Articles, Blog

$1 Cinematic Lighting Hacks: How to Get Better Lighting for Video

February 13, 2020

– Today, I’m gonna show you
how we only spent two dollars to get cinematic lighting for our videos and I’m gonna show you how
you can do the same thing too. – [Narrator] You gotta just press record. – My name is Nolan Molt with ThinkMedia and today, I’m so excited
to talk about lighting with you guys. And some of you may have lights already and you’re lighting your YouTube videos, but it still doesn’t look good. And so, you’re probably asking, “Why?” Well, you probably have hard lighting, and that’s when the light
comes in really harsh, maybe you’re outside and the
sun’s hitting you in the face, maybe you have some LED
lights pointing at you and the shadows are really dark, and then the light on the
skin is really, really bright. And so today, I’m gonna show
you three different ways to soften your light. Soft lighting is often
used in movies and TV shows because it looks really professional. So soft lighting is the
opposite of hard lighting. Soft light is when the light
comes in onto your subject or onto your face and it
blends from the bright spots into the shadows. And soft lighting hides wrinkles, and so they often use this in
the beauty and makeup space. So the question you’re probably asking is, “How do I get soft lighting?” Well really, there is
two ways to get lighting and the first way is a
large source of light. The closer the light is to you, the softer it’s going to be. And you can think of this as
when the light moves closer to you, it’s almost giving
the effect of it becoming a bigger light source. So now I’m gonna show
you some very cheap ways to get soft lighting, and what better way than to
save money on filmmaking gear than going to Dollar Tree? Man, I wish they had
a camera for a dollar. (upbeat music)
So at Dollar Tree, we picked up two items. The first one was a shower curtain and we’re gonna use that
to explain diffusion. One of the ways that you can
get a large source of light is by using soft boxes or diffusion. So you have the lights and
then you have the diffusion in front of the lights, and by the time the light
actually hits the diffusion, you have a larger surface area. So we use this shower
curtain for our diffusion by setting up two light
stands and then attaching the shower curtain to the light stands, and then we had two LED
lights that we had directly behind the shower curtain, giving us beautiful soft lighting. You can also use the shower
curtain over a window. If maybe you shoot your
YouTube videos by a window and you have that direct
sunlight coming in, this shower curtain is
going to be a perfect, natural soft box for a dollar. The second way to get soft
lighting is by bouncing light. This is another great
example of increasing the light source. So I’m gonna show you
before, with no bounce, and now this is with a bounce added, and you can see that it
really fills in those shadows, making this footage look
way more professional. Also remember that when
you’re bouncing light, the light is actually going to be dimmed because its bouncing off things before its actually hitting you. So you’re gonna wanna use
your most powerful lights for the bounce. This is why it works so well with the sun because the sun is so bright
that when it hits the bounce and reflects back, its still very bright. A little power tip for you
is to set your white balance after bouncing your light because you could bounce
your light off anywhere, it doesn’t have to be a
bounce board that you find at the Dollar Tree. It can be off the ceiling, the wall, but sometimes, these things
aren’t perfectly white. Sometimes your wall might
be a little bit yellow or a little bit green, and so it’s going to
actually affect the light that is going onto you. So set your white balance afterwards. Now if you don’t have a
dollar to go and buy one of these poster boards, you can use a bed sheet and hang that up on some light stands, point some lights at
it and you’re gonna get some really soft lighting. I have one more tip for you
guys on how to get soft lighting and this one is absolutely free. But before we get into that,
I’d love it if you gave this video a thumbs up
and comment down below, what lights do you use
for your YouTube videos? All right, this third tip
for soft lighting is simple, it’s free. It’s using shade. If you’ve ever shot video outside, you’ve probably noticed
that either the sky was way too bright or maybe you
exposed it so you could see the colors in the sky, but then the skin was way too dark. The nice thing about shade is
its covering that direct sun that’s harsh, and so when you really think about what shade is, is it’s a bunch of bounced light. So, naturally, in shade,
you’re gonna get soft shadows, things are gonna blend a lot better. Just keep in mind that
when you’re shooting and you are in the shade, make sure that your
background is also shaded. Now I hope that helps you get started in the basics of soft lighting, and if you wanna get a
little more in-depth, I just made a video on
three point lighting. So if you wanna see that video, you can click on the end
card and I will see you guys in the next video. (upbeat music)


  • Reply Neze Okoyeocha February 5, 2020 at 11:02 am

    You tubers supporting you tubers?
    Though I have no video πŸ˜‚

  • Reply Abdulraheem Khan February 5, 2020 at 11:03 am

    β€οΈπŸ‘ŒπŸ» Nice video

  • Reply Ran dax February 5, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Hi all have a great year ahead

  • Reply ceejaybeatz_tbm February 5, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Sir your tutorials are amazing thanks so much trying to get better in my music tutorials as well in both lighting and editing thanks so much for all your videos

  • Reply Alex Disney February 5, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Great tips. will have to try implement these into my work flow. Thanks

  • Reply DalisoBlessing February 5, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for this post πŸ€—. I am currently looking for some lights for my video.

  • Reply sahco February 5, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Man don’t overwater your plants

  • Reply karera ken February 5, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Great video..these are the videos that has seen my channel growing fast.. Thank u

  • Reply Jesvin Techno February 5, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Like it.

  • Reply Aaron Razis February 5, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Nice tips. Never thought of that tips on using sheets to soften the light rather to spend more on softbox.

  • Reply Silver Heist February 5, 2020 at 11:18 am

    I have a big window and a Pixar-type desk spot light. Both can be bright. Will try the soft and reflective tips. Thanks.

  • Reply Execute KYSER February 5, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Title say 1$ … Video says 2$ πŸ€”

  • Reply retrotvandmovies February 5, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Thank you for the information Nolan. Good job. Looking forward to more tutorials from you. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply DaddyGamer Fred February 5, 2020 at 11:25 am

    I use some extra $30 IKEA lights I had laying around and threw them around the studio. My lighting is very hard tho. Thanks going to check to see if these tips help.

  • Reply Aus Like February 5, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for sharing! your video have been very useful ! πŸ‘

  • Reply Arya SD February 5, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Sean Cannell IS THE MANNNN! I've taken all of him advices about growing channel and now after 3
    years proffesional recording time lapses I just created my own channel.
    My last video is a time lapse of sunset(music). I would love some
    support / feedback so please hit subscribe and check it out

  • Reply Arya SD February 5, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Sean Cannell IS THE MANNNN! I've taken all of him advices about growing channel and now after 3
    years proffesional recording time lapses I just created my own channel.
    My last video is a time lapse of sunset(music). I would love some
    support / feedback so please hit subscribe and check it out

  • Reply ifell3 February 5, 2020 at 11:34 am

    What you really need is some orca or panda film. I recently looked into these reflective properties only to have found out those pesky weed growers have a list of reflectiveness of different properties!!
    Nice tip on the shower curtain defuser, even comes with attachment loops!!

  • Reply myHomeKithome February 5, 2020 at 11:37 am

    I'll definitely be trying the shower curtain trick with the ESDDI LED lights I recently picked up on you guys' recommendation. Thanks for the help!

  • Reply PronkIT February 5, 2020 at 11:42 am

    I watched one of your videos from a year ago. You recommended a pair of cheap lightboxes. They work perfectly for me, but I would like to upgrade to the large LED lights.

  • Reply AZ Rivera February 5, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Niiiiice! 😱 I think I should try one/all of them for my videos as soon as I have a (new) space. πŸ€“ Thank you. ☺️

  • Reply Indika Herath February 5, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    What is the best budget (~150$) light kit for videos?

  • Reply Lynn Hayden February 5, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    This was so helpful! Great information. I’d love to learn more about white balance and how to make those adjustments in editing.

  • Reply Passive Income Tom February 5, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Great tips! Lighting is always important. πŸ‘

  • Reply James Ker-Lindsay February 5, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks. Working on lighting has made a huge difference in my videos. I really love shooting on a really lovely sunny day. But it does require management. As ever, the team at Think Media been a brilliant source of information.

  • Reply Lucky xman February 5, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Well and nice tips buddy '

  • Reply Mark Pritchard February 5, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    I use a soft box but that tip about putting a shower curtain over the window and using the sun is definitely a trick i'm going to try. Thanks.

  • Reply Mr Akinz February 5, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    lighting actually works it made my videos a lot better still. lighting is not even that expensive still

  • Reply Christian Pitcher February 5, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Great tip! And so so cheap to do. I normally use my window as it's right next to where I film. Next time I'll use a bedsheet

  • Reply Your Player 2 February 5, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    I'd been using bounce light a bit, but I really wanna try the diffusion route since I've been struggling with harsh shadows!

  • Reply Itz Si February 5, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Nice one….I used an Ikea lamp (that was lying around the house) changed the light bulb to a bright white and put a nylon sheet over it job done cheap and simple (did a video on it too lol) 😎✌🏼

  • Reply OneRonin February 5, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Great tips. I follow you guys for a long time and it really helps me in my YouTube journey. keep up the amazing work!

  • Reply Wasim Zahid February 5, 2020 at 1:04 pm


  • Reply JuanGuy&HisCamera February 5, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Two Neewer 660 LED lights, and I bought two soft boxes for them

  • Reply Maths with Muneer February 5, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you all, this is what I was looking for. Loved it

  • Reply Muslim Homeschoolers Unite February 5, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Yes! We've just asked why! You read our minds! We've purchased a lighting kit that included fabric that you can velcro over the light if you wish. We always cover it. We really don't know how to bounce light well. Thanks so much!

  • Reply Mina JC February 5, 2020 at 2:08 pm


  • Reply TSG February 5, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Great tips! Along with audio, lighting is often overlooked. If I may bring a little clarity to a couple things mentioned?
    1:18 1. When it comes to light being closer it's actually the diffuser being closer to the subject that helps reduce shadows and hard light. Distance between the light source and the defuser is key. If you have a light source very close to the defuser and you move both light and defuser close you'll get harder light. Back off that light source and keep the defuser close, softer light. This is why a shower curtain works so well with the sun. Curtain close, Sun far.

    3:00 2. Be careful when white balancing after bouncing. When the bouncing object isn't bouncing the same color as your main source color temps will be different. For example, if the noonday sun is to the right of the subject and you bounce off a brown wall on the left, your white balance will interpret somewhere between 5500K and 2500K. This will cast an oddly blue hue on the right side of your subject. I would rather (and this is just preference and scene, and mood, etc.) white balance to the sunlight and allow the redder colors bounce to my subject. Little warmer and may seem more natural. Grab a silver-coated car sunshade to use as a bounce. Here's an inexpensive possible solution That will help keep color temps more balanced no matter the main light source color temp.

    As for that 1 dollar camera? Maybe not at the Dollar Store, but it can be done.

  • Reply Carter Confidential February 5, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Awesome video!! Good idea

  • Reply It's Amit February 5, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    I use natural 🌞 light for my video

  • Reply Business Outside The Lines - w/Chuck Peavey February 5, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    I just bought 2 yards of Neewer fabric for about $10, wish this video had come out 2 weeks ago πŸ˜‰

    Question: If you're using a shower curtain or a sheet, does the sheet color the light? Say the sheet has a slight blue or yellow tint, will white balance compensate?

    I repainted the walls in my studio because they were white but not "white," it felt like I was shooting in the most depressing place on earth (like the DMV or something)!

  • Reply Lisa Marie February 5, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    I've been loving these shorter videos! Even though they're short, the tips are super helpful! Thank you!

  • Reply Caleb & Key February 5, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    So helpful! Thanks for the tips!

  • Reply TheJustonemore February 5, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    $1 dollar lie/ it used to be truthful

  • Reply Jordan February 5, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Go Think Media πŸ‘ŠπŸΌ

  • Reply Mariela Merino February 5, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Think media is so close to 1 million. How exciting 😊😊😊

  • Reply Think Media February 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Question of the Day ⚑ What LIGHTS do you use for video right now? Let us know! * 🎯 Looking for more lighting tutorials for YouTube? WATCH THIS VIDEO NEXT ➑️

  • Reply AshSunDai's WoRLd February 5, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Very helpful…. thank you!

  • Reply Bollywood Hollywood super express February 5, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    thank you for this video……. great advise

  • Reply Fred February 5, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    "The sun is so bright"… dude, I live in Belgium "Land of the hidden sun". Seriously : Nice tips, thank you

  • Reply David Senteno February 5, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Great pointers… and yes Dollar Tree rules for photo accessories. Just add imagination. πŸ₯‚πŸΌ

  • Reply JustMatt February 5, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Lighting has always been an issue for me so these tips helped a lot! Thanks!

  • Reply Kimberly Lemus February 5, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    There’s been times where i haven’t filmed videos due to not having enough natural lighting. Thanks for the helpful video!

  • Reply SlawBurger Labs February 5, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    What a helpful video, although I’m more of a Dollar General man myself. πŸ˜€ Well done, dude, & thanks!

  • Reply AJ aka Audrey February 5, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Great info. Great video. Thank you.

  • Reply Jazzy Strong February 5, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    Super helpful! I never even thought about poster boards!

  • Reply J. Spence February 6, 2020 at 12:25 am

    This is excellent πŸ‘ŒπŸΎ

  • Reply FinancingLife February 6, 2020 at 12:59 am

    What's the best strategy for when your subject wears glasses?

  • Reply Lena Bean February 6, 2020 at 1:57 am

    I havent posted my videos yet but my mom got me these vanity lights in my room for my makeup that look really good on camera and I'm usually in my sun room so around 2pm my room is lit really nicely

  • Reply Phillip Destruge February 6, 2020 at 3:06 am

    But what about tax on those $2 Nolan? lmao Always thankful for the info you guys procide

  • Reply deka semet Id February 6, 2020 at 3:23 am

    Please show me …nikkon 5300 d for making video

  • Reply americantroy77 February 6, 2020 at 4:01 am

    Wait… soft lighting is the opposite of hard lighting? Next level dude, next level

  • Reply Stella Kydd February 6, 2020 at 4:52 am

    I have a pair of Yongnou 300 that I just got and am still trying to figure them out.

  • Reply Sway to the 99 February 6, 2020 at 5:09 am

    Thank you for these easy tips!! Definitely will try these

  • Reply Mama Simmer Plays February 6, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    I have chronic migraine and really prefer to hide in the dark. I'm not sure why I'm watching this vid – but it's interesting, so here I am.

  • Reply Tammy Nall Tillett February 6, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you. I've been struggling with my lighting.

  • Reply amanda johnson February 6, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    So cool love this so helpful!

  • Reply Dee Waters February 6, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    Didn’t even know about these tips till now! I only use my ring light.

  • Reply Chris Snyder Guitar February 7, 2020 at 12:08 am

    This was really helpful! I just got two white umbrellas so I'm gonna experiment with that.

  • Reply Sightline Stategies February 7, 2020 at 6:57 am

    I'm still learning of course but I've noticed that LED work lights are a little cheaper option to get some great light with a tighter budget.

  • Reply HAWLE YARE OFFICIAL February 7, 2020 at 11:49 am


  • Reply William Hartmann February 7, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    Great ideas on how to do lighting on the cheap. The outdoor shade idea is a great one. Just make sure to pay attention to the background. No porta-potties in the shot.

  • Reply R3 HEALTHY BITTAZZ February 9, 2020 at 1:28 am

    Wow!! Thanks you!! I used sunlight.

  • Reply A Taste of Health February 9, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    I keep checking back waiting for you to cross that 1M subscribers mark. Can't wait to see it happen!

  • Reply Jeremy Shirazee February 10, 2020 at 2:19 am

    I've used baking paper before πŸ˜›

  • Reply Dennis Amey February 10, 2020 at 10:53 am

    The only lighting I have at the moment is recessed lights, any tips on making this better

  • Reply Sandi Bird Aldridge February 10, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for the great, cheap tips! I just bought a tripod/Mic/light combo from Wal-Mart (my budget) but I will definitely take your tips and use them. I'm just getting into doing more than an occasional vacation video, so this will be a big help!

  • Reply Jeroen van Eerden February 12, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your tips! I published my first real video the other day but still need to focus on my lightning (and so much more haha). Great tips and thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • Reply Luke n’ Ella’s vlogs February 13, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    I’m gonna try and get my first video out by Easter. Wish me luck!!!!

  • Leave a Reply