349 Pacific Highway, North Sydney, NSW 2060

Video Call Set-Up

PERFECTING THE VIDEO CALL

With increasing number of lockdowns and work from home orders, it is time to take a good look at our home video conferencing set-up.  Whether you just need a tweak or are setting up from scratch,  follow our simple tips for a great looking Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  

It may take a few hours to get it right, but putting your professionalism on show will provide value when talking to team, clients and management.  Of course working from home comes with challenges as we find space among the chaos. 

Composition

  • Camera at eye height

Use laptop risers or a bunch of books to get the camera to eye height.

  • Create depth behind you

You look less like a hostage if you have depth in your compostion including open doors, shaded windows and objects in varied distances.

  • Interest

Flat surfaces make you flat, so create interest with wall patterns, artwork, lamps, plants, objects and even a pet.  Something personal or from pop culture can become a talking point.

  • Clutter

Try to avoid visible cabling, piles of laundry or your lunch being in shot.  This is your professional look.

  • Camera choice

Honestly, the in built camera on your device will work well but if you do need an external camera, buy one that provides High Definition (or 1080p) quality.

  • Backgrounds

Backgrounds are great if you need a quick fix. We recommend spending some time creating or finding the best background for your profession, maybe treat yourself to stock image or find a conversation starter in your content arsenal.

Lighting

To take your lighting to the next level, understand the basics of 3-point lighting.  A key light lights from one angle, a fill light fills the shadows from the key light and a back light lights you from behind.  You may have natural (window) or fixed light (light fixtures) providing some of these angles already.  Check your workspace and see what angle is not getting light.  We recommend a simple ring light you get from JB Hifi.

3 Point Lighting

Another beautiful touch is what is known in the trade as practical lighting.  Or for the layman: a lamp, candle or illuminated sign that is part of your composition.  Try it yourself, turn on your practical lighting when you have a video guest!

Lighting not only makes you look better but it also helps the camera record a better quality picture.

Sound

Don’t neglect sound.  The easiest and best thing you can do is wear headphones to reduce feedback.  They don’t need to be fancy – airpods or your child’s diamante lilac set will do the job.

For everyday meetings your built-in mic will suffice but for presentations or recordings you may want to take it to the next level.  Avoid needing extra wires and configuration by choosing a USB microphone or something that will plug in straight to your computer or device.  During recordings our engineer will talk you through levels to ensure group recordings are equal volume.

Setting up in a tight space

With my daughter taking the primo desk spot for her homeschooling, I converted where I did my make up into a very mini office.  With it being used for something new, I took the time to reorganise the space with consideration for my work area and how good it would look on camera.

COMPOSITION

I adjusted my chair so I was at eye height with the built in camera.  Putting the window behind me means I can have depth behind me and I used an old bookcase to add plants and a lamp to create some interest.  I tucked all the cables and clutter out of view.       

LIGHTING

For the lighting I was already backlit by the window but I wanted more control on my key and fill lights.  I used an old ring light as my key light, lighting the left side of my face and my old make up mirror (it has lights on it) on the floor as my fill light. I also have a lamp as practical lighting but I’m in a bit of a tight space for practical lighting to really work well. Maybe if we end up with a longer lockdown I might add a subtle RGB light facing a white surface for a bit of colour.

SOUND

For audio I use some simple Sony headphones to avoid feedback.  As we already had microphones in the studio, I use the kit we have but it is overkill for the set up.  I use a Rode Procaster microphone on a PSA1 arm, connected to a Rode AI-1 via an XLR cable.

video conferencing from home set up lighting sound

Nb: My daughter is Ravenclaw, I am a Hufflepuff