Three Rules to Shoot Video at Night

Mark explores the basics of lighting for a nighttime shoot.

Video Transcript

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Hi. I’m Mark Montgomery from Video Maker and this is tips and tricks. Tonight, we’re gonna show you how to shoot at night.

There are three main rules we want you to consider here. One, shoot at a wide angle, okay? You don’t always have to stick to that, but if you shoot at a wide angle, guess what? Your iris is gonna be wider and it will allow you more light into the camera and in a light scare area, that’s what you need.

The second rule is watch the video gain. As soon as you introduce gain into your image, you’re gonna get noise and your colors will start to desaturate and that’s not good. So, just be mindful of where your gain is.

And the third and final rule here, manual focus. Any time you’re in auto focus in an area that’s really dark, what will happen, the auto focus will have a habit of drifting and hunting for something to focus on. So, when you use manual focus on your camera, you can lock down the focus and you won’t have the drifting.

One thing you’ll notice about outdoor lighting is the quality of light is generally harsh. That’s because the light sources are lamps are car lights, stuff that are real small points of light, and that gives you a harsh quality to the light. So, when creating a scene, consider creating pools of light rather than lighting a whole scene with a soft blanket of light. It’s more practical this way and more realistic.

When it’s time to get creative with the light source, don’t be afraid to use gels. Gels can convey a police car or a moon, so go ahead and use gels to emphasize certain emotions in your scene.

Following our own advice, we’re building a scene here with one light and two practicals. Where’s those practicals? One’s behind me about 50 yards. It’s a street lamp, okay? Now, guess what? Right here is also a street lamp. This is only providing a minimal amount of light. So, what we’ve done is we’ve added a light off camera that’s actually providing most of the light on my face. It’s still a hard, harsh light. You get shadows. You see a lot of me and that’s what we want. We’ve created one pool of light and there’s a lot of darkness and some practicals to sell the effect.

The final two considerations – one, use an on camera light. Why would you use this? They’re very practical, but you usually want to use it in the context of reality. That means if you’re shooting a documentary, a news story, or like a wedding, it’s very practical; but, for narratives, it’s not so practical. Another very reality-based lighting source is your infrared source on your camcorder. Now, not all camcorders have this. Usually consumer models do. It’s usually under night shot or low light shooting and it beams out infrared light and comes back to the sensor. And guess what? It looks green. You’ve probably seen this before, so it’s another way to use a light source that is perfect for night shooting.

Well, I hope all these examples have helped you. I hope you learned how challenging night shooting is and put it to practice. I think it will be illuminating.

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For more details, take a look at these articles using this DVD on your computer.

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