Top 6 tips to improve your online recordings
With social distancing and remote work becoming more and more widespread all around the globe, getting good online webcam recordings has become a necessity for a lot of people.
It’s no longer just YouTubers and Twitch streamers recording themselves. Teachers, employees, entertainers and sometimes even doctors now need to record themselves at home.
Turning on your laptop and making a quick webcam recording might not seem like such a daunting task at first, but most people quickly realize that there is a huge difference in quality between the videos they record and the ones they’re used to watching online. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to provide you with some tips and pointers to help you improve the quality of your recording without spending eye-watering amounts of money on mirrorless cameras and professional studio equipment.
1. Position your webcam properly
This might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t really seem to take it into account, especially when using laptops.
It’s very important that you don’t just leave your webcam down on your desk, but try to position it at eye level, or a little bit higher. While this is pretty easy to do if you’ve got a desktop set up with a webcam that you can easily move around and reposition, those of you with laptops might have a harder time doing it.
My advice would be to just sit at your desk and stack a couple of solid boxes or books on top of each other to raise your laptop (and its webcam) up to eye level. You’ll notice that the new angle is a lot more flattering and presentable!
2. Make use of natural light
If you ever bought a webcam, you’ve probably experienced the following situation: you look the model up online and you see it do really well in video review where they test it in a professional studio. Then, you bring your new camera home and your video recordings look nothing like the samples you saw on YouTube.
Why does that happen? The answer is simple: lighting. Unfortunately, most cameras (especially web cameras), don’t work well in improperly lit environments. The studio footage you watched probably had professional 3 point lighting, while you at home usually work with whatever comes through the window. Well, here’s how to get the most out of that window:
Try to position yourself so that the light that comes through your window hits you directly from the front, or slightly to the side. While you reposition everything, check your computer to see how the image improves.
You might notice that your webcam image gets a lot sharper, but if the light coming through your window is too strong you might blind it, resulting in a white, “burned” image.
To prevent that, try to diffuse the light coming in. Pulling a thin white drape over the window should do the trick and help you get some beautiful recordings as long as the sun is up.
3. Never turn your back to a window
While a window can be your biggest friend when recording online videos, it can also quickly become your biggest enemy. If your setup doesn’t allow you to move in front of a window, you should at least make sure that you never have your back towards one.
Having a window in the background while the sun is up will completely blind your camera and make you appear as a dark, smudged silhouette, which isn’t something you want.
You should always try to cover up any windows behind you and keep your background dark if possible.
4. Get an LED lamp
So far, we’ve talked about tips for those of you who can make webcam recordings during the day, but what if you don’t have big windows or need to record at night? Well, there are some solutions out there that will allow you to improve your lighting without having to splurge on big professional lights that take up the whole space in your room.
One way to get some light on your face and make your image a little sharper and more crisp is by using a cheap desk lamp that gives off white light. All you need to do is point at your face at a reasonable distance, maybe angle it a bit so it doesn’t blind you. Having the light come in a little to the side will also help accentuate some of your facial features.
Another thing to keep in mind when applying this method is to make sure that your lamp is LED. Not only is it more energy efficient, it doesn’t give off any heat, meaning that you can cover it with a white sheet of kraft paper to diffuse the light and make it a little softer.
If you have more than one LED lamp that you can use for these purposes, feel free to look into ‘3 point lighting’ to turn your room into a proper home studio and get the best possible light!
5. Use your phone as a webcam
Nowadays, mobile phones have advanced so much that even budget Android phones come with cameras that are much better than most affordable webcams and a lot better than the cameras that come built into most laptops. If you have an old phone that you're not using, or if you don't mind not having access to your phone while recording, there are plenty of free and paid apps (like Irium or DroidCam) that will allow you to use your phone's camera as a webcam, either over a wireless connection or using a USB cable.
If you're going to try this, we recommend connecting your phone to the computer via USB cable to make sure that there's no latency or desync between the audio or the image. I would also suggest using your phone's main camera instead of the selfie cam, since it's usually way better and will result in an overall crisper image.
Lastly, if you're going to use your mobile phone as a camera, it's probably worth investing in a cheap 10 dollar tripod that will allow you to position it wherever you need it. Trying to balance your phone on a bunch of books while making sure it stays at the right angle is an annoying and often dangerous task, since it could easily lead to falling, shattered screens, and tears.
6. Color correction and post-processing
Even though recording your video at the best quality you possibly can is important, you should also keep in mind that you can always improve it further in post-production.
Flixier, our online webcam recorder, lets you edit your footage easily after you’re done shooting. This isn’t restricted to just making cuts or cropping the image. You can also apply color corrections and modify the brightness, contrast and saturation of your video to help it pop and come to life a little more!
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, feel free to register a free account and start making videos online right now!