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May 23, 2016

Lighting, the Often Overlooked Part of the Video Conferencing Equation

In today’s global marketplace the world seems relatively small. Small business owners are expanding their geographical boundaries and large companies are increasing efficiency and profit, all through the use of video conferencing. The ability to have a meeting with remote attendees across the globe using clear sound, high quality video, visual aids and annotations has transformed the way a company operates. While the design and programming of these systems is very important, the lighting in the space must be considered, properly selected, placed, and controlled.

Depending on the audience the quality of the video and lighting may be of great importance or of less importance, but should never be neglected. If presenting remote training sessions to large groups of viewers but only a few presenters, the lighting should be approached like that of a television studio. The presenters should be illuminated using three sources at varying angles. This three-point lighting set up eliminates a flat two dimensional look and separates the subject from the background.

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  1. A key light, the strongest source, aimed at the subject from the side at an angle of approximately 45 degrees from the camera
  2. A fill light, typically 25-50% strength of the key light, at the opposite angle of the key light
  3. A backlight to illuminate the back of the subject

In conference room settings where the view consists of multiple people seated at a table, the same principles apply but are implemented differently. The lighting in a conference room should blend in, aesthetically, to the room but also provide adequate illumination of the subjects. Vertical lighting on the face is important so that the subject can be seen in the video. Lighting the back of the subjects provides the three dimensional appearance to the scene so that there is a natural look. High quality cameras today have a wide dynamic range, but even illumination will translate much better. A great way to light a medium to large sized conference room is to place linear sources parallel to the length of the table that are just in front of the seated person. Recessed linear or can fixtures around the perimeter provide the back lighting needed. Dedicated video conferencing fixtures that are recessed and provide an asymmetric illumination pattern also can be used for podiums. Suspended lighting can be used if properly coordinated with the projector or display to avoid conflicts in viewing or projection.

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Proper color temperature and Color Rendering Index (CRI) are vital to making surrounding background of the subjects look natural. Different color temperatures can be used to achieve different “looks” but for video conferencing, 5000-6000 kelvin is the best choice. Because this number is so similar to sunlight, this is also the best color temperature to use if there are windows.

The final consideration is control of the lighting. At a minimum, all fixtures should be dimmable and the perimeter and over-table fixtures should be able to be independently controlled. Additional fixtures for podiums should have separate control. With advancements in lighting, it is possible to achieve much more granularity in the control of the fixtures and should be used as much as a company’s budget allows.

With workplaces moving towards collaboration areas and remote workers becoming increasingly popular, video conferencing is becoming the preferred method of communication. This is an important part of business today and every aspect of the experience should be user-friendly which includes ensuring the presenters and viewers enjoy the experience.

SiteREADY provides technology consulting, design, and implementation services for video conferencing technology within collaboration spaces, conference rooms, huddle rooms, and more! Connect with us to learn more about how video conferencing technology, and it’s lighting, can help improve your business.

SCOTT HEADSHOT

Written by: Scott Renner, Senior Systems Designer

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