Here are some tips for recording a good video for our online services.
Lights, camera, action!
The first thing to note is that your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop probably has a pretty good camera in it – if it has enough light. The best thing to do is to face a large window while recording your video, this means that you get a lot of natural light onto your face.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a big window, any window will help. If it’s a bright day and you find yourself squinting in the glorious Yorkshire sun (as I did here) then move back or to the side a bit. In this shot I’m about a metre (that’s 3 feet in old money) from my phone.
Try to avoid lighting your face using electric lights, as they don’t work very well. You get strong shadows and the colours will look weird.
It is possible to get electric “natural lights” which work well, but why pay for something when God provides sunshine for free? Hmm, the sunshine isn’t very reliable in Yorkshire…
Firstly, make sure your camera is in landscape mode. That means wider than it is tall, so turn your phone on it’s side! This is because many people watch the online services on laptops, and using landscape videos means we have more space to use when editing the videos.
This is a picture I took when seated as shown above (I’ve cropped it a bit):
Notice that I’m not very close to the camera – you can see quite a lot of my torso, and some space above and to the left and right of my head. The camera is also roughly at eye level, and roughly pointing horizontally, so it is neither looking down on my thinning patch nor up my nose!
This framing makes it a lot easier to use the video in online services, as this video can be cropped closer to my face. If I was much closer to the camera it would be impossible to zoom out! If in doubt, leave more space.
Of course, depending on your home, you may find you need to move a chair to get into a good position for lighting and framing yourself properly. If it’s proving difficult to do this then don’t do it! Please don’t risk an injury or accident trying to get the “perfect shot”.
Please make sure your camera (phone, tablet or laptop) is stable and not wobbling. In the picture above I propped my phone up on a metal biscuit tin!
Because I’m a bit of a nerd, in the past I’ve made phone tripods out of LEGO and Meccano! But the cheapest and easiest stand for your phone is a bit of thick cardboard:
There are instructions on this website, but you can see from these pictures how easy it is to make a simple phone stand.
Also make sure you are stable and comfortable, as you’re not going to be able to do a relaxed-looking video if you’re perched on something wobbly and uncomfortable.
Have a quick look behind you. Is there anything inappropriate or distracting behind you that people will see? Videos made in our homes can sometimes reveal more about our lives than we mean them to!
Leif has found a good spot in his house from which to do his videos. Look how well he is lit, how well he’s framed, and also what the background is:
This is excellent videoing, and reveals that Leif has an impressive bookcase (which greatly enhances his already unassailable credibility) and a wonderful collection of pottery!
Unfortunately the microphones in phones are designed to work best when they are very near the mouth. The built-in microphones in laptops fare a bit better, but not much.
If you follow the framing tips above you won’t be very near your phone, so please try to minimise any background noise so we can hear you clearly.
But please don’t do your videoing in a bathroom, even if it’s the quietist room in the house – we don’t need any echo effects!
As with all public speaking, try to speak a bit slower and clearer than you would in a normal conversation. Don’t go too far with this, or you will. Sound. Like. A. Robot.
If you got some headphones with your mobile phone (they often come in the box) you could use the microphone which is attached to the headphone. They often look like this:
This has the advantage of putting the microphone nearer your mouth, but can be a bit fiddy with wires dangling around.
Both Leif and Wendy have invested in small lapel (called “lavalier”) microphones which cost about £10-15. They work with laptops, phones, and tablets, and have a clip so you can attach them to your clothing. They work really well, but of course you need to be doing quite a lot of recording to warrant spending any money on equipment.
Take your time, don’t try to rush your recording. Even seasoned professionals don’t get it right first time!
And leave space where you just sit there saying nothing – about 5 seconds is great – before you start to speak and after you finish. It will feel strange, but it makes it much easier to edit your video in with everything else.
These tips are just suggestions, you’ll need to apply them to your own home situation. Once you find a good spot it will make each video you do better. So it’s worth spending a bit of time – and a few short test videos – seeing where in your home works best for you.
It’s likely that online services will be with us for several months to come, so a bit of time invested in making them as good as they can be will help all visitors who watch them get more out of them.
If you have any questions please get in touch using the church technical support email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also very willing to look at test videos you’ve done and make suggestions.