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  • Lighting tips for Smule videos

    You are just starting out with video on the Sing! app? Here are some tips to make your videos look better. 

    First of all, you probably want to get a lot of light and you want it in front of you! Too little light is especially problematic with Smule videos, since they are compressed and the less light there is, the more compression artefacts you will see. 

    compression.jpg

    dark scenes or just background light and strong video compression don’t go well together

    So as a rule of thumb: unless you want to create a special mood for your song, you want a lot of light and you want the light to in front of you and diffused. The easiest way to achieve this is to just stand in front of a large window. (But not a window where the sun is directly visible from where you are standing.) So in this setting, you get diffused light from all sides and as a result, your face is well-light without any hard shadows. 

    window.png

    Holding your phone all the time while standing in front of the window isn’t a perfect solution of course. A recommendable and also pretty cheap solution is to get a camera tripod and a separate phone clamp, which can be screwed into the tripod. You can get a very simple tripod, but make sure …

    • it is high enough, so you can place the phone at least at the hight of your face or even better: a little bit higher. 
    • it has a 3-way head, so you can use your phone in portrait mode—or you buy a phone clamp, which can be rotated. 

    phoneclamp.jpg

    A cheap but effective Sing! app setup

    If you also want to sing on rainy days and at night, the window tip might not work for you. In that case, consider a more professional solution. Get one, or better two so-called softboxes. They also produce the diffused light we want. You can get a set of two starting at around $60 (Amazon search link). Place the softboxes to the left and right of you and and somewhat higher than your head. This is basically the same setup a photographer would use for portrait shots. We don’t want a flash of course. So we need the continuous output light these softboxes provide. 

    softboxes.png

    The only downside of this setup is that it needs a lot of space. If that is a problem for you, you could also look into LED lights. They can provide a lot of light, but the light is not as diffused as with a softbox. So your skin won’t look as soft. Those LED lights come in different shapes, including ring lights, and they often include optional filters to influence the color of the lights. If the LED lights are rather bright, you can move them far away (to make the light more diffused) or even point them away from you at the walls or the ceiling to get diffused light. 

    ledlights.png

    Got any other lighting tips? What setup do you use? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below. 

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    misterspeakeasy

    Posted

    I sometimes use a selfie-stick... and I walk between the living room and the kitchen, both of which have large windows. I keep close to the windows... so there's plenty of diffused light. Using a selfie-stick (or gimbal) allows me to introduce movement and interest in the video. People can also see just a little of my personal environment in the background (which also adds interest). By using a selfie-stick, I am able to address the camera (and listener) directly whilst changing the point of view to suit any changes in the tone or 'meaning/message' of the song.

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