Day 15 – 31 Day Podcast Challenge
The COVID-19 lockdown forced lots of people to get comfortable with video conferencing in a hurry. In fact so fast, most of us weren’t prepared with the right equipment or setup from our new “home offices.”
Podcasters may have had a leg up on this situation, but it has become even more important to understand what is needed for recording better podcasts.
Here are some tips for looking and sounding more professional when you are on camera from home.
Your home is not designed as a recording studio. That can mean audio recording, live teleconferencing calls or video recordings can sound echoey. The trick is to eliminate hard surfaces that may reflect sound. Sofas, pillows, clothes and blankets can all help reduce echo. Even a towel on a desk can mean less sound bouncing around.
Buy A Decent Microphone
I always suggest to not rely on internal microphones on your phone, camera or laptop. If you are using a laptop then a simple usb mic will make a huge difference.
There are a number of very affordable usb mics. Just decide how portable you want your setup to be, like a Samson Go Mic. It is tiny, clips onto your laptop screen, and the audio quality is good.
If you are willing to spend a little more you can get a Audio-Technica ATR2100 Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone. That usually comes with a foldable desktop stand. With that microphone, I also suggest purchasing a Microphone XLR to USB Cable.
To get a bit techy, it has Premium 3 Pins XLR Female to USB A Cable, with Extra to USB Type C Cable for Extension. Do this because the connection plug on the back of ATR2100 can become loose. Connecting into the mic’s XLR pins, and then into your computer will always be a safe connection for you.
Naturally with microphones, the more you spend the higher quality you are likely to achieve.
Lighting plays a very important role in making your video conferencing look good. You can use natural daylight, but avoid pointing the camera towards windows. A small LED ring light can be useful to add a bit more light to your shot.
If you want a more professional setup, or your room needs the lighting, two or three LED standing lights may be needed. Remember to light your background, not just your foreground.
Don’t forget your background
The things that will make your background look better are depth, detail, balance and lighting.
Considering depth first. Avoid filming yourself right up against a wall. It can look claustrophobic. Get your camera setup so you have some space behind you.
Secondly, detail. This is about avoiding blank walls. A neatly stacked bookshelf or nicely staged props will look better than a plain wall. Keep in mind, messy backgrounds will be distracting.
Thirdly, balance. Consider the composition of what is on camera. If you have something tall on one side, have something similar on the other side.
Finally, lighting, which we covered just a moment ago. Or you can look getting affordable backdrops for green screen etc.
Make sure your camera is set at eye-level. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen professional speakers looking down or up at the camera they are using. It looks unnatural, and can be disturbing.
To fix this, it may mean you will need to put the laptop on books to raise it.
When you are doing video conferencing calls, remember to look at your camera and not yourself on the screen. Try and put your eyes two-thirds of the way up the frame. Following the “rule of thirds” will make your shot composition look more professional.
With some creativity and affordable equipment, you can go live or record audio and video with confidence from the comfort of your home.
Recorded in Studio C at Channel 511, in the Brewery District, downtown Columbus, OH.
Brett Johnson is the owner and lead consultant at Circle270Media Podcast Consultants. With over 35+ years of experience in Marketing, Content Creation, Audio Production/Recording and Broadcasting, the podcast consultants at Circle270Media strategically bring these strengths together for their business Podcast clients.
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