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How To Set Up the Best Home Lighting for Video Conferencing

Robert Strobl
June 12, 2022

Video conferencing is super easy and accessible these days. Everyone is doing it. With this being said, few people put effort into presenting themselves in a good light on video.

Proper lighting for webinars is one of the most overlooked aspects of a video conferencing setup.

It is also one of the most rewarding things to get right.

Table of contents

  1. Presentation
  2. Position Your Light Source in Front of You
  3. Lighting Position
  4. Give Yourself Space
  5. White Screen Trick
  6. Test Your Setup
  7. Get New Equipment
  8. Final Thought

Good lighting can give your video that crisp, executive look. It requires a little bit of thought, planning, and sometimes a financial investment to get right. It’s a great way of giving yourself a professional appearance.

No matter which way we dress it up, appearance matters. First impressions have always been very important. Video conferencing is no different. Poor lighting can make people doubt professionalism. 

Looking good on video helps boost confidence. In the era of remote working, a professional video image is just as important as our work clothes used to be. We have put together 7 tips to help you shine while video conferencing at home. 

7 Tips for Setting up the Best Home Lighting for Video Conferencing

Some tips don’t cost anything and are easy to implement. Achieving the best possible video conferencing setup will require new hardware. 

Presentation


If you don’t look at the part, then no amount of lighting will help you. How you present yourself will depend on the type of video meeting. Job interview? Smart office attire. Meeting with colleagues? Office casual.

Dressing appropriately comes down to common sense. Don’t show up to a job interview in pyjamas, and don’t join the monthly team meeting with no shirt on. If you dress appropriately, good lighting will help give you that executive, professional appearance. 

An effective presentation includes choosing an appropriate background. Plain surfaces such as blank walls or a tidy room will suffice. Avoid complex patterns and untidy backgrounds. Don’t think people won’t notice your untidy bedroom behind you, because they will. 

video conferencing lightning digital samba

 

Position Your Light Source in Front of You

The first rule of good lighting is to ensure the subject is lit from the front and not behind. Webcams typically adjust to the brightest light source in the frame. If you are covered in shadow, your webcam will focus on the bright background, leaving you out of focus.

The human eye is also naturally drawn to the most well-lit areas of a frame. Backlighting makes your background the brightest area and you the darkest. A quick way of achieving balanced, diffused front lighting is to position your desk or laptop in front of a window.

video_conferencing_lightning_Position_Your_Light_Source_in_Front

 

Lighting Position

The gold standard is 3-point lighting. The 3-point system is how content-creating professionals like Youtubers, TikTokers and Twitch streamers always look professional. 

For most people, a 2-source system is a more convenient option. You can achieve it using a simple room light plus a lamp or ring system. If you only have one source, you should avoid downlighting. It creates shadows, making it difficult for your webcam to focus. 

People are much more aware of good video presentations these days. The old days of popular professional Youtubers and content creators having bad lighting are long gone. 

Here is our brief guide to setting up a balanced 3-point system:

  • Key light - The main source. It should be 75% of the total light on your face. Place it at a 30 to 45-degree angle from you, not in front.
  • Fill light - Needs to be dimmer than the key light and diffuse evenly. They are used to fill shadows created by the key light. Position the fill source at the same angle as the key light but on the other side.
  • Backlight - This defines your outline and makes you look balanced and three-dimensional. Set up the backlight behind you, opposite the key light and out of the frame. We recommend LED rings or panels for a 3-point system.

Give Yourself Space

It’s important to have plenty of space to achieve high-quality, diffused lighting. Having your source too close can make you look washed out and blurry. Being too far away from your source will cause shadows, making it hard for your webcam to focus. 

3-point systems are space-demanding and best suited to home offices. Most home offices will accommodate 2-point systems. The quickest way of achieving a 2-point system is to sit in front of a window and use a nearby lamp as a fill light. A lampshade is a great source of diffused light.

If your webinar space is cramped and you are struggling to improve your presentation, try clipping a ring light to your laptop or desk. An LED ring plus an ordinary desk lamp can work wonders in a constricted space.

White Screen Trick

Most of us don’t have professional video call equipment. But what if you have a big meeting like an interview coming up? The white screen trick! If you have a spare screen or monitor, open a blank MS word doc and put the brightness on full. This trick gives you some nice forward lighting to combat any shadows.

Test Your Equipment

You have given some thought to the optimal equipment arrangement. Maybe you even decided to purchase some hardware like a ring light or LED bulbs? Time to test and adjust your setup for the best results. 

Don't be gung-ho about it and dive straight into meetings with your new gear. Try different brightness settings, and adjust any ring/panel lights until you find the best combination. Have some patience, and we have no doubt you will improve your lighting and get the best out of any new hardware.

Get New Equipment

If you want a professional, Youtuber style video call setup, you will need some good equipment. Top-quality, evenly diffused lighting requires specialist equipment beyond a lamp or window.

Here are our home equipment recommendations :

LED Bulbs - the cheapest source of smooth, diffused light. Standard Incandescent bulbs can come across as harsh and concentrated. LED bulbs are extremely affordable and give you a wide choice of colour temperatures and brightness settings. 

If you don’t have access to LED bulbs, you can achieve diffused light by aiming your lamp at a nearby wall rather than your face. The wall will reflect the source, helping you achieve a balanced, diffused look. A lampshade will also do the trick. We recommend fitting any overhead and desk lamps with LED bulbs. They aren’t just the best option because of customization.

LED bulbs use 75% less energy than regular bulbs.

LED Ring/Panel - If you want the best of the best - professional Youtuber style 3-point lighting, you will need LED rings or panels. These are the mainstay of professional content creators. Set-up time is minimal, and they can be adjusted to suit your needs. They usually come with LED bulbs because they are one of the best adjustable diffused light sources. 

We recommend this type of equipment for statics video setups. Moving these around from room to room would be quite tedious. LED rings perfectly light up your face and create subtle reflections within your pupils. An adjustable ring and panel LED system should be your go-to if you want to look like an executive.

LED ring video conferencing digital samba

Final Thought 

If you want to look your best during a video conference, you need to know how to light yourself up. Bad lighting can make you look unprofessional. In a worst-case scenario, it could even hurt your business or reputation.

We recommend that you keep it simple for day-to-day meetings. A two-point system with a diffused light source like a lamp or window will do. For important meetings, it’s good to have something more professional up your sleeve, like a ring light. 

Using our tips, you will have all the tools required to look your best during a video call. You might even want to implement your own two or three-point webinar lighting system. 

Showcase your new lighting for webinars with up to HD quality video calls on Samba Live. Click here to start your 14-day free trial.

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