Most video creators want a blurred background look in their videos. I get it! It makes your video look like a high end production. Creating a blurry background in videos just looks GOOD! But you don’t need expensive camera gear to create a blur in your background, so let’s talk about it!
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Create a Blurred Background in Videos
I know that there are apps for shooting and editing videos to create a blurry background in videos. But the best way to get blurry background in videos is to create a setup that results in a blurry background in the first place.
To have the overall best image quality, consistency, and look, you will want to have the right tools and set up to create that look when you shoot your videos. In fact, creating a video with a blurry background is pretty easy.
The easiest way to create a setup for the blurred background look (sometimes referred to as bokeh but more on that in a moment) is to create some physical space between your background and you… while reducing the space between and your lens.
This will create an actual depth of field within your video. So you can create some depth in your videos by 1) getting as far away from your background as you can get and 2) being as close to your camera lens as you can.
Like I said, simple!
VIDEO: Unbelievably Simple: Blurry Background in Videos
Video Settings for Blurry Background – Automatic Mode
If you are using a camera in fully automatic mode or you’re using a phone or a WebCam, creating a blurry background in videos might be harder. The device you’re using to record your videos is basically trying to do all of the calculations for proper exposure, not necessarily to create a high-end, cinematic look.
So another simple thing that you can add to your blurry background set up is good lighting.
The camera needs light to make the image (video image). So to let it do its thing to the best of its ability, give it what it needs: light!
You can stand in front of a window, but you don’t want direct sunlight. You want soft ambient light or artificial lighting. I use one or two of these soft-box lights and I usually have some light coming in through my window.
That might be enough to achieve the blurry background you’re looking for. But let’s go a little deeper.
Blurry Background Video Settings – Manual Mode
If you really want to have control over your background blur you’re going to need do everything I just said, PLUS adjust your camera’s setting manually.
With your camera in manual mode you can adjust your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
The first thing is shutter speed. If you’re recording a video and 30 frames per second then your shutter speed should be set at 1/60th. And then don’t touch that shutter speed.
Aperture and F-Stop
The second thing you’re going to do is adjust your aperture also known as the f-stop. The aperture is determined by what your lens is capable of. So for a blurry background you want your F stop the number to be as low as you can get it.
For a lot of kit lenses that come with a camera your lowest number might be 3 or 3.5. To be 100% honest with you, you can get your background blurry with a kit lens if you give yourself lots of space AND light.
For the best blurry background results, you will need to invest in a lens that can go lower, to 1.4 or 1.8. We’ll talk more about lenses in just a moment.
The third thing you’re going to do is adjust your ISO. A proper ISO setting will ensure that your image (your video) is properly exposed.
What does it mean to be “properly exposed?” This means it’s not too dark it’s not too light… it’s Goldilocks right there in the middle. If you’re looking at your exposure scale, that little dots going to be in the middle.
This is why lighting is so important! The more the camera has to compensate for poor lighting, the worse the actual image quality of the video is going to be. Ideally, you really want your ISO to be the lowest number that it can be while still being exposed properly. For me this often looks like somewhere around 100 200 sometimes even 400.
What is Bokeh?
Sometimes people refer to a blurry background as bokeh, or the bokeh effect. Without getting too technical, bokeh isn’t just a video with a blurry background (or photo). Bokeh is an effect that you see when there are lights in a blurred background. The blurry lights create a really interesting effect that’s different than simply being blurry.
Lenses for Blurry Background in Video
I have talked about the Sigma 16mm lens a lot! I highly highly recommend it for overall quality and for achieving that blurred background look. The reason is because the f-stop can go all the way down to 1.4. I actually have mine set to 1.8 or sometimes 2. I find that at 1.4, it looks like my whole face isn’t even in focus.
No matter what setup you use, fiddle with your settings to see what works best for you in your space. Get comfortable with manual camera settings!!
To get the same camera, lens, lights, and other gear that I use to create a blurry background in my videos, visit my Gear page!