Beginner Youtubers Series Pt. 3: Lighting and Audio For Beginner Youtubers

I’m back with Part 3 of my Youtubers Series! If you haven’t already, check out part 1 and part 2 where I discuss cameras and lenses! These are the final things you need to consider to make your youtube videos really pop, lighting and audio!

lighting and audio for youtubers, beginner youtubers, youtube tips, video tips, video lighting tips, video audio tips

Lighting

Lighting can be tricky and VERY expensive to purchase when you want to do it right. But there are some cheaper/easier solutions depending on your filming space. The first and most cost effective thing to do when it comes to lighting is film your videos in front of a window.

Natural Light

I want you to think of videography and photography as the art of capturing light…because that is really what we are doing. Great lighting will make or break the quality of your videos. You could use artificial light that is already available to you, like ceiling lights or lamps, but you may find that the quality is not that great when you look at the final product.

This could be for many reasons, one being the color of the light and the placement of the light. For example, in my apartment I have recessed lighting in the ceiling, so when I stand underneath it, it creates harsh shadows on my face. This is why filming in front of a window with lots of natural light is ideal when you are filming on a budget! Having the light source in front of you will cast adequate light evenly onto your gorgeous face (which is what we want to see)! Plus the light is very diffused, unless you film on an exceptionally sunny day, which makes things a lot easier.

When you are ready to invest in lighting, you have a few options.

Ring Light

If you’ve already done some research on video lighting, i’m sure you’ve heard about the infamous ring light. Almost every makeup and hair youtuber purchases a light like this, and with good reason.

A ring light is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a light shaped like a ring. It goes around the lens like this:

It illuminates the face beautifully, and often you can get by with just that one light. However,  when turned up really bright it does create this exaggerated circular look within the eyes:

For some, it looks a little unnatural. For a more natural look, you can get something different.

LED Lights

The next type of lights I would recommend are LED lights. These lights are ideal because they do not physically get hot (like some lights do) and they can create a more natural look. There are a lot of technical things we can talk about here, but what I can say is that most youtubers can get away with what we call a “Two-Light” Set up. It looks like this:

Image Source: The Video Effect TV

LED lights vary in strength and color temperature, and it is difficult to say which one you would need without being able to see the film location. However, I would suggest getting a light that is set to daylight (5600K) and with dimming features to start. If you know the area is pretty dark, then opt for a stronger light. I like to use Ikan lights personally, I even use these for some of my commercial work.

Some lights I can recommend are:

Ikan iLED 312 On-Camera Bi Color LED Light
Ikan ID500 Studio Light
Ikan ID1000 Studio Light

The main differences between these are the power and color temperature. The 312 isn’t as powerful as the 1000. The number references how many bulbs are in the light. In most cases, you will not need a light as powerful as the 1000, so I’d go with the 312 or 500 that should be more than enough. The 312 has the added benefit of color temperature, you can use a dial to change how orange or blue the light is. This can be really helpful if you are in a setting that has more orange or yellow lighting. If you want to learn more about lighting temperatures, let me know in the comments below!

You can start with buying one, see how it does and then add light as needed. If you really aren’t sure, you can try renting some to test them out, there are a lot of places that rent camera equipment for very reasonable prices!

If you really want to get fancy, then you can do a traditional “Three-Light” set up. It looks like this:

The third light (back light) serves to separate you from the background and create depth to your image. This is the traditional way to light a subject for an ‘interview’ type video.

Beyond this, there are even fancier ways to light yourself that can create a more “cinematic” look. If you are interested in that just let me know, that will need to be a separate post!

Now, onto audio.

Audio

Audio is another VERY important component. What is the point of creating a fabulous video with a ton of interesting content if we can’t hear you?! So, when you are first starting out you can use the audio that your phone or video camera already captures. Most DSLR cameras have built-in microphones.

When you are ready to advance, you can get an on camera microphone like this:

These work best with DSLR or similar cameras, not cellphones. They will do great under most circumstances and it will be a major improvement over your phone audio or the built-in mic. However, it will pick up any noise in the background so if your environment isn’t quiet you will hear all of that. There are some things you can do during the editing process to help minimize background noise, but it’s always best to record it right the first time.

When you are ready to get even better audio, I recommend a lavalier microphone like this:

There are wired and wireless versions of lavalier microphones. Both work well, but a wireless one will be more convenient of course.

These are going to give you the best audio quality because you pin it onto your shirt and it gets a direct sound coming from you. Even if there is light noise in the background, these microphones don’t really pick it up. The only thing you need to worry about is making sure your clothes to rub against it.

However, some people don’t like that you can see the microphone in the video. To avoid this, you could do what the filmmakers do and set a microphone above you. Or, you can also use external recorders, but those can be a little tricky to use if you haven’t used them before (especially during the editing process). If you want something simple, I would suggest using an on camera mic.

A Quick Note About Editing

Editing your videos after you’ve spent all this time filming is crucial to the quality as well. There are people who specialize solely in this because—in a lot of ways— video editing is its own art form. If you have never edited before then there will be a learning curve and if you are interested, I can certainly write some blog posts and do some videos to help you out with this! I use the adobe creative suite to handle all of my creative stuff, but the principles I use are the same and can be used on virtually any editing software. Let me know if you want to learn more about editing!

In Conclusion

Well there you have it! This is the final post in this 3 part series! If you haven’t yet, please check out park 1 and 2 if you want to know more about cameras and lenses!

Read More:

The Emerging Vloggers Series Pt. 1: Cameras

The Emerging Vloggers Series Pt. 2: Lenses

Now you can begin to create awesome youtube videos!

Are you a newbie youtuber and have a question for me?! Please feel free to comment below!

I hope you found value in this post and as always, thank you for reading!

Olivia J

Olivia J is a video producer, writer, and director specializing in corporate video, events, documentaries and film. To see some of her work visit oliviaj.me