Good advice for the beginner!
Five Easy Tips For Web Videos That Don't Suck!
After reading this excellent article which shows how to present your best face to the web, I thought I'd share my cameraman experience to help anyone produce a web video that looks good.
The wonderful thing about all the new webcams and camcorders out there, is that you don't have to really know the underlying technology to get a decent result. Instead, it does help to know some simple tips to get the best performance out of these small wonders.
First-- Television isn't quite the close-up medium it used to be, what with the popularity of big screens everywhere. But web video sure is. Get Close! Not chin to forehead close, but upper torso or head and shoulders close. People want to see you, not the junk in the background. If your camera has a zoom, backing the camera up and zooming in, is much more flattering than placing the lens close to your face.
Second-- Windows make horrible backgrounds. Daylight is 800 times brighter than indoor light, and your camera can't cope. Set up your shot so the daylight is coming from the side or behind you, but the window isn't visible in the picture.
Third-- Good audio makes pictures look better! Web videos sound echo-ey and noisy, because the microphone is on the camera, and not close to the person's mouth. You'll need a separate microphone. If you're recording directly into the computer with a webcam, then you can use the computer's mike input port. If using a camcorder, than with luck, the camcorder has an external microphone input. An inexpensive microphone from a Radio Shack or any store that has a good camcorder section will work much better than the mike on the camera. A lavaliere mike like this one is perfect.
Fourth-- Steady does it! Webcams usually have stands, but if you're using a camcorder, don't have someone handhold it. Web compression software works better on a steady image, and a locked off shot looks more professional all around. You can use a tripod, or even place the camera on a steady flat surface. On top of a box on a table works fine. But you want the camera to be at the same height as your face-- if cameras seem to make people look ten pounds heavier, shooting from below doubles that effect!
Fifth-- Brighten Up! The low light ability of modern cameras continually amazes me. But if the picture looks noisy or blurry you may need more light. Or you may have plenty of light, say from overhead flourescents, but everything looks flat. Indirect soft light coming in from a window to the side and to the front of the face a little almost always gives a very pleasing look. (But not direct sunlight falling on your face-- and being careful not to let the window itself show in the picture!) Also watch out for your scene looking too red or too blue. This is usually the result of mixing different kinds of light, such as sunlight and tungsten or flourescent bulbs. Stick to one light source, so your camera's automatic function can balance to that.
Obviously there are many more things one can do to get even better pictures. But with these five tips I hope I've shown some simple ways to get a pleasing result that will help your message, and not distract from it.
Learn more about the author, Steven Bradford.