Is there anything you can do to fix low-quality cellphone or webcam footage?
Over the past several weeks, we’ve been advising our clients on how they can use tools like Zoom, a webcam, and their cell phones to capture video remotely.
Some people may be reluctant to use a webcam or cell phone to shoot a video and we understand that concern. After all, as video professionals, it’s definitely not ideal!
But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn your self-shot video into something great.
The biggest problems when shooting with a webcam or cellphone are:
- Bad quality audio
- Poor color/lighting
And yes, by itself, a webcam or cellphone will not deliver the quality your audience is used to.
That’s where we come in. With a bit of polish, your webcam/cellphone footage can be great.
We put our skills to the test and address these concerns using some self-shot footage. Creative Director Nick Szpara used industry-leading audio tools, color correction and image enhancement software to polish these test clips.
Check out our results below.
Problem #1: Bad Quality Audio
For this test, our production coordinator/editor, Jordin Fox, filmed herself with an iPhone. Nick says,
“The original had a freight train in the background, as well as some room reverb and overall muffled clarity on the voice. In order to fix it, I used several plugins including a De-Esser, Noise Removal, Reverb Removal, an Expander, Compressor, and pre- and post-EQ.
The results are night and day. Cell phone microphones are designed to be inexpensive and small – they don’t really capture great audio. This is why we suggest using an external microphone when possible. Bluetooth microphones like AirPods work great.”
Problem #2: Poor Color/Lighting
Varied and shifting color balance is another issue that many webcams and cellphones have. We used Zoom to record this test clip of Jordin using her laptop’s internal webcam.
Nick explains how he used DaVinci Resolve to adjust the clip.
“The webcam Jordin used produced an image that had a pretty unnatural color cast. The exposure also jumped (changed from light to dark suddenly) while recording due to a ‘feature’ embedded in Zoom.
The first thing I did was a base correction to fix overall exposure and white balance. To fix the auto exposure adjustment, I added color stabilization.
The highlights in the Zoom footage were clipping, so I desaturated the highlights so “white” reads as “white”. Next was selectively adjusting the hue of the face so it appears more natural, smoothing highlights in the skin, and sharpening the eyes.
Finally, I finished with an overall vignette.”
Problem #3: Low Resolution
Webcams and cellphones vary in their resolution quality. Highly pixelated and noisy footage can be a common result of even the highest-quality webcams and cellphones.
Even if your camera can film in HD or 4k, it is often compressed down by video conferencing apps.
Nick explains how he took some test footage of Jordin recorded through Zoom and enhanced it.
“The source footage [from Zoom] was only one-third of HD resolution(!). So, I exported the footage as an image sequence, batch-processed everything through Photoshop using the BlowUp plugin, re-assembled in Premiere, then applied a slight Unsharp Mask.
The result is full HD resolution with fewer compression artifacts, smoother edges, and increased edge contrast for better apparent sharpness. It’s especially obvious when you zoom in to the details; the original recording looks much noticeably blurrier and lower-quality”.
As you can see, with a bit of polish, we can get pretty impressive results. If you’re thinking about using a webcam or cellphone to record your next video, reach out to us.
We can take your self-shot webcam or phone footage and turn it into something great.
P.S. We think Jordin ought to start a YouTube channel where she just reads Dr. Seuss books to us. Would you subscribe?