It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your conferencing and collaboration solution is--if you haven’t figured out how to light your room for video, you will defeat the purpose of video conferencing all together. What good is a face-to-face video chat if your colleagues are getting a distorted version of you that distracts from the matter at hand? You don’t have to have a brilliant cinematographic eye to get your lights right. Just follow these rules and you’ll be fine.
This is some Photography 101 stuff, but millions of poorly lit selfies on Instagram testify to the need for starting with the basics. So here it is: face the light! That’s it. Whether you’re using natural light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows or the steady warm glow of a desk lamp, make sure the light is behind the camera and not behind you. If your back is to the light, you will appear on screen as a shadowy presence. This is not a good business look, unless your business is super villainy. Which we are assuming it is not.
Kill The Overheads
The flat white light thrown by overhead fixtures might seem like your best bet for consistent and effective illumination, but without direct lighting from behind the camera, those overheads will transform you into a creepy ghoul with a shadow-strewn face. You will look like something that crawled out of a crypt, the shadow of your brow turning your eyes into black voids. Again, not a good business look.
Diffusion Makes A Difference
Of course it’s important that you appear on screen in crystal clear fashion, your face unmarred by stray shadows. But that doesn’t mean you should set your lights to stun. If your light source has a dimmer function, play with that until you’ve arrived at a light intensity that illuminates your features without giving your audience a tour of every one of your pores. If you’re using natural light, consider drawing the curtains to cut down on the brightness.
Your Outfit Matters
Now it’s time to think about how your lighting arrangement will interact with the talent. Unless you want to be more traffic signal than human being, avoid white and other bright colors, as these reflect light. Stick with earth tones and cooler colors that won’t bounce light into the camera. Give your audience’s eyes a break.
Before you go live with your eminently professional video conference, be sure to take a warm-up lap or two. Most video conferencing solutions come equipped with a preview feature, which will allow you to stage a little dress rehearsal to work out the kinks in your presentation. If you’ve followed the above guidelines, you should be good to go, but set aside a few minutes for a test run anyway.
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