There are many simple ways to improve the quality of your video calls. Whether you are looking to record the session to edit and re-use later or want to look and sound better on camera, follow these tips to make your video call experience much better.
If you are thinking of recording your meetings to edit later or share online, it is always good to consider improvements to make your recording more watchable. These practices will cost you nothing but a few minutes before your call. We have also decided to use cats and gifs…because.
When filming anyone speaking (including yourself), an excellent general rule is to keep the camera lens in line with your eyes. Having the lens directly opposite you keeps things level and stops people from staring up your nostrils. You may have the most amazing nostrils, but I doubt it is why you are having a meeting.
Many platforms allow you to replace your background, which generally looks terrible without a well-lit green screen. A natural surrounding is far more manageable, even if it may take a few extra minutes to arrange. If you are looking to obscure your environment, try using the blur effect instead and add some natural colours like houseplants to your background.
A bit of planning of your surroundings can make a world of difference to the overall feel of how you come across.
Light it up.
The camera loves light. Light is the key ingredient to better quality video regardless of what you are shooting on.
Most of us have windows in our home, so make use of the best light available to you (the sun) and make sure you stay well-lit during the call. Do not use direct sunlight; you will look like a shiny plastic toy!
Instead, find a window that provides indirect sunlight; this creates a naturally diffused (soft) light effect, which is more pleasing to the eye and will make you look less intense.
If you live in a dungeon or are making calls at night, there are limited free options for suitable lighting. Most people usually sit directly underneath the light in the room above their heads. However, the distance of the light from you and its position in relation to the camera usually creates unflattering shadows and artefacts when recorded or broadcast online.
You should position your light behind the camera, much like the light from a window would. If you have a desk lamp available, this could work, but for your own sake, it may be better to have a light with a dimmer switch, allowing you to control the amount of light blasting into your face. Sometimes video calls are challenging enough without the additional feeling of being abducted by aliens! If the light you have is very bright, try putting a white pillowcase over the top to soften it.
Disclaimer: Try to keep the pillowcase off the actual lightbulb. It is tough to maintain professionalism whilst putting out a small house fire.
The good news is that proper lighting for this purpose will not set you back too much. If you are making video calls regularly and like your house without scorch marks, we believe a small lighting setup is a worthy investment.
If you are having issues streaming, it is most likely a bandwidth issue. A quick solution before your call is to turn off your other devices that use wi-fi, freeing up more bandwidth for a smoother call. When recording calls, this can become especially helpful and reduce the stutter or break in the stream. You may need to ask your partner, housemate or family to stop watching Netflix. Bring cake and show them what a book is.
By far the most critical part of your video call experience, the benefits of improving your audio on these platforms will appear evident to anyone who has ever used them. There are a few solutions for this, but the most common and accessible one is using headphones with a microphone built into them. Most people have access to headphones; using them reduces the area of noise picked up by your computer or device, allowing for better sounding speech, free from background noises and distortions.
Imagine you are on a call with ten other people who all have a tumble drier going off, kids screaming, lawnmowers, loud neighbours etc. This noise becomes part of the call’s background, creating unnecessary distortions and frequencies that convolute the speech. For the most part, using headphones eliminates these noises as your device no longer picks them up.
If you do not have headphones or a microphone to hand, minimise the distance between you and the microphone. Also, you can fill the non-visible space (behind and around the camera) with duvets and pillows if you have a strong echo in the room you are making calls. These items will flatten and absorb any unwanted reverb from the room. Also, you can make an awesome pillow fort afterwards!
Optimise your settings
Each platform has its own set of settings relating to quality and various other unique benefits. It is always a good idea to check the settings before making a call, and essential to record a session at a suitable resolution and quality. The good news is that these platforms make it relatively simple to change these settings, but unfortunately, they may not be entirely suitable for your needs. Here are some useful links for the most popular platforms:
These links take you to the help section for each platform. However, the platform best for quality and quality control is Zoom.
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