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6 Tips to Shoot High-Quality Video in a Small Space

You don't need a giant soundstage to capture cinematic footage
Photo of a video shoot

You don’t need a giant studio space or a production stage to create a high-quality video. It’s relatively easy to transform a small spare room or your living room into a professional setting for filming.

It’s not unusual for well-known YouTubers to be shooting in their homes, and it’s always been something that documentary filmmakers have dealt with while filming. Here’s how to do it on your own. (Our breakdown on shooting video in a small space is based on two recent videos from Cine Dailies and Evan Ranft, which we have embedded in this story. Watch the clips and follow their respective channels to learn more.)

#1 Find the L

Regardless of the size of the room that you are shooting in, look for the “L” of the room—or the conversion line of the room—and then shoot into it. Placing your subject in this location will make the room appear to be larger than it is.

#2 Use the Vertical Space

If you have high ceilings, utilize them. If there is an option to mount things like lights or backdrops to the ceiling, do it so that you can free up more floor space in the room.

#3 Choose the Right Gear

Shooting with a wide-angle lens that has a fast aperture will also make a tiny location appear to be much larger than it is. Open the lens to its widest setting to create more depth of field between the subject and the background. Shooting with a wide-angle lens will just make the room appear much larger—it’s a trick that real estate agents regularly use when putting homes on the market.

#4 Light It

Invest in a continuous light and a nice diffuser to create a soft look when filming. No budget for a light? If you are filming in a room with a window, you can actually use that as a big softbox. Just make sure you are filming content on a cloudy day or when the sunlight isn’t direct.

#5 Don’t Skimp on Audio

In many ways a video’s audio quality is more important than what it looks like. A beautifully shot video won’t hold someone’s attention if the audio quality isn’t clear or if the levels are all over the place.

If you are shooting for a YouTube channel, consider a USB mic that can plug into your laptop and record into a program like GarageBand or Adobe Audition so that you can sync your high-quality audio with your video in post. If you are working on a web short or documentary, consider investing in a pair of wireless lav mics so that the microphones will be more inconspicuous in the frame.

Before you start recording, have your subject clap so it’s easy to sync when you’re editing and don’t forget to get thirty seconds of room tone to help with your audio transitions.

#6 Color Grade

Applying a LUT to your footage in your editing program and making sure that the color temperature matches from frame to frame will add an extra level of polish to whatever it is you’ve shot. A color corrected video will surely give your content an added level of professionalism—even if it’s something that was shot in your living room.

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