How to Record a Zoom Meeting at Top Quality for Video Editing
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Recording a meeting on Zoom? You've come to the right place!
In this post, we offer a step by step guide to setting up your next Zoom recording and achieving the best results possible. It's an easy process, but there are limitations to recording resolution that you should keep in mind.
Next, we'll give you some easy tips to improve the look and sound of your next video call.
After that, we review our favorite gear for your teleconferencing setup.
Let's dive right in:
The Best Equipment for Zoom Meetings
Setting up and Recording Your Next Zoom Call
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, be sure to 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. We still think it's 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: Audio
As of September 2020, Zoom has introduced a new High Fidelity Professional Audio option. Selecting this setting disables several features such as echo-cancellation and post processing, and raises the codec specs to 48Khz, 96Kbps mono/192kbps stereo!
One drawback is that this feature requires a very fast internet connection, so Zoom recommends a hard ethernet connection rather than wifi.
To select this mode, head to the Audio Tab and navigate all the way down to click on Advanced.
Once you're there, check Show in-meeting option to "Enable Original Sound" from microphone and then High fidelity music mode.
If you are recording music performances or interviews and have the bandwidth, we recommend that you check out this impressive feature.
Step 4: 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.
Zoom Meeting Recording Quality
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: According to Zoom you should get 720P with a Free or Pro Account, and 1080P with Business or Enterprise. However, we were only able to record 1280 x 720 resolution on several occasions with our Pro account. The rest of the time our recordings were at 640 x 360 pixels, which is a big problem.
Audio: Recorded separately as .m4a files
We contacted Zoom about the resolution issue. They reminded us to set the application to full-screen mode and to make sure that the sender has a webcam and internet connection that was capable of sending 720P footage.
We followed these steps, but the result was still only 640x360. That's a bummer, but if you have a short timeframe to film a meeting or interview at a distance, Zoom will nonetheless get the job done.
The Best Equipment for Zoom Meetings
Now that you know how to record using Zoom, it's important to have good equipment.
This includes webcams that shoot HD, mics that multiply audio quality, and lights that will give you perfect exposure.
Here are our suggestions, including many products that we use in-house at Filmkraft. 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.
As one of our readers (Mr. Dewey) mentioned in the comments below, a higher quality webcam can make all the difference in the world. Here are our top three choices:
Logitech C920 - A highly rated and economically priced 1080p webcam.
Logitech StreamCam - This is the next level up. It offers 1080p at 60fps and superior autofocus and image.
The Razer Kiyo - This webcam has a unique feature: a built-in adjustable ring light! If you don't plan on buying a separate light, we would highly recommend checking this out.
Advanced: Use your DSLR as a webcam. Setup might be difficult and you may experience lag, but this is definitely something worth considering to get a truly cinematic image. Here's a great video on using your camera as a webcam.
You won't know just how much better sound quality will improve your video recordings until you ditch your laptop audio for an external mic. Here are some options:
UHURU USB Condenser Microphone Kit - This is an excellent podcast microphone that comes with a pop filter and stand. The only downside is that you need to be close to the cardioid mic to get the best sound, and that might not work for all video uses. To get around this problem, check out lav mics that connect to your computer.
Blue Yeti - A high-quality, versatile condenser mic.
Shure MV88 - This is an awesome option if you or your interviewee are planning on using an iPhone for your Zoom recordings. This is actually the microphone that we use for our professional remote videography TV commercials.
Lighting a face for a video call is important for many reasons. The light will separate the subject from the background, improve the look of skin, and allow the camera to perform at its best. In other words, lighting will make you or your interviewee look much better.
As we mentioned above, a great way to do this is to sit by a big light source, like a window. However, getting an electric light will give you control regardless of time of day or weather.
Aputure Amaron MC - We use this powerful little light for our remote videography projects. It's really a great value. It has adjustable color temperature, great battery life, and an amazing color accuracy (CRI) of 96+.
ESDDI PLV-R432 Ring Light - If you're going for the soft ring light look, this is a good value.
Lume Cube - This little light was specifically designed to stick to the back of your laptop. We're reading reports that the light falls off of the back of some computers, so buyer beware. Still, a promising little light at a good price.
If you or somebody you are recording are Zooming from a mobile device, you may need a tripod to rig your phone, light, or microphone. Here are two affordable options that we use in house:
Manfrotto Pixi - We love this little thing! It's sturdy and extremely compact, which is why we send it out in our remote videography kits. The only drawback is that it does not have adjustable height so getting a camera to eye level can be tricky.
Manfrotto Compact Light Aluminum - This is an excellent tripod that has adjustable height up to 51".
Easy Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Zoom Meeting
Here are a few filmmaking tricks you can use to get even better image and sound.
(For a deep dive and more techniques, check out our new post: How to Look and Sound Good on Zoom, Skype, and Facetime.)
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. We also review several video lighting options below.
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.
If you want to take it to the next level, invest in a microphone.
Boost your Internet Speed
Having a fast internet connection is critically important to getting a good video signal. We learned this from experience. Filmkraft moved into a new office last month, and we opted to go with 600 Mbps instead of the 200 Mbps that we had before. We thought this wouldn't make a big difference on our video calls since 200 Mbps seemed like more than enough for that purpose. To our surprise, our calls at 600 Mbps were of significantly better quality.
If you plan to record important interviews or conferences via Zoom, call your internet service provider and get the fastest speed possible. If you can hook up the interviewee with a faster connection as well that's even better!
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 recommend looking for workarounds if you are trying to record high-quality footage for editing. For our own remote videography projects at Filmkraft, we've developed a simple camera kit that we send directly to interviewees.
Still, Zoom has an easy record function and various useful features, so it should be sufficient for simple recordings.