No one watching your video will know (or care) what you used to light your video. Before I geek out on the gear we use here at Wistia, keep this detail in mind: in my opinion, effective lighting for your video is more about taste than owning the right equipment.
Another huge factor that contributes to our lighting gear selection is intimidation. For someone who isn't an actor, stepping under the lights is no joke.
Traditionally, video lights are blindingly bright. They're hot. And they're intimidating. But alas! We're in a brave new world. The lights we choose to work with are none of these things! We prioritize making video shoots as comfortable as possible so people can be themselves.
We use LED and fluorescent lights that are cool to the touch. These lights inherently require less power and as a result, don't throw off as much heat. Combined with the fact that we use DSLR cameras that perform extremely well in low-light situations, we don't need to blind our subjects by flooding them with crazy bright lights.
Okay. Gear nerd time!
Fluorescent Soft Lights
These fluorescent lights have seen quite a bit of action in our office. We have two of these daylight balanced, dimmable Cool Lights set up all the time in the studio. The Cool Lights are very similar to the Kino-Flo Diva Lights, the gold standard in soft fluorescent lighting. The difference here is that they're significantly cheaper.
The Cool Lights feature 2 daylight-balanced bulbs that combine into one large light source and produce a soft, flattering light. They're dimmable, which makes them versatile. They're great for flooding light on a group of people, but equally as great dimmed down to light a single subject.
The Cool Lights run about $400 per light, which is a heck of a deal, but they're not necessarily built to sustain the test of time with heavy travel. But since our lights rarely leave the building, we've had good luck with the build quality.
LED Ice Lights
This light wand is incredibly versatile - it even doubles as a lightsaber! The Westcott Ice Light produces a really flattering light that is pretty dang soft. It's daylight balanced, dimmable, and runs on battery power.
If you buy two of these lights, they can combine to make an amazingly powerful, portable light kit. When we traveled to Atlanta to film a customer story, we screwed two Ice Lights on light stands to light our interview. This allowed us to keep our travel gear to a bare minimum.
The Ice Light is also especially useful when you're shooting B-roll to tie your video together. For quick shots, you can ask a friend to handhold the light while you film your shot. It's a tad pricey at $450, but this little light can have an enormous impact on the way your shots look and feel.
We use the Diva Ring Light from Stellar Lighting. It's daylight balanced, it's dimmable, it's awesome. We tried to say it all in this video:
Because the bulb is so huge, it produces a brilliantly soft, flattering light. When used for its intended purpose, the ring light kills all shadows on your talent's face and makes everyone look like a rock star.
Beware of using the ring light with people who wear glasses. The reflection and glare can be pretty distracting. While this is an awesome effect for a music video, it can draw attention away from your message in other instances.
The Westcott Skylux is bright. It's the equivalent to 1000W incandescent light, but it's daylight balanced and dimmable.
The Skylux is a very harsh light without any type of diffusion, but this is an effect you can embrace as long as you don't mind some shadows behind your subject. I loved having this light when I was trying to recreate this beach scene inside of Wistia HQ.
If you can figure out how to re-fold this thing, it can be an awesome way to add just enough light to a shot.
The reflector is most effective when used in bright light and held super close to the subject. Looking for a low-fi alternative? Try using a big piece of white posterboard or a rolling whiteboard!