Five Hacks to Look Good on Zoom

Five Hacks to Look Good on Zoom

April 24, 2020 How to Guides 5 MIN READ
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

How to Look Good on Zoom – Five Top Tips

 

I was struck this morning, whilst watching my 5th consecutive hour of BBC News, that we are surrounded by some of the smartest scientists, politicians and doctors but no-one seems to be able to handle their own camera. If it’s not Kier Starma’s forehead, it’s Chris Whitty’s nose hair. The view is too dark, too close, too shaky, too ‘chinny’. Without film crew on hand to make everything look good, its made for some weirdly self-conscious TV segments. Let’s put this bad video to bed people, it’s just not necessary. Here’s some insider tips for troubleshooting crappy video call set-ups from the professionals at Gnu Films.


Lighting, in general, is the main culprit for baaaaad pics. 9 times out of 10, you’re sitting in front of a window on a sunny day. Why is this an issue? Well, the light inside has to balance with the light outside or your camera, when set to automatic, will try to adjust for the brightest area. This means it’s trying to manage how much light comes in making you, in the foreground, look like witness protection or a JJ Abrahams special effect. Wherever possible, don’t do calls in front of a window. If you have to then try and balance the light inside, by lighting your face with a desklamp a little further back and slightly offset. Or film on a cloudy day when it’s not so bright outside.  

*Sidenote – the same thing applies to bright sun outside, don’t stand in front of the sun, it’ll have the same effect.

 

This is from too little light altogether. The perfect scenario is to either be outside making the use of natural light or facing the window at a slight angle. If it’s night time, try and create an even spread of light around you, nothing too stark. Any ‘key lighting’ on your face is better to be slightly higher or level with your face, never light from underneath unless you’re telling ghost stories. 

Generally, keep things simple. If you’re sitting down then stick to a low-backed chair so you don’t look over-crowded or squashed in. Places I advise not to sit are:

 

  1. In front of a window (see above)
  2. In / On your bed
  3. In a messy kitchen
  4. In front of an open door (you don’t know who or what will come through it)
  5. By a bin
  6. In a bathroom
  7. In front of a mirror or highly reflective surface

 

 

This is usually just a matter of perspective and camera height. Ideally, you want two ‘hand-spans’ between you and your camera minimum and you want your camera lens to aim between your eyebrows. This gives a sense of space and some perspective (to avoid ‘Gulliver syndrome’). This will vary slightly depending on the persons’ dimensions and can be adjusted accordingly, but as a quick checklist before you press the ‘join call’ button:

  1. Is there at least 2 inches space above your head?
  2. Does the bottom of the frame line up just below your collar bone?
  3. Can you see your whole face (Keir Starma, I’m talking to you)
  4. We don’t need to see your carpet or your ceiling, change the angle.
  5. Are you peering down ‘into’ your camera? Well don’t. Raise it up with a couple of books.
  6. Are you looking up at your camera like it’s God and you’re Moses? This is NOT a selfie. Bring it back down to eye level.
  7. Are you holding it with your hand? Don’t. Prop it up -there are lots of ways from blue-tack to egg cartons, pegs to open books. My favourite hack is sticking a car phone holder to your window with the suction cup, then you have height, light and distance.  

 

Eye contact is even more important when making a video call. It’s also more difficult as the ‘eye’ of the other person isn’t actually on their face, it’s your camera lens. I advise flicking between the screen and the camera when you’re talking, as you would when speaking to a group of people. You can make sure you are reading their face and engaging their attention.

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you don’t have someone’s full attention. So close the door, don’t have the TV on in the background, don’t make arduous notes (if you need a detailed record, then just record it) and NEVER watch yourself. It’s just distracting cos you’re so darned good-looking. 

 

Below is an example arrangement to make a fairly fool-proof set up for video conferencing.

And… you’re welcome Grandma… because this applies to you too.

 

Of course, you can only work with what you’ve got and at the end of the day, you’re doing your best to just get the job done! Here’s a few reassuring Zoom fails because we’re all only human, after all. :https://www.mamamia.com.au/zoom-fails-working-from-home/

We are still continuing to work remotely and are busy creating video content for all of our wonderful clients. We have our voice-over artists set up and ready to record from home studios, our music libraries with us on location and our front rooms are crammed with high tech equipment, so if you are looking to send a video rather than chat live, get in touch.

We’re available to chat throughout the day via email, skype or phone about whatever it is you might need. It’s business as usual (albeit feels slightly unusual)
Let keeps things moving.

 

Our animation packages start from as little as £550 and we’re offering an additional 10% off because honestly, we all need to do our bit right now.

 

If you’re ready to get started, then get in touch! Call us on 01604422911 or email production@gnufilms.co.uk. We’re a full-service video and animation company serving the whole of the UK and more!

 

Eve Myhill Byline Gnu Films

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