Over the last several months, I’ve received numerous calls from friends and family asking me about video and looking for direction on how to make quality videos at home. The pandemic forced many people to become content creation experts overnight. What you have in your favor is a 4k video camera in your pocket. However, the average Joe doesn’t have a home production studio. What do you do? I’ll share a few tips on how you can improve the quality of your video without spending a penny.
The very first thing you can fix without spending any money is paying attention to your framing. Content creators always adhere to the rule of thirds. What is the rule of thirds? Think of your frame as a tic-tac-toe board. The lines are the factors of the rule of thirds; you have upper, middle, and lower third, along with a left, center, and right third. When you are framing a person talking directly to the camera, you want to frame their face in the middle square of the tic-tac-toe board. This will create something called “headroom”. Headroom is very important because if you have too much of it, your subject is floating in the bottom of your frame, and if you don’t have any headroom, you are chopping off their forehead. Please refer to the images below to see visuals of proper framing and what is considered good and bad headroom.
Lighting can be one of the easiest things to mess up. It changes the mood depending where your lights are set up. You may not have a lighting kit of any kind and you’re utilizing the overhead lights in your home. This can cause some unflattering shadows. My recommendation? Utilize natural lighting, windows are your friend!
More often than not, a window will provide you a nice “key” light to provide good light coverage on your face. Pay attention to the shadows that your nose will cast, try and keep it minimal. There is a great tool that will tell you what direction the sun is coming from and can help with predicting shadows. Make sure your phone or camera is not casting a shadow on your face! The photos below will help provide some lighting examples.
Disclaimer: DO NOT have the window as your background, you will suddenly become a silhouette, and if you’re trying to send out an important message, your viewer may be squinting their eyes because of the bright background and miss your message.
Onto the fun one: audio! It is important to remember that audio is half of video. While you may not have a professional microphone, when all else fails, most sets of headphones have a microphone that can do a good enough job to give you cleaner audio. If you are shooting at home, there are additional elements that you can control to have a cleaner sound. First, if you have pets, put them in their crate, or let them run around in the backyard for a few minutes, they are less likely to be picked up by the microphone the further they are from you. I also turn off my air conditioner every time I shoot to keep from having a dull hum in my video, which can be very distracting. Don’t forget to turn off the television or speaker. Do what you can to eliminate any external noise that can be controlled.
You want your background to be interesting, but not too interesting. Let’s say you’re shooting in your home office, but you have papers laid out all over the place, books that are (barely) stacked, and about two weeks worth of dishes and fast food bags in your background, it doesn’t portray a “put together” image. If you choose to have stuff in your background, make sure that it’s organized and there is nothing that will take the attention away from you. You could also shoot against a wall. Make sure that you are a step or two in front of the wall to create depth to your shot, which will make your space feel bigger. Creating depth will also remove shadows that cast on to the wall.