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Indoor Video Settings With Bright Lighting

edited January 2013 Posted in » Canon T3i Forum
Switching from a camcorder to a Canon T3i is so different!
Since getting a Canon T3i, filming videos in a room with lots of bright lighting (using plain old light bulbs) in front of me against the wall and to either side, my videos always turn out yellow and somewhat blurry (after uploading to computer). I've spent hours looking at tutorials with no luck. I had the same setup with my old camcorder and the videos were perfect and never yellow.

What is the trick!? I am only filming myself sitting in a chair, talking to the camera, against a wall.
Please tell me what settings I need to set this camera to!
Bless you.


  • edited January 2013
    First of all, you should set a custom white balance. This will take care of the yellow. Here is how to do it:

    Second, if you focus at the wall while preparing your shot and then go sit in the chair and start filming, then you're probably sitting a foot ahead of where the camera's focus was set. Ensure you are focusing at the correct distance.

    The problem with the LCD is that its small screen makes it tough to find focus without digitally zooming in. You can use the zoom feature to magnify the face of your subject and make sure the eyes are properly in focus. Also, if you want to be able to have more of the scene in focus, try stopping down your lens to f/5.6 or f/8 rather than say f/2.8.

    For much improved focusing in video mode, I ordered a $10 DSLR loupe, which I attach using masking tape to the T3i's LCD. Best $10 I spent since getting the T3i!

    I also purchased a 10 inch 1080p HDTV ($110) from China which I use as a monitor, but I find it too cumbersome to carry around so I do not use it much.

  • edited January 2013
    Here is a very short video I shot last night. I used neons for lighting.

    My settings were ISO 1600, 1/47 shutter speed, 1080p 24fps, f/8. I used the 10 inch monitor receiving an SD signal from the camera to pull focus and then I turned the monitor towards me as I was filming so I could verify that I was centered in the frame.

    I set the color temperature to 4000k. On the neon tubes it is written that their temperature is 4100k, so I didn't even have to guess. I set it using Magic Lantern, which is a free software you install on your SD card and which loads up on top of the camera firmware, thereby providing lots of additional functionality.

    After filming the video clip, I loaded it in Sony Vegas, which I used to sharpen the image, add a little bit of color to my face, and export as a 1080p/24 mp4 that I could upload to Youtube.

    You can safely ignore what I'm saying in the video. I didn't bother plugging an external microphone, I just used the built-in one, as this was just to test the image settings.

  • @amigo - Thanks for sharing your settings and an example video! Much appreciated! :)
  • @Moose - It is my pleasure. Congratulations to you and many thanks for all the great advice you give here!
  • edited January 2013
    WOW! Thank you for the wonderful advice! That's perfect, beautiful lighting! Where do I get Magic Lantern?
  • You can get Magic Lantern at:

    See also the Magic Lantern Wiki:

    Check out the introduction video:

    To download:
  • edited February 2013
    Amigo is there anyway you can make a little video and go over the menu on your camera (all 4 red buttons, 2 blue, 2 green) and show every setting? Can you go over the quality settings (live, live mode, quick mode)? I have fiddled with them too much, and I want to see exactly what yours are set on.
  • edited February 2013
    @janesmith give me a few days I'll try having this done by the end of the week.
  • edited February 2013
    Is it ok if I write questions here when I incur problems? I'm sitting two feet from the camera, and when I press the shutter button halfway it focuses, but when I move my face close to the camera it's out of focus. How do I keep it focused continuously? I've tried both live modes and quick mode and still the same issue.
  • edited February 2013
    Can you also show your lighting setup? Please include the brand and wattage of your bulbs too if you can. No one on YouTube has ever done a video showing these important things; they just say lights but there are a million different kinds of lighting!
  • edited February 2013

    About your focus problem, DSLR filming is all about manual focus. The T3i will not autofocus as you move closer or farther away from the camera. The only thing you can do is use an aperture which will give you a greater depth of field. At f/1/1.8, not much is in focus. At f/8 though, you can move around a little and still be in focus. I won't bore you with the details, but I suggest you read the following if you want to learn more about the relationship between aperture and depth of field:

    Check out the camera settings power point presentation, the video demonstration and especially the camera settings guide on this page:

    As for lighting, on the video above, I used two sources. On the left side of the image (the darker side), I use a studio umbrella with two compact fluorescent bulbs (the bulbs are included in the kit).

    The Cowboy studio kit is inexpensive, lightweight, easy to carry around, and it does a great job.

    For the right side of the image, I simply used a cheap shop light sitting upright on a table five feet from my face with two T8 cool white 48 inch fluorescent tubes, which yield a color temperature of 4100K (very cold, very white).

    Here's an interesting blog entry on lighting:
  • edited February 2013
    Excellent information! I need to study more about this; doing it now. Amazing you found these! My lighting is probably a big problem. I need pro lighting with diffusers.
  • edited February 2013
    Here is a little more information about the lighting. In the video I produced above, the brightest light is the 48 inch fluorescent shop light. This is called the key light in typical Hollywood lighting schemes. The slightly less bright light coming from the light reflected on the studio umbrella is called the fill light. Its main purpose is to fill the shadows created by the key light. I did not use a back light to separate my hair from the background, as I found the contrast was already sufficient in that case.
  • edited February 2013
    You are awesome amigo! I am going to test everything you have told me. I want to get a wireless microphone for my Canon t3i, what do you recommend (inexpensive but good)?
  • @janesmith thanks for the kind words.
  • edited February 2013
    What about a wireless mic?
  • edited February 2013
    When recording audio, I do it separately using a Rode NTG-2 shotgun microphone connected to a Zoom H4N digital recorder. I then merge the audio with the video in Sony Vegas in post production; it's not that hard. You can also use a wireless microphone if you need to move around a lot, but for the setup you described above (sitting still in a chair), I would go for a wired lavalier microphone connected to a Zoom H4N recorder. I do not own a wireless microphone, so I cannot recommend one over another. I would probably go for a Sennheiser, based on their stellar reputation. They are very expensive though. This is what I would get:

    If you're short on cash, note that the Zoom H4N digital recorder has two very good built-in microphones that could very well be all you need for the type of videos you want to shoot:
  • edited February 2013
    I will be sitting sometimes but I will also be moving around too, so I definitely need a wireless mic. I will be going outside time to time also.
  • edited February 2013
    If you move around, then you could used a wired lavalier microphone connected to Zoom H4N recorder which you would carry in your pocket.
  • edited February 2013
    Amigo, could you tell me which $110 monitor you use? I'm looking for a monitor larger than the LCD screen that the T3i comes with, to monitor my shoot in real time. I came across some solutions on YouTube that were either too complex or not meant for T3i. Thanks.
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