6 Quick Tips for Looking Good on Camera
June 23, 2016
At Wistia, we’ve found that looking good on camera is mostly about feeling comfortable. As a talent under those bright lights, it’s best if you can forget about your appearance altogether and focus on being yourself. Next time you’re shooting a video, consider the following six tips to make sure you or the subject you’re shooting are looking (and feeling) good.
When it comes to dressing for a shoot, solid colors are always a good bet. In fact, in our office, we have a whole rack of solid-colored t-shirts in all different sizes, ready to be worn by anyone. Try to avoid big logos, wrinkled clothes, or tight patterns, as they can all be visually distracting to your viewer.
When choosing your look, be aware that a suit and tie will send a different message than a ripped t-shirt. Also remember that when you are comfortable, you look comfortable. There’s no use in going over the top with your outfit if it means you can’t breathe properly or get loose.
In the end, your look should stem from your brand and whatever message you’re trying to convey in the video. There are no hard and fast rules.
When you begin your shoot, make sure your subject’s jewelry isn’t making noise. Metal bracelets can be a nightmare for audio!
If you’re preparing to be a subject in a video, do whatever you’d normally do on an average day. In our humble opinion, the best makeup in videos is the makeup that viewers don’t even notice. Getting in front of a camera is already pretty intimidating for a non-actor, and asking folks to put on special makeup for a video can add another layer of unfamiliarity.
For our company videos, we don’t ask any of our subjects to wear makeup. But then again, if you’re the one stepping into those bright lights, then it’s up to you! If you’d feel more comfortable being in front of a camera after you’ve applied some powder and mascara, then by all means, go for it. The most important thing is that you feel like yourself. If you go with a look that’s totally different from your day-to-day appearance, it’ll be harder to feel genuine on camera.
We all know it can be hot under those lights. Blotting paper can help reduce oil and minimize shine.
You may have already learned this from years of selfies, but it’s easy to forget when you’re busy setting up a shoot.
Even if you’re working with a taller subject, try to keep the lens just above their eyeline. This placement will help to prevent a double chin situation and will yield a much more flattering angle. This rule applies if you’re shooting with your webcam too! Make sure to raise your laptop up off the table and angle it down toward your face, ensuring the camera is just above your eyeline.
Keep a stool or step in your studio, so raising a camera for a tall subject doesn’t mean standing on your tiptoes for the entirety of the shoot.
When you’re lighting a subject, try your best to remove all harsh shadows on their face.
Consider the environment you’re shooting in, and watch for unwanted shadows. If your talent is standing directly underneath overhead office lighting, either shut the lights off or move the subject out from under the light. This will help to avoid the dreaded “raccoon eyes.”
If you’re using video lights, make sure your lights are placed just in front of the camera and slightly above the talent’s eyeline for the best results.
There’s a reason we use a dark gray background in many of our company videos. We’ve found that muted blues and grays are universally flattering, whereas bright colors, like orange and red, will reflect color back onto the subject and affect the way the camera records skin color.
If you’re not shooting in front of a paper backdrop, it’s key to make sure there’s nothing distracting behind the subject. You can also use a lower aperture from a prime lens, like a 50mm, to blur the background while keeping the subject tack sharp.
There’s more where this came from. Our Library guide, "Choosing the Right Background for Your Video," explores this subject at length.
When you first jump in front of a camera, it can be a bit intimidating. Try your best to focus on owning each line. Take those hands out of your pockets, stand or sit up straight, and finish each line with gusto (just not too much gusto). Also keep in mind that when you’re on camera, you’re on the whole time, so make each moment count. Sure, you can edit out some things in post, but that bored face you make between your first two lines might just make it into the final cut.
If you’ve pulled an all-nighter or are getting sick, consider rescheduling the shoot. There’s only so much you can do to look great if you don’t feel great.