Filming on a Tiny Budget, Part 4: Lighting

Why do I need good lights?

In order to attain an image where you have the greatest capacity to stylize your video, you need start with all of the proper ingredients. One of the most malleable and controllable of these ingredients is lighting.

Besides a good camera, when it comes to producing a clear image,  a good light source is essential. Having the right amount of light illuminating your subject gives your camera’s sensor a lot of  information to work with. When you’re outdoors, no artificial light source can beat nature’s big ball of gas out in space. But what about all of the other times we shoot?

Always shooting outdoors is not always the most feasible option,  depending on the forecast. If you need to shoot indoors, you don’t always have to go with the biggest lights you can find, especially if you’re shooting on video. The more you can control the luminescence of your subject, the more creative flexibility you will have, both on-set and in the editing room.



A powerful, yet affordable way to light your subject. A 500-LED light (like the one pictured) holds the lighting power of about 500 light bulbs. For each tiny LED on your light, you have about the same illumination as one light bulb.

Light enough to hang down from the ceiling with pony clips, these make for a very good option when you need a basic fill light source for your subject.

They’re also more energy efficient and last a whole lot longer! Yay for saving the planet!

The China Ball:

Common in China and Japan and usually used as a decorative light source, these paper lanterns are a great choice if you want to use practical light sources in your shot.  They are available in all shapes and sizes and (paper) colors,  and are actually quite bright.

These are a top choice of mine, as they give off a very friendly, warm glow of soft light on their subjects. The paper provides a built-in diffusion, which your actors will like, not only because its not such a harsh light in their face, but mainly because it will light them in an appealing way.

So if you don’t wanna pay $100-$200/day for a huge 10k professional light, you don’t have to! These two solutions alone or combined be able to resolve many if not all of your low lighting scenerios.

::::: Ready ?! Set?! Shoot!!

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