TAKE 5: Gear Prep - Lights & More

Posted by Thomas Hartmann & Sean Nabors - June 23, 2020


Here we are. The final stretch in planning a training video shoot. It’s been a lot to think about. Hopefully, with the tips we’ve been providing you, that opportunity your boss gave you to create a training video has become a lot less nerve-racking and is now a source of excitement!

We’ve now covered camera and audio prep. In our last segment, we asked if you could guess our next subject. It was kind of a trick question because, yes, you probably guess it; we’re going to cover lighting in this one…BUT…we’re also going to give you some final, bonus tips.


Lights Out!

When the lighting equipment comes out, a video shoot starts to feel very real. Just as we mentioned in the camera prep blog, the local rental houses are a wealth of information and ideas. If you are able to rent some professional lighting, we recommend that you have at least 3 lights to achieve 3-point lighting for your subjects. Do a little research on lighting techniques. You can spend some time going down a really fun rabbit hole of images and resources to get inspired and feel prepared.

While you are location scouting, the lighting considerations are going to sound a lot like the preparation tips we gave for other types of equipment. Things like:

  • Scan your script for ideas about what lighting will enhance the narrative and points you want to make.
  • Take notice of the natural lighting, specifically at the same time of day you’ll be doing your shoot.
  • Make a note about any dark areas that will definitely need a lighting boost.
  • Think about if you’ll want any special effect type lighting; a swinging single bulb on a wire, a red light, strobe effects, etc.
  • Do your research and make a list of what lighting equipment you think you’ll need before having a chat with your local rental house.


Here Comes the Sun (Doo-doo-doo-doo…)

If your budget doesn’t allow you to rent any professional lighting gear, no worries! You can easily make do with the available light on set, in a pinch. Filming an interview next to a window with natural sunlight is a great way to capture your subject with a soft portrait lighting, provided by a million watts of sunshine…and it’s free! With certain camera angles and planning on time of day and the way the natural light moves in a space you can even create some cool special effects. You can also use all the technical magic available in post-production to help enhance or fix lighting issues.

Bonus Tips!

Things are getting exciting! You are so close to completing your preparation for your video shoot. You will find that there are endless tools and devices that are useful to have on a film set to assist with the flow of production. With all of the video shoots under our belts,, we’ve identified a few simple things that make a big difference. Here are some of our favorite must-haves:

  • Duct tape is magical. Have a supply of Duct or Gaffers Tape to secure extension cords, lay down marks for actors, or make a quick fix on, well, anything.
  • A clapboard/slate will not only make you look like a pro, it will also make your editor happy because you logged and identified all of your shots for them.
  • Bring plenty of extension cords. (Take note of how many/where outlets are in the space when you scout the location.)
  • Bring plenty of notepaper and pens to write a shot log, or to take notes. This will assist your editor in post-production, saving countless hours of editing through bad takes.
  • Last but not least, make sure there is food and beverages on the set, for both your cast and crew. Staying hydrated and fed will keep your energy up. Nobody wants a hangry crew!


There you have it! Even if you’re a novice video creator, using the simplest of equipment; preparation is the key. Not only can you be successful and become a video pro in no time, you can have a lot of fun discovering how your creative and organizational skills can shine with these projects. At the end of the day, you get to create a method of training that numerous people can learn from and also enjoy, thanks to your hard work.

You got this. Now go make some training video magic!

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Topics: Video Tips & Tricks

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