• Dmitry Trakovsky

How to Look and Sound Good on Zoom, Skype, and Facetime

Updated: Dec 20, 2020




Look better on Zoom Skype Google and Facetime

If you spend much of your day on video calls, it's a great idea to invest into looking and sounding your best. Improving the quality of your video and audio will make you more understandable, professional, and present.


This blog post will explore the filmmaking ideas and techniques you should know to take control of your image and rock your next video call. Note: As an Amazon Associate, Filmkraft earns from qualifying purchases. If you click on the links and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no added cost to you.



9 Tips to Improve your Video Calls


It only takes a few small changes to get much better audio and video results. Simple things like sitting in front of a big light source, keeping the camera at eye level, and using headphones will instantly be a game-changer. Follow these nine steps to look and sound better right away:



Tip #1: Put the Camera at Eye Level


An animated cartoon woman on video chat
Place the camera at eye level (or a little higher)

Take a moment to consider the height of your camera. A good rule of thumb is to keep the webcam at eye-level, since filming yourself from below can look unflattering. You want to avoid the infamous up-the-nostril shot.


If you're using a laptop and it is too low on your desk, you can prop it up using some large books. For a more permanent solution, consider purchasing a stand such as this one by Rain Design. We use it in our office and love it. There's also a cheaper model by Soundance that is very well rated.


With a webcam, on the other hand, you may need to get a rig, such as this one for certain Logitech models.


If you're on a phone, there's a ton of cool tripods available. We use the sturdy and economical Manfrotto Pixi with the Manfrotto Universal Smartphone Clamp.



Tip #2: Find the Right Distance from the Camera


Now that the camera is at eye level, let's find the right shot size.


If you're too close to the lens, you may look distorted or awkward. If you're too far, you will appear less present and sound will suffer.


Try to frame up a medium close-up (chest up) to a medium shot (waist up).


Woman on a video call at her desk
Find the best distance from the webcam


Tip #3: Create the Best Lighting for Video Calls


The next step is to get great lighting. This will create a more pleasant and natural image, reduce digital noise, and make your skin look vibrant.

An animated lightbulb

Here's what you can do to improve lighting without shopping for more stuff:

  1. During the day, sit next to a big window. This will work most of the time as long as you avoid direct sunlight, which can cause hotspots. In that case, you can use thin white curtains to diffuse the light. The goal is to have a big, soft light source that illuminates your face evenly.

  2. At night, turn on as many household lights as possible. Make sure that you move close to the lights. Again, the goal is to get plenty of light on your face.

  3. Light your face more than the background. After you've achieved getting ample lighting on your face, avoid having a bright window or lamp in the background of your shot.

To raise your lighting game to the next level, we recommend that you invest in video lighting equipment. For our own remote videography projects, we use the Aputure Amaron MC. If you're looking for the distinct ring light look, try the ESDDI PLV-R432 Ring Light.


Zoom Video Recording Lighting Test
Bad Lighting: Room light is on and window is closed
Zoom Video Recording Good Lighting Test
Good Lighting: Window is only light source


Tip #4: Arrange your Background


A neatly organized room
Keep your background as simple as possible

Choosing the way you style your background is also an important part of taking control of your image.


Do you want your background to be simple and draw attention to your face? Or, does showing the space behind you contribute to the way you would like to represent yourself?


In most cases, we recommend making the background as simple as possible. Remove excess clutter or distracting patterns, and try to avoid objects that may stick out from behind your head.


If you are sitting next to a wall, try to separate yourself from it to create some depth in the shot.


There are crazy backdrop options that you can try out, and don't forget about virtual backgrounds!



Tip #5: Get a Good Webcam


If you aren't getting the image quality you desire, your webcam might be a bottleneck. Some great options that could boost your image quality are the Logitech C920 or Razer Kiyo, which is part webcam, part ring light!


For the best image quality possible, you can use your DSLR as a webcam. If you're brave enough to go this route, beware, setup may be difficult!



Tip #6: Get Good Sound


Now that we've nailed image quality, let's focus on audio, which is just as important. There are a few simple steps you can take to improve your sound right away:

  1. Choose a quiet, echo-free location. Close any windows or doors if necessary.

  2. Get closer to your mic. Proximity to the microphone is critical to sound quality.

  3. Pop on some headphones or earbuds! These may offer better quality than your laptop mic. Note: make sure that you select the headphones as your audio input in Zoom or Skype's Audio Preferences!

If you want to take your audio to the next level, purchase a professional microphone. We recommend this super economic podcast microphone. For an iPhone microphone, we use the amazing little Shure MV88.


Be sure to configure and test your new mic!



Tip #7: Mute the Mic When You're Not Speaking



We think an extra reminder can't hurt. During conference calls, mute your microphone to avoid echoes and noise.




Tip #8: Boost your Internet Speed


If you are experiencing poor quality, drop offs, or delays, call your internet company and ask about faster internet speeds. Having a speedy connection will also allow you to benefit from certain professional-grade features, such as Zoom's High Fidelity Music Mode or HD recording.



Tip #9: Use Each App's Special Features


Capitalize on the unique features that Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or Facetime have to offer. Zoom, for example, has the following awesome capabilities:

  1. High Fidelity Music Mode - Use this if you want to broadcast really high quality audio. Perfect for musicians.

  2. Video Recording - We wrote a detailed blog post on how to record video calls on Zoom.

  3. Backgrounds - As you may know, Zoom gives you the ability to green screen backgrounds. The possibilities are endless...

  4. Touch Up My Appearance - By selecting this option, Zoom will automatically apply a subtle blur to touch up your skin.



Conclusion


By following the recommendations above, you should be looking and sounding better on your next Zoom, Facetime, Google Meet, or Skype call.


Have any important tips that we didn't include above? Leave your ideas in the comments section below!



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