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How to set up 3 point lighting for streaming?

If you're aiming for a professional and polished streaming setup, lighting is crucial. And the classic lighting setup you need to master is the 3 point lighting for streaming. To assist you in your streaming adventures, we offer a comprehensive guide to 3-point lighting, complete with step-by-step instructions for setting it up yourself.

COLBOR LED studio lights are used to build 3 point lighting for streaming.

What is 3 point lighting?

Three-point lighting is a widely recognized technique used by visual creatives such as streamers, filmmakers, videographers, and photographers. It entails the strategic placement of three light sources in distinct positions to effectively control various lighting aspects when illuminating a subject. This lighting setup is of great significance as it encompasses all the necessary elements to achieve a diverse, vibrant, and sharp image for film, video, or photography purposes.

How to set up 3 point lighting for streaming?

Now that you are familiar with the concept of 3 point lighting for streaming, let's explore how to set it up. Follow these steps:

  • Select a suitable location for your 3-point lighting system. It is recommended to choose a room with white walls or a plain backdrop.
  • Ensure ample space is available. Keeping the lights too close to the subject may result in harsh shadows.
  • Position your key light in front of the subject, maintaining a distance of at least 3 feet. Direct the key light towards the subject's face.
  • Place your fill light at a 45-degree angle to the side of the subject. Ensure that it is positioned 3 feet away from the subject.
  • Position your backlight behind the subject, also maintaining a distance of 3 feet. The backlight should be directed towards the back of the subject's head.
  • Make adjustments until you get desired effect.

To help you better understand the setup, we will break down the key, fill, and back lighting in the streaming in the following part.

Set up key light for streaming

In live streaming, the key light serves as the primary source of illumination for the subject, be it you or your on-screen talent. This particular light source establishes the overall visual mood for your streaming and forms the basis for a captivating lighting arrangement. When working with only one light for your streaming setup, the key light is always the most essential element. In fact, the other two lights in the 3-point lighting technique would be less effective without the presence of a key light.


Position the key light in front of the subject, slightly offset to the right or left. Placing the key light directly in front of the subject can make your streaming setup appear intense or, at worst, reminiscent of a police interrogation. If the key light is positioned too far to either side, it could cast half of the subject's face in shadow.

The placement of the key light is subjective, and there are certain situations where extreme looks are appropriate. However, for most general lighting setups, it's advisable to opt for a slightly angled placement that has been proven to be effective.

What to use

Using an LED key light for streaming is a good choice. It can offer continuous lighting for video streaming, live streaming, etc., create less heat than other types of fixtures, and is energy-efficient, and long-lasting. You can find various LED studio lights for your streaming setup. For example, the COLBOR CL100X and CL100XM LED lights for streaming are 110W continuous lights that are bright enough for your streaming studio. They are adjustable at color temperature and brightness level, come with preset lighting effects, and are available with app control. All these bring great flexibility and creativity to your streaming.

If you don’t invest in dedicated video lights, you can use nearly any light source that provides sufficient illumination for your subject. This could include a lamp, a window, or even the natural light from the early morning or late evening sun — any of these options can suffice in a pinch.

Add fill light to fill in the shadows cast on the streamer

Once you've positioned your key light, one side of your subject's face will be well-lit while the other remains in shadow. A fill light is necessary here to address the harsh shadows. It serves as a counterpart to the key light but is softer and less intense. Its primary function is to reduce the contrast created by the key light, thereby lightening the shadows it produces.


It is simple to position the fill light for streaming. It involves essentially reflecting the placement of the key light on the opposite side of the subject's face. For instance, if the key light is situated in front and to the left, then the fill light should be positioned in front and to the right.

What to use

Similar to the key light, nearly any light source can serve as your fill light. However, it's crucial to achieve the right level of brightness. Avoid making the fill light too intense, as it might overpower the key light. This is why it is challenging to use the same type of light for both functions. When both the key and fill lights have matching brightness and intensity, you'll achieve balanced lighting. Conversely, if the fill light is too dim, it won't effectively illuminate the shadowed side of the face.

Add backlight for streaming to create depth and separation

The back light is also known as hair or rim light. It is perhaps the least critical component of your 3-point lighting arrangement. However, it undeniably has the potential to elevate your streaming and make your content more distinctive.


The back light is positioned behind the subject and out of the camera's view. It provides sufficient brightness to form a halo of light around the subject.
You might question the necessity of illuminating behind the subject, especially when they are facing the camera. However, the purpose is quite intriguing. The back light establishes a distinct separation between the subject and the background. This draws viewers’ focus on the subject.

What to use

A compact and highly directional light is ideal for serving as a back light. Even a basic item like a flashlight can suffice for this purpose.

COLBOR CL60 is used as the key light in the 3-point lighting setup for streaming.

What is the difference between 3-point and 4-point lighting in streaming?

4-point lighting, an extension of the traditional 3-point setup, integrates background lighting for streaming. Besides the key light, fill light, and backlight, a fourth light is introduced to illuminate the background behind the subject. Positioned either above or below the frame, this light ensures the background is well-lit. Employing this technique serves multiple purposes:

  • Illuminating the background draws attention to it when desired.
  • Enhances the subject's prominence by creating contrast.
  • Eliminates shadows cast by the subject or other elements onto the background.

Three tips for a successful 3-point lighting setup for streaming

These 3 tips help you get 3 point lighting for streaming that works better for your own style.

Tip 1. Don't hesitate to explore and unleash your creativity

The fundamental 3-point lighting setup serves as a foundation. Consider the atmosphere and aesthetic you aim to achieve, then experiment with:

  • Varying light intensity ratios
  • Different angles
  • Adjusting distances
  • Brightness levels
  • Utilizing diverse light sources

Tip 2. Try 3 Ds: Dimming, distance, and diffusion

Dimming, distance, and diffusion are distinct methods for decreasing the brightness of light.

  • Dimming involves simply reducing the light's brightness.
  • Distance entails adjusting the light's position relative to the subject; increasing the distance diminishes its brightness.
  • Diffusion involves reducing the light's intensity by passing it through or bouncing it off an object.

While all three techniques aim to lower light intensity, each yields subtly different results. Experimenting with these methods can alter the mood of your streaming.

Tip 3. Lights used to build 3 point lighting for streaming can take various forms

The concepts of 3-point lighting still hold true even if you don't have three physical lights. For instance, a reflector can serve as your "fill light." When shooting outdoors, the sun can act as either the key light or backlight.

As you gain confidence with the fundamental techniques, feel free to explore different light sources and experiment with unconventional options.