Good light makes a video podcast shine

When shooting a video podcast there is one thing that makes all the difference between a glorified home video and a true studio production: good light. In the video world light is like magic: it makes your host's wrinkles disappear, whitens it's teeth, put the shine in his eyes and give him that aura that true video hosts have. The point is that to shoot a good video podcast you first need to have good light.

How do you get good light when shooting a video podcast?

The cheapest solution is to shoot your video podcast outside, preferably on a cloudy day. This will give you a lot of diffuse light because the sun gets diffused by the clouds. There are however a lot of obvious disadvantages with this lighting method: you are dependent on unpredictable weather and you need a suitable outdoor location for your shoot.

The most commonly used lighting solution is to shoot inside with studio light. Since most video podcasts are low budget operation the purchase of true studio lighting equipment is usually not feasible. You can however get decent light from fluorescent bulbs if you take a few precautions.

How to light a video podcast set?

I like to have 3 light sources when shooting. First a diffuse or indirect light above or behind my host, then a less diffuse light from the front left to light the host and the area around him, and finally a more focused light in front of the host to light the host himself. When buying the lamps that you will use to hold your fluorescent bulbs you should not buy 3 times the same model, but instead buy one that produce diffuse light, one that produces slightly focused light and one that produces focused light (some articulated desk lamps are great for this). Think about the result you want for each individual lamp before buying. Take also into account any window you may have in the room used to shoot: even if you close the widows with drapes it will still produce some light that may have an effect on you set's lightning!

How to choose your fluorescent bulbs?

Not all fluorescent bulbs produce the same light, so choosing the right ones for your video podcast is important. The color of the light that a bulb produces is usually given in Kelvins, and that value should be written on the bulb package. If your video podcast is supposed to happen inside you want to buy bulbs that produce light around 3500 Kelvins, as this will give the same slightly orange light that an incandescent bulb would produce. If the action is supposed to happen outside or to be lighted by natural sunlight look for bulbs producing light in the 5000 to 6000 Kelvins, as these will reproduce daylight better. If possible choose fluorescent bulbs rated 20 watts or more (equivalent to a 100 Watts incandescent bulb), as you want as much light as possible.

Sufficient light is a major prerequisite for a professional looking video podcast, so don't hesitate to invest a bit. With some cheap lamps costing around $20 and fluorescent bulbs going for $10 a piece you can set up some decent lightning for less than $100. Give these low prices you may want to purchase 2 sets of bulbs, one at 3500K and one around 5500K, this way you are prepared for all situations. I would advise against using old incandescent bulbs, as these can produce a lot of heat and make your video podcast set uncomfortable.
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