If I had to guess, you’ve been doing A LOT more video and virtual content recently! Here are a few tips that you can apply immediately to get the most out of your audio-visuals, from recording course content to publishing YouTube videos, or just putting your best face (and voice) forward on your next Zoom meeting.
Tip#1 Camera setup
If you could see behind the scenes of some of my first video setups, I bet you’d get a kick out of it! I’ve had my equipment propped on some questionably precarious household items to get the right angle for a shot.
For most “people” shots (interviews, meetings, webinars, etc.), you’ll want the camera positioned slightly above the face, shooting down. Have you ever noticed the Instagram Models taking their best selfies? They’re always holding the camera at about a 45° angle above their face. Channel the IG Model.
Upgrade: a tripod for your phone or camera. I purchased a slick one from Amazon. Cost: $23.49. Now, I’m getting much better shots without risking 6’ drops of my iPhone!
* For Zoom or any other laptop meetings, set your computer upon a box, slightly above your eye line. At the very least, avoid that unflattering upward shot of your neck and chin. Nobody wants to stare at that for an hour.
Tip#2 Microphone setup
There are a few tweaks you can likely do from your computer’s settings to boost your microphone’s level if needed. If you’re shooting from a video camera or your iPhone, you’re at their mercy.
Upgrade: add a dedicated microphone to your setup. If you want a more universal mic, you can score one for $26.99 off of Amazon.
* If you primarily do voice work, in a static position, consider one that’s specifically for podcasts or voice-overs.
* If you shoot more fluidly, with lots of movement or doing hands-on tutorials or product demonstrations, consider a simple lavalier microphone.
Tip#3 The recording environment
Give your shot the best chance of looking professional by paying attention to the surroundings.
Upgrades: these are free!
* Lighting: don’t backlight yourself (as in, don’t set in front of a window). Instead, have your primary light source behind the camera, shining on your face.
* Noise: create a clean sound environment by muting all devices, appliances (and children/spouses if possible). Close the windows and doors. Silence is your goal.
Distraction: are you a diehard Van Halen fan?
Rad, but consider eliminating that 80’s concert poster from your shot. Same for clutter, toys, your pet parakeet. Instead, encourage your audience to focus on the important part – you!
Tip#4 Which export/recording settings should I be using?
These are actually quite specific if you’re trying to optimize your end result. Facebook’s and Instagram’s suggested formats are different – IG has a crazy square format. If however, you’re looking to shoot a video that’s as universal and cross-platform compatible as possible, stick with the standard 16:9 ratio. This is the common 1920×1080 (1080p) which is a higher resolution than 1280×720 (720p), but both are a 16:9 ratio that you see most often, from YouTube to your TV.
Tip #5 What equipment does it take to get great audio and video?
While it doesn’t take the latest and greatest smartphone or RED Digital Video Camera, you’ll at least need something capable of shooting in HD (also known as 720p mentioned above). This can be accomplished with a variety of not-so-newer smartphones or cameras. Paired with a cheap tripod, a decent microphone, and innovative angles & movement, you can capture pretty impressive shots.