A lack of light can ruin your video footage. Filming the perfect video in low light can be an extremely tricky task to master without having the right tips and tricks. Usually the outcome is always grainy, undersaturated, low contrast and muddy video footage. Luckily, we have come up with some powerful ways to film your videos in low light without losing the quality. This article will cover:
- Try To Add Extra Light
- Utilise The Darkness
- Use Biggest Aperture
- Reduce Frame Rate
- Reduce Shutter Speed
1. Try To Add Extra Light
If you’re having some trouble filming in the dark or in low light spaces, try and move your object closer to some surrounding light in the environment. Getting your focus object as close to some extra light as possible will immensely help your video quality. If you simply have no other light surrounding you, investing in a camera video light will do the trick. A camera video light mounts to your camera and shines a decent amount of light on the subject you’re trying to film.
The Genaray LED-7100T 312 LED Variable-Colour is great for helping the video become less grainy and more saturated in colour. Individuals typically think to increase the ISO when filming in low light. While this is usually a good trick as it gradually increases the exposure of the footage, without some sort of real light shining on the subject, the footage will become flat. Increasing your video camera gain will add noise to the shadows of your video footage. This is distracting to viewers. Avoiding increasing the ISO is the best option if you have accessible, additional light available.
Other options include turning on overhead lights or lamps, using a reflector panel or mirror to move and bounce light onto the subject, or even purchasing a portable lighting kit. The Boling 3x 2220P LED Video and Photography Continuous Portable Lighting Kit will most likely be the most expensive investment, but will bring the most light no matter what environment you are filming in. They also run off batteries and not power, meaning you can take them basically anywhere you desire to film.
2. Utilise The Darkness
The second tip to increase quality when low light filming, is to use the surrounding darkness to your advantage. Basically, this means that the subject you’re filming doesn’t always have to be the centre focus in the shot. The subject can always be seen through a silhouette when the atmosphere is enough to keep the audience interested in the clip. Even though adding extra light to the subject will help improve visibility and quality, this trick does not have to be used every time when filming in low light.
If the background or atmosphere surrounding the subject is aesthetically pleasing to the audience, it can sometimes be best to leave the main focus on the scenery and keep the subject in the darkness. Exposing the background and having the subject semi or fully dark still engages viewers to see the subject, but from a different perspective and creative angle. Seeing the subjects face, expressions or detail won’t affect the viewers attention. Using Clipchamp Create, you are able to alter the exposure, saturation, temperature and contrast of your clip within the video editor, in order to make the background brighter and the subject darker.
3. Use Biggest Aperture
Depending on what video camera you are using to film, you are able to change the camera settings to improve the quality of the video. If the video camera has an f-stop or iris setting, change this setting to the lowest number possible. An f-stop of 1.4 is amazing. By lowering the f-stop number on the camera, you are allowing a bigger aperture. By creating a bigger aperture, more light is let into the camera creating a brighter image. This is an excellent feature to know about when filming in low light. Make sure to check if your camera has a constant aperture change as you zoom in on any zoom lens. The more you zoom, the smaller the aperture will shrink, therefore darkening your video footage.
By keeping your camera lens zoom on a wide angle, lets more light in compared to manually zooming the lens. Realistically, if you want to shoot in low light without receiving grainy, unwatchable footage when zooming in with the lens, simply walk closer to the subject. Try to avoid using the camera zoom and just move closer to the subject physically.
4. Reduce Frame Rate
If your camera model allows you to, try and change the frame per second rate. Usually all cameras a set to 30 frames per second, although 24 frames per second will capture a crisper video when shooting in low light. The slower frame rate speed brings more light into the camera, therefore brightening the video footage. By turning the shutter off, you can change your frame rate to 1/24 of a second instead of 1/30 of a second. It may look like a slight decrease, but it will increase the light in your video footage hugely.
Some cameras allow you to change your frame rate even lower than 24 frames per second. When leaving the shutter off, some cameras can shoot in 12 or even 6 frames per second. Although, this trick will only work if you are shooting a landscape or a view that is quite still. This will not work for shooting a subject such as an animal or human motions.
5. Reduce Shutter Speed
The last technique we will talk about is controlling the shutter speed on your camera. Usually, by slowing down your shutter speed, your footage will automatically brightened. Slowing the shutter speed makes the camera shutter open for longer, giving more light to the camera. Low light video footage should be filmed in 1/30th of a second, rather than the normal video shutter speed of 1/60th of a second. This may seem like a small alteration to make to your camera, but it does make a huge difference.
This allows the shutter to be open twice as long as the original setting, meaning double the amount of light entering the camera. Low light footage needs as much light as it can get in order for the clip to be decent quality. When using this technique, it is important to understand that it will increase the chance of motion blur to your footage. Although, we have encountered no problems with human motion with the 1/30th of a second shutter speed. It may alter when shooting larger objects or faster animals.
Filming in low light shouldn’t be a daunting task now that you have Clipchamp’s 5 tips and tricks for perfect footage. Remember to change camera settings, utilise the surrounding darkness, add extra lights where it’s needed and use Clipchamp’s brightness and colour editing tool.
Check out Clipchamp’s YouTube channel and discover the beginners editing guide YouTube tutorial to assist you with your low light editing needs. Start with this awesome YouTube video template if you’re stuck for ideas! We also have Vlog templates and Intro templates for you to gather inspiration.
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