Monday 3 August, 2020

Welcome to the Future: 8 Tips to improve sound & look on video calls

Video chat clip from YouTube of The Jetsons

Video chat clip from YouTube of The Jetsons

Who knew that The Jetsons had it right all along?

Videoconferencing seems to be here to stay, from Google classrooms to Zoom Fetes. COVID-19 has sure made video calls and conference calls a way of life and business now.

You may not become a Zoom Professional overnight but these tips can help you get moderately better if you are still getting the hang of things.

Here are 8 things to look nice on camera from in your home:

1. Upgrade your webcam.

If your camera lens looks like it is wrapped in cling wrap you may need to get a new webcam. A quick upgrade can be the easiest way to improve your video call quality without breaking the bank. You can find cheap an easy 4K quality webcams at relatively decent prices with ease now.

2. Use a Digital Camera
If the webcam option doesn't work then try an actual camera. Digital cameras are also very accessible and easy to use, with the only downside being the use of expensive capture cards. But the image you’ll get from using a DSLR with an appropriate lens is hard to beat.

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3. Use your smartphone instead
If you don’t have a webcam or a camera, your smartphone may be an even better replacement for both.

Most smartphones can allow you to to do sharp autofocus, white balance in real-time, and have colour correction adjustments. Also, they are perfect for people of all skin tones.

You can try apps such as EpocCam to turn your smartphone into a makeshift webcam.

4. Lights!
Even with a great camera, your lighting can make all the difference.

You don't need a studio set up for your lighting, just make sure your light sources are positioned well. Do not back windows or sit right in front of them since these will leave you under or overexposed. Try sitting at an angle towards the light or bouncing lamp lights against wall surfaces to get softer fill effects like a pro.


5. Mic check 1, 2!
Either a headset microphone or a dedicated professional microphone will give you better sound quality and help eliminate background noise.

Putting your mic on a stand or desk-mounted arm will get it closer to your mouth and help alleviate any shaking or other noises.

6. Wired is better than wireless
As reliable as your wireless internet connection may be, having a wired connection for video calls will definitely improve things.  

This may mean purchasing an external hub with ethernet connectivity so you can plug into your modem or router.

7. Perfection is not necessary
Try avoiding the urge to look perfect and getting everything just right. Looking too good on camera might make you the odd one out.

Most of us are still adjusting to this whole video conferencing life so not everyone has a studio-quality setup. So as much as you want to look your best you might make it uncomfortable for others if you show up like Michael Bay. (In case you're unsure who he is, think Transformers, Bad Boys, Armageddon. He is an American film director and producer, and that's the point. You do not need to bring an Oscar-winning production.)

8. Be aware 

Lastly, just try to read the room and see when you can be relaxed and when it is necessary for the more formal, more professional settings.

Good luck!

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