Lighting & Layout

Good quality LED studio lighting is available, and I recommend you use that if you can afford it. The illustrations below show fluorescent lights. The main points about where the lighting is located and control of backlighting and shadows, is the same.

Here is the lighting layout of my studio. The key and fill lights are positioned far enough to the left and right so that their reflection in the glass board is not visible to the camera.

Below is what it looks like when sitting on the floor in front of the videocamera, looking toward the lightboard.

The backlight is mounted flat against the back wall. The videocamera can't see the backlight, but you can see it in the picture below, because I took the picture from floor level.

Below is the videocamera's view, although I've zoomed way out so you can see the whole room. The curtain above the lightboard blocks almost all of the light from the back lights. The backdrop behind the glass is black muslin. I tried very flat black paint, but it was not black enough.

The photo below is taken while standing behind the lightboard, where the presenter stands. You can see the key and fill lights hanging to the left and right. They are each eight 54W tubes (Sunblaze 960305) shining through the glass at me. The key and fill lights are positioned far enough to the sides that their reflection in the glass is not visible to the videocamera. If you want left and right lit differently (traditional key & fill) some tubes can be turned off on one side.

I painted the wall around the camera black to minimize reflections in the glass.

Behind and above me I put eight 95W tubes (Sunblaze 360365), mounted flush against the wall, and a mylar reflector sticking out perpendicular to the wall, just above them (photo below.) This provides backlight without spill onto the black backdrop. Look carefully at the photo which is confusing because of the reflection in the mylar. The fluorescent fixture is mounted flush to the wall.

Front lights + back lights = good video image.

The back light contributes edge definition against the black background. The image of me on the left below shows what the camera sees if I am illuminated only by the front lights. I look "flat" and not clearly delineated from the black background. The backlight adds highlights on my periphery as shown in the middle image. Combining the two gives a more live or dimensional appearance, as shown in the right image.

We also have a well lit table and overhead videocamera for closeup and macro work.