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Lighting Your Livestream

Lighting Your Livestream

Written by William Algar-Chuklin

Looking good in any livestream comes down to many factors. Today let’s cover lighting, one of the most important aspects of getting the best video quality in any livestream, and the different setups you can be using to improve your next livestream!

The Rundown:

  • Good lighting helps more than buying a new camera
  • Ring, Panel, Tube lights oh my!
  • Easy Setup

Personally I think that good lighting is the unspoken secret to success in photos and videos. This is especially true of livestream videos, where even a little bit of investment in a good lighting setup can give you amazing results.

There are many reasons to look into a new lighting setup, from the technical to the artistic. Let’s cover a few before delving into livestream lighting setups.

Image Quality

This is the main reason I think most people will benefit from an effective lighting setup. The main issues I see on live streams of people starting out are the often grainy and low frame rate video streams. In almost every case I’ve seen, these two issues are caused by the absence of, or the poor lighting of a stream.

Modern digital cameras are capable of outputting impressive images, but still struggle in dark environments. In photography, a digital camera tries to correct the exposure by applying gain (i.e. increasing the ISO) which can cause noise to appear, in video it tries to do that too (also adding noise in the process), but will also drop the frame rate and/or shutter speed so each frame in the video has enough time to gather as much light as possible. This can lead to some pretty grainy and choppy video in low light.

Luckily, even a little bit of extra light can help the situation dramatically!

Subject Focus and Flair

A good lighting setup also has the benefit of highlighting the subject of the livestream, whether that’s you or something else. This can really get your subject popping on the screen and makes it easier for your audience to engage with the stream.

This also extends to being able to light you or your subject through RGB colour controllable lights that can add drama and interest to your stream and really showcase your creative style.

Beauty Lighting

This is the main artistic reason I find for a good lighting setup. The right lighting setup is a sure fire way to improve your appearance on a stream. Shadowing, which can change the way your face looks in unappealing ways, can all be controlled with a setup that suits you

There are many lighting setups that can work for you and I’ll be covering some of the more popular ones next!

Lights and Lighting Setups

Now let’s cover some lights and lighting setups to get you started. In rough order from the easiest to set up we have...

The Ring light

These types of lights have become very popular as an easy to create lighting set up that produces great results. Typically you’ll only need one ring light for your whole set up, and your camera is placed in the middle of the ring. This produces really nice even lighting over your face by taking away unappealing shadowing. One downside to this setup is that it can obstruct your computer monitor, or requires the camera and light to be placed further away from your display. Not much of an issue for certain livestreams (e.g. zoom calls, unboxings, etc), but can pose problems for people streaming games.

A Popular choice is the F&V R300SE

LED Panel Lights

This is the route I personally prefer. There’s a good balance of creative freedom when lighting your stream, and LED panel lights can be extremely versatile in terms of size, placement, and how many can be used together on your livestream. There are also really great options out there, like the Vibesta Peragos RGBWW Disk, that can let you control your colour output, from the traditional warm to cool tones, but also lets you choose colours throughout the RGB gamut.

LED light panels also come in many different sizes, which is great since the size of a light can directly affect how soft the light appears, and also allows you to achieve the extremely popular Three Point Lighting setup with the addition of more panels.

LED Tube Lights

These have become really popular as well recently as more lighting manufacturers have been creating powerful and feature rich lighting products. For instance, the recently announced Vibesta Peragos Tube allows you to create lighting setups like you would with a ring light or LED panel lights, but with some pretty amazing programmable options through their featured apps.

They are also easily placed almost anywhere you like and make great background or accent lights to bring a bit more creative lighting to your streaming setup - a popular request with gamers and other creatives

Signing Off

Hopefully this has given you a better idea of the different lights and lighting setups that are achievable for your livestream needs. I’ve found the LED panel route to be the best for me, but remember, every situation is different when it comes to lighting, so it’s always good to keep in mind that experimentation is a key part of finding what’s right for you. I found this too can be a fun endeavour in itself!

If you need more information on Lighting or other accessories, check out more articles on the C.R. Kennedy blog.

William Algar-Chuklin is a night and travel photographer based in Sydney, Australia. You can check out some of his work at walgarch.com and on Flickr