Moving your business online can feel really daunting, especially if you don’t consider yourself ‘tech-savvy’ or have a lot of money to invest in new technology. However, there are many free and easy ways you can improve the quality of your videos and feel more confident sharing online.
As a yoga teacher who moved to teaching online at the start of the pandemic and co host of The Flow Artists Podcast, which is also recorded at our home, I’ve researched and experimented with low tech solutions to some of the common audio and video issues that people encounter and these are my favourite strategies - some of them are relate to teaching yoga, but I hope you find them helpful no matter what you choose to share!
The darker the room is, the more grainy your video will look. If you have a choice, film your video when you get the best natural light.
Indirect Natural Light
Indirect natural light tends to be the most flattering - if you have bright light from a window nearby, try covering it with sheer fabric.
Light Up Your Face
It is preferable to have window light shining onto your face, rather than behind you turning you into a silhouette. However, a small desk light behind you, but pointed away from you can help you stand out from the background.
Bring in More Lamps
If you only have an overhead lighting bring in a couple of other smaller lights. If you are filming directly from your computer, try clustering a couple of lamps around the computer. If possible, choose the same colour temperature (ie warm or cool LED) for all of your light bulbs, if you are also using natural light, a cool LED will be a better match.
Flickering or Banding?
If you have noticed flickering or banding light in your videos, this is an interaction between your light sources and camera settings. While a light from some bulbs looks continuous it is actually emitted in pulses and if the camera speed doesn’t line up with the frequency of these pulses your video will look flickery. You can either change the type of bulb you are using, swap to natural light or slow down your shutter speed (this is usually an issue at faster speeds).
You can read about this in more detail at No Film School
Lots of hard surfaces in a room (walls, floor, ceiling) bounce the sound around and create an echo, you can improve your sound quality by bringing in rugs, hanging heavy fabric like blankets and using a thick table cloth. Plants help too!
The larger the room the more challenging it is to control the echo factor - a smaller carpeted room which already has lots of soft furnishings (like a bedroom) can really help your sound quality. Just face your camera away from your bed and no one needs to know what’s happening in the rest of the room.
Project Your Voice
Speak loudly and clearly as though you were speaking to a large room of people. If you are teaching a yoga class, try to deliver your instructions facing the camera, rather than when your head is facing away - this also helps with the non verbal aspects of communication and a sense of connection with your viewers.
It’s clearer to see what is happening if you wear contrasting colours to your background. If you are teaching a yoga class avoid using a black mat - it just looks like one big shadow.
Fitted Clothing is Better
Wear fitted rather than super loose clothing so it’s easier to follow your movements (and also so that there are no unexpected ‘reveals’). It doesn’t have to be super tight though - it’s best to wear clothing you feel comfortable with.
Watch Out for Patterns
Watch out for busy patterns - sometimes they look disorientating on screen - especially tiny stripes.
Simple But Interesting
A plain background can look really stark, but a really busy background can be distracting. If you are delivering on online talk or attending a zoom meeting, some uncluttered bookshelves, art on the wall or plants within view all make really nice background elements.
Corners Work Well
Filming into a corner view can often be really effective and can also work well if you are utilising natural light from a nearby window.
Do a Trial Run
Sometimes what we see with our eyes looks really different from what we see on screen - it can be useful to record yourself as a trial run to check out your lighting, sound and background. If you really dislike your background or don’t feel comfortable showing people the inside of your home you can always choose one of the digital background options in zoom (go to Preferences then Settings). While you are there, set the video quality to HD.
Ultimately communication is all about connection. It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself about your sound and video quality, especially when you compare yourself to the plethora of videos online (which were probably recorded by a team of professionals in a studio). What you are saying and sharing is much more important than having a super expensive microphone, the best way to learn and improve is just to get started!