How many times have you been in a virtual meeting and looked at yourself onscreen only to see an unflattering and badly-lit shot of yourself? While online video conferencing is becoming increasingly popular, working with lighting conditions and webcams may still feel like unfamiliar territory.
Most webcams aren’t exactly flattering from the get-go, but with the proper lighting (plus a few other tricks), you can significantly upgrade how you look in your recordings. For top-tier video capture, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to improve lighting for webcam.
Look Good, Feel Good
Even with the right lighting, wearing the wrong outfit could deter the attention of your audience and make it hard for them to focus on what you’re trying to communicate. If you want to engage confidently with your audience, your clothes should help you achieve that and not hold you back.
- Avoid clashing
No one wants to look like a floating head on camera. To prevent this mishap, avoid wearing colors that make you blend in with your background and reflective fabrics that could distort your lighting.
- Comfort is key
Wearing comfortable pieces goes a long way in how you carry yourself. Make sure to choose a comfortable and audience-appropriate outfit for your recordings, such as a sweater or a casual dress shirt.
- Keep it professional
Maintain a professional appearance by wearing solid colors. Avoid busy and distracting prints that could divert your audience’s attention. If you want to keep it safe, neutrals such as black, white, brown, and navy are the way to go.
Camera Placement is Important
Having your webcam angled correctly helps compliment your facial features and goes a long way to achieving your desired look. A good rule of thumb is to have the camera at eye level or slightly above it – but no higher than your hairline, as this could distort your appearance.
For an external USB webcam, you can mount an adjustable tripod or grip on your laptop or desktop. If your camera is still angled too low, another makeshift solution would be to place your laptop or webcam on top of a box or stack of books.
Mind Your Spacing
Sitting too close to a bright light source can wash out your features, making it difficult for people to see you correctly. To remedy this, try moving your light source away from your face and let the webcam automatically adjust and rebalance.
Always keep yourself about an arm’s length away from your screen. Adjust your position until you see that your shoulders and head are centered in the frame with some room to spare.
Face the Light
When thinking about how to improve lighting for webcam, a good setup is essential. Ideally, you would want to face a soft, indirect light source that could illuminate your features for the most flattering look.
Aside from your primary light source, try to minimize other lighting in the room that could cause excessive shadows. As much as possible, you should avoid locations that only have:
- Lowlight: Makes you and your surroundings look dim
- Backlight: Leaves you looking like a silhouette on-screen
- Overhead lighting: Casts pronounced shadows across the face and enhances imperfections
If you can’t find a natural light source, you can place a ring light or a lamp in front of you and behind your webcam. Another clever tip is to use a white image or a blank Word document on your laptop or monitor as your light source.
These specialized mics gather audio simultaneously from two directions – from left and right or front and back. This is evidenced by this model's polar pattern, which looks like a figure-eight. Bidirectional mics are suitable for recording two people facing each other, enabling them to speak or sing directly into the mic from opposite sides.
Two or Three-Point Lighting
If you want your webcam discussions to look professionally made, utilizing a two or three-point lighting setup might be worth the additional effort. Here are a few tricks you can do to achieve these lighting conditions.
To create a two-point lighting setup, you need two light sources called a key light and a fill light. Ideally, you would want to use daylight bulbs (4500 Kelvins and above) for these two points to mimic natural sunlight.
Place each light on the left and right of the webcam and have them pointing inwards at a 45° angle with you positioned in between. A three-point lighting setup takes this further by adding a third light behind the subject called a backlight.
- Key light: The primary light source with the highest intensity and brightness out of all three points.
- Fill light: A secondary light used to offset shadows cast by the key light. This light is softer, with about 50% to 75% brightness of the key light.
- Backlight: This light is placed behind and slightly to the side of the subject. It adds definition and helps create a more three-dimensional look.
Test Your Setup
Now that you’ve learned how to set up your webcam interview properly, it’s always a good idea to do a dry run and record a few test videos before you go live. This ensures that your setup functions well and gives you your desired look and sound quality.
Have someone else join in on your test call to see how you look and sound online. Once everything is good to go, keep everything as it is to avoid spending more time setting up your virtual meeting.
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