[intro]In this Guide, you can learn all about how the lighting and location used in your social media video can be used to your advantage. 

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Once you’ve decided what kind of videos you’re like to make, the next step is beginning to plan the production itself. This is especially important if you’re recording your own footage as opposed to using stock footage - whilst stock footage does do the job in terms of a quick turnaround and looking aesthetically very pretty, it lacks the authenticity that the real people behind the brand can bring to the table. 

With a bit of practice, you’ll soon have organising your lighting and location down to a fine art to make sure that they work for your videos the right way, every time, giving you consistently high-quality footage. 

Location

Selecting the right location is essential for your videos, not just for quality, but because where you make your video helps you tell your story. For example, if I was making a video about how to install one of my new lines of camping hammocks, it makes sense for me to be outside and near some trees. However, if I was making a video about my new line of cushions, you’d expect me to be in a living room with a sofa. Where you film your video is important because your location also dictates what kind of background, lighting and sound quality you’ll have in the finished video. 

Indoors

If you’re recording indoors, bear in mind that rooms with lots of smooth surfaces can echo - the bigger the room, the more the echo. You can combat echo by using a separate microphone plugged into your phone, or alternatively, move closer to the phone. You can also use things outside of the shot to reduce echo - hanging sheets from the ceiling or from high furniture can reduce the echo as they absorb the sound. 

Soundproof tiles are a must-have for professional studios, but for a DIY version, use sheets draped on high furniture to help absorb the sound and prevent echos. 

It also helps to be aware of any electrical items that are plugged in in the room you’re using. The low hum of a fridge or the high tone of a TV on standby can sometimes be heard in a video. Do a test by recording a simple sample video both including 20 seconds of silence in the room you want to use, and 10 seconds of you talking, and listen to it with headphones to check for echo and unwanted background noise. 

Outdoors 

If you’re recording outdoors, your biggest issues are light and sound, because neither can be completely controlled. In terms of wind, if it’s a breezy day and you’re in a location where there’s few trees, buildings or hills to shelter you, do a test recording of 20 seconds of silence and 10 seconds of speech, and again, listen to it back with your headphones on to gauge how much excess sound there is. Separate clip mics can be used outside, but unless they have one of those fluffy muffle covers, they’re often susceptible to breezes and wind too. If the breeze is only a slight problem, move closer to the camera which should force your phone’s inbuilt microphone to pick out your voice over the background noise. 

Lighting

A well-lit video can make the difference between a professional production and an amateur video. Ideally, you need lighting pointing straight at the main subject of the video, and if there’s a presenter in your frame with a background behind them, you’ll need to light that too. This is known as backlighting and prevents lots of unwanted shadows. 

You can purchase a chromakey (green screen) background and a selection of lights as a set relatively cheaply now - essential if you plan to create tutorial type videos where you are superimposing a presenter onto a background video.

Indoors

  • You don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive lights, but if you do, you have a lot more control over the beam and can make your videos look a lot more consistent; 
  • LED lights are good - you’ll see a lot of YouTubers use these and they’re relatively inexpensive; 
  • Standard lightbulbs work as well, but they will give you a warm yellow glow, no matter how ‘white’ they are, so avoid these if you can; 
  • Be careful if you’re wearing glasses - anti-glare coatings might be worth a shout if you plan to make videos often; Don’t light from above or below - aim to get the light in the centre of your frame and your face. 

LED ring lights are commonly used by YouTubers, most often for make-up videos but also for standard presenting in a well-lit room.

Outdoors

  • Daylight is fantastic, but beware of the position of the sun! Nobody looks good when they’re squinting; 
  • Be aware of the weather forecast - clouds covering the sun can affect your lighting and make edits between different shots obvious; 
  • If it begins to rain - even just a little - make sure that your camera lens is not covered by raindrops and moisture. 

[tips]If the light is bright and you don’t wear makeup - where powder would prevent shiny spots on foreheads, use liquid talc. It's not obvious when on the face and does a fantastic job of removing shiny spots on noses and foreheads.[/tips] 

By now, you should have a good idea of where you will be making your videos on a regular basis, and what you need to do to prepare your space before you begin. 

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