March 2020 and as lockdown started it was all about getting better and better web cams. We saw how awful the Zoom interviews on the news looked, all blocky backlit shadows and up-nose shots. A simple LED panel light would make a huge difference, and these flew out of the warehouse. The LEDGO LG-E268C has been on my desk ever since, on a tiny light stand which cost me £5.
With the ever-growing popularity of web streaming and content, especially on YouTube and Twitch; the need for a high level production (or one that at least looks like it) is accelerating. Just turning your webcam on won’t cut it anymore. You’re going to be up against a lot of competing content that looks professional. Essentially, you’re looking at a small-scale live production, where every aspect needs to be considered. So, where do you start? The majority of streamers already out there, most likely, will have started out with a webcam, routed through a CDN platform like OBS, which is free software that, as well as streaming, provides basic mixing features that allow them to create live productions. A basic enhancement is to stream direct from a professional camcorder or attach your existing camera to a Teradek VidiU Go or Datavideo streaming encoder.And, by all means, that’s where you should start too. But if your channel starts to grow and you pick up a decently sized viewer base, you may be able to start gaining revenue from your channel through video monetisation or subscriber donations. At this point, it’s definitely time to update your gear. Webcams are fine but, like TV, it’s a competitive market and subpar equipment and production value will leave you in the depths…Only to be overlooked by a bored viewer, aimlessly scrolling through YouTube.
Yes, lighting is an art. And yes, you can get lighting very wrong. But stick to a few rules for a fast track to good looking results. When we talk about lighting a subject for interview or portrait photography, a no-nonsense starting point is three-point lighting. Key light, fill light and back light are terms that are very familiar in the industry: they refer to what each light does, not what type of light you need to have. The trick is placing and balancing these lights quickly and easily. Position them to create a natural look, with subtle shadowing and no glare. This should take no more than 2-3 minutes.