Most of us for one reason or another spend at least some time regularly doing something on a webcam these days.
The problem is it usually looks like we're on a webcam.
He makes you look and sound just bad.
Figure out how to cure that in a few short steps.
Now when it comes to your eyes, there are two things that you've got to think about and get right.
First of all, is your eye level.
Most of us are going to be using a laptop camera to do a webcam hit of any kind and it's down here.
My eyes are up here.
I end up doing this.
It's an unflattering look down and unfortunately for you, you get to look up my So you definitely want to get this guy up so the camera isn't your eyeline, nobody out there will see what you use to jack up your laptop so you don't need to use a fancy expensive laptop stand anything you have around the house.
We'll do just fine.
Just get the height right.
But if you do have one of those nice laptop stands, that's great.
There we go.
Now once you've got your eye level, right, the next part is actually easier and harder.
It's eyeline, that means you're looking at the camera, not looking at the screen.
We all tend to look at the screen because whoever we're communicating with is right there in the center of the display, but the cameras up here At this short distance that small degree variance of your eye line, is huge it really makes you look as if you are looking the wrong way, get on that camera you have to put something bright right next to it to draw your eye to it.
Now know once you get your computer jacked up like this, you may want to get a separate keyboard and mouse or keyboard and trackpad, especially if you're going to be operating the keyboard during your webcam hit because this may not be very ergonomic and may do funny things with your shoulders as well.
As you're seeing on camera.
It's all about a good look.
One of the best ways to look good is to sound good
It's an old trick of the pros.
And one of the best ways to sound good is not to use the microphone in here.
The microphone you find in a laptop or pretty much any device is crap.
It picks up a ton of room tone.
It picks up the typing when you're in the chat room.
It picks up the noises you make moving things on the table.
And it tends to pick you up rather poorly in a narrow band of frequencies, so you sound cold and distant.
Instead get some kind of better mic that will plug into your computer.
I'm wearing a lavalier mic right now these are very common, very popular because they're very unobtrusive and easy to wear.
The downside is they do perhaps the least to improve your sound but they're a significant step up.
Most of us will reach for the wired or wireless earbuds we use all the time for calling and listening to music.
Now these can be either a big improvement or barely one.
The quality of them varies dramatically, but they all have the benefit of being pretty unobtrusive.
To go better than that, get some kind of a headset mic.
This will give you good audio in your ear, obviously, but more importantly a microphone that is upgraded and right in the right place all the time.
No matter where you turn, you're never off mic.
No matter who you look at or where you turn your head, if you really want to get serious about good sound, you got to do this.
You see it on a million podcasts, the big studio quality table mic.
This does the most to improve your sound by far.
The problem is, you got to look at this thing.
It's obtrusive, and it has this podcast cliche look about it.
I'm not a fan except for the sound.
You've got to pick your poison, decide which one of these upgrades is better, but choose one of them.
Also know that when you're sitting in front of a computer, this big old monitor is kind of a light and it's a blue light, doesn't look real Feel good, it puts you in this kinda cold, unnatural, cadaverous tone.
You wanna deal with that by either having a nice warm feel like when that's the right temperature and there's plenty of it.
I look natural again, or defeat the blueness of your computer screen know where your video settings shortcuts are.
To turn this to what they call a warmer color temperature.
It's an easy click.
It won't look real good to your eye But it's good to do for a web cam session.
Now, lighting for video is a career in itself.
But there are three simple steps you can master.
First of all, don't do what I'm doing right now.
Look at me, I'm a silhouette coming out of the gray.
Behind is that big white wash of a bright building.
This is miserable lighting.
It's backlit without being frontlets.
Now to deal with this mess, this dark silhouette that I'm sitting in, you wanna deal with that big light back there, but I can't it's called daylight.
I can't turn off the sun.
I don't wanna pull the blinds because that gives me a claustrophobic scene.
Instead, you got to get some light on your face.
Once you do this, you have what's called fill.
There's still light behind you, but you've also got a nice amount of light on your face and things balance out nicely.
It's a lot more pleasant composition.
Now backgrounds matter on a webcam hit, they focus on things near and they focus on things far and you don't necessarily want what's behind you going out That applies to sensitive data that applies to personal effects that applies to your co workers who don't appreciate you webcasting them just because they happen to be in the area.
Now check if the video conferencing app you're using will automatically deal with the background using its own software.
Now, look at the settings for whatever web conference or video conference software you're using and see if it's got a place where you can deal with the background electronically, without you having to move or point the camera somewhere.
What I've got behind me is a green screen.
You've seen these in TV and movie production.
You can get them for home, for not a lot of money.
And they're small, they're not giant.
You don't need to take over a whole room.
By doing this I can then tell my software to drop in a different image behind me.
There's one that looks kind of like I'm at the office, that's actually our office.
I'm not trying to fool anybody, but just create more of a business backdrop that is contextually relevant.
That means I'm not gonna do this.
As nice as photos of the Golden Gate Bridge or the pyramids are, resist the urge to put those in there.
That's kind of like the old wallpaper on computers from the 90s.
There's also a companion software you can get for all the major video conferencing platforms that let you do something like this.
actually dealing with your background by just blurring it out, not changing it not getting a green screen but just deciding you want to make it look indistinguishable or unreadable.
This is pretty slick stuff, and very easy to use when it works well.
I found the variations on it can be rather pronounced depending on what my background is, how well it's lit.
And what I'm wearing, including my headphones yes or no, What color is my shirt.
This is an edge detection algorithm.
And sometimes it'll work well sometimes it'll make your head look funny.
You just got to try it.
By the way, make sure there's no one in that photo who is walking or standing because it looks really unnatural if they never move during your one hour video conference.
Now we've covered a lot and some of it may have been unfamiliar, but let's sum it up in six simple steps a checklist you should use every time you go to get on webcam.
Get the camera up at your eye level.
Look at the camera, not the middle of the screen.
Get a microphone closer to your mouth.
Reduce the blue light hitting your face from any monitor you're looking at.
Light your face to make sure you're not just a silhouette.
And manage your background.
Now, a lot of you desktop video pros are going to say wait a minute you didn't even cover the idea of using a high quality camcorder as a webcam which you can do with a video adapter.
Or how about some better tips on lights like this guy right here that I'm using right now These are all great ideas and can further the game but I think for the average person, they might be too much expense and hassle and desktop real estate.
The simple tips I've given you so far are going to take you a long way.
Get out there and look good.