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Using Inexpensive DJ LED Lights to Jazz Up Video Productions

Looking beyond the small set of white and bi-color LEDs specifically made for video production, you can find a whole other world of LED fixtures made for other markets--including "disc jockey" LED lights and controllers. For the cost of one good fresnel light, you can have a multi-light, expandable LED lighting package.

My LED Kit In Use

I was hired to record three days of client testimonials at my client's annual "innovation summit." There they invite their best customers to hear the latest innovations in management and new concepts by leading developers. These clients were going to speak on camera and tell us, as well as future customers, how great my client is. These videos are destined for my client's website.

So the videos needed to be polished, and they also needed to look distinct from one another, despite the fact that we would be shooting them all in one room, with one backdrop. I could do it by bringing a lot of light control--gobos, gels, etc.--but I decided instead to use LED lights to "mix up" the look of these interviews.

I set up two LED lights on the floor, aimed at the backdrop. One was set up overhead as a hair light, and then I added one light on the floor on the other side aiming up as a sidelight. I could control these individually, but I ended up just pairing them up--two floor lights, two back lights. Pairing them up made it easy to ensure that whatever settings I chose, one light would be identical to the other. I wouldn't have to try to match them by eye.

LED cans on the floor
My three LED "cans" on the floor. Two next to the chair are aimed at the backdrop. The one in the foreground provides an edge light on the talent in the chair.

Lighting with Different Backdrop Colors and Backlights

I set some different scenes with different colors on the backdrop, and different backlights. As we set up, my client remarked that she didn't like the green in the backdrop. No problem. The LED leads have red, green, and blue LEDs in them. Each is a very narrow band of light. If I use no green on the backdrop, the green color has nothing to reflect. It simply looks black.

Conversely, there was no red and very little white in the backdrop. This made it hard to have the red LEDs have much effect. So I was not as able to affect the color of the backdrop as much as I wanted, but I was still able to take out the green and make the client happy.

For the hair light, we used a light "blush" pink, soft yellow, white... and stayed away from green, which looked awful on hair, and away from blue, which made the client blend into the backdrop. If anything, the challenge for me was to try and get a nice "wrap" of the hair light. With only one small fixture overhead, it was fairly limited in where it hit. That's why I added the second light on the floor--to add more on the hair/back of the head, and also add a bit of edge light on the face.