Video Conference Calls Tips from Professional Videographers
Since video conference calls have now become a part of folks' everyday routine, we thought we’d give a few tips from a videographer’s point of view. A few tiny adjustments can go a long way to make video conference calls a little easier on everyone’s basic sense of visual composition and well-being. These five tips aren’t just for business calls- your friends and family will appreciate them on your virtual hang-outs too:
1. Audio is the most important part: Our ears are way more forgiving of a blurry image than of fuzzy/unclear sound. Imagine how quickly you turn off the TV or radio when static starts coming through the speakers-- whereas visually, if you were watching a documentary with some shaky footage, you may still watch for a couple minutes. If you have a professional external microphone, use it. Or if you have a headset/headphones that have a microphone on it, wear those as you talk. Wired headphones (versus wireless/bluetooth) will work better because of the direct, wired connection with no interference. While your computer's built-in microphone may be "good enough", having a microphone that's actually situated near your mouth will sound better. The exception to this would be shotgun microphones that capture a directional signal-- as long as these microphones are just pointed towards your mouth, you'll be capturing some sweet audio. The moral of the story: clear audio= happy listeners.
2. Scoot back from the camera: If you can, have your full torso showing. Leave just a tiny bit of space showing above your head. This allows you to show your natural body language more, helping convey the nuance of what you are trying to say. It also lets you shift and adjust your body, keeping you more relaxed and calmly focused. Even if you need to type on the same computer you are using for the video call, extend your arms a little more than usual.
Our bodies unconsciously get stressed if we are looking at someone very close up— that’s why directors use those kind of shots in scary movies or intense moments.
3. Go horizontal: Click the option on the video conference call for your computer camera to film horizontally. If you are on a cell phone, turn it horizontally. Human eyes have evolved to scan for predators horizontally, not vertically. That’s why modern TV screens and movie theaters have rectangular screens.
Our brains ping tiny stress signals when we can’t see the vertical to horizontal ratio our eyes are used to. Give your fellow call members’ brains a break and allow their eyes the horizontal space they crave.
4. Put the camera at eye level or even a tiny bit higher: This is how most people would naturally see you during a conversation. It is also more flattering for your facial features and body. Don’t raise it to a point where you have to move your neck, just where you can look at the camera like you would be looking someone in the eye.
Alfred Hitchcock and other classic filmmakers would use low camera angles pointing up at people to cause stress in their audience for tense scenes. It isn’t used that much any more because it so over the top. So keep that in mind for why you don’t want a low camera angle.
5. Use more light than you think you need: If you think you are sitting in a well lit space for your call, add just one more light that you don’t think you need. More lighting helps you look better- tiny shadows on the face and body over-accentuate wrinkles and curves. Strong lighting also makes the visual a little more fresh and professional. Facing a window can be helpful with this, but be sure not to sit with your back to a window or you’ll likely be “blown out” aka “overshadowed” by bright light.
Humans like light. Visual darkness produces stress and unknowing. Well-lit visuals produce hope and a sense of well-being. It’s one reason clothes look better in the store- stores have good, strong light.
6. Wear solid jewel tones, or at least avoid a white or off-white shirt: Modern camera software for video conference calls will try to automatically white balance your video. That means if you are wearing a slightly purple shirt, the automated software will probably make the mistake of making your whole video slightly green. Shirts with small patterns can also look less than optimal— remember, not only is the camera trying to capture every small piece of visual data, but it is also trying to send all the pieces live. The more the pieces of data are all the same, the less jumbled it looks when it is delivered to other viewers on the call.
Details are hard on computers and brains. Wear solid, jewel tone colors and make it easier on everyone.
These are all minor things, but your brain and overall body will thank you. Especially in times like this, we have to cut down on stress, even unconscious stress that we may not even think about. Do yourself and everyone a favor and implement these tips the next time you are on a video call!
ABOUT US: Cape Creative is a smart, creative video production company based in Atlanta. We are empaths who dig into your story and then turn it into a powerful, visual connection with viewers. Businesses, causes, and candidates turn to us for dynamic content. We are a women-owned and LGBTQ-owned company based in Atlanta, Georgia.