Flat even lighting is essential when lighting your green screen. Many people producing video on a budget resort to reflector lamps for lighting the screen, and end up with mixed results. Starting with a large soft light source, like the bank lights shown in this video, makes the process much easier. As a bonus, the solution isn’t very expensive either. You can make 2 4-light banks for around $100 with bulbs – cheaper if you shop around.
Critical Considerations for DIY Bank Lights
There are a few technical considerations you need to address when making a DIY Bank Light. You need lights that produce a color temperature that matches the rest of your lights. I use 5,000k bulbs in all my fixtures that produce a light which blends well with the window light that spills into my office studio space. You need bulbs with accurate color. This is listed using something call the CRI (color Rendering Index.) Anything 90 or above will work well. Most bulbs you find in big box home centers have low CRI and should be avoided. There are also new LED-based replacement lights that fit T8 fixtures, but the CRI tends to be really bad on these. Finally, you need light fixtures with an electronic ballast to prevent flickering. Using fixtures designed for T8 bulbs will ensure you get the right ballast, and you also get the bonus benefit of lower power consumption fixtures with longer lasting bulbs that dim less over their lifespan.
The Essential Gear discussed in the video:
- Philips 209056 F32T8/TL950 Straight T8 Fluorescent Tube Light Bulb**
- Lithonia Lighting 1284GRD RE 4-Light Heavy Duty Shoplight***
- Stanley Hardware 1-1/2-Inch Double Wide Corner Brace, Zinc Plated, 2-Pack #755680
- Alternative Inexpensive LED Fill Lights to Evenly Light Your Green Screen
**Getting the right bulbs can make or break your success. You need to get the right color temperature and make sure the CRI (color rendering index) rating is at least 90. The bulb I listed has a CRI of 98 and a color temperature of 5,000K, which balances well with daylight sources.
***This specific light fixture is a little nicer than you really need, but it’s the best option I could find available online. If you want to spend a little time at your local big box home center you can save $8-10 on the fixtures by purchasing something a little less rugged.
My own personal studio space is inside my home office and does not have the space required to fit 2 4-light fixtures. I opted to mount a 2-light fixture from the ceiling to light my green screen. This doesn’t provide perfectly even illumination, but it’s a compromise I had to make. Fortunately, I have excellent post-production tools which help me overcome the limitations in my studio setup.