Lights … camera … action!
Here’s the breakdown:
Choose your room carefully.
Talk to the audience.
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Hey, it’s Chris here for another Monkey Monday. Obviously, Matt’s still self-isolating up in Nottingham, and I'm here in my kitchen-stroke-dining room, again. And I wanted to share with you a few tips - as I’m a professional cameraman - I wanted to share five tips of what I’ve learned from my years of experience. So here are five tips for better videoing at home. So maybe video conferencing or doing your own vlogs.
So the first tip is choose your room carefully. So I’m here in my little dining room with a nice background, but it’s got a lot of hard surfaces, which I can get around with my microphone setup. But you need to choose a place which a) looks nice, b) is quiet enough, and has enough soft furnishings in so it’s not going to be echoey, like a toilet. Never do a vlog in a toilet.
What did I say? Don’t film on the toilet!
Number two is choose your camera height carefully. You want to be talking directly at eye level to someone, so you’re making a connection eye-to-eye. But I’ve also got my laptop working down here, and it feels really weird, doesn't it? Like I’m sort of very overbearing. I’m talking down to you, and some people might come away from a video chat not knowing why they didn’t really trust the person and that's because they’re not looking eye-to-eye, and they’re looking weirdly ‘I know more than you’ kinda thing.
So really make sure that the height of your camera is the same as your eye level. And you can do that with your laptop - just find somewhere - you could put it on a shelf. You can see my trampoline in the background. But you can put it on a shelf - you can stand up, sit down, you can just kneel at a table. As long as you’re not too high. Anything is better than this, basically.
Number three is make great audio. I just want to play you a couple of clips from Have I Got News For You. So this is a clip from their first week, when they’re working out what to do in this sort of coronavirus isolation. Let’s have a listen.
[Turn your sound on!]
You can hear how Miles Jupp is in a very echoey room, just on his laptop microphone - and Ian Hislop has got a microphone where his settings are too high. So it just makes the programme really unwatchable. And by the time they get to the second and third weeks, they’ve obviously sent audio and video care packages round to people, so there’s a bit more lighting on people, but the sound is much improved. Have a listen.
[Turn your sound on!]
See how it’s a million times better? And that’s just the difference between having your laptop microphone or your computer microphone and a decent microphone. You just need to get a second microphone into the system. Because the laptop one - this is how the laptop microphone sounds - it’s pretty rubbish, really, compared with this broadcast mic here.
And there are ways to get microphones into computers quite easily. There are a lot of USB ones. I’ll put a link to a few down below, and you can see the difference it makes. Even on an iPhone. I’ve got my iPhone recording here and this is an external microphone plugged in, and that works pretty well. And I’ve… I’ll just show you the system actually. I’ve got my iPhone on a lighting stand, and that’s got a sort of bracket that keeps that on the lighting stand, and I’ve got another arm that extends it out so the microphone is nearish my face when I’m speaking, and that’s really all it is. It’s really simple to do, and it makes it a million times better. So if I just unplug this now, it sounds horrible. Really horrible.
So a cheap microphone, a USB microphone, or something to plug into your iOS device or Android device, is probably the best thing you can do to change how you come across.
Tip number four is lighting. Obviously, this camera here on my laptop is really struggling because it’s all backlit and you can barely see me. So you just need to make sure you’ve got more light falling on the person’s face than coming in from behind. And I do that with lights.
Here’s a look at my home office setup. Obviously, I’ve got a light on top of the iMac here, which I can adjust so I can turn that right down. And all I do is try and find a setting on there which makes it look half decent. The computer tries to mess around to make it look best so you need to do a bit of trial and error. This light can go from very warm to cool, so I’m trying to match that. But also in the background I’ve just put those lights on. Normally, if you’re doing something for business, you wouldn’t have a bed in the background, but in Coronavirus Land if you’re working from home it’s good to be honest. So it’s fine. But there’s just a bit of interest in the background with those lights.
And also, elsewhere, I’ve got a light on my iPhone stand, and that also is very good. And it means I can record anywhere. Let’s have a look at it in a few different areas. See how this iPhone setup makes it easy to record anywhere? In my hallway. On my sofa.
My final tip is one that doesn't get talked about that much. It’s wherever you can, try and speak to the person. Try and speak down the lens. It’s very difficult to do, but maybe when you’re just making that pitch, the final connection or the opening connection, really try and speak to the lens. Don’t try and look at the monitors around it or your own picture, because it really shows. Let’s have a look at my iPhone. Because my iPhone camera is quite a long way down here, and my picture is quite a long way that way. So if I look at my picture, it just feels like I’m not really talking to you anymore. Who are you talking to? But if I find the little dot it starts to really show that I’m making a connection with the person on the other end. And it’s a really difficult thing to do. Maybe put a little bit of tape around it, if you can, and the problem is the picture will always draw your eye back there, but if you can get there for the beginning and end, and any important points you want to make, it’ll make a huge, huge difference.
So there you go. There are my tips for going conferencing and vlogging at home. Hopefully you’ve learned a few things, and I’ll stick a load of links in the description for things you can buy that will help you. Just those little snippets. And it’ll make a huge difference.
Alright, see you next week for another Monkey Monday. Bye!
I thought I’d just come back upstairs to tell you about the video that we think you’d like, and the video that YouTube thinks you’d like. And also, if you can, subscribe to this and tell your friends. Share it with everyone else. And until next week, take care of yourself and relax, like I’m going to do.