After running a fitness website successfully for many years my partner and I decided to create our own fitness product, with a well-designed interface and some amazing functionality features. The problem? The product had to include quality video workouts. We knew nothing about filming video, especially when it comes to fitness and dynamic shooting... But that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. When we started to learn about light and lighting setups, the entire project got postponed.
Paying thousands of dollars for video lighting was not an option, so we decided to build a 3 Point Setup by ourselves.
Step 1: Getting What You Need
The first step was getting the concept right. I had to sketch the outcome, so we knew what to focus on first. Measurements were written down, and we started buying the items necessary, one by one.
Here is what you'll need:
- A large container
- Two or three small food containers for the back
- Aluminum foil and glue
- Metal plumbing pipes
- A screwing tool that can drill circular holes
- Six Light-bulb sockets
- Six fluorescent bulbs with 65 watts input
- Long thick cable
This is the list for building a single lighting stand, and you can essentially copy this process till you build several of these. We made 3 lighting stands at the end, trying to emulate a 3-point lighting setup. Initially, we went for just two of these, but watching some workout programs such as PIYO and P90X, as well as reading more about filming, made us realize that we need light to come from 3 sources at least, in order to film a decent fitness video.
Step 2: Preparing the Large Container
You'll start this project by drilling six circular holes into the large container. The width if these holes depends heavily on what type of bulb sockets you choose. If you go with regular E27 ones, then try to find a tool which drills with about the same width. More is ok, as you can tighten things later with silicon glue.
After you drill the holes, try drilling small ones for the screws that are going to attach the small and angled metal stands. These will connect the large container with the metal pipes later when you assemble the entire lighting stand.
Step 3: Glue the Aluminum Foil
The aluminum foil will reflect the light that comes inward, thus directing it towards the filming set. Try not to wrinkle the foil, and get the measurements right. Use as much glue as necessary to make sure it stays there. Don't worry about the lights and the glue melting later on - these fluorescent lights emit very little heat, and plus you have the aluminum foil which serves as one sort of isolation material.
Step 4: Attach the Back Containers
If you are wondering what these containers are for, you definitely never experienced the frustration of having to work with wires. Here is the deal - when you start to connect the bulb sockets with one another and into the main circuit, you'll end up with lots of cables. This is not dangerous per say, but these containers make everything more organized. They come with a lid, and you can have everything locked in place, and only one main cable going out.
Step 5: The Metal Construction
If you are wondering why I've spiked the part with connecting the cables, it's because we hired an electrician. There were some YouTube videos out there that explain this process in detail, but working with electricity is not a thing I feel comfortable doing.
The metal construction, on the other hand, can also prove challenging if you don't have the proper tools. We had a metal saw, a very primitive one I might add, and it wasn't even that sharp.
A lot of blisters and hours later, we got the pipes just about right according to measurements.
You can go with larger or shorter pipes, but we wanted to have a thin pipe and a thicker pipe slightly different in length. Two different types of pipes was my idea for adjusting the height, by having one pipe enter the other and slide either in and out.
Step 6: The Legs
The idea for the legs was entirely different from what we ended up with. Initially, we planed to make a T-like angle where the light stand will balance perfectly. This proved a waste of time as the structure was about to collapse. So I turned to the duck-tape solution of building with heavy materials - concrete.
Took two water bottles, cut them in half and filled the resulting container with concrete. The metal legs were inside and we left them to dry and fix in place.
Step 7: Voila, Let There Be Light
Just after plugging this into the electrical socket we realized how much of a light output it performs. Compared to professional and even semi professional equipment, this was covering the light output performance of a stand that would have otherwise costed us around $1200.
The video footage?
Well, here is a screenshot from the set, with using just three of these :)
P.S. the room where the previous picture is taken, is later transformed into the set. See the light difference?