Consultations Available on Improving Your Recorded Lectures
Instructors may request consultations with OIT Instructional Support and Training staff to help develop better video-based recorded lectures. We will consult with instructors regarding tips and tricks for camera placement, lighting, and audio techniques. Consultations are available to anyone from beginners to veterans of online recording.
Reach out at help.utk.edu or 865-974-9900 to start the request process. Please mention that you would like to book a consultation with OIT Instructional Support and Training staff for better quality recorded lectures. We’ll get in touch to confirm a meeting time.
How to Look and Sound Great on Video
Even though we’re talking about video conferencing, the most important part of your presentation is the sound. If no one can hear you, it doesn’t matter how good you look.
Two areas of sound to be aware of are:
1. Ambient / Environmental Noise
Our everyday environments have lots of sounds that can be distracting during a video conference. We usually tune those out. Chirping birds, running dishwashers, and ticking clocks can all be distractions to your viewer and can take away from what you’re trying to say.
Check your recording space by closing your eyes and listening for everything around you. Is anything standing out that could be distracting or drown you out?
2. Voice Audio
Now that you have your space established, it’s time to focus on how your audience is hearing you. While laptops and some desktops have built-in microphones, they aren’t the best option for professional-sounding presentations. The biggest problem is that the microphone is far away from your mouth, making your audio lower. This increased distance also gives more chances for unwanted sounds to make it into your recording, but you have several options to make it better.
- External Microphones – Buying an inexpensive external microphone is a great investment if you plan on making video recordings often. These microphones plug into the USB port of your computer and allow you to bring the microphone closer to your mouth. Many models also allow for greater control of sound. OIT offers microphones that faculty can check out for limited duration.
- Headsets – Headsets work great because they have a headphone on one side that lets you hear everyone else on your chat without being a distraction to others around you. Another benefit is that the microphone is very close to your mouth, making your audio clearer. Some models are even wireless to give you some freedom to move around in your chair but be sure that it’s well-charged before you start. You don’t want it to die in the middle of your presentation!
- Ear Buds – One thing that many people don’t realize is that you already have a great option for a microphone that came with your cellphone. The earbuds that come with your phone have a microphone that naturally positions close to your mouth while the headphones keep you from being a distraction to others around you. Just be aware of anything that the microphone portion might hit (jewelry, buttons, etc.) that will make a loud ‘clink’ on the listener’s end
Overhead lighting is the worst kind of lighting for video conferences because it makes shadows under your eyes, nose, and chin. Unfortunately, that’s what most of us have in our homes. Here are three different types of lighting to consider:
- Room or Lamp Lighting – Consider turning on a couple of lamps, one on your right and left sides to fill in the shadows from overhead lighting. If possible, put a lamp behind to help you stand-out from the background.
- Window Lighting – Position yourself near a window so that the light coming through hits your face. Avoid positioning yourself with an unshaded window behind you because it will cause exposure issues for your webcam.
- Natural Lighting – Being outside not only gets you away from your desk but can provide excellent natural lighting opportunities as well. The best natural light scenario is on a cloudy day or somewhere in the shade. Bright sunny days are ok if you can avoid harsh shadows or shadows under your eyes, nose, and chin like with indoor overhead lighting.
Your Computer / Camera
Just like with microphones, many laptops and desktops come with cameras for video recording. Unfortunately, the cameras are positioned in such a way that your viewers are looking up your nose or you are looking down at an unflattering angle. Try to make sure the camera is at eye-level. If using a laptop, consider placing the computer on a stack of books to get it up to eye level.
Appearance & Environment
Even though your video may only show your head and shoulders, you never know if you may need to stand up….so be sure to dress professionally. Wear flattering, solid colors near your face, just like TV folks we see each day. Patterned clothing is distracting on camera, so be sure and stay with solids and neutral colors. Make sure the temperature is such that you won’t be sweating, or so hot that you’ll need to remove layers.
Look behind you! Is there anything there that will distract the viewer from watching and listening to your presentation? Make sure the background is free of clutter and distracting elements.
Video is more like a face-to-face meeting thane it is a conference call. Be totally prepared so as not to spend too much time looking at your notes or squinting at the computer screen. Know your main points and look up, so you come across as if you’re having a conversation with the viewer. In addition, while it may be tempting to make sure you are looking your best by watching your own image on the screen, shift your focus to fellow participants instead.