How To Light Up a Dark Video

So you just shot some amazing video, and you slip it into your DVD player, flop down on the couch, and press play. But, the video is not as exciting as you had hoped. The video is too dark, and difficult to see what’s going on.

If the video is just for home viewing and personal use, consider simply adjusting the tint, contrast, and brightness of the television, computer monitor, or whatever playback monitor in use.

If, however, the dark video is for something more along professional lines, or there are at least intentions of posting it on the Web somewhere, these following steps may be some help.

Step One
Load the video in question onto a computer with video editing software.

There are many options for video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Elements 8, Pinnacle Studio 14 Ultimate, Cyberlink PowerDirector 8 Ultra, and Movie Edit Pro 15 Plus. These software programs can cost anywhere from forty dollars to well over four hundred. iMovie comes free with Mac Computers and Movie Maker comes free with Window’s. Other freeware video editing software includes Jump Cut, Virtual Dub, Wax, Zwei-Stein, Jahshaka, and HyperEngine-AV to name a few.

Step Two
Begin experimenting with coloring, shade, pixel size and other options within the video editing software. It may take some time with the learning curve involved for the editing software.

Step Three
Make sure that every time a change is made to the dark video that it is saved under a different name than the original file name. In case a change is made to the dark video in the editing process, saving under a unique file name will not make permanent changes to the original video until one is completely satisfied by the final production quality.

Production Tips

Of course, the biggest and easiest step in lighting up a dark video is to avoid the problem altogether. When recording video, think about the lighting situation involved. Many cameras have settings for dimly lit environments, and this is a good starting point. The other greatest advantage is to set up lighting before beginning to shoot the film.

Lighting for a video can be done either on the cheap, or one can ford out some big bucks for the project. If this is a one-shot deal, go for the cheap.

Aluminum foil can be used for a light bounce board. A bounce board is any flat piece of material that will reflect light. Other items that could be used for a bounce board are car windshield sunshades, sheets of foamcore, polystyrene sheets, white boards—the kind used in schools with dry erase markers—or even survival blankets that are kept in emergency car kits if they are colored either gold or silver.

For big powerful lights, go with a halogen work lamp, which can be purchased for as little as ten bucks. Keep in mind that these halogen work lamps tend to cast a yellow shade of light, which may not be appropriate for what is being filmed. To correct this yellow casted light, place a see-through colored gel over the camera lens. The gel sheets can be had at almost any hobby store.

Lastly, if everything has been done that one can possibly think of having done to try to brighten up the dark video, consider contracting with a video editing professional. The local Yellow Pages sometimes list several video editing companies, but often times it can be difficult to find these people, or at the very least find reasonably affordable video editing professional. If there is no luck to be had with the Yellow Pages or a local Internet search, try calling local television stations. Many of the local stations’ video editing professionals will do video editing work on the side for extra money, and they tend to undercut the competition.


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