Classroom Filming w/ Less Than Ideal Lighting

Viewing 9 reply threads
  • Author
    • #71801

      Hi There… This is my first post, I just signed up for this website in hopes of learning some things and getting some tips which might help improve my job performance. My background is through web development, so I am by no means a professional videographer. My only experience has come through filming and editing skateboard videos which is usually pretty easy.


      Recently I have been given the task of filming Chemistry classroom sessions at a university for the purposes of using the material online as a reference for participating students. The challenge here is that the lighting in the room is less than ideal. The overhead/board lights are somewhat dim, and there isn't a source of natural light anywhere in the room.


      Additionally, instructors bounce between using the whiteboard and showing PowerPoint presentations with the projector. This is a challenge because the projector screen is a huge source of light in the shot. Everything else in the is very dark when the projector is on, and often times discolored, with shots coming out darker and with a bit of a red tone.


      I am wondering what (if anything) I can do to make the picture a little more clear. I am using manual focus, manual exposure (almost maxed out, but I don't want to overdo it as the projector needs to be readable), and manual white balance although the settings on my camera are somewhat limited. I am using a Sony HVR-A1U recording at 1080i.


      I have the shutter speed set to auto, and I am wondering if changing this setting will accomplish anything. I would like to experiment more, but I have very little setup time – Just a 5-10 minute window between classes.


      Anyways, if anyone is interested, here is a link to one of the videos ( Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for reading.

    • #209569

      I've shot several of these and, like you, am always caught between a rock and a hard place πŸ™
      I get a copy of the Power Point presentation and insert the slides into the finished video in the edit suite. This allows me to boost the exposure on the speaker and not worry about the image on the screen being over exposed. I can zoom in or highlight in some fashion on what's being discussed if I need to.

      If this method isn't an option for you, shot it with your iris set to Auto and increase the camera gain to +6 db so that when you're on the speaker, the exposre value will be ok.

      The bottom line in all of this is the student is interested in the content, not the production value so as long as they can see it, they will like it.



    • #209570

      hey, thanks for the response! i was considering inserting the slides into the video, but this classroom filming is only one part of my job and it is already taking up a considerable amount of time. i wil discuss this option with my boss (who is also the professor) and see if he thinks we need to take some measures to improve the video quality. however, as you said, production value isn't a top priority with something like this.


      so far i haven't had any complaints, but i would like to just do my best under the circumstances and hopefully learn a thing or two along the way.


      on a side note, canon x20 on order. hopefully it behaves a little better in these low-light conditions xD


      thanks again!

    • #209571

      I know what you mean about taking up time. For me, a one hour lecture usually means a day in the edit suite polishing the lecture. Fortunately I only do a few of these each year.

      I'm certain that the instructor wil be happy wih your videos as it's the content that matters.


      Did you mean a Canon SX20? If yes, you may find it to be more of a hindrance as a DSLR brings its own set of problems (accurate focusing is alwyas a concern) into the mix.

      Good luck with what ever you end up with.



    • #209572

      sorry that was a typeo! (fingers too fat for keyboard. considering a special typing wand)


      the canon XA20 –


      thanks again for your input

    • #209576

      No worries as I have fat fingers too, especially on my smart phone πŸ™‚
      That is a very nice camera and I'm sure you'll be very happy with the results.

      Do yourself a favour when you get it and go through the entire manual and play with everything you can to see how it affects your image.

      Have fun!!



    • #209577

      It sounds like the experience you get from producing a viable product may be worth the time investment.


      Don't forget, the MAGIC of editing is that you are unlimited by the classroom constraint.  If your boss has additional content or wants some, you are able to provide it.  Photos, video, animations, etc. are all possible, with one caveat:  It must be pertinent to the topic.


      As you gain experience, your time investment will likely decrease…unless you get hooked and start investing even more time πŸ˜‰

    • #209578

      thanks for the encouraging words.. i'm really looking forward to getting my hands on the new camera and learning how to use it.


      i've messed with some color adjustment and exposure settings in FCP X and still haven't been able to achieve an optimal result. the shot seems to become over exposed and doesn't seem to offer a better picture.


      i would like to take some lights with me, but as i mentioned, my setup time is pretty minimal and i don't want the students (or teacher) to feel like they're walking into a studio as opposed to a classroom.


      i will definitely explore some additional options, mainly the thought of inserting slides directly into the video. i think this might actually be a good call.

    • #209591

      I took a look at the video and it appears easy enough to follow. You may want to settle in on a frame sooner as opposed to zooming in and out and panning back & forth. The professor interacts with the overhead slides, so if you insert the slide later, you will miss this part of the explanation, which may be critical to understanding the material. While I understand your goal of a crisp, clean video, sometimes its good enough to just be good enough to follow. I would discuss the quality with your managing professor and see what he/she thinks. You may want to supplement the discussion ahead of time by talking to the classroom professor and a few students to see what they think. You did not mention view count on the library of videos. If only a few students are viewing, spending the extra effort will not be worth it, unless they are not viewing due to the quality, which I don't think is the case. Save the quality for the videos that mean more to you or for when you are asked to deliver it.  

    • #209595

      If you can get access to a Canon DSLR that shoots video, one can use HDR, a feature of Magic Lantern.  This is not an easy option, but one a pro would use. 


Viewing 9 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Best Products

Camera Support Buyer's Guide

The best advanced camera support for video β€” 2021

While the camera will always be at the core of your production setup, using the best camera support is vital in getting smooth cinematic shots.