“(Out of) Office Hours” Part 1: Remote Video Production Tips

Life has changed overnight, and if you’re like us, figuring out how to make videos in this new normal has been challenging. But, the good news is that we’re in this together. Our Head of Production, Chris Lavigne, just went live for the first time for what we’re calling (Out of) Office Hours. Join us every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET to talk about all things video production and talk shop! Don’t forget to bring some questions, too.

What would a live stream be without some technical difficulties to kick things off? The live stream starts with a bang as Chris attempts to navigate his (equal parts overcomplicated and impressive) video setup. He eventually prevails and goes on to give us a quick tour of his remote production setup, aka Command Central. Chris shares must-have basics for looking good on a webcam and answers questions from folks out there looking to tune up their video presence. Here’s a recap of what went down and some helpful links for you to dig deeper!

Re-watch the recordings of (Out of) Office Hours with Chris Lavigne all in one place!

How to look good on webcam

Whether you’re conducting Zoom meetings, Google Hangouts, live streams, or creating tons of your own content these days, Chris had some pointers to share to help you look good when you’re recording a webcam video. Jumping right into it, Chris showed everyone a video he made a few years back that’s all about how to look great in your next webcam video. He summed it up with three main takeaways anyone can do to make their setup look nicer.

First and foremost, you’ll want to get your webcam to point ever-so-slightly down at your eyeline. Many people open their laptops and start recording with their cameras looking up at their face. But truth be told, it’s not the most flattering angle. A quick fix for this is to get your laptop up on a stack of books, yoga blocks, or anything else you have around the house for some extra elevation.

Second, you should try to face a window instead of recording a video with windows directly behind you. If you’re working with a different source of light, you’ll want to face that, too. Why? When your light source is behind you, it can cause a backlit effect that makes you look like a shadow or a raccoon. We think we speak for everyone when we say no one wants that!

Looking for a lighting kit? Allow us to introduce Wistia’s “Down and Dirty DIY Lighting Kit” — all for under $100.

Lastly, you should simply take a moment to assess your set decoration and design. Make sure everything looks clean in your shot and there aren’t stray objects laying around before you hit record. The goal is to not distract your audience with anything in the background.

There you have it for Chris’s top takeaways, but if you want to hear more tips, check out this post that features the full how-to video for looking great on webcam!

Production gear for getting started

Moving on to talking shop, Chris gave a brief overview of production gear that can take your webcam videos to the next level. In his words, if you want to go for extra credit, and you’re someone who’s making tons of content, you might want to explore the benefits of a Soapbox Station, a professional quality, mobile video studio that Chris invented. There are two versions: the Soapbox Station Lite and the Soapbox Station Pro.

The Soapbox Station Lite features a Logitech Brio webcam and a Blue Snowball iCE USB microphone. This webcam can really sharpen your image for zoom calls or internal meetings. As for the Blue Snowball iCE USB microphone, Chris described this mic as the biggest bang for your buck if you want to enhance your audio quality. These are only two parts of the complete Soapbox Station Lite, but these two items can make a huge difference in the quality of your videos.

Capturing clear audio can be tricky. Let us walk you through our guide for recording audio for your videos!

Interested in building your own or just want to know the complete list of individual parts and prices for each? Chris whipped up this post, which features all the gear for both Soapbox Stations and includes step-by-step directions to assemble your own.

Q&A Time

All that talk about gear was a great segway into the Q&A portion of the livestream. The first question asked was gear-focused, and as it turns out these days, you might have to hunt around for sought-after video gear like Chris’s AJA U-TAP.

Another viewer touched on a topic we plan to delve into deeper on a future (Out of) Office Hours episode, which was filming split screen video (i.e. two people having a conversation). In response to this inquiry, a different viewer suggested we investigate Skype NDI as a solution for filming split-screen video.

The last question was about adapting your role as a freelance video producer to remote environments. Should video producers charge less given the circumstances? Chris believes that you don’t need to adjust your price for work to be competitive. You can still be valuable and become more of a consultant for video production at this time. Directing people remotely, helping them clean up shots, and being a bug in people’s ears as they’re recording their lines are all things video producers can do to provide value in their roles.

How can we help?

Now that we have the first (Out of) Office Hours livestream under our belt, we want to know how we can be genuinely helpful moving forward. Let us know what challenges you’re struggling with when it comes to video lately by hitting up Chris on Twitter @crlvideo or by emailing him at crl@wistia.com. You can also reach out to Wistia directly on Twitter @wistia. We hope to hear from you soon! See you next time.

Lisa Marinelli


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