We produce a lot of videos here at ETF Trends — whether it’s setting one of our experts up for a media appearance or producing something from start to finish to air on the site. All this work with video means we’ve seen a lot of camera setups – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
With video becoming a staple in our daily WFH (or office) lives, here’s a few dos and don’ts for your AV setup that are tried and trusted. Not quite on the media train just yet? These tips can also improve the quality of your video meetings. Without further ado, here are four of our biggest dos, and two of our biggest don’ts, for your video set-up.
Do: Prioritize good lighting
It’s important to make sure your shot is well lit. To create good lighting in a less formal home setting, try to work with, and not against, any natural light. If you have a window in your office, make sure you sit facing it. Natural light is one of the best ways to illuminate your face. At the very least, try not to sit directly in front of a window. Sunlight is almost always stronger than indoor lights, so it can be hard to light yourself well enough from the front that you don’t appear backlit.
Ring lights are another good option since they illuminate your whole face and can work with the other lights you have in your room. Try to find one that has multiple settings, so you can adjust the between warm, cool, or natural temperature based on your surroundings. Want to go the extra mile? Tent lights are a great option for bright (not harsh) equal lighting.
Do: Invest in a microphone
Viewers are often more forgiving of bad video than bad audio. And bad audio is harder to adjust in post-production. Using the microphone in your computer or phone generally won’t provide the kind of high-quality audio necessary for a video interview.
Generic built-in mics are designed to pick up all sounds in a general radius. External mics, on the other hand, are designed to pick up sound from one direction (you). This can minimize the impact of any background sound, like your air conditioner or traffic outside. That said, it’s still good to find a quiet setting if you can; a mic won’t hide the sound of your dog barking mid-interview.
While a good mic is key to great sound, make sure to surround yourself with lots of items for the sound to bounce off of – rugs are the best way to de-echo yourself in a large (or even small) space.
Don’t: Wear stripes
Thin stripes, like the kind that often appear on men’s shirts, can create a “crawling” effect known as moiré. Essentially, the way the stripes interact with the camera make it seem as if the stripes on your shirt are moving, which can be quite distracting to a viewer.
In general, most TV producers recommend avoiding patterns in general just to be safe, as well as the color white (unless it’s under a suite jacket). Bright color solids are a good default.
Don’t: Swivel in your chair
Many of us have office chairs on wheels that rotate. While this is super convenient during the workday, it can be super challenging during an interview. The swivel function, in particular, makes it easy for you to rotate from side to side, which can affect how you’re framed. Plus, anything that makes you look like you’re shifting in your seat can convey a feeling of unease, even if there’s nothing uneasy about you or the conversation.
Consider grabbing a straight-backed chair or stool to use for your interview. As an added bonus, a less comfortable chair might help you sit up straight and won’t appear in your shot as a distraction.
Do: Look at the camera
This one seems obvious, but isn’t always, especially if you’re doing the interview via computer. It’s very tempting to look at the person you’re speaking to or at whatever is on your screen. Staring into a very small dot when there’s so many other things to look at can take a concerted effort.
That effort is worth it, though. When you don’t look at the camera, it appears that you’re looking slightly askew or shifting your gaze. In other words, you risk looking shifty-eyed, which can undermine the point you’re trying to make. You can always try to make looking at the camera easier on yourself by placing a post-it or sticker right next to it that’s larger in size and easier for you to look at.
Do: Invest in translucent powder
Yes, this goes for men, too. We know the dewy look is popular for women these days, and we know men don’t always love wearing makeup, but even the most angelic glow in real life often translates to an oily appearance on camera.
Translucent powder — which you can get relatively inexpensively at any drug store — looks white but fades into your skin so you won’t look like you’re wearing makeup. Instead, you’ll just appear matte, which is a good thing for a television appearance. Blotting papers can work, too, but we like the powder approach for ease.
Are there tips that you use on video calls and interviews that we missed in this article? Let us know or tweet at us using the hashtag #ETFintwit.
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