Videocrafts: Spread a Little Light

You may have discovered that you can light your videos using those yellow halogen shop lamps. The fact is that the color of light that these lamps put out is close to the color of light cast by professional video lamps. If youre looking to save a few bucks by lighting your videos with garage-style lamps, youll need a couple of accessories. Heres how you can make one of them.

Youll discover one problem when you fire up your new shop lights and point them at your next interview subject. The root of the problem is in these lights design, which is for working in garages and workshops, not for lighting people for video. They are bright, and the quality of light that they throw is harsh. The harshness of the light is troublesome for lighting video. Therefore, if you want to use garage lights for video, you need to perform a trick.

Soften Up
The trick is to soften the light. Professional videographers soften light by bouncing it off reflective umbrellas mounted to their light stands. A reflective umbrella spreads and diffuses the light, making it softer than light straight from the bulb. This is good, because soft light is much more attractive for lighting faces for video. Before you race out to buy a professional light umbrella, however, consider making your own. All you really need is an old rain umbrella (the lighter in weight the better), some aluminum foil, transparent tape and a little time.

Foiled!
Tear off eight strips of aluminum foil, each about two feet in length You should be able to fold the end of each strip over the outer edge of the umbrella.

With your umbrella open, fold each piece of foil into a point at one end so that it fits nicely into each section of the umbrella. Aluminum foil is slightly less shiny on one side than the other. It is better to face the dull side of the foil out towards the lights. Lay each of your foil strips into the umbrella, and mold the foil to the shape of the umbrella.

Foiled Again!
Next, tear off a few more strips of foil to circle the outer edge of the umbrella and cover any gaps that remain between your original strips. Then tape the individual pieces of foil together. Voila! You now have an aluminum foil-lined umbrella, perfectly suited for reflecting light. At this point, you can turn on one of your lamps, and hold the umbrella in front of it to see the softness of the resulting light. All thats left is mounting the contraption to your lamp. We simply slipped the handle of our umbrella through the lamps handle and used a bit of duct tape to secure it.

We found that we could control the intensity of our light in degrees by bouncing either one or both of our lights off the umbrella. Try it out and tell us what you think. Wed love to hear how you are using your homemade lighting umbrella.

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