Tips for Shooting a Product Commercial Product commercial on a budget

In this video, Ted from Indy Mogul (and Aputure) works with cinematographer Justin Jones who has years of experience shooting product commercials on how you can do a basic yet pro looking video for a headphone with relatively little gear.

Doing a lot with less is always a great moto in our book and when it comes to product commercials this is certainly achievable and with relatively little effort as long as you know your basics and understand enough about lighting.

Let’s go over the tips Jones has for us in this video:

  • Location, location location – you need a space to shoot your commercial – it doesn’t necessarily have to be very big but for a shoot like the one Jones is doing you might need enough distance to your background so you won’t get any light spills.
  • Lazy susan/camera movement – a video commercial needs movement – you can fake movement in post or you can move the camera but getting a seamless smooth movement looking at the product from all angles is difficult to achieve without spinning it in real life and a motorized lazy susan is a great option (you can find some pretty inexpensive options nowadays). Putting a nice background like a reflective acrylic sheet (you will need a good size depending on the size of your product and you don’t want to see the surface moving).
  • Shooting correctly – try and make a hero shot – just below the product looking up, use an aperture of f/4-f/8 to get more of your subject in focus (if you can get a tilt-shift lens this might also help – but these are typically expensive and you don’t need them in many cases). Shooting in slow motion 50-60fps will help you to do some speed ramps and slower movements in post.
  • Main light – consider soft light from above with a large diffused light source (huge softbox overhead with an arm is ideal in many situations). Don’t use a front light, prevent light spilling (you can use a black sheet of paper of black non-reflective fabric to prevent reflections on the floor.
  • Secondary light – don’t light from the front, use another light from the back to create a nice kicker light at a 45 angle from the back (it can be in the frame but in most cases, you will want the light just out of the frame behind the product).
  • Add color – you can add some color gels to your kicker light in the back (or use another RGB light if you have one) to add some relevant color – for example if the logo of the product is red you can add a little bit of red color in the frame – this can work but is not right for every type of product shoot.
  • Add haze – just a little bit of smoke in the back with the light going through it can add a lot to your shot – however make sure that the smoke will not obscure your product (you can use another light and move the smoke through it – but don’t use too much smoke.
  • Clean everything – for stills it is fairly easy to clean the dust in post, for video it is much more difficult so clean, clean and clean the product and all the surface that you see in the frame.

You can find many more product photography (and videography) related videos on our dedicated product photography subsection found in our general technique section.

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