On the fourth episode of (Out of) Office Hours, we’re back for redemption after episode three’s tech meltdown. We learned that balancing production quality with going live is tough and sometimes a simpler production process is better. From choosing the best spot for a home studio set-up to small production design tweaks, there’s plenty to learn in this episode that’ll help you tune up your space to make videos while you’re remote. Plus, we had a special guest on the horn, our very own “lighting maestro,” Stephen Petto. Here’s a recap of what went down and some helpful links for you to dig deeper!
For a fresh start, Chris introduced a new segment called “Video of the Week.” This video was from a band called Thao & The Get Down Stay Down whose music video production plans were thwarted by California’s lockdown. Instead, they concepted and executed a music video in one shot over Zoom in only a matter of five days. Chris thought this was the perfect example of how creativity is born out of constraints.
Jumping into today’s topic, Chris talked about choosing a location for your home studio set-up, the different background approaches you can take, production design tweaks, audio at home, and lighting hacks.
When thinking about location, you should try to set things up to elevate production quality as much as you can. Here are some of the approaches you can take as far as backgrounds for your shot goes.
At Wistia, we like to be authentic and lean into the fact we’re working from home. We’re seeing late-night talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon doing the same! People seem to be super engaged, too, because they’re pulling back the curtain in a way.
Another approach to take is flipping your camera 180 degrees. This means having your desk and work set-up as your background. Chris thinks Marques Brownlee is the master of the “pulled back” approach.
Something you can do to eliminate the background as a character is simply using a generic background. We use seamless photo paper from Savage Universal that comes in different sizes and colors. It doesn’t matter where you’re shooting, you can have a nice clean background. This method is great for evergreen content that will live forever because it doesn’t have to reference a remote situation. For more flexibility with your shot, Chris suggests getting the big rolls. You can tape it to a wall or have it sit on a crossbar between two light stands and voila!
When you’re working with any of the first two approaches, a little production design goes a long way. You should take the time to clean up your shot and remove any small stuff that could be distracting for viewers.
At home, reverb and echo is another challenge you might have to overcome. To reduce soundwaves bouncing off walls, you can hang blankets to dampen the room. Or, if you want, build a pillow fort! That’ll definitely absorb all of the echoes and reflections of your voice.
External sound can also get in the way. If possible, try to base your studio location on the side of your house not facing the street to avoid the sound of rain or construction. Your fridge or furnace kicking on might also be a nuisance. And, we can’t forget the kids. We love ‘em, but they might be a source for distraction.
Lastly, you may not know this, but if you’re looking for a personal voice-over booth, look no further than your car. Cars are made to be really sound isolating, making for a great audio recording booth.
Finally, elevating your lighting situation will make a huge difference in how you look. Our own “Prince of Production Value,” Stephen Petto, dropped by to give a live demo about how you can get the best lighting possible at home just by using basic principles. He covered the three types of light: key light, fill light, and backlight. It’s possible to use what you have in your house in addition to some cheap gear that Stephen found to get these three types of light just right.
Chris threw some Wistia content into this episode we’ve made in the past that’s even more helpful and relevant for today. Take a look for yourself!
In this installment of (Out of) Office Hours, folks out there also had a couple of questions for Chris. Scrub to these timestamps to hear his responses:
29:22 — What streaming software are you using right now?
31:01 — Stephen, I’ve got a couple of those new Aperture MC Mini RGB Lights. Do you have any suggestions for softening it up to use as a webcam key/fill combo? They’re powerful, but have a pretty tiny surface area.
That about wraps up this episode recap! Enjoying the topics we’re covering? 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 emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to Wistia directly on Twitter @wistia. We hope to hear from you soon! See you next time.