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How to create lighting for videos and make your content look professional

Video lighting greatly influences your buyer’s experience. Learn how to create perfect lighting while spending little.

The image represents how to create a perfect video lightning

Before recording a video, the director shouts out, “lights, camera, action!” This is the cue to the crew to begin recording. But this choice of words is not random.

Without lighting there is no image. Lighting directs the viewer’s gaze, highlighting objects and creating the context you need for your recording. Therefore, good lighting is as important for your video class as the script and the audio.  

The same rule also applies to people who work as digital influencers. Poorly captured images make you and your product look unprofessional, in addition to making it difficult to understand the content.

The good news is that you can create video lighting by using cheap equipment or household items. Here are a few tips!

Why you should worry about your video lighting

Although the recording environment is well lit, the camera cannot capture enough light, which can render blurry images with a grainy appearance. This loss of quality happens on any type of equipment regardless if you are recording with a smartphone or a DSLR camera.

Of course it is possible to correct a detail or other in editing, but depending on the environment’s lighting while recording, not even the most experienced editor can save your content, which means you will have to do it again.  

In order for this not to happen, it is important to think about your video’s lighting from the start. Where will you be recording? What is the background like? What type of image do you wish to convey to those watching?

Of course, professional lighting requires an investment in equipment and a few years of practice but there are a few techniques that you can use to make sure that people can clearly see what you are recording.

As for example, use more than one light point and create contrast between the actor and the background.

Types of light you will need

Video lighting isn’t rocket science but you will need a minimum structure to start. Below we have listed the most common equipment for simple videos where the camera will stand still.

Soft box

A soft box is widely used because it creates soft and diffused light that when correctly directed, reduces shadows and enhances the natural features of the person in front of the camera.

The equipment consists of a fluorescent lamp attached to a box, lined with bright surface and can be made with items you have at home, such as a shoebox for example. Check out a few homemade softbox tutorials. 

Sun Gun

A Sun Gun is the best choice for a fill light because it provides a more yellowish light. Don’t worry, because we talk about fill light later in this text. The equipment is rectangular, consisting of small LED panels and has no outlet, which makes it ideal for both inside and outside scenes.


Backlights are necessary for those who wish to record videos in a studio because they provide contrast between the actor and the background, giving a sense of depth.  

Extra tip:

Choose bulbs between 5,000 and 5,500 kelvin, which generate whiter light that facilitates the editing process.  

Kelvin is a unit that measures the temperature of the bulb’s color. Values above or below those recommended may cause a bluish or reddish effect to your images.

When you should use natural light

For outdoor scenes, the best choice is to use as much daylight as you can; therefore, pay attention to the time you start recording so that the lighting doesn’t change much from one scene to the next.  

Never record with your back to windows because your camera lens might compensate for the excess light making the recorded object have only a visible silhouette. Ideally, stand in front of the window in favor of the light.    

Environments lit artificially are easier to control and more predictable. You can easily identify when the light saturates if the environment’s color isn’t uniform and can get around these situation by repositioning the equipment, while with external light, cloudy weather or rain are real obstacles to recording.

If you are recording at home, choose to position the camera in front of walls with solid colors (without wallpaper and preferably with darker shades). But be careful to preserve the visual identity of your videos and not choose a scenario that is completely opposite of what you’re talking about.  

And remember to never mix inside and outside lighting! Your camera is programmed to “see” color temperature and the mixture of sunlight with artificial lighting artificial, can create an amateurish effect in your video. If you choose artificial lighting, you will need to darken the entire environment before you start recording.

What you need for good lighting

Before you start recording, define the position of the lighting equipment, and this will depend on the effect that you wish to create for your audience.

In any of the layouts you will need:

Main Light

The main light is used to illuminate the actor and the other elements that make up the scene. Here you can use either a direct or concentrated light (also known as hard light), as well as diffused lighting, which practically creates no shadows.

Hard light is obtained directly from the reflector, while soft light is obtained with diffusers, or the use of a soft box.

The equipment must be positioned from top to bottom at a 45° angle in relation to the camera and the person’s face. This high positioning creates a few shadows on the person’s face, helping to give a sensation of volume.

In order to create this effect, you can also use a shoebox to support to reflector or the soft box.

Fill Light

Fill light, as the name says, serves to fill the shadows created by the main light. For this function, you can use either another Soft Box or a Sun Gun, which we mentioned at the beginning of the text.

The fill light must be positioned on the opposite side of the main light and farther, at an angle of 60° relative to the camera. The height must also be below the main light.


In videos with a bright background you need to light this space so that your shadow doesn’t appear behind the video.

Another measure you can take to help reduce shadows behind the video is to use side softboxes to neutralize the light focused frontally.  

If you have a lot of trouble with lighting, but you master editing techniques, record in front of a green background and create a “fake scenario” for you video by cancelling the default color, this technique is known as Chroma key.

Mobile apps

Smartphone cameras usually don’t have iso, speed and lens aperture controls; but you can download apps that allow you to lock the focus, open the sensor and increase light exposure to create clearer images with better quality. Click here for a list of apps.

How to create video lighting with household items

You will need fluorescent bulbs, preferably with 24 watts, sheets of wax paper, a shoebox and table lamps.

1st step: Wrap the lamp with wax paper. The wax paper will neutralize part of the light, creating a more natural effect.

2nd step: Wrap adhesive tape around the “package” so that light won’t leak and is captured by the lens.

3rd step: Repeat the process with other lamps.

4th step: Place the main light in front of you at a 45° angle relative to the camera.

5th step: The fill light can be placed in front of the main light. Perform tests to check for the best positioning.

6th step: If you are recording with a dark background, place colored bulbs opposite the white lights, illuminating the background.

Jus with this structure it is possible to make variations: darker scenes, lighter, with the actor’s silhouette with more contrast, among other possibilities. But pay attention to the duration of the video, the prolonged use of the wax paper near a bulb might cause accidents.

Professional lighting for videos

Just like people don’t like to watch videos with bad audio, they cannot concentrate while watching blurry or grainy images, even if the content is of high quality.

Therefore, more than a matter of aesthetics, perfect lighting scores many points for your audience’s experience and therefore, for your expertise.

So, if you wish to increase your online course sales, don’t forget this step! Are you starting in this market now? Read our post on how to record attractive video classes.