Camera, Sound, Action! Top Tips for your next conference call appearance
When filming an interview the first thing I look for is a suitable background. Typically, it will be underlit, graphically simple and have a relevance to the person appearing on screen. For example, when I interviewed Kermit the Frog, I had a bunch of Muppets behind him.
- Find a clear uncluttered background so that all the attention is on you, not your dirty washing.
- Find a signature background that informs others about who you are. A collection of books, industry awards or a tidy corner of your home office.
- Create a bespoke background. If you’re using Zoom you can drop in your own photograph as a background. This could be a simple colour wash, a photo of your home office when it was tidy or, if you lecture in Oceanography, a picture of Southsea or Copacabana beach. This works best if you have a plain wall behind you.
Every film star I film for interview all demand the same thing: soft frontal light. Why? Because it is the most flattering and forgiving light as it diffuses shadows and hides wrinkles. So unless you can get twenty five grand’s worth of plastic surgery past your H.O.D I recommend we deploy the same trick too.
- Sit facing a window. Not south facing because on a sunny day you’ll be lit with harsh unforgiving light. However, if that is all you have then use a white or cream blind, curtain or drape to soften the light.
- Place a lamp with a soft white or cream lampshade just beyond your computer screen. Then try turning all the other lights off.
- Try to make sure that your background is a little bit darker than you are and which no bright lights or windows appear - remember you are the star, not the fishtank!
Assuming your plastic surgery investment proposition fell on deaf ears, we’ll need to ensure that those of us with double chins magically lose them. There’s a reason why the screen greats; Male, Female, L,G,B,Q,T and I, all like to be filmed from above - it’s a flattering angle.
- Raise your laptop or screen so that you have to lift your chin slightly to view the screen - this is great for your posture by the way. A remote keyboard and mouse helps with this too.
- Angle your camera/screen so that you’re placed centrally with your eyes in the top half of the frame. Allow for a little space above your head.
- Caught short? Overslept? Can’t face the world? Check your default photo icon is your University portrait, avatar or a well framed photo of yourself. Then you can turn your camera off although you may be less engaging and anyway, you can’t look that bad - can you!