How to Set Up Lighting For Streaming & Why Is It Important

how to setup lighting for streaming

Live streaming is becoming just as common as network TV when it comes to how people entertain themselves as spectators. No matter what kind of footage streaming contains, you need to treat it like you are producing a live television show.

This means that lighting is incredibly important.

Having proper lighting during a stream shows viewers a couple of things. It shows that you take yourself seriously as a streamer, and it shows that you take your audience seriously as well.

Proper lighting will also improve the visual quality of your stream, which will allow you to possibly bring in new viewers.

If there is one thing that will decisively improve your stream, it is your lighting.

Before learning how to set up proper lighting for streaming, let’s go even further in-depth about lighting and the role that it takes place when streaming.

Why is Lighting Important for Streaming?

Rewind the clock back to a time when live streaming was not as relevant to entertainment as it is today.

Think of any show you watched on TV that was filmed on-location, whether it was live or not, such as a news presentation, a talk show, a game show, or a show that revolved around sports or competition. 

How did the lighting affect your viewing experience when watching any of these presentations? Can you recall moments where the presentation or show would have been that much better if the lighting was just a little better or even a little more consistent?

Streaming operates the same way in that lighting has a direct effect on whether viewers will find the stream enjoyable or not.

Even in environments where things don’t need to be overly bright, proper lighting makes for a much better viewing experience as it makes objects appear more consistent and more detailed.

This is why lighting is important for streaming. While it only affects your facecam and not the game you are streaming, proper lighting shows your audience that you take your craft seriously and want your viewers to have a good experience.

There are a lot of different techniques and procedures that go into setting up the proper lighting for streaming. First, let’s go over the best and most common lighting you can use.

What Kind of Lights Are Best for Streaming?

When it comes to the kinds of lights that are best for streaming, it is almost unanimous that it is best to use LED lights. This is because, unlike other kinds of lights, LED lights are able to bring objects into better focus without being too overwhelming.

Examples of lights that are overwhelming are most fluorescent lights or ceiling lights. The purpose of these lights is not to bring things into focus but to generally illuminate everything around them.

These kinds of lights generally do not work well with cameras, which in turn produce a yellowish “grainy” effect when they interact with a camera. This greatly affects the general look of your stream in a very bad way.

Additionally, you should make sure that the lights you use for your stream can be dimmed somehow. As you will see, this function is fairly common, even when using the cheapest lights for streaming.

Now that you know what kinds of lights are best for streaming, the next thing you need to know how to do is to set them up.

How to Set Up Lights for Streaming?

There are three general ways that you can set up lights for streaming, and they all depend on how many lights you want to use as well as the area that you are streaming in.

Before determining how many lights you want to use, you need to take a look at the area that you are streaming in. 

Are you streaming in your living room, where you have plenty of room for multiple lights, your bedroom, where you may not have a lot of room for lighting, or a location that is in between? The rule of thumb you should follow here is that the more room you have, the more lights you can have.

Streaming with two lights

However, you might not be forced to use just one or two different lights if you are streaming in a small room. It just may mean that you’ll need to use lights that are smaller in size.

In any case, proper lighting for your stream can be done with one, two, or three lights.

Streaming With One Light

This setup is by far the most basic, but it is only one small step above streaming with using nothing more than your ceiling light or with using no lights at all.

Fortunately, all it takes is literally one LED desk lamp that is shined directly over your head. This is referred to as a “rim” light.

Setting this up is easy. Place your LED desk lamp a few feet over your head and either dim whatever ceiling lights you have or turn them off completely. 

This will illuminate you just enough to where it is much more effective than letting your ceiling light do this on its own, but it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Using just a rim light is better than nothing, costs next to nothing, and is suitable if you are streaming in a very small room.

The goal of just using a rim light is to separate yourself from the background. You can think of it as using a spotlight of sorts.

Doing this is far from optimal. Using two lights is much better and much more sensible.

Streaming With Two Lights

Using two lights for your streaming setup is much more ideal. To accomplish this, you will need to position your lights in relation to whatever camera you are using.

Place one LED light behind and slightly off to the side of your camera. This is what those who film professionally refer to as a “key” light.

Your second light will go directly across from the key light. This is what those who film professionally call a “fill” light.

What the key light is supposed to do is cast a shadow on your face such that it creates definition. This works in tandem with the fill light to achieve smoothing.

Because of this, you will want to make one light somewhat brighter than the other. Doing this is a matter of preference and up to you. Do not hesitate to experiment.

Streaming With Three Lights

Putting a key light, fill light, and rim light together is what will make your stream stand out from others. To do this, all you need to do is just add your rim light to your existing key light and fill light setup.

When you do this properly, you will take nearly the entire background of your stream out of play, having your viewers focus completely on you and you alone.

These methods are the most basic ways to set up lighting for your stream. However, there are a few other options you can consider when it comes to setting up lights for streaming.

Additional Options You Have When Setting Up Lighting for Streaming

Streaming with one light

There are some instances where you can actually use the same LED lamp you used for your rim light as a key light.

This will completely light up one side of your face and eliminate everything in the background, providing a very dramatic look.

Achieving this largely depends on the size of the room you are streaming at. It also depends on if you can handle any possible glare you might get from the key light.

You can also use a key light and a rim light and leave your fill light alone. If you have decided to do this, make sure that your key light is a little dimmer than your rim light since you still want the rim light to operate like a spotlight.

The last additional option you have for lighting is to set up flood lights.

Flood lights are designed to bring just enough attention to the background of your stream but not too much. You can think of having flood lights as a supplement to your key, fill, and rim lights for your stream.

How Much Do Lights for Streaming Cost?

Now that you know why lighting is important for streaming and how to set up lights for your stream, you might be concerned as to how much this costs.

The cost of lighting equipment can climb up to thousands of dollars, depending on how serious you’re. But at the same time, you can put together a lighting setup that’s going to look amazing for just a couple of hundred bucks.

Fortunately for you, we’re going to share our favorite affordable lights you can order today. Let’s take a look at them.

Elgato Key Light

Elgato Key Light

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You will get a lot out of this solitary key light if the only light you need for streaming is one big, powerful light that saves space.

You can easily use Elgato’s key light as the only light for your stream, and it will look infinitely better than using the lights on your ceiling.

The stand that it comes with is totally adjustable and saves up much more space than other streaming lights that come with stands as well.

The brightness and color temperature of Elgato’s key light are also adjustable and can easily be done from your PC by using their app.

It does cost a bit more than other, cheaper lights. However, if you decided on one key light for your streaming setup, we highly recommend this on from Elgato.


2 pack 480 LED light and stand lighting kit by Neewer

Neewer 2-pack 480 LED Lights

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With two lights and stands coming in this pack, this pack provides a solid option for your key light as well as your fill light.

Additionally, you will be able to adjust the brightness on both lights, as well as providing yellow and white color options.

The stands in Neweer’s pack are also adjustable. You can set them as high as six feet or as short as three.

You are going to need a decent amount of room to set up these lights, however. With both lights being 10 square inches, they tend to take up space, especially when paired with the stands.


VILROX VL-200T Three-pack

VILROX VL-200T Three-pack

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This pack contains all three lights that you will need to achieve lighting for your stream that is as close to optimal as it can get.

With this pack, you’ll have a fill light, a key light, and a rim light ready. The stands go as high as six feet or so and as low as three feet or so. This gives you a lot of options when setting them up.

Like with the previous pack, using this particular pack of lights will require you to have a lot of room. They can certainly crowd things up, so be mindful of this.


GLW RGB LED Flood Lights

Flood lights are designed to illuminate the background, and as mentioned earlier, they are meant to supplement your key, fill, and rim lights.

These particular flood lights by GLW do a very good job if you are interested in a light that can make the background you stream in look more professional. With 16 different colors and four different modes to choose from, you’ll be able to achieve the background you want to achieve with them.

Keep in mind that these are not a replacement for other LED lights that you can use as a key, fill, or rim light for streaming. Definitely be mindful of that.

Conclusion: Lighting is Fundamental & It’s Easy to Set Up!

You need to treat your stream like it is any given production that you come across as a spectator.

The truth is, you can have the best gaming PC and microphone, but having proper lighting will complete the trifecta that will have others take you seriously as a streamer.

Setting up lighting is not difficult. It is all about putting the focus on you and taking the background out of play while you are streaming.

This can be done with a solitary key light that you can place behind your camera, a solitary rim light that you place over your head to create a spotlight-type effect, or you can combine the two.

However, the best way to provide lighting for your stream is to combine a key light, a fill light across from your key light, and rim light. Swapping the light on your ceiling with this combination will ensure that your stream looks as professional as it can be.

Don’t forget that you can add a flood light for an added effect. This will give the background just enough attention without giving it too much attention.

Too many streamers ignore the importance of having proper lighting in their streams. Refuse the temptation to be one of them and do all you can to make sure you have proper lighting.

About Richard Gamin 174 Articles
My name's Richard and over the years, I have personally built many PCs for myself and my friends. I love gaming, programming, graphics designing and basically anything that has to do with computers and technology. If you ever need a hand with anything, feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out.

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