How to Lighten a Very Dark Video

by Rob Clarkson
Low light shots can wash out details and strain viewers' eyes.

Low light shots can wash out details and strain viewers' eyes.

Properly adding light to a dark video is a delicate process that goes much further than simply clicking a button within any given video-editing program. When considering adjusting the light balance of a shot that was not well lit, consider several editing techniques to get the effect desired. Certain methods can be effective but detrimental to overall video quality, while other methods take a little more precision, time and skill but produce far superior results.

The Right Software

Before attempting to edit any footage, make sure you have an adequate editing suite. Plenty of options are available that range from beginner and home use to professional and studio-quality grade. For most daily use and needs, a simple free or preinstalled video editor such as Microsoft Movie Maker, Apple iMovie or Avidemux, will do. If more professional results are desired, consider a higher grade editing program such as Adobe After Effects, AVS or Sony Vegas.

Brightness and Contrast

The easiest way to brighten a dark video clip is to simply increase the brightness and adjust the contrast ratio. This can be done using any free or paid video editing software. More advanced software give you more options, such as specific level adjustment. Simply increasing brightness and adjusting light levels can often granulate an image and decrease the overall quality of your video. Use caution when adjusting a video's brightness if high-quality results are a primary concern.

Color Adjustment

In most cases, the best way to increase the overall brightness of a video is to adjust the colors rather than the light levels. Fixing a video's white balance and hues allows you to set the mood and make certain images more vibrant and less faded without sacrificing overall quality. Color balance and adjustments enable you to make a video seem brighter without making it look overexposed or granulated, which often happens when simply adjusting brightness settings.

Other Considerations

If the video being edited is something that can be reshot, such as a film project or scripted work, consider redoing the scene in better lighting. If the video cannot be reshot, such as a video of a concert or family event, try various editing methods to increase the brightness and go by personal preference in choosing the final look of the project. Take a break from editing your project periodically to prevent eye fatigue. Always consult with others for their opinions throughout the editing process to ensure the highest quality final result.

About the Author

Based in Indianapolis, Ind., Rob Clarkson has been writing articles on technology, psychology and world religion since 2010. His articles have appeared on Yahoo! TV and in psychological journals. He holds a Bachelors of Science in psychology from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images