Friday, October 31, 2008

The one thing that will make your videos better

Last week on my way to Chicago I flew with a cameraman for TSN, the sports network. He flies all over North America to report on breaking sports news. I asked him what was the one thing that he knew as a professional camera person that would help improve the quality of videos that regular folks like you and I create. His answer confirmed my own experience - lighting. If there is one thing that makes a video hard to see, it is poor lighting.

In our discussions, he added a dimension to the lighting issue that I had not considered before. He said that the reason lighting was so important, was so that there is contrast between the subject you are shooting and the background. Brilliant insight! I've talked about the need for contrast when putting text on slides and even created a color contrast calculator so that you can test the colors you want to use (it is at But I hadn't thought that contrast is indeed the key to shooting a great video.

So how do you increase the contrast without having the fancy HD camera he was carrying? The simplest solution I've come across is to increase the general lighting in the room with halogen work lights you can buy at any home improvement store. I've even used them in a large gymnasium and it made a noticeable difference. They are portable, so you can carry them to a trade show if you want to capture some testimonials on the trade show floor, or any other location you need to.

One other lesson from this conversation. Always ask an expert what one tip they would share to improve the quality of what regular folks create. Whether they are in lighting, theatre, acting or any other creative area, listen to their answer and see how you can apply it in your work.


Blogger Dr. Jim Anderson said...

Dave: one other point that you left out of your discussion is that you need to make sure that you don't stand directly underneath a down-pointing light. If you do this you will become so bright that your features will wash out - not a good look for anyone!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
The Accidental Communicator Blog
"Learn How To Calm Your Fears, Wow Your Audience, And Get Your Point Across"

3:49 PM  

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