Ever tried to cut steak with a butter knife? Is it possible? Sure. Would I recommend it? No. Would it move Gordon Ramsay to tears? Probably.
Some videographers will claim that equipment doesn’t matter. And to a certain extent that is true. Skill and artistry can often make up for cheap equipment (see the last post on composition). But combining an untrained videographer with cheap equipment isn’t exactly a recipe for success. With any job, having the right tools makes a big difference. Here are a couple suggestions for how you can make the most out of equipment you may already have laying around.
Clear Winners and Kind of Blurry Losers (Consider using a different camera than your laptop’s built in webcam.)
A laptop’s webcam is not the only option for capturing video content from your computer. Consider purchasing a higher quality external webcam, using your phone as a webcam, or even connecting a DSLR camera to your computer. Each of these will likely produce better quality video than your built-in webcam ever would.
Sorry, Didn’t…That (Use your phone as a secondary microphone.)
One rule when going on a video shoot is never use only one microphone. If something goes wrong with video, you can always cover it up with b-roll or a slide. If something goes wrong with audio, there’s really no recovery. To ensure good audio quality and to eliminate audio gaps and distortion, record and upload a second audio source with your cellphone. Maybe you won’t need to use it, but if you do need it, you’re going to be very happy that you have it.
If Only You Could See Me Now (Use QuickTime on Mac or PC’s camera app to record video instead of Zoom.)
Unless you’re going for the badly dubbed Kung Fu movie vibe, I’m guessing you want to avoid the syncing issues that sometimes arise with Zoom recordings. The quality of a Zoom recording is dependent on the participants’ bandwidth. With a poor internet connection, the video quality can get choppy. While recording video offline will produce much larger files and necessitates the additional step of uploading the video to a file sharing platform like Dropbox, this method ensures HD video content with no lag or distortion.
Hard to Hear When You Aren’t Near (AirPods and Bluetooth headphones are a great option.)
Your computer’s microphone isn’t great. And, in an effort to block out distracting sounds, many video chat services try to filter out background noise, which can make the audio quality even worse. The further you are away from your computer, the worse your audio quality will be. Headphones, especially Bluetooth headphones, allow you to step away from your camera, frame yourself better for a presentation, while still maintaining good audio quality.
When Words Don’t Come Out Right Quite… (Try using a teleprompter.)
Something nice about virtual presentations is that you can have notes and no one needs to know. If you’re having trouble keeping track of what you want to say, put your notes up on screen. Go ahead and cover your video feed; you already know what you look like. Use your screen as your personal cheat sheet.
Reading a Word doc on your screen can be a little tricky, though. Consider using a web-based teleprompter. It’s free, makes the text significantly bigger and easier to read, and helps you maintain a good pace as you present.