How to Look Better on Zoom

How to Look Better on Zoom

By John Fishback |

HOW TO LOOK BETTER ON ZOOM.jpg

We hope you and your family are well during the pandemic. Most of us are working from home and communicating to colleagues using Zoom and similar video conferencing platforms. We want to help you look better and stand out from the crowd!
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We know that the way we look says a lot about us. To that end, we’d like to apply our video production experience and offer some tips to help you upgrade your look in video conferences. 

If the following seems overly complicated, we can make it easier. Contact me and I’ll be happy to advise you. We can connect via Zoom or other platform, and you can show me your setup and I’ll recommend solutions.

Let’s talk about camera position, lighting and sound. Even with the most basic webcam, you can improve your visual quality. Here are a few tips.

Camera Position

Camera Position

  1. Sit at a desk or table and position your webcam or laptop cam at or slightly above your eyes. You don’t need a special stand to raise the camera. Simply place the laptop on some stacked books. Or, clip a webcam to your laptop, or mount it on a small tripod. Avoid handheld cameras and selfie sticks.
    How to Look Better on Zoom
  2. Position yourself so you’re in a medium closeup showing from just below your shoulders to the top of your head. TV is a closeup medium.
  3. Don’t let the camera see too much, if any, of the ceiling.
  4. Be aware of your background. Keep it neat. Avoid visual distractions. For instance, don’t have beautiful artwork in the background as viewers may look at that rather than you. And don’t have any bright light behind you. It could cause the camera to close its iris and your face to be underexposed. You want the attention to be on you.
  5. Always be aware you might be on-screen all the time. Look at the camera when speaking.
  6. Once you’re happy with the overall composition of your shot, you’re ready to light your scene.

Lighting

  1. You want the light to come from in front of you. Most of you won’t have lights designed for video shoots. What we want is soft light. The light from a lamp through a white or neutral lamp shade will do nicely. Also, any light with diffusion in front of it will work. A shear curtain or even a clear shower curtain can work as a diffuser. Diffuse light gives pleasing, not hard shadows.
    • Lighting positioning
    • Lighting positioning
  2. You can use one or two lights. If one, place it directly in front to you, a couple of feet away. You’ll need to experiment a bit with position to get a good look. Try the light at different heights. Also, moving it slightly to one side or the other may look better. Record a short segment of video as you try each different lighting position to decide which looks best. Ask for other’s opinions.
  3. If you use two lights, they should be 30 to 45 degrees off to the side. For a different look, try moving one of the lights closer to you. This will produce some modelling of the light on your face. You can try that with either side. Again, record each position so you can review and decide which you like the best.
  4. Most incandescent lights are a consistent, warm color. Daylight is cool in comparison and does not mix well with incandescent lighting. LEDs may be warm or cool and it may be hard to tell which. So, the best idea is to only use one type of light. That way the camera will show the best skin tones. I don’t recommend daylight as it may change suddenly with cloud cover or as the sun moves.

Sound

  1. Think about environmental sound around you. Are you shooting next to the kitchen where the refrigerator or microwave may be making noise? Too close to the street where traffic might interfere? In a “live” room which sounds hollow? Using a lavaliere mic or directional mic would help in these examples. If using the laptop mic, position yourself so the laptop is facing the noise. If using a directional mic (cardioid or shotgun) the rear of the mic should face the noise.
  2. Any wired mic connected to your laptop is probably better than the laptop’s microphone. Wired headphones with a mic are good. AirPods or earbuds may work fine, or a wired directional mic. And, as with lighting, test with different mics and positions and see how it sounds. 

You’ve probably seen examples of good and bad looks in video conferences you’ve attended. Follow these tips and stand out from the crowd!

If you have any questions, please contact me. I’m happy to help. There is no fee to talk.

John Fishback
President
P&P Studios Inc.
ppstudios@WeProduce.com
(203) 369-9292

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