I have touted before about the importance of checking your surroundings before jumping on a Hangouts or Skype call, or before recording a video. There was recently a post on the Internet showing photos where the subjects did not realize that something that should not have been there was in the background. I have noticed dirty socks, balls of hair, cans of raid, and other items in the background of photos and videos. Don't let this happen to you! Here are a few tips for setting up or checking your shooting area and equipment before you get started.
1. Start with a Great Camera
If you are going to do a lot of video, invest in a good camera to get it done. You can check a variety of sources like Blue Jeans. Having the right camera is probably the most important tip. Of course you can use your smartphone camera if you have one that shoots great video. Some smartphones these days can shoot 1080p HD video, but if you have an older phone your video quality may be questionable. There are several different brands and types of video cameras that you can purchase. What you decide to get will depend on just how much you need to shoot, where, and if you want the camera to have other functions as well. You can look into camcorders that allow a connection to your computer, portable video cameras, or popular mobile cameras like the GoPro. You can even shoot HD video with many DSLR cameras. I have done it with my Canon 70D.
2. Have Sufficient Lighting
Even the best video camera will not work properly if the room is too dark, or too bright. If you are shooting video of yourself, position your camera so that lighting is in front of you. An overhead fixture above you may cause a bright spot. And lighting behind you will cause a shadow on your face. If you are setting up a conferencing area for more than one participant in the same room, the setup will likely be different. Video conferencing cameras are normally situated either on the wall directly in front of the table or at the head of the table facing the rest of the participants. Being able to see everyone in attendance is highly dependent on the room having proper lighting since video conferencing cameras do not have the same capabilities as their SLR counterparts that are utilized by professional photographers. Always make sure the room has lights on in all four corners and they should shine on all the participants.
3. Clean Up the Surrounding Area
Just like when taking photos, it is important to clean up your surrounding area before recording video or jumping in a video conference. You don't want your business partners to see your secret mess. 🙂 Before your conference starts, or before you start recording do a test run. Put your camera where you plan to sit, turn it on and take a look at what you see. Check for papers, boxes, socks (yes, really), toys, or any other items that should not be there. Move items out of the camera view.
4. Use Bright, Clear, Colors
I have attended a few tapings for TVs shows. They always sent out guidelines to the audience beforehand telling us to wear bright colors. The same rule should apply to shooting videos at home. Use complimentary colors in the room that help to enhance the brightness rather than diffuse it. Colors such as dark brown, black, dark blue and other similar colors make a room look darker than it actually is and this can have an impact on the perceived quality of the video. Your video area should be painted in light colors such as white, light blue or even a pale pink since these help to enhance the overall visual appeal and make the room look brighter than it actually is.
5. Make Sure that the Sound Works Properly
This is so important. I was once testing one of those fancy Skype cameras that connects to the television to meet with a TV producer. My kids and I had used it before to talk to a friend. However, this time when I connected the producer could see us, but not hear us at all. I was thinking “Doh!” I was having tech issues while meeting about a tech segment. Not good. Prevent this by testing beforehand. Even if you think something worked weeks before test it again. One of the most annoying instances that occur during a video conference is when the phrase “excuse me, could you please repeat that” is stated numerous times.
All in all, setting up your home or office for video conferencing and recording is not that difficult. Just a few simple steps and you will be ready to go!