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How to Get Good Lighting for Live Streaming

Lighting is one of the basic pillars of live streaming. You can create a fantastic script, invite your guests, and make sure your stream is put together professionally… but if you don’t pay much attention to the technical part, and especially lighting, your live stream just won’t work. So what to do when you want to go live and look like a pro live streamer?

Rule 1: Your audience should actually see you in your live stream!

First things first: your audience should clearly see you while you’re live. That may seem basic, but it’s not a podcast. 🤣  One of the reasons why people join your live stream is to see your face, and many live streamers seem to forget that. Make sure your camera preview isn’t too dark or too bright. It should have just enough light for you to be seen well. 

If you’re using BeLive for going live, you can do a test broadcast and check everything out before hitting the “Go Live” button.

When it comes to lighting, it has two components: color temperature and intensity.

Video Temperature Settings

An example of the same picture having different temperatures.

The color temperature of light is measured in Kelvins and varies from 1 to 10k. I’m sure you notice that sometimes your videos or photographs look more yellowish or blue-ish. The reason for that is the settings in your camera for color temperature called white balance.

If you use Facetime or a webcam, you might not be able to adjust the temperature. But usually, it works fine. If you are going to stream with a DSLR camera, it’s something you should look into. For your live streams, it’s better to go for the daylight color temperature in the settings. 

If you’re broadcasting using natural light, which is 5600k, your skin will look natural and there won’t be any yellow or blue tones in the picture. 

Light Intensity for your Live Stream

f you take the flashlight on your phone, turn it on and light your palm from a very short distance. You’ll see the bright spot without any shadows. This is definitely something you need to avoid in your streams. That’s why you should not stream from a place with a harsh light. On the other hand, if you take the flashlight and put it far away from your palm, you won’t see any changes in terms of lighting. This is also not good.

One great way to improve the way you look on the camera is by adding some additional sources of light.

Rule 2: Mind the intensity of light in your live stream

Don’t choose a place which is too close to the source of light. And don’t go too far from it either. If you’re going to use the natural light, don’t sit too close to a window on a sunny day. Bright sunshine might fill your camera with light (from a footage perspective this problem is called overexposure) and no one will be able to see you. So you better off sitting somewhere in the middle of the room, so your face isn’t overexposed and everyone can see you clearly.

If you’re a lucky owner of LED light, you can decide what distance between you and the source of light works for you the best and stick to that one 🙂

Rule 3: Adjust the angle of the light in your video

Don’t put your sources too high or too low. You either get a “shadow” under your eyes, or you’ll look like a scary character from a movie. (If it’s part of your Halloween costume, then that’s great!) But if you don’t have any specific plans for your lighting scheme, I recommend the following: the light sources should be placed at a 45-degree angle from where you are sitting. It should be placed a little bit higher than your face, so it’s kind of “shining” from the top, mimicking the sunlight.

Rule 4:  Position your light source for your live stream 

Never put the main light source behind you. The light sources should be in front of you or a little bit from the sides. If you put the main light source behind you, people will see only your silhouette.

Rule 5: Use reflectors when you go live.

If you have only one source of light and the other part of your face is in a shadow, you might want to buy a photograph reflector.  You can also use a big piece of white paper or even styrofoam. Light takes the shortest way: the straight line. That is a very helpful piece of knowledge since you can “navigate” the light beams to the place where they’re needed.

For example, you can put the reflector in front of your source of light. You can see an easy explanation below:

Rule 6:  Use backlight to go live like a Pro Streamer.

Use backlight. If you pay attention to details and really want to stand out with your production, you might want to create a halo around your head by using a small source of light that you can put behind yourself. Since the backlight is supposed to be small, feel free to put it right behind you. 

You can try using a simple torch for that or get into more expensive gears. Here’s an example of a more professional setup. In this example, Matt uses the backlight to lighten up the side of his face, not the vertex. 

That’s it! You’re ready to create professional-looking live streams!

If you’re looking for a platform to start your live streaming journey, check out BeLive and start creating professional streams in a few clicks. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments below.

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