How to Set Up a Video Studio for the Perfect Shot

By Daniel Kosmala
4 Min Read
Set up video studio

We get asked a lot about the kinds of video equipment needed to get the perfect shot.

But honestly, how you use your video equipment is a lot more important than the equipment itself.

You can spend thousands of dollars on what some would call “the right equipment” – but without a specific vision for what your videos will look like and how to create that image, you will be throwing your money away.

So in this article, we’re going to show you how to set up and shoot a killer scene.

Here are the two crucial tips for nailing your shots:

1. Camera Setup

Let’s start with the camera angle.

camera setup

You should always make sure your camera is level with your face, or slightly below your face so it’s looking up toward you.

Having the viewer looking up at you can create a sense of authority and strength. 

Inversely, having the camera look down on you can create a sense of inferiority and weakness. While it can often be a very powerful artistic angle to shoot at, it’s not one you want to start with as a beginner video content creator.

If you’re shooting a workout or yoga video, you’ll likely want to have your entire body in the shot with enough room to move around. Make sure you test those parameters before recording so you know how much room you have.

If you’re shooting in more of a talking-head, conversational video (like the video in the beginning of this article), you’ll want a tighter angle, usually from the mid-chest upwards.

Be sure to leave a little bit of head-room so your hair isn’t cut off at the top, and that you’re not so far down that there’s a lot of empty space.

One of the most important things to do is to create some depth in the image. You want to create some distance between yourself and the background, whatever that background may be.

This is called depth of field. This is something you want to create so that you can get a nice blurred background while your subject remains in sharp focus during the video, like this…

depth of field in video

If you shoot videos in a studio, like Sarah Beth Yoga’s where it’s just you on a white background you don’t have to worry about creating depth of field.

sarah beth yoga

But if you’re shooting in a gym or somewhere else, just make sure you give yourself enough distance between the background and your place on camera. It doesn’t have to be much, a few feet will do the trick.

2. Lighting

This might be the most important part of this article. Seriously.

Bad lighting can ruin a video. You could have the most beautiful scenery of all time, but if the lighting is wonky, the end result just isn’t going to look good.

In fact, let us show you exactly what our Uscreen Health & Fitness YouTube studio would look like in a few different lighting setups:

Too bright:

video lighting too bright

Too dark:

video lighting too dark

Too yellow:

video lighting too ugly

You get the point. It’s a delicate balance of the proper camera settings and the proper lighting positions and levels.

With that being said, here’s the best way to position your lights and find the right balance for a beautifully lit image.

light diagram

Your main light, also called the key light, should be pointed at your on-camera talent (you or whoever else is in the video). This light should be in about the 1 o’clock position.

This will help light one side of your face and add some light, textured shadows to the other side of your face. You don’t want there to be too much contrast on your face or you’ll look like a villain.

The solution to filling in the far side of your face is to either have a fill light dimmed way down, or have a piece of white poster board on the side opposite of the key light to reflect some of the excess light back onto the shadow side of your face. 

In a room with no windows, you can also use a light panel to fill in the background light. If you’ve got some light coming into your scene, aim it for the background. If not, use light to fill in that background.

The last thing we would recommend is putting a nice, soft light of some sort in the background of your video. Whether it’s a lamp, candles, or even a $1 string of lights from WalMart, it’ll add some depth and texture, and significantly increase the quality of your image.

It should be nicely blurred out and will add good ambiance to your video.

All great YouTubers have background lights when they shoot videos in their studios.

Here are some examples:

And there you have it! Everything you need to get the perfect video shot.

Remember, before your viewers start to care about how beautiful your video is, they will care about what you have to offer them. So stack the odds in your favor and provide ridiculous value for your audience and they’ll be more forgiving of your setup.

Happy streaming!