Our friend Martin Kempton, an award-winning Lighting Director and Designer who worked on a range of high-profile shows at the BBC (everything from Eastenders to Top Of The Pops) recently took to Facebook to share his top tips about home lighting for Zoom calls. We could all do with a bit of help in this area, so with his kind permission, we’re sharing them here:

Martin says, “A long time ago I used to do a bit of lighting for TV. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write this but – after nearly a year of looking at appallingly-lit people on Zoom – here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make sure the camera is as near eye level as possible. If you are looking down you will have a saggy neck and your eyes will be in shadow. Some TV presenters insist that their camera is above eye level – they know what makes them look good.
  2. Make sure the background is neither too bright nor too dark. Your computer exposes the camera to an average light level so your face will look far too bright if the background is very dark and vice versa.
  3. Following on from the above point – avoid seeing windows in the shot. Even on a dull day, any window will appear to be incredibly bright. Same with any lights – turn off or dim down to minimum any lights that the camera can see.
  4. Now the portraiture bit! Your key light should be slightly above eye level and slightly to one side of the camera. The most flattering form of light is soft – that means it produces a soft shadow, not a hard one. You can use a proper LED fixture (something like this one) or maybe a table light with a soft shade, (not a coloured shade obviously.) You could also bounce a desk light off a white wall or piece of card. If this sounds a bit too much then it’s to make you look good. No point in putting on nice makeup or combing your hair if your lighting makes you look old, tired and knackered.
  5. Avoid having light streaking down your face from an overhead fixture. I see this all the time. People switch on the central ceiling light and it illuminates their forehead and nose drawing attention to every tiny wrinkle and crease whilst leaving their eyes in deep shadow. It really is the most unflattering light possible! Also, make sure the sun doesn’t shine directly on you through a window for similar reasons.
  6. In the daytime, the best light is probably from a window behind the camera – or behind your webcam in your laptop lid. If this isn’t possible then artificial light as described above is best.
  7. If you can, plug your computer directly into your broadband hub using an ethernet cable, rather than relying on your home wi-fi connection. No matter how good or bad your internet wi-fi, it will make it far more reliable and will sharpen up your camera too!”

You can read more about Martin Kempton here

Next week we’ll be sharing some more top tips about how to sound more professional on Zoom.

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