Investing on a studio flash strobe kit is the next probable step for photographers who wish to bring their craft to the next level. Much about photography is how much a person knows about their light source.
You need to know more than just which brand might be best for your lighting needs. You also need to know how to manipulate the lighting to make the set have the atmosphere that the photographer has in mind. Of course daylight is usually the best light, but not if you're trying to mimic a particular mood.
Cost is also a consideration. Dramatic scenes can be cast with either continuous lighting or a studio flash strobe. Continuous lighting uses lots of electricity, and the bulbs tend to overheat and burn out very quickly. Strobes, although more expensive up front, will ultimately cost less over their lifetime.
A basic Studio flash strobe lighting kit would be made up of two strobe lights with their own tall light stands, a shorter light stand, varied reflectors, soft boxes and an umbrella. The shorter light stand is often used for smaller subjects or as a stand for the light source dedicated for the background.
The two tall light stands will usually hold the strobe lights. The photographer will adjust the height and direction to direct the light to add a depth of field to the photo. One light will typically be used as a fill light, while the other will be the main light on the subject.
Controlling light is also for achieving the mood they want. Soft boxes are used to soften the light that touches the subject. In portraiture, hard shadows are often considered distracting in a photo. The umbrella as well as the reflectors is used for directing or controlling the light in a studio or in an outdoor shoot.
Depending on the mood desired, the photographer can use an umbrella or reflector made out of different materials. For flattering portraiture, a gold reflector will often be used, as they cast a warm and richer tone on the subject's skin tone.
In order to create a surreal atmosphere using a combination of light and shadows, a silver or aluminum reflector can be used. One side of the reflector may be coated with black. This can be used to block or trap the light that's being reflected from the light source or the walls, or surrounding surfaces.
Most studio light kits also have a carry bag that you can store all of these items in. Typically each component in a studio lighting kit is collapsible and can be easily transported to your location shoots.
If the color of the video you shoot is messed up, chances are high that the problem is either with white balancing the camera or the "color" of the light you are videotaping in.
These two things are a bit on the technical side when it comes to making video but they are not really that hard to understand. White balancing and color temperature are intricately related and any discussion of one will include the other.
White balancing is an adjustment you make to the camera that tells it what kind of light you are recording in so that the camera records video the correct color.
Small, automatic cameras always have automatic white balancing so you do not need to worry about it, but larger video cameras have manual white balance control which gives you better quality. Now a small automatic camera can easily be overwhelmed by different colored lights and not be able to handle it, but outside of changing your light, you would have no control over the situation.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO WHITE BALANCE?
Different types of light are different colors, and these differences are measured on what's known as the Kelvin color temperature scale. Color temperature has no relation to any HEAT that might be given off by the light, rather it is about where the light falls on the color spectrum.
The camera needs to adjust itself, called white balancing, in order to shoot proper color. This might seem strange, because light generally looks white to us humans, regardless of its source. We do not see sunlight as blue, florescent light as green, or incandescent as orange, but they are.
Cameras see the light as it is truly colored but our brains and eyes sort them all out as white or else we'd feel like we were on a permanent LSD trip. (Wow man, everything is soooo colorful.)
Color temperature is the technical term for measuring the color of light. The Kelvin Temperature scale is used. Standard sunlight is about 5,400 degrees Kelvin. Shadowy sunlight is "colder," about 7,400 degrees.
Tungsten halogen TV lights are orange and come in at 3200 degrees kelvin.
You do not really have to know these exact values to adjust your camera.
Most cameras white balance by pointing them at a white card that is reflecting the light being shot under. Then a button is pushed and the camera reads the white and adjusts all other colors relative to the white.
It is important to re-white balance your camera every time you change light sources and of course, every time you turn it on.
One advanced tip is to white balance on a card with a slight blue tint and you will get a nice warm orange. Not orange enough to look distorted, just orange enough to look inviting.
You can do the reverse by balancing on a slightly orange card. This gives you a blue tint, which might just be what you need to make that Christmas scene shot in July look cold.
To play it safe and get the truest color, it is best to shoot in one type of light. Mixtures can throw a camera off. For example, if you shoot inside under incandescent light your windows will look overly blue. Sometimes that can actually look nice, but often it looks horrible.
If you go outside to shoot without changing your white balance setting from taping indoors, your video is likely to be very blue.
If your camera has a manual white balance, use it every single time you change light. Also change it as the day lingers, because sunlight in the evening is much bluer than sunlight at noon. If your camera does it automatically, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Most do amazingly well.
One great feature to look for in more advanced video cameras is the ability to set white balance presets. They can help you change your white balance quickly, without having to go through the typical routine with the white card.
I hope this information helps you make better videos!
Internet Video Gal
I often have people ask me, "What's the best video editing software to use?"
My answer is always, "It depends."
What are you going to edit? How much experience do you have? How complicated do you want to get?
What is "best" for one person won't necessarily be best for the next person.
Personally, I use Final Cut Express. I love it. FCE will do almost everything it's big brother, Final Cut Studio will do. The biggest difference between the two is in the number of video file formats it works with. Final Cut Studio works with a larger number of professional grade formats.
I still shoot on mini dv, which is accepted in Final Cut Express, so I saved myself a bundle and bought FCE. ($1,200 vs. $300)
Validation for my luv of FCE came when I read Videomaker Magazine's annual Best Products of the Year awards. Videomaker gave Final Cut Express the "Best Video Editing Software" title.
According to Videomaker, FCE is a fantastic, low-cost stepping stone into professional-grade editing. The newest version, FCE 4.0 even accepts AVCHD, the new high-definition format.
VideoMaker's annual "Best" awards have several more categories for video editing software. In a category they call, "Best Introductory Editing Software," Videomaker declared a tie between Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 12 ($129) and Corel Video Studio Pro X2, ($99). According to Videomaker, both programs are simple enough for beginners but powerful enough to do complex tasks. (FCE would probably drive newbies just as nuts as Final Cut Pro.)
Pinnacle Studio actually has three levels of complexity and price. Pinnacle Studio is the least expensive at $49, Studio Plus comes in at $99 and Ultimate v. 12 costs $129. All three keep simplicity at the forefront by configuring tasks as templates rather than making the editor select all variables involved. This feature is definitely what a beginner wants.
Corel Video Studio comes in two levels of complexity and price. Pro X2 costs $99 and the basic version runs $70. The basic version limits you to two video tracks and two video overlay tracks while the pro version gives you seven.
When considering an entire suite of video editing software, VideoMaker Magazine gave the top nod to Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium at $1,699. NOT CHEAP. But you get all this: Illustrator, Photoshop Extended, Flash Professional, After Effects, Premiere Pro (the actual video editing software), Encore, Sound Booth, Device Control, Bridge and Dynamic Link. If you are really serious about achieving professional level video editing, this would be a great package. If you don't need quite that much capability, you can get Premiere Pro by itself for $799. Adobe has done a good job of making Premiere much more user-friendly over the years and they also now have a version for Mac.
Adobe also won a Most Innovative Software award for Visual Communicator 3, made especially for the video blogger. Adobe touts it as streaming video made simple. The software helps you with the entire production process, not just post production. It includes a teleprompter as well as features that let you upload your to the web. Adobe purchased this software from a company called Serious Magic.
The final software award, Best Visual Effects Software, was given to proDAD Adorage. If you want to add lots of fancy transitions, this software includes transition effects such as Particles and Lights, Universal Tricks, Diamond Composites, Power FX Pearls, Eyecatcher FX and Particles and Objects. All nine volumes together sell for $499. You can get individual packages starting at $73. Keep in mind this software is not full-fledged video editing software, but rather a package to use in conjunction with standard video editing software.
So if you have been looking to buy some video editing software, consider your needs and budget. Then you can decide what is best for you.
Thanks for reading Video Production Tips
Internet Video Gal