How to Make a Video Lighting Rig for Under $100: Tutorial

How to Make a Video Lighting Rig for Under $100: Tutorial

Without light, there is no video. Or rather, with not enough light there is crappy, unprofessional video. So wherever you are, you need adequate light, sometimes, even outside, if the weather isn't fully cooperating. We found this great tutorial from IndyMogul that shows how you can make a $86 do-it-yourself lighting rig using materials that you can easily find at your local DIY or hardware store.

Why Good Lighting is Critical to Good Web Video.

Lighting is as important as content when it comes to quality of the video you're making. Improper lighting means you don't know what you're doing and will quickly show the viewer exactly that. It also totally destroys picture quality and instantly makes it grainy unless you've got some super light-gathering lenses. It works if that's what you're going for, but if you're trying to show off some products, that just isn't going to cut it. The more light the better is usually the rule since too dark can never be recovered properly. Even if there's too much light you can usually make some adjustments on the camera to get a better picture than too little light would ever allow for.

The IndyMogul DIY Lighting Rig Tutorial:

The new light Griffin Hammond from IndyMogul made in this video is bright enough to be the main light and with some additions like an umbrella, wax paper or gels can create a softer light for softer shadows and even colored lighting effects. The bulbs don't get so hot that they heat up the room nor are they hot enough to melt most things you'll use nearby them, but be safe either way. He also shows off some of the other lights he uses for his three-point lighting system; key, fill and back. Each serves a specific purpose.

DIY Video Lighting Rig Project Materials:

Things you'll need for this project:

  • Initiative - It's a bit of work
  • A small budget (around $86)
    • eight 100-watt-equivalent compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs
    • 13x9 aluminum cake pan and lid
    • 12x10 white plastic dish pan
    • 4 sockets
    • 4 socket splitters (two sockets per main socket)
    • wired on/off switch
    • metal handle
    • plastic flagpole holder
    • blank plastic yard sign
    • clear silicone sealant
    • 3/4 inch screws and nuts
    • wiring supplies (bare AC cable, wire guards, 12 gauge wire

The light output looks like this:

  • 12,800 lumens, or 13 incandescent bulbs worth of power, but uses only 184 actual watts
  • Color temperature: 5,000 degrees Kelvin (often called "daylight")
  • Power consumption: draws 3.2 amps

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About the Author -
Christophor Rick is a freelance writer specializing in technology, new media, video games, IPTV, online video advertising and consumer electronics. His past work has included press releases, copy-writing, travel writing and journalism. He also writes novel-length and short fiction as part of Three-Faced Media . View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Lee Steed Kabilyo

    Is there a way to do this same setup with a dimmer?

    • Chris Juhn

      You could add multiple on/off switches so that you control 2 lights at a time. That way you have a choice of using 2, 4, 6, or 8 lights. You can also have better control over filling light on someones face like turning on the 2 sets of lights at each end and having the middle lights off so that if there is too much exposure on the front of their face it will reduce it. Otherwise do a better job at diffusing the light or just unscrew the bulbs your not using which could wear them out faster.

      • Lee Steed Kabilyo

        Great idea! Thanks Chris!

  • Christophor Rick

    This was actually a timely assignment for me because I am also making a light box for product images and I needed a low heat light source. I might also do a test with some LED bulbs for my lightbox project.

    • reelseo

       @Christophor Rick If you end up making it, make a video about it or sometin' ;-)