Over the last few months, I’ve made a concerted effort to improve my video and streaming output. Much of my focus has gone towards hardware, such as a microphone and webcam, but that’s only a part of the picture. One key element to making sure you look your best is to have the right lighting in your room. I’ve struggled with getting the right picture due to broadcasting from a dimly-lit basement where the primary light fixture is directly behind my head, which only made me look really dark on camera. On top of that, there’s very little room in front of me to install lighting in front of me due to my desk being close to a wall outlet.
With the help of my wife, we were able to create a custom lighting solution that does a tremendous job of providing my face with an even light source that doesn’t break the bank. Maybe this solution is what you need to take your stream to the next level!
What you will need
LED Strip Lights
You can find these at almost any place that sells lights, or on Amazon. They’re pretty cheap and they usually have adhesive backing to them to affix to a surface. On top of that, many of them allow you to cut them to the exact length you need. The things to look for are:
- How they are powered. Depending on your power situation, you might want a set that plugs into a wall outlet, or you may want something that is hard-wired to your house’s circuit board. I use the former, but go with what works best for you.
- The colour temperature of the LED lights. Light temperature is measured in Kelvin (K), with lower numbers from 2000-3000K appearing more orange, 3100-4500K appearing more white, and 4600K+ appearing more blue. Ideally, whichever LED lights you get match in temperature to whatever existing lights you have. Or, maybe it’s time to change the lights in your room as well, which I also had to do to make this work.
I’ll provide an Amazon link at the bottom to a set of LED strip lights, but please do some research in order to get the right set that works for you.
Thin white plastic tablecloth
You can get this from any party supplies or 99 cent/dollar store. Ideally, the thinner, the better. This helps diffuse the light, which comes in handy if the lighting is too harsh or if you wear glasses and the reflection is prevalent.
You will want two different kinds of tape: standard scotch tape for preview purposes, and a stronger adhesive tape for a more permanent solution.
Once you have all of these items, it’s time to get your hands dirty.
Let’s create this desk light!
1. Turn on your webcam
Throughout this process, you will want to constantly refer to your webcam to ensure that you’re presented in the best light. In particular, if you wear glasses, you want to be mindful of where the lights are positioned so that their reflection doesn’t show in your lenses when you’re viewing a monitor or looking at the webcam.
2. Using scotch tape, tape the LED lights across the top of your desk
The exact position is going to vary based on your setup. For me, it’s along the top shelf of my desk. Depending on your setup, you may need to tape it elsewhere. The key is to position the strip lights in such a way that they provide even light across your face.
3. Turn on the lights to see how it looks
Does it look good as is? Great! Move onto the next step.
Is something else wrong, go back to step 2 and play around with the positioning of your lights until it looks just right.
4. Take the sticker backing off of the LED lights and install them across your desk
Lay them out just like you did in step 2, only with a more permanent adhesive solution. You may need a bit of tape in places to further secure certain sections, but the default stickers on the back should work fine.
5. Using scotch tape, stick a layer of the picnic table across the top of the lights
Use scotch tape first to see if you need more layers of the picnic table are needed. For me, one layer was enough, but if you need more, fold it over once or twice before installing it with better tape.
6. Cut the tablecloth to the appropriate size and tape it to your desk
Once you are done, the end product should look something like this:
For the cost of the LED lights, plastic tablecloth, and tape, this cost me under $20. For my needs, it works wonderfully. Hopefully something like this works for you as well!
(NOTE: These are not the ones I used and they may not be the ones you need depending on your lighting situation. Do some research to find the best LED lights for you!)