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  • Writer's pictureMatt

10 Tips for filming yourself that will keep your editor happy

At MC Online Events, I do a lot of editing of footage that is recorded remotely by our clients. This is cost and time effective but does lead to varying quality output as we can only work with the video we get.

So below are a few tips to help you record the best quality video with just your smartphone or computer’s webcam which will help your editor.

1. Avoid Zoom (part 1)

Unless you are recording a conversation on Zoom, don’t use it to record your videos. Zoom’s video is fairly low quality as it trades off video quality for speed of transfer.

If you need to film using your computer’s camcorder, on Windows you can use the built in ‘Camera’ App and on Mac you can use QuickTime. These record much higher quality video.

2. Get the camera the right way round

Whether the video needs to be filmed landscape or portrait will depend on what it’s being used for. For social media, it is more likely to be portrait, for longer form video that is going to be on YouTube or shown on TV screens then it’ll be landscape.
If you’re not sure, check with the person who will be editing it.

3. Keep the camera still

Wobbly footage is really off-putting and just looks unprofessional. Keep your camera as still as possible. You can buy cheap tripods with a phone holder for around £20, or even just balancing it on a shelf reduces shake.

And for laptops, despite their name, don’t put it on your lap! You’ll want to get it to the right height (see below) so put it on a pile of books on a study table.

4. Frame it right

This will depend on the kind of shot you are after, and below are a couple of guides, but for a closeup like you generally have in a webinar, you want to aim for your eyes to be about a third of the way down the frame, and obviously having your whole face in shot. I often get recordings where the camera cuts off the person’s chin.

5. Avoid Zoom (part 2)

If you are using a smartphone, avoid using the camera’s Zoom. Most phones use ‘digital zoom’ which means that they just crop in on the video, which makes it looks grainy and loses quality.

If you need to look bigger, move the camera closer, or move closer to the camera.

6. Check what’s behind you

Take a moment to look at what else is in the picture with you. Is there a plant growing out of your head? Or your washing on the radiator? And think about personal information about you or others. I had one edit where a teacher had filmed in the school office and there was a list of names on a piece of paper on the wall next to them that I had to blur out.

7. Lighting

Lighting is often overlooked when people film themselves but can really make a difference. You don’t want to be sat in front of a window with light streaming in as you will end up like you will appear as a silhouette like you’re in witness protection. And you also don’t want the light directly above you as that casts very unflattering shadows.

Ideally you will have the light source behind the camera and hitting your face at a bit of an angle. If you are going to do a lot of filming, a cheap ring light that goes round your camera can make all the difference. You can even get them in bundles with a tripod and camera holder.

8. Sound

It’s often said that in video, the audio is more important than the visuals, as bad audio is much more distracting and annoying than a grainy video (this is why Zoom priorities audio over video quality).

Find a quiet space where you can speak clearly. Try to avoid rooms with lots of hard surfaces like tiled floors and worktops as this can cause echoes. Ideally you want a space with lots of soft furnishings.

And most importantly, make sure to turn off the radio and tv. Even quiet music in the background can cause copyright issues.

9. Take is slow and allow yourself to make mistakes

If you are filming yourself, you can take as long as you want. So set everything up and do a test run. Then watch it back and see how it looks and sounds.
When you start filming, get comfortable and then sit or stand still and quiet for a second or two. And do the same at the end, once you’re finished pause for a second or two before reaching for the off button. This gives your editor some clean footage to edit with, otherwise videos can feel rushed.

And it’s ok to take a few attempts, and even to do it in smaller chunks which the editor can
piece together. If you stumble over your words, just pause, breathe and go back to a sensible place to start again.

10. Give yourself time

It will probably take you longer than you think to film yourself, so give yourself plenty of time. And then remember that you will have to send the video files to your editor, and this will also take longer than you think and it’s always when you’re in a rush that the tech gremlins get in. So don’t leave it to the last minute.


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