Lighting is a key component of any video production, even if you’re live streaming games at home. High-quality video isn’t something all streamers think about. Theoretically, you can stream with very minimal equipment, but that’s not going to deliver top-tier content to your audience. In many ways, the quality of a live stream is indicative of whether the streamer is a true professional or not.
To take streaming seriously and stand out as a professional in the industry, take some time to learn as many facets of video production as possible. The guide below will break down some great tips for getting the most out of live stream lighting. Although your lighting arrangement at home might differ from the one you’d use in a studio, each situation requires equal levels of care and consideration.
Choosing Your Lights
When shopping for high-quality lighting for video productions, you’ll come across three general types: halogen, tungsten, and LED. There’s more to light than whether it’s too bright or dim—you have to think about color temperature too. Fluorescent bulbs will create a cool aura for your stream. On the other hand, halogen bulbs provide a warmer glow on-camera. LED bulbs give you the best of both worlds—you can adjust these bulbs to be either warm or cool, which is why LEDs are typically the go-to for live streaming.
Besides the bulb, consider the size of your lights, including their stands. Larger lights are a better fit for a larger studio space, especially if you have any additional people on camera with you during the stream. You can still go down this route for a one-person setup, but such a situation will typically do fine with a good desktop-sized ring light. At Ikan, our selection of video production equipment contains ring lights that offer easy use and high-quality lighting on-camera.
One Isn’t Enough
In the previous point, we briefly discussed the idea of having more than one person on-camera with you during streams. Whether one person is on camera or several are, you’re almost always going to need multiple light sources. How you set up these lights largely relies on the space you have available. One LED can get the job done in some cases, but having at least two will help you create a video image with better clarity, detail, and depth.
If your arrangement involves a group of people on camera, the classic three-point camera setup is always useful. As the name suggests, three-point lighting involves three sources of light. Using the three-point technique creates a nice image without shedding too much light on the background. If you want to boost your visual depth further, you can use an extra light to achieve four-point lighting.
A four-point lighting arrangement uses the suitably named “background light” to add more detail to your background scenery. The fourth light isn’t always necessary, but if you have a nice studio at home that’s worth showing off, lighting up your background can boost your video’s visual appeal even further. Whether you’re streaming a virtual class or a video game, avoid having a dull or messy background on display.
Consider Your Space
Regardless of the lighting arrangement you want to use for streaming, having the space available for the equipment is vital. Earlier, we talked about desktop LEDs, which take up minimal space while providing ample light. Larger lights, such as LEDs on taller stands, can also be handy for live streams but, at the end of the day, it all comes down to how much room you have for the equipment. Establish exactly how much space you have available for lighting equipment before buying anything. Don’t forget to make space for additional equipment and easy maneuverability too. You shouldn’t feel cramped or worried you’re going to knock a light over every time you stand up.
Camera Quality and Your Lights
Just because your lighting arrangement looks nice in person, that doesn’t mean it looks equally nice on your stream. This is largely due to the varying picture qualities of video cameras and webcams on the market. If your streaming camera’s resolution output doesn’t exceed 480p, that’s a big problem. For a high-quality, professional-looking image to go along with your lighting, aim for a camera with an output of either 1080p or 4K. Good lighting, resolution, and frame rate are must-haves for any live stream. If your stream’s video quality is terrible, audiences likely aren’t going to tune in for very long.
Experiment Before Streaming
Your first stream shouldn’t be the first time you see your lighting arrangement in action. Of the many details you’ll want to smooth out before going live, lighting is one of the biggest. All your equipment deserves a test run, and lights aren’t an exception. This test run gives you the chance to find the perfect placement and color temperature in-frame. Additionally, experimenting with your lights helps with deciding exactly how many lights you need. If you think three lights is enough but go through a trial run and discover that the image is still too dark or dull, you can grab another bulb and take a new approach.
Everyone’s studio differs in many ways, so it’s important to make time to find the right arrangement for your setup. Lighting might seem like a small detail at first, but once you go through some tests and see the difference between awful and appealing lighting, you’ll see how lights play a significant role in live streams.
If you want to create professional-looking content for your audience, these tips for getting the most out of live stream lighting will assist with that immensely. From poor video quality to technical difficulties, there’s no shortage of issues that can occur during live streams. Luckily, details like good lighting can help your content look as presentable as possible.
Whether your audience is comprised of fans watching you game or students watching you teach, you should always try to put forward as professional an appearance as possible. Even if your video is streaming smoothly, if your audience can’t see you due to insufficient lighting, your stream probably won’t come across as very professional. Don’t worry—these are novice mistakes that are easy to avoid with the right preparation and experience.