With shoots postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve been asked more and more to produce and edit videos captured solely through webcam.
While certainly not ideal, remote webcam recordings are a good alternative to shooting in person. When done properly, it can deliver fantastic results.
Video conferencing services like Zoom have made it even easier to produce and record from anywhere. While it’s easy to set up and get started, there are still some basics that everyone should know in order to make the most out of their recordings.
We put together a few tips that we advise clients on when recording video remotely.
1. Check your gear & choose the right recording program
Most modern laptops have decent built-in video and audio capabilities. However, it’s always a good idea to check the capability of your built-in camera and audio before you record. Do a simple test to make sure your camera and audio are producing the quality you want. We recommend using an external webcam and microphone when possible due to the varied quality across different laptops.
Choose a recording program
In terms of recording, there are a variety of applications to choose from. The most popular are Zoom and Skype. There are also built-in programs on your computer that can record, such as Quicktime player.
Whichever program you choose, make sure it’s properly installed and you have tested beforehand to make sure it can do what you need it to do.
We found Zoom to be the best program to use when remote web recording. That’s because it was the easiest to use and also allowed us to dial in and remotely produce, making sure our clients were looking and sounding great.
Using Zoom? Our Production Coordinator Jordin created a useful guide on how to set up a Zoom recording. Check it out here.
2. Think about the space you’re in
Along with decent video and audio, it’s important to think about the space you will be filming in. The last thing you want is a background that distracts. Use a simple, clean, practical background without clutter. Set up in a location without bright windows or lights behind you.
Remember: If you can’t see yourself clearly, your audience can’t either.
A common feature in conferencing apps is virtual backgrounds. While these are fun, we highly recommend against using them in a professional recording.
This is not only because it is distracting, but the background constantly adjusts based on the tiniest movement, sometimes cutting off the speaker’s head. The quality of the automatic background replacement often leaves much to be desired.
Don’t forget about sound
Also critical is to make sure your space is sufficiently sound-proofed. A passing siren, a telephone ring, a noisy air conditioner- these are all things that can ruin a good take. It can be hard to notice the noises that bleed through in a room, so it’s always a good idea to do a test record and listen back to make sure there aren’t any sounds you weren’t aware of before.
3. Webcam placement & lighting
Try to keep your webcam at eye level. Too high? This makes the speaker look uninformed and small in the frame. Too low? Shows that you are looking down on others.
Sit or stand far enough away to see from top of head to mid-chest level (medium shot). This will be roughly an arm’s length away from the screen.
Got a question on webcam placement or webcam brands to buy? We’re happy to chat.
Lighting is key
When we’re shooting, we spend most of our time on making sure the lighting is great. That’s because lighting really does make a difference in the quality of your recording.
Even though you’re at home without professional gear, it shouldn’t be any different.
The best type of lighting to use is natural light. Position yourself in front of a window if possible. Be sure to always keep the window in front of you, not behind you.
If you don’t have access to a window, use a small lamp or if you have an external monitor, set it with a white background and place it in front of you while you record. Avoid overhead lighting, as it can cast unwanted shadows on your face.
Not sure of the best lighting setup for your space? Reach out we’d love to help.
Finally, we recommend pre-planning your video as much as possible. Instead of speaking off the cuff, write down your thoughts in a script or bulleted outline format. Memorize it as best as possible. On the technical side, double-check the technology.
Make sure the camera and audio are working properly by doing a “dry run” before you shoot and listen out for any background noise you may have missed.
Whichever way and program you are choosing to record with, make sure it’s working properly and you know the ins and outs of how to use it. It’s easier to troubleshoot before recording to avoid stress during the recording session. As Jordin likes to say, “If you stay ready you don’t have to get ready!”
If you have further questions or are curious about how you can utilize remote web recordings for an upcoming project, let us know! We’re happy to help.