Over the last 3 weeks, we have all left our offices and setup home offices to help combat the spread of Covid-19. As part of this change, we have all been using Zoom, Google Hangouts and maybe even Skype for meetings, lectures, seminars and webinars.
There have been lots of excellent tips and tricks shared about making sure you ‘look your best’ during these distant social gatherings, here in this blog I wanted to share with you some ‘budget friendly’ tips on taking your WFH Video Setup to the next level, from an experienced Cameraman and Cinematographer.
So, let’s get started! There are 3 elements to improving your WFH Video Setup, that is; Camera, Lighting and Sound.
Almost all our devices have built-in cameras now, some are very good, some not so! A lot of the time it is all about getting the camera in the right place so it isn’t looking up your nose or down onto your bald spot! There are lots of widgets and gadgets available to help you place your device in the right place; but this then can compromise your ability to interact with the device and therefore the video conference.
A much better solution is a high quality, stand-alone camera that you can place independent of your desktop computer or laptop. Something like the Logitech C920 Pro would work well, and has come recommended from a friend. Personally, I’d stick to brand names to ensure compatibility and quality and look at HD 1080p options. Check out the link below to buy via Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
This camera also features a screw thread, allowing you to mount it to a tripod or stand, giving you the ultimate flexibility for positioning it to make you look your best!
One of the biggest parts of the job of a cinematographer is lighting! The key to your WFH Video Setup is adequate and even lighting. If there isn’t enough light, the video can look grainy and can make it hard to see you. If the lighting isn’t even, the camera may make your face very dark, bright or a combination of the two… not a good look….
The simplest way to fix this is with some LED panel lights setup either side of your camera, about 2 feet apart at about head height, providing your face with even illumination.
There are lots of options to suit all budgets, but in keeping with a ‘budget friendly’ blog, these Neweer LED panels from Amazon look like they could fit the bill. They are USB powered, so technically you could power them from your Laptop or PC, and feature a dimmer so you can get the lighting level just right to fit your requirements. They also include a stand each so should be super easy to setup. Check out the link below to buy via Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Bad sound will always be noticed before bad video. If you can’t hear somebody correctly it can become frustrating.
The Logitech webcam I linked to above features a built-in stereo microphone, this will work well if you’re in a quiet room or environment. When the background sound gets a bit louder, it makes sense to place the microphone closer to the sound source (i.e. your voice) so using a clip-on mic will produce better results.
RØDE have a range of brilliant Lavalier mics on offer if you wanted to go UBER pro, with the RØDE Lavalier GO fitting the bill well! Check out the link below to buy via Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
That said, I wanted to keep this a ‘budget friendly’ blog, so personally I’d take a look at Earphone/Microphone combos, the sort that come with your mobile phone.
Not only does this place the microphone close to the sound source, it also offers ‘in ear’ audio. This can really help in meetings to get rid of the echo effect which occurs when several participants have their microphones switched on. Check out the link below to buy via Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Extras – Green Screen
If you really want to take your WFH Video Setup to the next level, consider adding a green screen to your setup. This will allow you to easily cut out your background and replace it with something more suitable. Lots of software, like Zoom, offers background removal, but the results can be mixed. By using a dedicated green screen you are following tried and tested methods used by the industry.
The green screen doesn’t have to be huge, just big enough to go behind you and hide the background. I’d personally recommend a pop-up option as they are generally easier to setup and also store away really well too!
Check out the link below to buy via Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
While it is possible to lean this sort of green screen up against the wall, as it has a ridged edge, it would be wise to hold it in place with some additional support in the form of a couple of lighting stands and ‘reflector’ clips.
So there we have it, some simple ‘budget friendly’ tips to help improve your WFH Video Setup. Not only will these tips make you look and sound your best, it also helps you provide a professional appearance to your colleagues, clients and suppliers.
If this blog post doesn’t go far enough for you, and you want consider a more professional setup, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I am currently offering a consultancy service for people capturing video ‘at home’, whether for WFH Video Setups, Video Production or Broadcast.