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How to Set Up Lighting for Your Stream

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While many streamers know that lighting is crucial for the quality of your stream, most don’t know how to set it up for the best results. After a decade of study and filmmaking work, I have picked up a few tips and tricks of the trade that helped me create a visually appealing stream setup for my own channel. I’ll share some of these tips in this article. 

Traditional Lighting Method

Here is how stream lighting is typically setup:

  • Key Light – the main light, not always the strongest, but the one that lights the face or most crucial part of a subject. It is often positioned in front of a subject, slightly above, and aimed slightly down so that they are lit with cinematic shadows on one side of their face. 
  • Fill Light –  less intense, more spread than the key light. It is placed on the other side of the camera than the key to fill in the opposite side of the face, or subject so the shadows aren’t so contrasted or dark. There is no golden rule for the angles or intensity, but simply an understanding of trial and error, reviewing other work and trying to find a style that fits what you want.
  • Back Light – A back light is designed to separate a subject from a background, you could say that when using a green screen a back light becomes a fill light but solely for the greenscreen to remove shadows from the subject. It is generally placed behind the subject (unlike the graphic shown), but can be placed in the place that looks best to you. 

Depending on your situation, there may be different ways of setting up your lighting that will give you better results. In fact, I set up my lighting differently.

How I Set Up My Lighting Equipment for Streaming

Personally, I use 2 Aputure Amaraon H672S when I stream and create other projects. These are designed as spot lights or beam style lights. These LED lights come with a control wheel on the back for intensity, or brightness. I’ll explain more about how to control your brightness below.  

I shape the light from these lights using different methods depending on what I’m filming. When I stream, I aim one of the lights at the wall to the front left of me. The light is on a high intensity and by being aimed at the white wall is bounced across my face and the green screen behind me. This makes the light act as both a key light and a fill light.

My other Aputure H672S is aimed directly at me, but at a much lower intensity. As a spotlight it is more often used as key light, but I changed its purpose to become a nice fill for the other side of my face. Essentially, while some lights are designed for certain things that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for other options.

Note: if you plan to bounce light off a wall where the wall isn’t the same color as the light, then you will mix colors. For instance, if I bounce a daylight light off a green wall, it will take some of that green and mix it into the light that hits the subject. Make sure to change the color temperature accordingly.

How I Set Up My Lighting Equipment for Documentaries

I also use these lights when I film interviews for documentaries, but I diffuse them using a paper similar to baking paper that is hung about 30cm in front of the light. This process cuts the light intensity in half to create nice shadows by spreading the filtered light across the face. 

The diffusion works better than cutting the brightness/intensity in half because it creates a more natural light which is appealing in its own way.  You don’t need to purchase fancy diffusion to get this effect. As I said above, I use a white wall and bounce light for my streams, this is just another type of diffusion. 

Note: I set my camera to the same white balance as my key light in this situation so the skin tone is natural and appealing. You will need to do this even when using a webcam to make sure that your skin looks appealing and not sickly. 

Usually I will place the other Aputure H267S directly behind the person from a low angle. I switch the internal diffusion from the light to be tungsten 3600 kelvin rather than daylight 4600 – 5500. This means my key light is daylight and creates a nice natural skin tone. The backlight now creates a golden rim around the person’s head and shoulders. This can be seen in every single StreamScheme video

Control Your Image Brightness

Another thing you will need to bear in mind is the ISO (or gain), one of the ways to control the brightness of your image. Webcams come with an ISO which, when left on the auto setting, will automatically try to “fix” the image by correcting it to the set brightness. This means, if you are sitting in a dark room, your ISO could add a lot of unpleasant grain to your feed.  

Different lights produce different colours depending on the manufacturer and quality, so that means they have different white balances but they often fall into daylight or tungsten. I actually find these H672S lights perform best when setting a camera to 4600 kelvin.
This graph explains color temperature or kelvin, something people often leave as auto which is why some amateur streamers look either super pale or super orange, their white balance has picked an object in shot to gauge it by and has got it wrong. Turning off auto and setting it manually fixes this.

Light SourceColor Temperature
Blue Sky 10000 - 15000 K
Shade / Cloudy Sky6500 - 8000 K
Sunlight Noon6000 - 7000 K
Average Daylight5500 - 6500 K
Electronic Flash5000 - 5500 K
Fluorescent Light4000 - 5000 K
Dawn / Dusk3000 - 4000 K
Domestic Lighting2500 - 3000 K
Candle Flame1000 - 2000 K

Once you have optimized your settings, your video quality should be bright, crisp and clear. If not, continue to adjust your lighting techniques until you are happy. 

How to Fix White Balance in Streamlabs OBS

While you can set up this feature when you add a video source in SLOBS, you can also fix it after the fact. Here’s how:

Step 1: Double click on your video source to open up the settings.

Step 2: Click the “Configure Video” button to open up the properties.

Step 3: You will be able to adjust the white balance by moving the slider in the “White Balance” category.

Step 4: Click “Apply” when you have finished to get save the new properties and close the box.

Step 5: Click “Done” on the video source box.

Conclusion

Proper lighting can set your stream above your competition. Not only will it be more visually appealing for your viewers, but potential sponsors will see your professionalism as well.

About the Author

Lachlan

Lachlan, also known as Eljayem_ on Twitch, has a background in video production. He is passionate about combining his love for video with community building. He’s been playing video games since he was old enough to steal his Brothers GameBoy Colour, copy of Pokemon Blue, and accidentally waste his Master Ball on a Dratini.

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