April 1, 2020 TVG Staff

Lights, Camera, Video Call!

If you’re like most people, you’ve have had a chance to sit in on a WebEx or Zoom video conference, but chances are you’ve never used the camera feature. With quarantines and social distancing in place for the foreseeable future, working from home is the new normal. That’s thrust platforms like Facetime, WebEx and Zoom to the forefront.

What does this mean for you? Whether you like it or not, you get to be a videographer. Fear not, it’s not as daunting as many out there may think. First things first, check your technology. If you have an iPhone 4 or newer, or an Apple Mac 10.6.6 or newer, ta-da, you have Facetime. Programs like WebEx and Zoom for your PC or Mac will just need to quickly install a program on your computer to make it work seamlessly.

Next, portrait or landscape; camera position is everything. For Facetime, if you are on one-on-one video call, if you both use portrait, it looks great. You can also both choose landscape and it looks great, just be certain you are both choosing the same format, otherwise you’ll have black bars on the side, like when a standard definition TV program is broadcast in HD. For Zoom and WebEx, we recommend landscape, especially when you have multiple people on the screen. It’s just easier to see everyone.

Now, how should you frame your shot? I’ll use Zoom as the example. Think of your camera, whether it’s in your phone or your laptop as a TV screen. You’ve seen experts on the news, and they are typically centered in the screen with their head and shoulders showing. Use this template. Don’t simply turn on your camera and multitask. Don’t look off camera and don’t be off to the side. Plan to sit front and center.

Finally, let’s talk the microphone and lighting. Most new laptops have built-in microphones, and some even include a light. You can also use the ear buds you got with your phone, or the ones you upgraded to. They have microphones as well. If you sit close to the screen, head and shoulders as I said earlier, the laptop microphone should work just fine. If you are using your phone for Facetime or Zoom, either the headphones, or the built-in microphone will work too.

Don’t forget lighting. Resist the urge to just have a desk light. If possible, go to a room with brighter lights from above or in front of you. Many times, the lights in your dining room or above the kitchen table are perfect. Video calls are going to become even more commonplace as the COVID-19 crisis wears on. It’s likely we’ll see them continue when it is over. If you need help with your video calls, just reach out to us here at TVG. We’re all in this together!


By Andy Likes, Senior Vice President at The Vandiver Group in St. Louis, Missouri


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