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Live Streaming Hardware, Church + House of Worship

How to Fix Your Church's Lighting Problems

This post talks about the most common lighting problems for churches and how to combat them to create a higher quality stream. It's part of our series on church live streaming.

Have you noticed that the lighting on your streams just doesn’t look as good as it does in person?

Some people would suggest to add more lights, but that can quickly become an expensive endeavor. Luckily, making adjustments to the fixtures and equipment that you already have can usually achieve the desired effect.

While your live streaming audience needs more light than your in-person audience does, you don’t want to distract those in attendance by making them sit under hot lights or cluttering your church with light stands.

The goal, of course, is to provide the best experience for both audiences.   

The previous post discussed the importance of good lighting for live streaming and how to evaluate the quality of lighting at your church. This post will discuss some of the most common problems and their easy fixes.

Problem: Faces in the Shadow

SOLUTION: The shadows you see under hair, brows and noses are most likely caused by overhead lights shining directly down. If possible, adjust these lights so that they shine at an angle toward the pulpit. That will eliminate the worst of the shadows. Lower lighting in front also can also fix this.

Problem: The Image is Too Dark or Too Light

SOLUTION: If your stream is too dark, open the aperture in the camera’s lens wider or slow down the shutter speed to twice the frame rate. Experiment with the gain to see if you can increase it without hurting overall quality. Conversely, if it’s too light, narrow the lens aperture and speed up the shutter. Everything is a tradeoff, so experiment until you find the best balance.

Problem: There are Dark Spots on the Stage

SOLUTION: Dark spots are usually caused by insufficient lighting and lighting gaps. Reposition the lights so that they cover your stage more evenly. If necessary, add additional fixtures to fill in the gaps.

Problem: The Lights are Different Colors

SOLUTION: Bulbs of different color temperatures can produce light of different shades. This can be done deliberately for dramatic effect, but if that’s not your goal, then simply make sure all the bulbs are the same.

Problem: The Sunlight is Overwhelming

SOLUTION: A pulpit flanked or backed by large windows can be flooded with sunlight, washing out your stream and making your subjects “glow.” If you can’t reposition the camera to remove the windows from the shot, then cut down on the sunlight by adding shades or blinds to the windows. If that’s not practical, try a filter on the camera.

Problem: There's No Separation between People and the Background

SOLUTION: Use backlighting. This is one of the most common mistakes in live streaming. Having all your light come from the front, sides or overhead robs the image of depth and flattens people into the background. Adding light behind the podium creates separation and depth of image.  

Problem: Faces Disappear when People Turn their Heads

SOLUTION: Make sure that your stage is lit from the sides as well as from the front and back. Side lighting will illuminate faces whenever people turn.

If you’re looking for tips on gear or lighting techniques, you can find many fine tutorials online. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time and don’t stop experimenting until you’re happy with the outcome. The result will be a much better experience for your viewers.

Final Thoughts + Further Reading

If you've decided to stream but aren't sure which streaming provider is right for your organization, you're not alone.

The free Buyer's Guide to Live Video Streaming highlights key features to consider when evaluating your different options.

Here are a few other resources you might find helpful:

The Best Live Video Streaming Equipment for Your Church

The Best Ways to Buy Used Video Equipment for Your Church

7 Types of Camera Shots To Consider When Filming Church Services

Why Churches Want Lower Thirds In Their Video

4 Ways to Make Your Church Video Announcements Great

5 Easy Ways to Improve the Audio of Your Church's Live Streams

How to Choose the Right Microphone for Your Pastor

Does Live Video Streaming Hurt Church Attendance?

Top 5 Reasons Your Church Should Be Live Streaming

Why You Need To Improve Your Church Lighting

How to Better Connect With Your Live Stream Audience

How to Get the Most Out of Your Worship Service on Your Live Stream

Why You Should Add Lower Thirds to Your Church Live Stream

Image Source: UT Connewitz Photo Crew via Flickr