In the age of remote work and virtual events, presenting and recording webinars has become an essential part of many people’s professional lives. However, not everyone has access to professional video equipment or a dedicated studio space. As a result, many of us are left wondering how to achieve a professional-looking video when filming from home.
In this article, we’ll explore some tips and tricks for filming video at home when presenting or recording webinars. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the game, we’ve got you covered with practical advice for improving the quality of your video content.
In this article:
Position your laptop or phone so it is at eye level. This will be the most flattering angle. Consider propping your device on a box/ stack of books or purpose designed laptop stand or phone tripod (see ‘kit’ later in the document.) Blue tac is very helpful for keeping a phone upright.
This is very important. If you’re joining on your phone, make sure you are holding it sideways, so that you are framed landscape. If you hold your camera upright, you will produce a vertical video or will appear with black bars either side of you. This will be very difficult to correct in the edit.
Make sure your head is not cut off and you are centred in the middle of the frame. Remember if you will be recording this to share later, you will need to leave space for subtitles.
If you have a light source, such as a window, make sure it is in front of you. A light source behind you will darken and obscure your face and emphasise the background instead.
A household lamp placed behind your recording device (laptop / phone) may also improve your recording.
Find somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. If you can, turn off any background noise such as air conditioning, buzzing computers / fridges etc. Shut any windows which could let in noise from the street outside.
Be very careful of recording outside. Although it provides good light and often attractive backgrounds your sound will often suffer, picking up wind, traffic, airplanes or birds/ insects which isn’t always suitable.
Don’t make noise near to the mic, such as fiddling with clothing or pens, or typing. This will obscure and distort your speech.
Choose a place in your home with a tidy and professional background. Examples could be a bookshelf or a plain wall.
Note that the Zoom virtual background designs can be distracting and often do not work effectively. We do not recommend them.
Settings for Recording High Quality Video
The following guidance is to help record that video at the highest quality possible. This is separate from recording a webinar – which we’ll cover in the next section.
For recording via a laptop, you can also use the inbuilt recording options such as QuickTime (mac), the Windows Camera app (note, this cannot be used at the same time as a Zoom call) or third-party apps such as OBS Studio (Windows).
You probably have access to multiple camera devices at home including smartphones, tablet or work or personal laptop. Ideally you should record on something that has a resolution (size/ quality) of 1080 or 720 pixels (the number here relates to the height of the video).
Using Zoom to Record High Quality Video
If you’re using Zoom, you’ll need to adjust a few different settings in the Zoom desktop app preferences to get set up correctly. These settings can all be found in the ‘Video Settings’ menu. This is found on the camera button through clicking an up arrow just beside it.
Please note locations of settings vary sometimes according to the device or account type you have. If you can’t find what you’re looking for please get in touch with the digital team or consult the Zoom support site.
First you need to change the video settings to HD and check your ratio (the dimensions of your video) is the standard 16:9. This is under the Video settings selected from the left hand menu bar.
In the video settings ensure both Enable HD and 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio are selected.
More info here.
Then select the Recording settings from the left-hand menu bar.
- Optimise for third party video editor
- Record separate audio file for each participant
- Record video during screen sharing
- If you would prefer to also have your presentation recorded select this option also.
Before you hit record, make sure you ‘pin or ‘spotlight’ the camera of the speaker so that it takes up the whole screen in the recording.
Once you have changed these settings, to record a meeting you simply press Record > Record on this Computer in the on-screen controls.
Local recording on Zoom
More advanced accounts (those with paid subscriptions) will also include an option to record via the cloud. This can be a helpful backup option should something go wrong, but local recording is preferable as a first option as this wont be interrupted by fluctuations in internet connection.
Using a separate device to record
It can be helpful to record yourself outside of the video chat interface. This will be a good back-up option if your internet connection slows or something else goes wrong with the meeting. Of course, it won’t record other people in the meeting, so if this is something you need you must still record via Zoom.
If you would like to record using a separate device, use the instructions in the section above – Recording devices’ and ‘Recording Set-up’ Note that you cannot use the Windows ‘Camera’ app at the same time as a video call app. You will need to download a different app such as OBS.
The options below give an idea of what could be achieved. We would emphasise that these are necessary by any means, and good results could usually be achieved through devices you have already.
However, if you are planning on presenting and recording regularly an HD webcam and microphone would be good investments.
As mentioned above, you probably already have a device capable of good quality video recording in your home.
However, there are low cost options that record in high definition such as this, this or this.
For higher budgets, something like a Go-Pro is easy to use and versatile enough to be a sensible investment.
Most laptops and phones have microphones of a sufficient quality. Doing a test-run to ensure there is no buzzing from your laptop, air conditioner, outside noise or other source is usually enough to ensure clear enough sound.
If you are having persistent issues you can purchase a small stand-alone microphone such as this for not much money. However, sound is hard to control, as it is often as much about the room you are in as the device you are recording with. If you are buying a separate microphone, ensure it is compatible with the audio ports on your computer.
Small rooms with soft furnishings will often give the warmest sound, whereas large rooms with hard floors will make you sound echoey and distant.
As mentioned in the ‘Recording Set-up’ section, we think you can stabilise/ elevate your recording device using household items such as books and bluetac.
Tripods are a large investment. Good quality tripods are usually £100+ whereas those sold at a lower price are often brittle, unstable or will squeak while you record, ruining your sound.
However if you would like to invest in a tripod, here are your options:
- Tripod – something sold as ‘compact’ – I.e. a step down from professional, like this. Needs an attachment to hold phones.
- Mini-tripod like this, which will sit on your desk. Also needs an attachment to hold phones.
- A phone stand like this.
- A selfie stick like this – good for outdoor or active events.
If you think you need custom made apparatus to elevate your laptop these are available but usually come at a fixed height. Here is one that is adjustable.
Many professional vloggers and presenters who record at home have a light placed behind the lcamera, which lights the face. This is more flattering and creates a higher production value.
This is an example of one used in professional shoots. Experimenting with a household lamp may have the same effect.
A screen behind you may help you avoid distracting backgrounds. You can get plain screens, such as these or get something printed with the relevant branding.
Webinar Specific Setup
- Profile Photo Add a photo of yourself to your Zoom user profile. This image will appear if your camera is muted or if the video connection becomes unstable.
- Use a Headset Headphones with a built-in boom mic can help while providing better audio quality, vs. your internal microphone that can pick up background noise.
- Mute Stay muted whenever you are not speaking and you can use push-to-talk by pressing and holding the space bar.
- Share Screen Have your content / PPTs ready before you join the meeting. When sharing your screen, close unnecessary tabs/applications and select only the application you wish to share to hide your desktop from participants.
- Attire We recommend avoiding busy patterns on shirts and ties. Plain shirts and jackets work well.
Network Connectivity Check
When livestreaming, it’s important to have a strong internet presence in order to have as high quality video as possible and reduce risk of buffering / dropouts.
1. Speed Test
Check your connectivity strength by performing a speed test, such as speedtest.net. For HD resolution, we suggest having more than 1024 Kbps (1Mbps) bandwidth.
If using Wifi, make sure your signal is strong, and stay as close as possible to the Wifi access point. Hard wired / ethernet internet is recommended for a more stable connection
For laptops, plug in the power cord and, and if using Windows, change your power settings to “high performance”.
4. Limit Household Bandwidth
Avoid having other activities competing for Internet use at the same time as your video call. For instance, ask others in the household to refrain from watching streaming videos, downloading files, or playing online games during your meetings.
5. Test Meeting
You can also check your connection, audio, and video by joining a test meeting (available 24/7). To join, please go to https://zoom.us/test.
In conclusion, filming videos at home can seem daunting, but with the right setup and preparation, you can produce high-quality content for your webinars and presentations.
It’s important to consider your lighting, audio, and visual setup, as well as your delivery and content. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, these tips will help you create engaging and effective videos from the comfort of your own home.
Remember to practice and experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you. With a little effort and creativity, you can make your video presentations and webinars stand out and connect with your audience.