a wide shot. You can rent 6×6′ silk sets for $50/day and 24×36″ or 18×24″ flag sets for $25/day.

If you have more money to spend on production, a Softbox, or Chimera, will give you better control on how lighting hits your subject. These attach directly to your lights and are great for portrait photography and interviews. If you need a lot of light but want it soft and evenly dispersed across your subject, the Joker 800 HMI is an optimal choice. You can rent a kit for $175/day.

3.) Reflect

Next up – the beach scene staged in conference room two. How do you emulate the sun and make it look authentic? Reflectors are an inexpensive way to redirect light from other light sources onto your subject. Change your shot’s mood with four color options: silver for high-contrast, edgy and cool; gold for warm, natural, and sunny; white for neutral and fill light; and black to get rid of unwanted reflections or casts of color. You can buy a 5-in-1 reflector for $40.

Make Your Wedding Budget

Your wedding is perhaps the biggest celebration you will be a part of. And why not, it is a celebration of a new beginning and new life. To make your wedding the most it can be, here are a few tips that will stretch your budget.

Stick To The Budget

A vendor such as a photographer may offer to give you a special package deal if you add more options. Make sure and think about if it is going to cost you more and if it is really necessary. Weigh your options on what is most important in your budget and don’t change your limit on the less important items.

Compare Vendors

Find out what other vendors are offering for prices. Consider this when talking to vendors and make sure and ask what other costs there will be after everything is said and done. Make sure and compare apples to apples. For instance you may be talking to a videographer that merely gives you the footage of your wedding and charges $750 and another vendor that edits the footage in a more cinematic fashion that charges $2,400. Both are totally different, on both prices may be consistent with what the vendor services are.

Book Early – Book Intelligently

Often times vendors get slammed in the popular wedding seasons. In colder places the summers are more popular, and in the not so cold places the spring time is more popular. By booking well in advance you will get vendors who aren’t as much in demand and may offer more reasonable prices. Book late and they may give you an outrageous price because they know they have nothing to loose. Also consider having your wedding on a Friday or even on a weekday if possible. Wedding places and vendors oftentimes have a discount on days outside of the weekend.

Use Your Friends And Family

Your friends and family may have vendors they recommend. Also you can go to the web to see portfolios or pictures of what you are looking for. If you have a particularly crafty friend, why not put them in charge of decorations. If you have a family member that is baker, put them in charge of the wedding cake. Even if they aren’t the one making it, they will know the market better and will have a better chance of getting a good deal. Often times family and friends are anxious to help if you only ask.

At the end of the day your wedding is your more most joyful union. You will want to do everything you can to make it such. Oftentimes the planning process and budgeting can be overwhelming. Make sure and give yourself plenty of time to plan for your wedding. Be smart about how you spend your money but also remember that you get what you pay for. Vendors are there to facilitate you and not vice versa. Find the vendors that fit your style and personality.

Nikon D3100 Best in Function

If you are looking for the best digital camera, consider the Nikon D3100. Although it is largely evaluated as an entry-level digital SLR camera and as ideal for beginners, it also works satisfactorily for photographers as their abilities grow. With a significant increase in pixel count and improved high quality at high sensitivity settings, it is no wonder why the Nikon D3100 is one of the best digital cameras available in the market.

Among the things one will notice about the Nikon D3100 is that it has a small body for a digital SLR camera. It weighs just one pound and is less than 5 winches wide and 4 inches tall. The Nikon D3100 is perfect if you are going on a hike and is easy to bring around while you are on a vacation. At the back of the camera is a large 3-inch LCD which offers a nice big view of your image. The text are large so menus are easier to navigate.

Since the Nikon D3100 is primarily aimed at novice photographers, the camera comes with a Guide mode. This guide mode provides a lot of helpful shooting tips as well as instructions. It gives the user step-by-step directions on how to change the settings of the camera. In the end, one will not get only the picture he or she desires but will also develop and further enhance his or her photography skills. The Nikon D3100 is the first digital SLR to offer continuous autofocus while recording video. This basically works similar to a dedicated camcorder so you can keep moving subjects in focus while shooting. The user is able to record cinematic quality movies in full 1080p HD. The camera is equipped with EXPEED 2, Nikon’s new image processing engine so you will always have great pictures in rich and vibrant colors.

Other features of the Nikon D3100 include a scene auto selector, 14.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor, six automatic exposure scene modes and active d-lighting. The camera has loads more to offer so consider the Nikon D3100 seriously when you are searching for the best digital camera.

Make Your Video Look

Everybody loves the look and aesthetics of film. Video is great for capturing the reality of the moment but what if we want to create a cinematic look. Over the years I explored different ways to make my videos look more like film – without a big budget. A lot of the wedding videographers in LA offer their clients the cinematic look. How do they do it? Here are some ideas to get your next project looking more like film.


Not all video camera are the same. HDV (High-Definition Video) is one of the best choices for creating video that looks like film on a budget. With a native 16×9 aspect ratio and 1920×1080P resolution, you will be able to frame your shots in a cinematic manner and with enchanced clarity. Not be to left out, it’s very important that your camera shoots 24 progressive frames per second. Otherwise known as 14P. Why? Because motion picture records at 1/48 of a second, otherwise known as 24 frames per second. a 24P ready camera like the Sony Z1U will give your video the feel and motion of film. Perfect for shooting cinematic weddings or documentaries.


One issue that plagues video is the greater-depth-of-field that keeps the foreground and background in focus. Clearly, this creates a very flat looking image unlike the prime lenses used in motion picture. The advantage of a shallow depth-of-field is you can separate the foreground from the background and divert attention to what is most important in your composition. You can change the depth-of-field by changing the F-stop. The wider the appature, the shallower the depth-of-field. To compensate for opening up the iris, you will have to use a neutral density filter (ND) to cut down the increased amount of light now entering the camera.


How you light your production and how you set your exposure is an important consideration. Its important to note that a video camera’s CCD responds differently to light than film. The photochemistry of film has a higher dynamic range, typically about 12 to 14 f-stops compared to 6-8 stops for video. It’s quite a difference. The limited dynamic range of video means you must be careful to not blow out your highlights otherwise you’ll end up with a washed out images. As a rule of thumb, it is better to slightly underexpose your video than overexpose. The reason is that video is better able to preserve information in the blacks or dark areas as compared to the highlights. This is corrected in post by pushing the black levels up a stop or two.

So how do you go about seting the right exposure? Modern video cameras feature a zebra setting in the viewfinder at 70 – 100 IRE. What this means is you will see zebra lines over the part of the image that is either 70 or 100 % of the maximum brightness level allowed by video. In normal conditions you want skin tones to lay at about 70 IRE and your maximum white levels to peak at 100 IRE. If your shooting under bright conditions outdoors you wan always use a ND filter to bring it down a stop or two. This will let you preserve your F-stop and deth of field while trimming down the exposure. When assessing your image and exposure, you don’t want large areas of pure black with no detail. Use fill light or a reflector to bring up some detail in the shadow areas. White poster board is often good enough if you can’t afford a professional reflector. Things to consider are the intensity, direction, and hardness of the light. For interviews, I like to keep my lighting soft and diffused because it has a more soothing look on the skin and bring out detail and texture in the face.

Other Tips …

Match Your Camera Settings

Make sure your white balance settings are identical to prevent color mismatch. Keep your exposures manual for maximum control. Automatic exposure is not as accurate as you would think – often times the camera will overexpose the whites. A very ugly quality of video to avoid. I like to keep my focus manual too. If you have shallow depth of field you may find the cameras focus drifting if left automatic.

Shoot extra footage

All too often videographers load their video project on to the computer only to find out that they don’t have enough footage or they only took one take of what could be a great shot. I always shoot as much as possible, knowing that its much easier to cut out footage then it is to replace it.