Filmmaking on a budget: LED lighting for film and video

Filmmaking on a budget: LED lighting for film and video

LED lights for filmmaking and video production are now super-affordable and hugely convenient because of their safety, portability and battery power. In this post, we’ll review three of the best lights for under £50. Want some powerful tips on how to make great videos for social media? Click here.

Advantages of LED lights for filmmaking or video production

  1. They’re cheap. Every one of these lights costs less than £50!
  2. They’re safer than traditional hot lights like redheads or blondes as they don’t generate anywhere near as much heat and there are no cables to trip over.
  3. They can be powered by batteries, which means that you aren’t tied to plug sockets.

Disadvantages of LED lights for filmmaking or video production

  1. Budget models can’t hope to come anywhere close to traditional hot lights for sheer lighting power. If you’re trying to light an expansive location like a church or hall, you’ll need redheads like this great set for less than £100 or blondes or Fresnels.
  2. Because they aren’t usually super high-powered, they will need to be placed closer to your subjects.
  3. The quality of the Tungsten light colour will vary greatly between models. Some have plastic Tungsten filters that slide in front of the light. Others have dedicated Tungsten temperature LED beads. The latter usually produce better results.

The best Key Light for less than £50

YONGNUO YN-216 LED Studio Video Light for filmmaking
YONGNUO YN-216 LED Studio Video Light

YONGNUO YN-216 LED Studio Video Light

In a nutshell:

YONGNUO YN-216 is a fantastic little spot light for filmmaking or video production, featuring 216 high-luminance LED beads. It really is super bright. It is compact, sturdy and well-made. It’s the perfect all rounder for video lighting. It features three power supply options: AA batteries, Sony NP-F batteries or a mains power adaptor (not supplied). The light can be installed directly onto a DSLR or camcorder using the supplied hot/cold show mount. It can also be mounted on a standard light stand using the quarter twenty thread. The light comes with four colour temperature filters. Unbeatable value at less than £50.

Specification:

Light Source: 216 led beads, Luminance Angle:55°, Colour Temperature 5500k, Average Service Life: 50000H, Colour Rendering Index: < 90%, Power: 13W, Weight: 515g, Lumen: 2000 LM,

Supplied Accessories:

1 x YN-216 Led light, 4 x Color temperature filters ( Blue, White, Orange, Red ), 1 x User Manual

 

The best Fill Light for less than £50

YN300 Air Pro LED light for filmmaking
YN300 Air Pro LED light

Yongnuo YN300 Air Pro LED Video Light with 3200-5500K Variable Colour Temperature

In a nutshell:

The YN300 Air has a built-in milk defuser that produces soft light with a wide illuminating angle. Featuring variable colour temperature, this great little light produces the best quality light for filmmaking of any of the three units in this post. It makes an excellent fill light when used at a close distance. It features an LED display on the rear and a dial that allows you to dim the light and modulate between daylight, tungsten or a mixture of both. A number of buttons allow you to make other easy adjustments. You can mount the light directly onto the hot shoe of your DSLR or camcorder (not powered) or to any standard light stand, using the supplied mount. It’s super easy to use, is highly adjustable, well-made and durable. If you prefer to use AA batteries, or if you don’t want to invest in a new battery and charge system, we recommend the Neewer® 6pcs AA Battery Replacement Mains Supply NP-F970 NP-F550. This handy little adapter opens up to accept six AA batteries. It then slots into the NP-F socket and works a treat. It works out much cheaper than buying NP-Fs at a bargain price less than £10The YN300 Air is an unbeatable value at less than £35!

Full Specifications:

Light source: 96LED beads, Colour temperature: 3200K-5500K, Output power: 18W, Lumen: 2000LM, Average service life: 50000H, Luminance angle: 100°, Colour rendering index: greater than to 95, Power supply: 1 NP-F lithium battery or external 8V, 5A DC power (no power source or battery included), Dimensions: Approx. 210x175x62mm, Weight: Approx. 500g.

Supplied accessories 

1x YN300 Video Light
1x A shotgun style handle that can mount on a light stand
1x Mounting fixture
1x Table stand
1x User Manual in English

A carry pouch is also included withe the YN300 Air

 

The best Background Light for under £50

Neewer CN-160 Ultra High Power LED Light for filmmaking
Neewer CN-160 Ultra High Power LED Light

Neewer CN 160 Dimmable Ultra High Power LED Panel

In a nutshell:

The Neewer CN 160 is a powerful, lightweight and durable little light for filmmaking and it’s a real bargain at less than £30. It’s strong enough to separate your subject from a wall or backdrop. It’s also a very useful general purpose light for use when filming on location after nightfall. It’s also super convenient to power as it accepts 6 AA batteries. It can also run on Sony NP-F batteries and, using a supplied adaptor, several other camera batteries. The light features a rotating dial switch for switching the power on/off and dimming. There is also a battery power indicator. We love this little light and it’s popularity is no surprise given its rock bottom price at less than £30.

Full Specifications:

Maximum Power: 9.6 Watts, Colour Temperature: 5600K (3200k w/ filter), Luminous flux: 660 lm, Run time: 60 – 80mins on AA alkaline batteries, Illumination: 900Lux (1m), 240Lux (2m), 120Lux (3m), 70Lux (4m), 40Lux (5m), Effective distance: 6m / 20ft, Material of the Lighting’s Shell: ABS Plastic, Size: 141 x 62 x 150 mm, Weight: 8.57oz

Supplied Accessories:

Neewer CN160 Light, One Tungsten Coloured Filter and one Diffusion Filter. (Supplied in a plastic wallet.)
Battery adaptor for various camera batteries, Hot shoe mount. (Can mount on a standard light stand via quarter-twenty screw.)

Bonus Video:

Check out the competition with this great video from ‘DSLR Shooter’:

Top tips: creating great social media videos

Top tips: creating great social media videos

Facebook recently reported that the amount of video posted by people and businesses has increased 3.6 times year-over-year. Today, more than 50 percent of people who visit Facebook every day watch at least one video. With this growing appetite, there’s no better time to start developing great social media videos. Check out these tips to help you put your best foot forward:

Section 1: Planning your social media video

Think about Health and safety

Your first priority when making social media videos must always be the safety of everyone involved in your shoot.

  • Never try to shoot stunts or dangerous practical effects. Leave that to the experts!
  • Don’t climb ladders, ascend to dangerous heights or stand in the road to get a certain shot.
  • Don’t leave your equipment or cases lying around where people could trip or slip.
  • Restrict public access to locations where there may be tripping hazards such as cables.
  • Be careful with tripods, they can be hazardous.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Are there dangers such as passing traffic?
  • Make sure that you have adequate Public Liability Insurance.

Plan your content

  • Develop a storyboard or a list of shots, so that you know what you need to shoot.
  • Prepare a script (however short) and share it with anyone who will appear in your video. Give them time to learn the lines well before the shoot. If the people appearing your video are not actors, negotiate the script with them. Allow them to make suggestions for improvement.
  • Secure permission for use of your location.
  • Make sure everyone who needs to be there knows the date and time and that they get a reminder closer to the day.
  • Pack your equipment and make sure you have fully charged batteries for all equipment and any necessary extension leads etc.

Get permission

  • Get permission from the person or organisation responsible for any building or location that you plan to shoot in.
  • Get permission from anyone who will feature prominently in your video. E.g. Anyone in close-up or in the main action. Have signs on location clearly stating that filming is in progress. You can find free release form templates online.

Section 2 – shooting your social media video

Shoot with sound quality in mind

You want to avoid making social media videos with muffled sound, inaudible voices, overpowering music or distracting background noises. We recommend using an external microphone like the RØDE VideoMic GO On Camera Microphone. If you can’t use an external microphone, make sure that your subject is close enough to the camera for the sound to be picked up. Check out our article on great low budget audio equipment.

Think about lighting

Lighting is just as important for social media videos as sound. We recommend this Red Head Dimmable Lighting Kit as a great, versatile and value-for-money lighting solution for pretty much any video project.

Avoid placing your subject in a sunbeam, against a window during the middle of the day or in very bright light as this will lead to overexposure, where the person’s face will be whited-out and featureless.

Conversely, be careful not to shoot in dim light as the lack of light will be amplified in your final video. People will quickly hit the ‘stop’ button if they have difficulty seeing the content.

Add visual interest

Try to find a background for your video that provides some added visual interest. Nobody wants to see a video of someone standing in front of a magnolia wall. People with a little bit of technical know-how may want to digitally add a background using Chroma Key technology. This great value Green Screen Background Backdrop should fit the bill.

Keep it short

Ideally, social media videos should not last longer than ninety seconds. That may sound very short, but it allows plenty of time to get any message across. You can always provide a link for people to access further information online. The research shows time and time again that people will not engage with lengthy social media videos and the number of views will drop off sharply for every minute you go over the 90 seconds. Remember that the duration of your video will appear in the link and people will consider this when deciding if they’ll watch it.

Section 3: Sharing your video

Take the time to write an effective description for the video

Use persuasive text to entice the viewer to click ‘play’. It’s also important to use tags and categories as these help search engines to sort and serve your material to others.

Select the best thumbnail for your video

A thumbnail is the screenshot form the video that visitors will see before they click play. A title slide is unlikely to attract much attention. Choose some sort of action scene from your video. First impressions count!

Keep all your videos in one place

It makes sense to upload your videos to one online service such as YouTube or Vimeo. Both services allow you to create your own ‘channel’. You can direct visitors to this channel, where they can view all your previous videos.

Avoid using copyright material without permission

Don’t make the mistake of using a song from your favourite band or from the soundtrack of your favourite movie or TV show. You could find yourself facing a substantial fine. Youtube or Vimeo are both likely to flag the copyright violation automatically with the rights holder. You can find royalty-free soundtrack music here, which you can use free of charge as long as you credit the composer.

Use branding were possible

Consider including your logo in your video. This could be easily done by having a pop-up banner in the background.

Include a call to action

Tell the viewers what you want them to do. E.g. “Visit our website at…” or “Join us on January 3rd at 8pm for…”

Provide a link

Provide a link to your website in the description.

Choose music carefully.

Disagreeable music may result in an early stop.

Don’t go crazy with transitions!

Star wipes and fades between shots are fun, but they look really amateur and can quickly become a distraction for the viewer. Pick one simple dissolve or fade and stick with it.

Upload good quality video footage

Your video doesn’t need to be high definition, but it shouldn’t be blurry or fuzzy or dimly lit.

Learn from the experts!

We can provide practical training for video production. We also have all the expertise and equipment to produce great quality videos for you. (We recently worked on Game of Thrones Season 7.) Fill in the contact form below to find out how we can help you.

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