Video Lighting: A Crash Course

Today’s camera optics are good, but they’re not human eyeballs. Every camera, from your camcorder to professional TV and film models, captures truer color, depth, and contrast if lighting conditions are good. The need for bright light grows more desperate if:

  • You record onto videotape instead of film. Video picks up an even smaller range of light and shadow than film, so having enough light is especially important when using your camcorder. A movie whose acting, sound, and dialog are exceptional can be ruined by poor lighting.

  • You plan to turn your finished production into a QuickTime movie. If the final product of your video project is to be a QuickTime movie (as described in Part 3), as opposed to something you’ll view on TV, you need even morelight.

    The compression software (codecs) that turn your video into QuickTime files do excellent work—ifthe original footage was well lit. When you turn a finished dimiMovie production into a QuickTime movie, you’ll notice severe drops in color fidelity and picture quality—and a severe increase in blotchiness.

    This desperate need for light explains why some camcorders have a small builtin light on the front. Unfortunately, such lights are effective only when shooting subjects just a few feet away. Better still are clip-on video lights designed precisely for use with camcorders. Not every camcorder has a shoe—a flat connector on the top that secures, and provides power to, a video light. But if yours does, ...

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