This article covers conference room lighting concepts:
- Lighting overview
- Illuminance Guidance
- Lighting quality examples
- Measurement Guidelines
- Signal to Noise Concepts
See the Zoom Rooms Design Guides for additional reference regarding technology design.
Generally, conference rooms should have indirect lighting as much as possible, with good coverage to show faces well. Broadcast or presentation environments may desire a bit more diffused, direct lighting for optimization, depending on the environment.
As we move into the future of video, we need to realize that the video experience will be defined by the environment and lighting of that environment. The lighting selection and configuration will always impact the far end experience. Ideally you will want to approach lighting in a controlled way. External daylight influence will have a large impact on the camera’s perception of that room depending on the time of day if the space is not shaded well. Ideally, natural light is shaded, and only controlled or non-natural lighting is being used within the room to maintain some ownership over the experience. Sometimes, daylight can be used as an advantage when directed toward faces while keeping in mind the lighting experience throughout every daylight hour of the day in that space.
Indirect light is recommended in a video conference to avoid washing out of images with high luminance. If the room is intentionally being set up as a studio design, cross-key lighting as well as wall washing etc. to keep a nice balance across every person and surface being captured would be desired.
The following are guidelines around illuminance, measured in foot candles:
- Less than 20 fc on TV Displays
- 20-30 fc of vertical illuminance on faces
- 10-15 fc of average illuminance on walls
If you would like to assess your room, download a light meter app on your phone and follow these instructions:
- Take a measurement at the location of the face in the room, facing toward the camera in the front of the room.
This reads the facial vertical footcandles (lux).
- Take a measurement of the top light on top of the head facing towards the ceiling.
This reading should be <2 times the reading from step #1.
- Take a measurement of the wall light on the rear wall behind the participant.
This reading should be about 0.5 the reading from step #2.
Another concept to keep in mind when building a video conferencing space is reflection. Walls, windows, tables, blinds, whiteboards and more all can have considerable reflective properties and become either a distraction to the video participants or obscure a camera’s perception when attempting to automatically adjust the picture.
- Black out shades or diffusion blinds to reduce natural light
- Avoid reflective blinds, wall and table surfaces
- Dark table finishes and warmer wood grains are preferable.
- Avoid glass tables and walls or etch glass to reduce glare.
- 20-60% reflectance on tables and chairs.
- 40-60% reflectance on walls.
- Avoid small, intricate graphic patterns.
- Logos should have dull, non-reflective surfaces.
For presentation spaces, consider installed lighting to capture a stage or podium. This will optimize the video experience considerably.
Signal to Noise Concepts
The baseline of light in an image needs to be relative to the subjects to avoid image wash or over/under-exposure. The same concept is applicable to lighting as it is to audio design. Keeping in mind the base light level, brightness needs to be considered. Balance of brightness will all be relative and every aspect of the lighted environment in the camera shot needs to be considered to keep a nice smooth image through and through.
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