Back again with more HOA tips and tricks! The last article I posted was Video Casting with G+ Hangouts on Air – Part 2: Your First Broadcast. This week I’ve got a few webcam recommendations, tips on setting up your studio, and other small tricks to do for your broadcast.
Selecting the right Video Camera
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 ($100) – If you work from home and use video to stay in touch with colleagues and attend meetings, or if you just use it to stay in touch with friends and family around the world, the Logitech C920 HD webcam offers stunning video quality—including Skype and other video calling (when supported) in 1080p, autofocus, sensitive dual stereo microphones, and full HD video recording if you produce video from your computer.
Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000 ($50) – Microsoft’s LifeCam HD-5000 (and its newer sibling, the HD-5001) trims back some of the bells and whistles to make a more manageable price tag. It packs 720p HD video recording and video chat in Skype and other video calling apps, autofocus so the object of attention is always crystal clear, and face tracking, so even if you move you don’t get all blurred out to the person on the other end of your video call. Video recording comes in at 720p.
Logitech HD Webcam C270 ($40) – If you want dead simple HD video calling and still photos, without all the bells and whistles (and the price tag) of many of the others, the Logitech C270 offers a simple camera with a rubberized clip to attach to your monitor, and that’s about it. You get 720p video with the C270 and 3 megapixel still photos
Setting Up Your “Studio”
Avoid Backlighting – The worst thing you can do is position yourself with a bright light or window to your back. The camera will try to set the brightness based on the bright background, and your face will be in shadow. Always get the bright window illuminating you, with your back to a darker area of the house or office.
Illuminate Your Face – In addition to removing any backlighting, you’ll probably still want some kind of fill lighting for your face. A small desk lamp pointed at your face will probably do the trick, to make you pop off the background.
Have an Interesting Background – A plain white wall is really boring, but a nice living room can look pretty great. Other people like to put a bookshelf behind them. If you work with some kind of technology or hardware (like a telescope), try to get it into the scene, to give viewers context. Just make sure you clean your kitchen first.
Position the Camera Above Your Eyes – When you use a laptop camera, it’s looking up at you, right up your nose. Instead, you want the camera positioned above you, so you’re looking up into the camera a little bit. Trust me, it’s more flattering. Put your laptop on some books, or put the camera on a tripod if you can.
Reduce the External Sounds – You’ll want to chase down every source of external sound and remove it. Turn off the ringer on your cell phone and beg the kids to be quiet (hah, good luck),
Tips for Using your Camera during a Hangout
Use A Lot of Light – Webcam sensors are small, and you need a good amount of light to let the lens see you properly. Natural light makes almost anyone look better.
Use A Decent Mic – The built-in mic on your computer usually isn’t adequate for this kind of thing. You don’t even have to get something all that expensive. Even something like iPhone earbuds with a mic on it would work fine. Just something that blocks out distracting ambient noise.
Use Headphones – Eliminate any kind of echo that might occur from other people speaking that might get picked up by your microphone. Also, use something that kind of blends in with the clothes you wear so that the headphones aren’t distracting.
Look at the Camera – Making eye contact can be difficult because you can see all these people on your screen, and you want to follow them, but then you aren’t looking at the camera directly above the screen. Looking at the camera engages your audience a lot better than when you seem to be just looking down.
Avoid Glare from Glasses – It’s recommended that you wear contacts during a webcam session because many times the glare from your computer monitor shows up in your glasses, making it hard to see your eyes. People connect better when they can see your eyes. If you must wear glasses, shift your monitor to the side and use light indirectly with a ceiling bounce or wall bounce from a light source (meaning point the lamp towards the a light colored wall). The light source has to be big and soft.
Wear Solid Colors – Avoid crazy patterns. Wearing white is best since the aperture of your camera will try to adjust for all the light in the room. Wearing something like black will lot in a lot more ambient light, while wearing white will make the camera adjust accordingly and avoid overexposure.
Center Yourself – Get close enough to the camera so that people can see your shoulders and your face, but not so far back that they can’t see your eyes, and don’t give yourself crazy amounts of headroom where there’s this gigantic space above your head.