Introduction: How to Make Cheap Video Lighting [for Less Than $30]

About: My name is Emil and I’m audio and video engineer. I do engineering for more than 15 years and I help startups and established companies to create prototypes for their physical products (devices) and to increas…
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Why do you need video lighting?

The best camera will perform bad on bad light conditioning and the worst camera will perform well on good light conditions.

As you can see on the image shooting in bad light condition cause:

  • Noise (look at the left image)
  • Weird Shadows (look under the chin on the left image)

The benefits:

  • Reducing noise
  • Reducing shadows
  • Reducing blurring

Step 1: Tools and Materials


  • Scissors
  • Paper Knife
  • Diagonal Pliers
  • Small Screwdriver
  • Hot Glue


  • Aluminum Baking Pans - 4
  • LED Profiles - 4
  • 12V DC Power Adapters - 2
  • Nylon cable ties (10"/25 cm) - 20
  • Transparent Scotch Tape
  • White Scotch Tape (Glass Cloth Tape)
  • White Baking Paper (or Tracing Paper)
  • Big Mineral Water Bottles - 2

Step 2: Check the Size of the LED Profiles

The length of the pans is selected so the LED profile comes along entirely (or almost entirely). They should not be very wide.

  • LED profile size – 20” (50.8 cm)
  • Pan size – 10” x 7” (25.4 х 18 cm)

Put the LED profile over the aluminum pans and check its length as shown on the image.

Step 3: Make the Light Reflector

Cut the two edges of one of the short sides of each of the pans.

Bend the sides so they lay in one plane with the bottom of the pan.

Connect and overlay these sides and stick them with the transparent scotch tape.

The construction should be tough enough but not perfect. Use as much tape as you think is enough to achieve it.

The length of the LED profile may exceed the reflector's length slightly. This is OK. If the LED profiles are shorter, you can overlay the pans more.

Step 4: Prepare the LED Profiles

If the LED profile has a plastic protection cap, remove it if possible.

Make several rounds with the white tape at the both ends of each of the LED profiles. This is done for isolation. Don’t forget that aluminum is a conductor.

If you are going to use 2 profiles you may stick them together with the tape. Pay attention that the LEDs should be aligned as shown on the image.

Step 5: Cut Rectangle Windows

Using the paper knife carefully cut rectangle windows on the short sides of the reflector. The windows should be symmetrical.

Important! Ensure that no electrical parts are in touch with the aluminum.

Step 6: Fix the Profiles to the Reflector

On the aluminum pans make marks between the LEDs using the screwdriver.

With the screw driver make tiny wholes as shown here. Be careful with the fingers!

Add the cable tails so their heads remain "inside" the reflector not on the back.

Firstly, add 2 of them at the both ends of the profile and then tighten them, when you are sure that the profiles are placed correctly and symmetrically. After that add 2-3 more tails, but don’t overuse them.

Leave some positions empty. This will give you the ability to add extra cable tails to attach the lighting construction to a stand.

Step 7: Make Caps From the Bottles

Cut the bottles vertically with the paper knife and the scissors. Be careful! Remove the bottle neck and the bottom as well.

The goal is to have 2 identical pieces, which have the shape of a tube cut in half.

To remove the bottle label easily you can soak that part in warm water for about 10 minutes.

The water should not be hot, because it can lead to deformation of the bottle.

Step 8: Glue the Caps

Add the caps as shown in the image.

If one of the pieces is not enough to cover the reflector, you can use 2, overlay them and fix them with transparent tape (analogical to the pans).

Use hot glue to fix the caps to the reflectors. 2-3 drops to each of the sides are more than enough.

Step 9: Add the Baking Paper

Add one sheet of backing paper over the cap.

Why it is needed?
The purpose of the cap and the baking paper is to diffuse and soften the light.

There is one issue with the baking paper. It literally cannot be glued since nothing sticks to it. You can use several cork-board pins to fix it temporarily and then make few rounds with transparent tape over the whole construction.

Step 10: Make the Stands

For stands you can use whatever you have. In my case I used old fan stand.

If you make the lights for webinar or Skype sessions you can attach the lights to 1.5L bottles and place them on both sides of your monitor.

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