Shawn Tylka

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  1. Jeffrey Ferreri 699 Accepted Answer Community Answer

    The best lighting is neutral in color and diffuse - it comes from a variety of directions and is just bright enough to illuminate clearly without a hot spot to blow out detail.

    Video lighting has traditionally been very bright, but the sensitivity of cameras has improved greatly over time. Unfortunately, most people are using cameras built into their laptops or phones. While these are functional, they are far more limited than professional camera equipment, which is far more responsive and adjustable to varying conditions.

    Multiple Light Sources
    You don’t have a Master Electrician (theatre), a Gaffer (film) nor lighting technicians running around to make you look your best. Your best option is to provide a variety of light sources rather than one light that is too bright or even worse too dim. Most of the light should come from sources to the sides and the front, as opposed to directly overhead.

    One main light source directly behind will turn you into a silhouette, but a bit of light added in to an overall lighting scheme behind you will soften shadows and visually pull you off the background. On a movie, lighting techs will often hold up a white reflector card at the right angle while standing just off camera to help bounce the light and provide a little fill. The good news is that you don’t need a pile of expensive lighting instruments with barn doors, gels or gobos attached.


    I’ve managed great results with a few desk lamps and a clip-on type work light with a reflector positioned strategically. You want several lights rather than one very bright light. In a room with an overhead ceiling light that is too harsh, I’ve stood on a chair and attached a piece or two of ordinary copy/printer paper over the lighting fixture, held in place with masking tape. This acts as a diffuser, softening the light as well as reflecting some of it at an angle off the ceiling. After a few tries at adjusting things I wound up with enough diffusion for my video to look good. If you have deep shadows on one side of your face, add lighting to that side to provide fill light.

    Get Out Your Wallet
    The light rings that are becoming increasing popular can help you accomplish this. They throw light at you from a variety of directions using a collection of smaller sources arranged in a circle that surrounds your camera lens. This works well enough for most people. Of course the more expensive lights are larger rings that use full spectrum 5500K “daylight” LEDs (color neutral) and are dimmable to give you the best results.

    If the room you are in has strong coloring to it (walls, carpet, furnishings) the light reflected from your surroundings will be tinted with that color. In a former home I had a living room with vivid green walls that would have been terrible to use for video conferencing. If you don’t have a choice of rooms, you may have to use some inexpensive white or light gray drapes to hang and block large swaths of color during calls. You also may want to cover up an overly busy background wall that is distracting. I know someone who has set up drapes so that they are easy to deploy during conferencing, then move out of the way at other times.

    Your Birthday Suit
    Your skin tone affects your visibility. If you are very fair your pale skin will reflect a lot of light so you’ll look ghostly and your features will flatten out. You’ll need to use less light, and light from the sides is better. Your skin will easily pick up a tint from any color in the light.   People with medium skin tones have it easier. Those with dark skin need more light for their features to be defined. If you have very dark skin, aiming more light directly at your face helps.

    UTC 2021-05-03 07:27 PM 0 Comments

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