MANILA, Philippines – Whether you’re vlogging on YouTube, hosting a webinar on Facebook Live, or teaching your parents how to Zoom – here are some free and easy ways to add production value to your videos.
Before anything technical, the easiest way to improve quality is to manage your surroundings.
1. Make a sign
You might not believe it, but even professionals sometimes forget they’re not alone in their households. Just ask BBC Dad.
2. Shut the door
And to make sure to keep all the outside noise out, shut the door.
3. Fill up your water bottle
Just listen to yourself ramble for 20 minutes and hear how quickly your voice dries up. Hydration is key.
4. Use the bathroom beforehand
On the other end, make sure your digestive system doesn’t cause any unwanted disruptions, especially during a live session.
Who needs an expensive camcorder when your smartphone can do wonders with good lighting and framing.
5. Face the light
Make sure the brightest light in your environment (could even be daylight from the windows) is in front of you and behind the camera. This keeps you well-lit and avoids accidental silhouette.
6. Frame for your face
Your audience cares more about you than the Pulp Fiction poster hanging in the background. Keep your head front and center, with the top of your head just below the top edge of the screen. Sitting at a normal distance, your chest should be at the bottom.
7. Keep backgrounds simple
We know how fun it might be, but sometimes a Zoom background of the Golden Gate Bridge isn’t the most professional look. That and you probably don’t have a green screen at home. So use that plain wallpaper or even throw in a bookshelf – but as we mentioned, the focus is you.
In fact, Skype offers an option to blur background so you can look as gorgeous as Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation.
The often neglected other half of the equation, audio can make or break a video. As with controlling your environment, the main priority is to reduce noise and let your voice shine.
8. Shut off noise
You might not notice it, but people can hear your fan buzzing in the background. Also, take a look around at other appliances with noisy motors. Our advice is to cool up before a long recording, emphasizing our earlier tip on staying hydrated.
For extra caution, remove any noisy articles of clothing like necklaces and bracelets.
9. Use a headset
We cannot stress this enough: If you own a smart device, chances are you own a headset with a built-in microphone. It’s good enough for phone calls and it’s good enough for online video. Plugging this in accomplishes two things:
Moves the noise from your speakers into your ears. We should not be hearing your desktop notifications or feedback from other people talking.
It gives you a dedicated microphone. You don’t need a Shure SM7B to deliver clear audio. Headset microphones are optimized for conversational speech, so speak at a normal volume at all times.
10. Fear Murphy’s Law
“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
This is the production mantra. With these previous steps in mind, give yourself ample time to run a tech rehearsal before hitting that red button.
You wouldn’t want to dive into a live interview with someone who doesn’t know how to unmute their microphone.
For extra padding, if you have multiple participants, we tend to ask each to record their own copies on their own devices. You can use Windows Media Player on PC or Quicktime Player on Mac to simultaneously record your video calls. We all know how faulty internet connections can compromise key soundbites.
So start that vlog you’ve been putting off, or get on TikTok and IGTV. With these 10 simple steps, you can now record professional-grade video from the comfort of your own home – Rappler.com
Outside of Rappler, Pawi is an independent filmmaker and founder of Manila Movie Nights, a weekly film club hosted at Borough, Bonifacio Global City. As both a New York-trained cinephile and Marvel fanboy, Pawi promotes movies that overlap mainstream and arthouse circles in the hopes of cultivating a more inclusive film community.