Want to create lighting effects for your video on the cheap? There’re lots of ways to manufacture effects by using different kinds of light, without spending an arm and a leg on expensive studio lighting equipment. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use filters. Filters are pieces of material that you hold in front of a light to change color or create an effect. Since professional filters are expensive, improvise. Try the clear but color-tinted plastic cups. Fill the cup with water and slosh it in front of the light for a “swimming” effect.
  2. You can artificially create a room full of sunlight, even if it’s night, by placing a powerful light (maybe 1,000 watts) outside a window. Cover it with blue gel for the illusion of early morning, or yellow/red for an evening sunset.
  3. When you want some dim lighting on the scene while keeping the appearance of nighttime (i.e., a car interior), try the tiny white Christmas lights. You can put them in places where bigger lights can’t go, and they’ll provide soft light without the bulb being seen.
  4. Sweep two narrow beam lights (say, halogen flashlights) at an angle across a darkened black wall to look like car lights in the driveway.
  5. Rhythmically pass a blue and then red gelled light past the background or interior of a car to look like cop lights.
  6. Use lampshades to soften up brighter lights. Plain lampshades mute harsh light to create mood. Or get some Japanese lanterns, which are made of paper and fairly cheap, to tone down brightness. Lampshades and lanterns come in different colors too.
  7. Set up a small diffused light at floor level. Then hang strips of red, yellow, and orange gel onto a broom handle. Gently shaking the strips in front of the light will create a firelight effect.


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