The importance of good lighting on video, on stage and even in restaurants is not to be taken…lightly (sorry). Good lighting can determine atmosphere, mood and audience response.
On a video call, we’re probably not trying to evoke a deep emotional response from our colleagues or clients, however, we shouldn’t disregard its importance to the way in which we are perceived by those people that are important to us.
Here's how to achieve the best home setup, be aware that it is easier than it sounds.
Three-point Lighting Setup
The key light is your brightest light sitting at 10 o'clock or over the webcam. The position of this light depends on what you’re trying to achieve: if you want a bit of depth to have the light at 10 o'clock.
If you want level lighting across your face, have it at 12 o'clock. Diffused ring or specific desk lights emit nice soft lighting. You can adjust the light and colour to achieve the best results.
Elgato Key Light Air
Good Ring Light
Neewer 18-inch Outer Dimmable SMD LED Ring Light - may need softbox diffuser addition
Value for Money
Lume Cube Video Conferencing Lighting Kit
The fill light sits at 2 o'clock and ensures the other side of your face isn’t too shadowed. You can use a lower power light or reflector – this will lightly fill some of the shadows. This light shouldn't be too harsh.
A second monitor will provide enough fill light.
Less control but a window (that doesn't have direct sunlight) works.
Home lamp with LED daylight bulb
Face a lamp towards a wall to bounce light off and it will provide enough fill light.
Value for Money
TaoTronics Desk Lamp
Your backlight sits between 7 -8 o'clock and is diffused. It separates us from the background – it should gently hit your shoulders and head to create a bit of depth. Try and place it out of shot if you can.
A window without direct sunlight can work.
Standing Lamp with a diffused LED daylight bulb
Daylight colour bulbs from Phillips Hue, Phillips, Argos, Ikea, etc work for this. The light should be diffused so it doesn't create direct glare into the camera.
- Use daylight colour LED bulbs: look for around 3000 - 5000K (Kelvin).
- Look at CRI (colour rendering index) - higher the CRI, the closer to natural light it is. 100 is better, no lower than 80.
- Do not have spotlights above you – and any light that is above should be diffused (a pillowcase or tissue paper are great cheap ways of diffusing light!)
- Angles: Facing front on or slightly higher, not a low angle looking up at you - ideal placement is eye level.
- You can buy an external webcam to improve picture quality - Logitech C922 Pro HD Stream Webcam
- Check your internal microphone settings on your computer as well as the setting on your video conferencing apps.
- You can also buy an external microphone to improve your sound quality – Samson Meteor USB Microphone
- If you use a headset place the microphone to the side of or just below your mouth about an inch away.
- Think about what’s in your shot – try and make it as aesthetically pleasing as you can. We all look at other people’s backgrounds, we have a peek into a snapshot of their lives, so have a little think about what you'd like to show. You could consider adding a photo, artwork or item of interest which might spark up a conversation.
If reading this ignites within you a further interest in lighting and home setups, here are some pretty good articles with more in-depth info:
Basics to Intense - How to create the best at-home videoconferencing setup, for every budget