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Train the Trainer Part 3: Recording 101

There is another component that is a mix of camera settings and lighting in your recording space. Exposure is the amount of light being picked up in the camera frame. On your camera, you can control this by altering the aperture, otherwise known as the F-stop or the ISO. Altering the F-stop is typically more incremental while any change to the ISO makes bigger jumps. F-stop is represented by numbers typically ranging from 4-16, often with a little “f” in front of them. The lower the number, the less light is coming into the camera and the shallower the portion of your image will be in focus.

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ISO is the calibration of the sensor’s light sensitivity. The higher the number, the more sensitive it is to light. High ISO is good if you are shooting in a dimmer space, but it can lead to digital noise and graininess. The quality you will be able to get out of higher ISO values (like 6400 and above) will depend greatly on the quality of the camera itself. Certain cameras work better in low-light situations than others and it's usually a premium feature.

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The final setting is typically only seen on DSLR cameras, and that is shutter speed. This is represented by fractions like 1/50 and 1/100. This is how long the camera’s sensor is exposed to light in a fraction of a second. It affects the brightness and movement blur of the recording. It is highly recommended that you set your shutter speed to be approximately double that of the frame rate. Common shutter speed/frame rate combinations are 50 shutter speed/24 frames per second, and 60 shutter speed/30 frames per second. Frame rate is discussed in the 'Format' help article.

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When setting your exposure and lighting, it’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t the only element of the shot. It’s easy to set up a shot in which you are properly exposed, but where your background is blown out or too dark. Your videos will look a lot better if you can keep your background and any other elements at a similar level of illumination to your main subject. It’s okay if things aren’t perfectly uniform, but while you’re setting up, you should definitely make sure that there aren’t any dead spots. It’s easier and more effective to fix the lighting during recording than it is to fix it in editing.

Below are three examples: the first (top left) shows an extremely blown-out background and poorly balanced subject, the second (top right) does not have enough light, and the third (bottom left) achieves a good balance. There is still some overexposure in the background of the third shot, but it does not overly affect the frame.

The goal when setting your lighting is to keep everything even and bright without overexposure.

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