Set Design For Your Live Videos

Angela Nicole Chu
03rd March 2019

While it’s true that you can go live anywhere at any time, having a live video set readily available makes going live a breeze. It’s easier to commit to doing live video, and with nothing to set up and tear down after each broadcast, your excuses drift away.

Your set is also a quick glimpse into your brand’s personality. What colors are used? What objects are visible? Your audience uses these as a glimpse into who you are and what you’re promoting before you even say a word on camera. Your set becomes the best first impression that you can provide!

Creating a set for your live videos may seem daunting—or even expensive—, but neither is true. Most video sets are actually quite small, making them even easier to leave up at all times. Follow the steps down below, and you’ll be able to construct a set of your own simply, easily, and cheaply in as little as one hour.

Background

As mentioned earlier, your set’s design becomes your audience’s first impression of you and your company. The look of your set not only impacts followers who’ve chosen to view your stream, but it also grants you the opportunity to acquire more viewers.

As people scroll through their feed, make your set be the reason they stop and watch. Bright colors, pictures, and interesting items are a great way to do this. This is your set, so make sure some of your personality goes into it! What items around your house/office would look good on camera?

Make sure to contrast yourself (and your subject(s)) from the background as much as possible. You can achieve this by playing with those bright colors. If you normally wear light colors, make your background dark. Add dark items. Use a dark dropcloth, or even paint the wall dark if possible. Likewise, aim for a light background if you normally dress in dark tones.

Also, keep your personal features in mind. If you’re a blonde, keep from using a pale-yellow backdrop. Likewise, if you’re quirky and have blue hair, blue should not be incorporated into your background.

Lighting

You can have the best camera, the best tripods, and the best microphones…but they are all irrelevant if you aren’t using proper lighting. No matter how great you think that the natural lighting in the room appears, adding lighting equipment to your live video set is crucial.

You need to have as much control over the lighting on your set as possible, no matter the time of day or the weather outside. Because of this, you need to block out the natural light in the room as much as possible. If this is not possible, at least avoid sitting directly in front of—or next to—a window.

Ideally, a variety of light sources should be used in order to achieve three-point lighting, which is the industry standard. Three-point lighting means that three areas are lit: your subject (you!), the area behind you (backlighting), and the area opposing your subject (fill-lighting).

If you are just getting started and cannot purchase three studio-quality lights for three-point lighting at this time, consider the DIY route instead. Clamp lights—while harsh—are quite inexpensive and can direct light directly where it’s needed. Alternatively, paper lanterns—while unable to direct the light—create a soft, diffused glow that flatters the subject.

While on a budget, use what you have around the home/office first, and see how it looks. A ton of money is not needed to achieve great lighting!

Audio Equipment

Yes, virtually every camera comes with a built-in microphone. So do mobile devices and computers. However, these built-in microphones leave something to be desired…namely, quality. The whirr of your air conditioning, your kids playing outside, and the faint wail of an ambulance passing several blocks away will all be detected by a built-in microphone.

Most viewers agree that a video that looks bad but sounds great is easier to consume than a video that looks superb but sounds terrible. Many viewers also enjoy listening to live videos podcast-style as they work, making audio quality key. Thankfully, creating great audio is easy to achieve.

To start, you need a microphone. If you are a one-man show, only one microphone is needed. It can be a lavalier microphone, a shotgun microphone (for close range), or a boom microphone, depending on what you desire. Connect this microphone to your camera, and you’re all set!

What if you have multiple subjects and need multiple microphones? Gather a microphone for each subject, and then connect them to an audio mixer. A specific audio mixer is not required, so long as it has an available channel for each microphone in use. If you also have computer audio, Bluetooth audio, or MP3 audio to use for your broadcast, connect those sources to the mixer as well.

Now that all of your various audio sources are connected to your audio mixer, you just need to connect your mixer to your camera. This allows the camera to hear the audio and mesh it directly with your stream and/or recording.

As long as your camera has an XLR connection that can be set to Line or Mic, then it should be able to receive a feed from a mixer.

If you are using an iOS camera for your stream, use a handy adapter like an iRig Pre to bridge the connection between XLR connection to iPad/iPhone.

Other Gear

Now that the main essentials are in place, it’s time for the finishing touches for your live video set.

First, what sort of table or desk are you using? This surface helps to frame you for your viewers. Do you want to be framed by a cluttered kitchen table that’s been shoved in a corner? Of course not! Remember the color scheme and accessories we discussed earlier in the article, and keep this aesthetic alive. Affix a quick tablecloth to your table or desk to keep the color scheme alive (you can find brightly-colored plastic tablecloths for low cost at most party stores), and place some of your accessories on top.

Next, your tripods. Set these up where your cameras will go for each broadcast, and leave the tripods in these locations. This makes it easy to pop your cameras into place when it’s time to go live and know that they are all positioned correctly. For a sturdy tripod for your cameras, I recommend the Manfrotto tripod line. If you are using iOS cameras, our friends at iOgrapher make handy filmmaking cases for your iOS devices that easily attach to the top of a Manfrotto tripod.

Lastly, you can set up an external monitor near your tripods. This allows your on-screen talent (typically yourself and guests) to see what is going on in real time. Connecting an HDMI cable from your main camera switcher to your monitor makes this quick and easy. Any monitor will do (some users prefer tiny monitors, while others prefer larger computer monitors), but here is a nice example.

With your set permanently available, it is easy to sit down and go live at any time. We’d love to see your live video set! Be sure to take a photo once it’s ready, and use the hashtag #MadeWithSwitcher so that we see how you did.

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