Video intimidates us. A shaky camera + bad lighting = a big, embarrassing ding to your brand — Plus – what the heck do you know about shooting professional looking videos? It’s easier to avoid video and just stick to written blog content and the occasional photo blog here and there. Right?
That’s right – it is easier. But it’s also dumb. Playing it safe rarely pays. Online video can market your business in ways that can explode your traffic and increase your conversions.
To avoid creating video content is to leave a lot of money on the table. It’s also leaving your competitor free to eat your proverbial lunch because she’s not afraid to talk to your customers in a way they like: with friendly, helpful online videos.
Video is Powerful
Still don’t believe that videos are essential? Check out this compelling list of 100 online video stats compiled by MillForBusiness.com:
- Videos increase people’s understanding of your product or service by 74%
- A third of all online activity is spent watching video
- 50% of users watch business related videos on youtube once a week
- 75% of users visit the marketer’s website after viewing a video
- 26% of internet users look for more information after viewing a video ad (Be sure to read this article on how to keep your readers visiting more by creating amazing rock star blog posts)
- 22% of internet users visit the website named in a video ad they viewed
- After visiting a video ad, 12% of viewers purchase the specific product featured in the ad
- Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video
- 80% of your online visitors will watch a video, while only 20 percent will actually read content in its entirety
- Your website is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of a search engine results page if it includes video
Did you know that using video in your emails will make them more valuable to your readers. To find out how to do that, be sure and read this article on how to make those emails wantable.
Time To Exercise Your Inner Spielberg
The very good news is that you don’t need to invest a lot of money to create videos with a higher production quality. With the advent of affordable, high definition cameras (some even built into your smartphone) the camera is not the difference between bad and great video. It’s the lighting!
You can do this. You can understand the basic principles of lighting and light your next video for less than $100. Let’s walk you through on how to set up your new affordable-but-effective studio lighting kit.
Three Points of Light
Thing is, there’s not just one lighting issue that needs to be addressed. There are three. Three-point lighting is the standard way most videographers light their videos. It’s what makes the online videos you love look so amazing.
When you use three-point lighting, your video subject is lit from three directions in a scene; backlighting, key lighting, fill light.
1. The Key Light
The key light is kind of the “main” light. It’s the light that you point at the face of your subject and it’s usually the strongest light, unless you are shooting a witness protection documentary.
Key lights should range from 150 to 10,000 watts, but you probably want to keep it to no more than 1,000 watts. At the end of this article, I’ll list out some suggested affordable lights to use at as a key light. For now I’m going to talk about the other important aspect of lighting – the positioning.
Even though the key light’s job is to light the face and front part of the body, key lights should not be placed full-blast, dead-ahead in your subject’s face. Instead, angle it a bit off to the side, anywhere from 15 to 45 degrees from the camera.
Tip: If you want to interview someone, have the interviewer stand in between the key light and camera and have the subject face and speak to the spot the interviewer is standing on. This looks more natural and avoids the awkward feeling of having the subject speak directly into the camera. Or having him face too far off camera.
2. The Fill Light
Next, let’s talk about the fill light. This light does exactly what it says: it subtly fills in the shadows caused by the single key light. It’s important to note that you are not trying to completely cancel out the shadows. Just soften them a bit.
Your fill light needs to be less strong than the key light so as not to overpower it and cause even more shadows. When it comes to wattage, there are no hard and fast rules regarding recommended wattage for fill lights.
In fact, a lot depends on what wattage you chose for the key light. You need to keep playing and adjusting the fill light so it balances out any shadows caused by the key light. That said, if you really want a rule of thumb, if you have a 500 watt key light you’ll want your fill light wattage to hover around 250 or so.
Now, let’s place your fill light. You basically want to balance it almost exactly against the key light, just from the opposite angle.
So, if your camera is right in front of you, and your subject is facing slightly to the left, and the key light is further left, you want to place your fill light on the right side. At an equal distance from the camera as the key light is.
Remember again that you need to play with it a bit. You don’t want to completely eliminate all shadows, you just want to soften them. Try moving the fill light closer and further from the subject to get the lighting just right.
3. The Back Light
Finally, there’s the third light, the back light. This is the final touch that will really give your videos a professional edge.
The point of the back light is to create something of an aura or “halo” effect around your subject. This adds dimension and depth. It helps to visually separate the subject from the background itself. Back lights are usually hung higher up, behind the subject, and an equal angle to the key light.
By the way, this is where light diffusers really come in handy. Let’s say you have a 500 watt key light, a 250 fill light and you use another 250 watt light for your back light.
You’re going to need to diffuse, or lessen, the brightness of the 250 watt back light. You want a soft, not over bright back light, competing with the other two. Diffusers will also keep the lighting looking more natural.
An Alternate Idea
If you don’t want to buy (or simply lug around) three lights, you can instead use something called a “bounce” disk. When you set up a key light and back light, you can replace the fill light with someone holding up a bounce disk. These are very affordable.
Speaking of affordable, let’s get you started for investing in your own home lighting studio. Here are some 250 and 500 watt lights that are extremely affordable. Some even under $20.
And finally, Amazon has a fantastic assortment of bounce disc reflectors and diffusers. Here is a very affordable diffuser:
So tell me: are you producing online videos yet? If not, WHY not? It’s more affordable and simpler than you think. If you are harnessing the power of online video, what are your tips, tricks or favorite products? Tell us in the comments below.
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