Many of us are still working from home, and that means that video conferencing continues to be the norm for meeting with colleagues and clients alike. If you spend all day in Zoom meetings and presentations, it’s worth spending a little extra time making sure your home set-up is as professional as possible. That doesn’t mean spending a lot of money either; a few quick adjustments are all you need to improve the quality of your video conferencing.
Today, we’ll be talking about a few tips and tricks that you can use to upgrade your own home office into a Hollywood studio! Or at least, a Hollywood studio with a very modest budget.
Make sure that whatever lighting source you use is positioned in front of you, not behind you (after all, you don’t want to end up backlit!). A simple desk lamp placed behind your laptop will do the trick in a pinch. If you want to get creative, try placing a second or third soft light source to either side of you to create a three-point lighting set-up. Having three lights – one in front of you and two on either side of you – helps to minimize the amount of shadows on your face and provides some depth to your image.
If you’re in a very loud environment like me (New York City, baby!), a headset or decent headphones can do a lot to minimize the amount of traffic the people you’re talking to are hearing. You can also buy a very basic USB mic that will plug into your computer and provide great sound at an affordable price.
Hollywood Hack: Invest in a good quality mic such as the Rode NT1 attached to a boom arm that can be mounted to your desk, with the mic end angled down towards your mouth while you speak. Rode also makes a compact and wireless mic that is a great option for those seeking a more space-effective solution.
The camera on your laptop is certainly a good option, but getting an external webcam can help to improve the quality of your image greatly. You can also turn your smartphone into a webcam by just downloading an app if you don’t want to get another piece of equipment – and the camera on your phone is usually better than the camera on your laptop.
Hollywood Hack: Get a DSLR standalone camera with high quality 4K resolution, and connect it to your computer using the associated cables.
Play around with where the best backdrop is in your home office. Generally speaking, avoid any messy clutter or laundry piles! A blank background is always a good option. You can also give your background a bit of personality by sitting in front of something like a bookcase: classy without being distracting. If you really want to impress your clients, you can use some of the company’s branding and colors to help you organize your space.
Hollywood Hack: You can get a collapsible backdrop to place behind you, which adds a bit of color and hides any background clutter. Just avoid a green screen - you don’t want anyone adding some unexpected special effects to your video after the meeting!
And there you have it - all the ingredients necessary to create your own professional home studio. Just make sure that your internet connection is good, and you’re on your way to Hollywood! Or at least, on your way to the fifth Zoom meeting of your day. Steven Spielberg, watch out!
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Written by Jessie Cannizzaro