Category: Commercials-Corporate

Using Natural Light For Your Documentary Video Production

Quite often using natural light for your documentary video production is your only option. Bringing in lights and a lot of equipment and taking time to set everything up just isn’t feasible on many documentaries or docuseries.

That’s true for both feature documentaries and business docu-style videos where you’re filming interviews with busy executives and/or customers and you have a very short window of time to get your shot so you better move quickly! In these situations it’s essential to master the art of ‘using what you got’ which means making the most of natural light.

I seem to do a lot of shooting in natural light. Check out some of my photography.

Related: why your company needs a video series.

Making use of window light in a documentary video production

There are many aspects of using natural light, each deserving its own post. So in this article I’m going to focus on using window light. Why? Because a docu-style video is probably the most common and widely produced format of business videos. And what do just about all of them involve? Filming interviews in a room with a window!

3 different looks with window light

Depending upon where you place your subject and camera, you will be able to get 3 different looks using the light from the window. No matter the look you’re going for, you usually don’t want direct sunlight. That is, sunlight that comes through the window and directly shines on the subject. Unless of course, you’re going to use direct sunlight for a specific look.

Generally speaking though, you want indirect light which will give you the most pleasing results and provides more versatility, not to mention no additional exposure issues. The three lighting setups below are based on indirect lighting.

Side light

Side light enables you to create more form in the image as it produces the most shadows.

A man gives an interview to camera in a corporate documentary style video
Subject is lit by a big window on the right and is augmented by a soft light. An edge light is added on the left behind the interviewee

The subject has one side toward the window with the other side away. Depending upon the amount of light and where exactly the subject is placed will determine the amount of shadow.

Rotate the subject from 45° toward the window to parallel with it to 45° away from the window to attain the degree of drama you’re looking for.

Related: Hemp Already video docuseries.

a candid photo of a redheaded woman after getting her makeup done
In this shot, the window is on the left side with heavy shadows on the opposite side

Front light

When front lighting, the subject faces the window. The cinematographer or photographer has their back to the window, In other words, you’re between the window and the subject.

This set up creates very few shadows on your subject. When facial features aren’t defined by shadows it’s called “flat” lighting. Flat lighting may sound like a negative but it’s often a desired look like in beauty videos so you can see the makeup clearly. It’s also desirable in a corporate video production that wants a bright and happy feel.

Flat lighting is created when the subject faces diffused window light that is directly behind the camera


In backlit set ups, the window light is behind the subject and the camera faces it. This often results in the window light being blown out in the final image as the window light will be much brighter than the subject.

You can easily fix this by either bouncing light back on the subject with a reflector or by using a light. For interviews I usually don’t use a backlit set up and if I did, I would only do so when a more subtle backlight could be achieved.

Related: how to shoot beauty at the beach.

However, backlit shots are great for b-roll or other footage or images needed in your project. I certainly make use of them when the opportunity presents itself. For example, in the frame below we were filming a documentary video production about a musician at magic hour. The sun created a beautiful backlit scene for the conversation that was taking place.

The sun is behind the subjects and to the right, backlighting the scene and creating cool flares

So there you have it. Next time you’re scrambling to film your corporate video production with busy interviewees use the situation to your advantage and make use of natural light for your documentary video production.

About Gate5, a Los Angeles video production company

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company in Los Angeles producing high quality video content for the web, your social media outlets, kiosks and broadcast television.

We conceptualize, write scripts, secure locations and permits, cast actors, direct, film and edit commercial videos, narrative films, branded content, product and promotional videos, TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Click here for Gate5 video samples.

If you have a commercial or a narrative project where you need a director and/or a video production company, feel free to contact me to discuss it to see how if we can work together on it.

Check out my photography here.

Video Marketing for Social Media

It’s no secret that video has exploded on social media recently. One study claims that in recent years branded video on YouTube has increased 99% in views and on Facebook 258% – and it continues to grow with no signs of video marketing for social media slowing down. 

On Twitter, a video is 6x more likely to be retweeted than a photo. The lesson is clear – if you’re not leveraging video marketing to grow your business, you’re leaving money on the table.

Video content is what is driving the Internet today to a large extent. And it will continue to do so. More brands are using video to connect to their target audience, build relationships and increase sales.

No matter what size your business is or what industry you’re in, if you haven’t taken social media video seriously, it’s about time to you do.

Social Media is a Monster

Social media has a voracious appetite. You need to keep feeding the beast to stay relevant and keep your customers engaged and keep the buzz going.

For many companies, producing one or two videos a year or even a handful won’t keep their customers engaged and drive sales.

But full service video production is expensive!

It can be. There’s a reason commercial videos cost what they do.

When you pay professionals for script development – meetings, research, brainstorming, then to write the script, create storyboards and shot lists, scout locations, cast actors, direct the shoot with a full crew and expensive equipment and finally edit, color grade, mix sound and create graphics, animation and visual effects – it all adds up to many hours of labor and equipment costs. Not to mention the cost of actor fees, costs to rent sound stages and locations, and if needed, additional insurance above and beyond what a company normally carries.

Even just needing several items listed above will drive up the cost. You certainly don’t need all of those things to push the cost over your budget.

So What’s The Option?

Faced with high production costs, many companies produce videos in-house. And I say – whatever works. If a cell phone video gets the results you’re looking for, that’s all that matters.

But there are times when a homemade video won’t cut it and a $25,000 video is out of the question. 

Design and Plan for Social Media

Not every video needs to be a big production. It starts with planning and designing a video shoot around filming a lot of content in one day that can be edited into multiple videos.

To accomplish this, you’ll have to set aside your big ideas that require a group of actors, expensive locations and equipment for the time being – you can make those videos later when you’re looking to accomplish specific marketing goals such as making a big splash for a product launch or promoting a new service at a trade show.

Simple. Effective. Engaging

The key is to create videos that can be shot simply with a small crew without a lot of third party costs. I’m talking about making practical videos here that show who you are as a company, give easy to follow product demos and customer testimonials. These kind of videos will create a lot of value for your customers yet won’t cost an arm and a leg.

To solve the problem of creating multiple videos while keeping costs down, we’ve streamlined the production process to keep the bloat out and the quality in. We’ll work with you to create a creative solution that can be filmed in one location, with only one or no models or actors and that can be shot with a small crew, often times with a 1-person crew. The idea is to film enough content in one day to edit multiple videos that you can post over time.

We offer monthly production plans with fixed per month pricing for these types of productions when you need to release content weekly.

Case Study

As an example, TanMeBox, a company that offers several sunless tanning products, came to us needing several videos for social media. We worked with them to create a series of 5 videos that we shot in one day with a one person crew that provided high quality video, good lighting and sound. The package included 3 videos that were product related, 1 video was a testimonial and 1 video was the company founder introducing a new service. 

We provided the production of the five videos for a very cost effective per video rate. 

Simple. Effective. Engaging.

The two videos above are from the series. 

Check out this article for more information and infographics on video marketing statistics for 2020.

About my company, Gate5

Gate5 is a creative video agency and full service video production company producing high quality sharable content for your social media outlets. We conceptualize, write scripts, direct, cast, film and edit viral videos, branded films, product and promotional videos, web and TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Need a video? Contact us to discuss your project and for a free consultation.

Check out our commercial video samples.

Best Beauty Videographer

The best beauty videographer in Los Angeles! Well, I suppose I should be more modest but that’s not good for SEO 🙂

I have a vast experience producing and directing beauty videos for makeup and cosmetics, hair and skin care clients. From big companies to small businesses, I can work with just about every budget level from simple social media productions that can be completed by a one-person crew on up to full productions for commercials.

Hire an Expert

My team at my production company, Gate5, are expert at creating video ads for Facebook and Instagram in addition to videos that will live on your website or youtube. If you’re looking to make videos to run on as ads on social media sites, it’s best to optimize the video and shoot and edit it with a square 1:1 aspect ratio on mind. Square videos on Facebook and Instagram have proven to get more views, likes and engagement than horizontal 16×9 videos do. The key is to film in 4k in the 16×9 mode, while maintaining safe framing for the 1:1 aspect ratio. Filming in 4k gives you a little more opportunity to reframe in editing for the square aspect. Then for your website and on youtube, we can then edit a 16×9 (or wider) version of the videos.

Need monthly social media content?

Need beauty videos on a monthly basis? We can provide cost effective monthly production plans for clients who need to post original and new content on a weekly and monthly basis. We can tailor a plan that fits your monthly budget while keeping quality high and communication with you easy breezy. Our aim as a top makeup videographer service is to have us feel like we are your in-house video production department!

Despite the cookie-cutter approach others may take, if you need monthly video content, there is no one-size-fits all. We’ll customize a solution specifically for you. As a starting point, check out the monthly plans I have on the Gate5 site.

For more tips and advice, this article from Falcon.IO contains some useful information to keep in mind when creating your video ads for social media. It has some common logic things, like ‘grab their attention early’ – really? Never heard that before when it comes to internet video but it’s a quick and worthwhile read.

About my production company Gate5

My video production company, Gate5 is a creative video agency in LA and full service video production company producing high quality sharable content for your social media outlets. We conceptualize, write scripts, direct, cast, film and edit viral videos, branded films, product and promotional videos, web and TV commercials, episodic content and live video streaming production.

Need a beauty video? Or other video? Contact me to discuss your project and for a quote.

Commercials and Fashion Films


Construction Documentary Video

Construction documentary video that I had the honor to work on and produce for the Los Angeles Dept of Water and Power L3 Maripro, the contractor. It’s something different than what I usually do when it comes to commercial work.

We filmed the 4 month offshore installation in the Santa Monica Bay that now allows the City of LA to get 50% of its electricity from renewable sources. The installation of 36 concrete vaults that weigh 50,000 pounds each and contain 4 electrodes now sit on the ocean floor, and connect to power cables that come down from Washington and Oregon that send wind, solar and hydro generated power to us in LA. The city’s goal is to get to where 100% of our electricity is from renewable sources.

The production included aerial drone footage, timelapse footage and footage shot from the barge as well as dockside work in Long Beach. This is a 7.5 minute highlight reel of the installation.

Got a narrative project? Contact me to discuss. I’d love to hear about it.

Check out Narrative stuff. Or Photography and Commercial and Fashion films.

Corporate Profile Videos

woman working in office smiling at camera with an ipad for promotional video
man smiling at camera in an office for a promotional video

Corporate profile videos we shot for a prominent law firm in downtown Los Angeles. Shot at 6k resolution, the employee recruitment videos are being used on the Client’s website and youtube channel to give prospective employees a window into their company culture.  The shoot included interviews of partners and new associates and b-roll footage highlighting the work culture, downtown offices and employment opportunities at the law firm. The challenge was to get natural looking b-roll footage as the client didn’t want anything to look too staged and to do so in a fairly tight time window. The client was extremely pleased with out it turned out.

Got a project? Contact me.

Check out Narrative stuff. Or Photography. Commercial and Fashion films.