How to Record a Zoom Meeting at Top Quality for Video Editing
Updated: Sep 24
At Filmkraft, we've spent the last several weeks in quarantine asking the question: how can we help our clients make great videos while social distancing at home? One of the easiest options is filming video interviews or meetings directly on Zoom. Using the app, you can simply set up a video call with a colleague, client, or specialist, and record the footage to a drive. That material can later be used to create tutorials, explainers, video greetings to customers... you name it.
However, there are several drawbacks to the process. The quality of the recording will depend heavily on internet speeds as well as the interviewee's webcam. During our tests, we were only able to get 1280 x 720 resolution on several occasions. The rest of the time our recordings were at 640 x 360 pixels, which is a big problem.
Still, if you have a short timeframe to film an interview at a distance, Zoom will get the job done. The program has a simple interface and customizable settings that will allow you to conduct the interview and record decent footage. Here are our tips on how to get the most out of your next Zoom video call recording.
Step 1: Dial in the Recording Settings
Once you've downloaded the latest version of Zoom, select Preferences in the Zoom.us menu. Next, navigate to the Recording tab.
Use the Store my recordings at dropdown menu to select a destination for your finished files. We've chosen one of our external Filmkraft drives:
Next, make sure to check Record a separate audio file for each participant. This might be one of the best features that Zoom offers for video editing because it will allow you to work with separate audio tracks in post.
Lastly, click Optimize for 3rd party video editor.
Step 2: Check out the Video Settings
There are two settings in the Video Tab that might be of interest to anybody who will be filmed in the recording.
First, there's the Touch up my appearance option. This will put a slight blur on the image to smooth out skin tones. If you have time to do this in post, we recommend leaving this off.
Second, there's enable HD. In theory, checking this option would allow you to broadcast a 720p video. However, when we tried recording the video stream with this option both activated and deactivated, we saw very little difference. This probably occurs because there is a bottleneck with connection speeds, especially during these days of quarantine where tens of millions of people are constantly online. As a result, it's probably a good idea to enable HD, but the video recording quality might not improve much because of it.
Let us know in the comments below if enable HD helped you achieve better recording quality.
Step 3: Recording Basics
Starting a recording on Zoom is very easy. To begin, just click on the Record button in the menu bar.
IMPORTANT: If you are conducting an interview with somebody and would like to only record their video stream you must pin their video. Otherwise the video will cut back to you every time you speak or make a noise.
Remember, the finished package of audio and video files will only be generated after you leave the Zoom meeting.
The footage you can expect when recording in this way will have the following specs:
Video format: .mp4
Frame rate: 25fps, the European PAL standard
Resolution: It's difficult to get clarity on this question. In fact, there's a long thread on the Zoom site about this, and the company isn't being really helpful. Our results have been either 640 x 360 or 1280 x 720, and we didn't have any way to control it.
Audio: Recorded separately as .m4a files
Bonus: Easy Tips to Improve Image and Sound Quality on Any Video Call
Now that you know how to record using Zoom, there are a few filmmaking tricks you can use to get even better image and sound. We're working on a deep dive into this subject for one of our next posts, but here's a summary of the basics:
Get Enough Light
Make sure you are lit well. Exposing the image correctly will enhance the image quality tremendously. For example, you could sit by a window during the day or make sure that all of the lights are on at night.
Put the Camera at Eye Level (or Slightly Higher)
Take a moment to consider the position of your webcam. A good rule of thumb is to keep the camera at eye-level. Filming yourself from too far below may look unflattering.
Get Good Sound
If you aren't getting decent sound with the interviewee, ask them to put on some headphones or earbuds. Proximity to the microphone is very important for sound quality, so this can really help.
Also, make sure that you are sitting in a quiet place. Close any windows or doors if necessary.
Unfortunately, there's no way to control important video parameters such as exposure or resolution when recording Zoom meetings using their app. For that reason, we would recommend looking into third-party video recording apps if you have time to set up with the interviewee. Nonetheless, Zoom has an easy Record function and some nice options, so it should be sufficient for simple recordings.
In upcoming Filmkraft blog posts, we'll focus on other ways to remotely record interviews while social distancing.
Update September 24, 2020
We just received a message from Zoom, and they are currently working to roll out HD for all users within the next few weeks. We'll keep you posted!