How to Shoot Perfect Infinite White Backgrounds: Tips & Tutorial
At some point, most of our clients at IMPACT ask us, "how do you create those fancy white backgrounds? We want to look as cool as Marcus and George in our videos."
Okay, they don't always say that last part, but they are curious about how to pull off this incredible effect.
As a matter of fact, a ton of people are curious about this video style. If you search "How to Create an Infinite White Background Effect" on Google, you get about 9,160,000 results.
Now, that's a lot of results. But what about on YouTube?
A staggering 530,000 results.
Why so many results? Well, many are looking for the answer on how to get these right. As you heard me state in the video above, we failed hard when we first attempted this, but after learning the proper techniques and getting the right equipment, we eventually nailed it.
Keep that in mind as we share with you these tips and tricks to infinite greatness.
Why Are Infinite White Backgrounds Popular?
So where did infinite white backgrounds come from? What made them so popular?
I don't have any hard and fast data on this, but if I was forced to take a guess, I would say it all started in 1999 with a little movie called The Matrix.
Or, it could have been when Apple started to run their MAC vs PC commercials.
Did you know they created 66 of those iconic commercials with the infinite white backgrounds?
These videos total up to a whopping 39 minutes of commercial goodness.
Got some spare time on your hands?
However it happened, the fact of the matter is they're popular.
Especially in the marketing world.
So this begs the question, how can you create your own?
How Can I Create An Infinite White Background?
If you are going to pull off this awesome video effect, there are certain items you'll need.
You should know that there are several ways, as well as budget levels, you can use when trying to attempt these backgrounds.
As we move forward in this article, we are going to share how we do it at IMPACT. At the end, we'll show you a quick, travel optimized way to create a similar level of production.
Infinite White: Background Set Up
The first thing you are going to need is something white to use for your background. Here at IMPACT, we use a stand and backdrop system called Impact Background System Kit with three 10'x12' Black, White, and Chroma Green Muslins. The entire kit retails for around $220.
You don't have to purchase a kit like this, but I will say, we have found it to be super effective. From setting up and breaking down, as well as being able to travel to different locations is super simple and an overall convenience.
You could also use a white wall, white photo paper, bed sheet, or even an off-white wall if you know the tricks to use during post production.
A couple pro tips that we figured out with our background system are:
- Take the time to iron your backdrop, or use a steamer once it's set up.
- Make sure to have plenty of spring clips to secure the muslin and keep it tight.
Infinite White: Lighting Set Up
This is one of the most important parts of pulling off this professional video technique.
There are several things you need to keep in mind with lighting:
- You need very bright lights that "blow out" your white background. They need to be bright enough to shine on the entire Muslin. If not, you may want to add some spill lights into the mix. Keep in mind, the further you pull the lights back from the background, the more area the lights will cover. You'll also need to pay attention to the barn doors on your lights (more on that in minute).
- Make sure you have good light for your subject. You want to make sure you remove any harsh shadows from the face or body. Make sure your subject is far enough away from the backdrop, and the light is focused on the backdrop.
Take a look at the video below:
Now watch this one:
Notice anything different?
Side note: even when you know how to do it, sometimes you fail a little.
Let's take a closer look.
As you can see from the image on the left, the first video looked much better.
Marcus looks like he has a nice tan, there's not any light glowing on his face, and there are no hard shadows from his jacket.
In contrast, in the second video, I have pointed out 3 terrible spots. If you just look at the coloring in general, it is bad.
So what happened?
Two small things caused these issues.
- The lights blowing out the background were not far enough from Marcus. In other words, we needed to move Marcus and the camera about three steps forward. This would have alleviated the glow.
- The lights we used to light Marcus were too close to him and the wrong temperature. This gave us the hard shadows around the jacket and made Marcus look a bit pale.
The lights we use for our background are the Arri 650W Fresnel Compact 3-Light Kit. You can purchase this kit on B&H Photo for around $1985.
When lighting up Marcus or other subjects, we use the ikan iLED312-v2 3-Point Light Kit that runs around $1,200 for the set with case included.
For our spill lights we turned to the Savage 500W LED Studio Light Kit coming in at around $135. This is the go-to kit for the budget conscious video marketer.
Infinite White: Camera Set Up
You can, of course, use almost any type of prosumer or DSLR camera to shoot these types of videos.
For ours, we use a Canon XA10. It is affordable and flexible enough to get the job done.
There are a couple major things you will want to adjust depending on your setup:
- You may want to try manual focus over auto focus. Sometimes your camera may have a hard time focusing on the subject when using the bright white background.
- Bump up your exposure. I suggest you always white balance your camera before you start this process.
- Make sure you have enough distance between the subject and your camera, but keep the white background fully in frame.
- You want to zoom in on your subject to get a quality focus, or if possible, use your focus assist built into most cameras.
There is nothing worse than having a great set of videos that turned out blurry. #FAIL
So there you have it, the most important items you need as well as some tips to use and mistakes to avoid. If you follow all of these steps, you will have great success as we've seen with our clients.
Can infinite white backgrounds be done on a budget?
I want to address one other question we get on this topic. It is simply: "can we do infinite white backgrounds on a budget?"
You sure can as Josh hall shows you in this video:
If you have a small budget and just want to piece something together, you could do it in a living room. This studio set up is also ultra portable if you need to travel with it.
Let us know what you end up with. If you have any questions in addition to what we have covered in this article, feel free to use the chat pane below or hit me up on twitter @georgebthomas.