Lighting Set Ups and Techniques for Product Videos

studio lighting set ups and product video lighting techniques

Photo: Alexander Dummer

Make the Lighting in Your Next Product Video a Success with These Tips

A common type of video widely used by businesses is a product video. These types of videos showcase the product to give viewers a better sense of its features and benefits. But, these videos are different than your traditional videos; they require much more emphasis on lighting. The lighting makes a significant difference for attributes of the product such as color, size, and depth. We’ve outlined a few easy lighting tips that are sure to make your next product video a success.

Choose your lighting options carefully

When it comes to lighting a product video, the type of lighting you choose is crucial for how the photos will turn out. The key is to have as much control over the lighting as possible, whether it be the type of lights, the shooting location, or the backdrop.

clamp light

Photo: Tony L. Wong

There are a number of lighting options to consider based on budget and functionality:

  • Clamp lights. These lights are the most budget-friendly, but are the hardest to diffuse for soft, even light. Clamp lights are perfect for illuminating a space with little effort, while also being the perfect addition to a DIY lighting kit. Shop clamp lights →

  • Studio lights. Studio lights give you more control over diffusion and offer more light to work with. These powerful lights allow you to manipulate the exposure, flash, and depth of field for some truly stunning results. Shop studio lights →

  • High-end lights. These are the most expensive option, with one light sometimes costing as much as a full studio light kit. However, these lights offer a full range of features, including dimmers, wireless controls, color temperature, diffusion, and stronger output. It is recommended to invest in high-end lights only if you are filming frequently. Shop high-end lights →

With all of these lighting options, it is best advised to test them out to determine if they are worth the investment. Determine what kinds of features you need for your shoot to avoid overspending on lights. Go with the option that gives you the features you need, not the ones that would be nice to have.

Your lighting options can contribute to the personal connection of your product video, as lighting will evoke a certain type of emotion. Use your lighting options to your advantage to reflect the emotions you want to convey to your audience.

softbox studio lighting

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Three-point lighting

When it comes time for you to set up the lighting for your product video, you need to set up your lighting in a three-point style. This is a triangular shape of lights surrounding your subject that will give you the ideal lighting, controlling the highlights, shadows, and brightness.

Three-point lighting consists of the key light, the fill light, and the back light:

  • Key light. This is the brightest light in the trio. It is also the light that is going to provide the bulk of your light to your subject. View key lights →

  • Fill light. The fill light is less intense than the key light. Its intention is to eliminate shadows caused by the key light. View fill lights →

  • Back light. The backlight is what separates the subject from the background. It creates depth to avoid a flat background. View back lights →

Color Temperature

Depending on the type of lights that you choose, you will get a certain color temperature associated with each type. Based on the type of filament and bulb, your light with either appear to be warmer or cooler on camera. Not only is this perceivable on camera, but to the human eye as well. For example, fluorescent lights appear to be much cooler than tungsten lights. Take color temperature into consideration for the lighting of your product video, as it has a significant impact on the mood you are trying to convey. Warmer lights tend to be more welcoming compared to cooler lights.

When choosing your lights, be sure to choose one type of light to use throughout, whether its cool or warm. Try not to mix color temperatures, as it will cause a color imbalance, which will make your footage look unnatural. Color temperature is going to be the biggest contributing factor to the look and feel of your video, which will establish an emotional connection with your audience.

Watch for Glare

Glare can become a problem with lighting product videos, especially when filming glass. It becomes an issue when working with diffusion boxes. A quick solution is to raise your lights higher on the stands until the glare is no longer visible in the camera’s viewfinder. If raising the lights doesn’t help, try moving your key and fill lights farther out, while keeping them relatively equal to one another. One of these tricks should alleviate the glare caused by filming glass subjects.

Play with the Product

product photography example

Photo: Brennan Burling

Now that you have the basis for the lighting of your product video, you can make it fun. Experiment with the product to see what kind of lighting you want use based on the story you want to tell. Do you want your video to look dark and mysterious, or light and airy? You can also play with the product to see how it best looks with the lighting. Maybe alter its state by melting it or giving it an unconventional pose. This is the time to make your product look cool and use the lighting to really create a story around it.

The story you create with your product will allow you to personally connect with your audience. You will be able to personify your object to give it a story of its own. Once it has that story attached to it, your product will emotionally connect with your target audience.

A product video is one of the most effective videos that a business can produce. They can educate an audience about the features and benefits of their products, while showcasing particular use cases for that product. These videos require different lighting, so it is crucial to pay special attention in the lighting setup for these videos. Implementing a few of these tips will go a long way into creating a successful product video.

READ NEXT – Expert Tips for Producing Corporate Video

Author Bio

Special thanks to Jonny Havey, CPA, MBA, and COO of eLearning Partners for writing this article.

“Jonny’s story starts with his roots as a Colorado native. Jonny has always had a passion for storytelling and entrepreneurship. When he was 11 years old he was in a small hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his parents when he decided to watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time. After being glued to a screen that was deeper than it was wide, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller. Therefore, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and another one in Film Production. To top it off he customized his own MBA to focus on operating a business in the entertainment industry. When he graduated he worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers while running his own business on the side. After about a year he took a leap into the personal connection space and never looked back. Now with his CPA license and business acumen he is an expert at helping companies personally connect with their employees and customers to increase employee retention and customer loyalty.”

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