How to Lighten a Very Dark Video

By Rob Clarkson

Updated September 21, 2017

Low light shots can wash out details and strain viewers' eyes.
i Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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. Learn all of the things you need to take into consideration when attempting to lighten a very dark video here.

Video Editing 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. Beginner software options include Lightworks, Shotcut, Hitfilm Express and VSDC Free Video Editor. These software options are often more than sufficient for basic videos that need to be lightened.

If the video is quite dark or you just want a more professional final result, consider using paid professional programs. Paid programs include CyberLink PowerDirector, Corel VideoStudio, Adobe Premiere Pro, Pinnacle Studio and Apple Final Cut Pro.

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 or increasing brightness in the camera or phone's video recording settings.

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.