Recording video of yourself at home can seem like a daunting task, especially if it’s something you haven’t had much experience with before. If you’re looking for how to do it from the ground up or want some tips for taking your recordings to the next level, follow these steps and shaky footage and bad audio recordings will be no more!
Why is a good quality recording important?
The image and sound quality of your recording is just as important as the content. So, it’s important to ensure that even though the footage is home recorded, it looks as professional as possible and does your content justice. Thankfully, a professional home set up can be achieved quite easily, and more often than not, with materials you already own. Don’t be deceived into thinking that you need to be in a professional recording studio to achieve good results – one of the key elements to successful recording from home is simply good preparation.
Find a good spot
Finding a good location to record is essential. Firstly, have a wander around your house or recording location and pinpoint the rooms with the most natural light. Ideally, your main source of light should be directly in front of you to bring you into focus; try to avoid being backlit. If you don’t have the luxury of recording during the day, then we’ll talk about how to get the most out of your dimly lit recording later on. Secondly, whichever room you choose, pay close attention to how much background noise there is, as this can be difficult to edit out in post-production (noisy air conditioning units or busy roads are a no no). In addition to this, choose a room where your backdrop is as plain as possible. Throughout the recording, the main focus should be on you – not on that cute picture of your cat in the background.
What you’re wearing
It goes without saying that you should wear smart (and ironed) clothes for a professional looking recording – or ripped jeans and a hoodie if that’s your brand! As well as your wardrobe, there are a few other things to consider. For example, clothing with tight stripes or busy patterns can sometimes look like an optical illusion on video, or can be very distracting, so try to stick with plain-ish clothing. For similar reasons, it’s best to not wear branded clothing with big logos or text (unless this is intentional). Accessories can look nice but can sometimes interfere with audio if they clink or can be visually distracting, so keep this in mind too. If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to remain the main focus in front of the camera!
Deciding on equipment
When recording from home for the first time, you’ll probably use either a laptop setup or mobile phone. There are pros and cons to each of these options, and the best way to decide which to use is to do test recordings in advance to compare the video and audio quality. More often than not, mobile phones have better audio quality than laptops, and newer devices can give strong video recording results.
Once you’ve decided on your equipment, it’s important to have a look through the different settings on your device. Again, doing test shots ahead of the official recording can be a great way of making sure you’re getting the best out of your kit. Here’s a few settings and tips:
- Unless asked otherwise, always record on a landscape setting
- 1920 x 1080 pixels is the standard video format and the most recommended for interview-based recordings (you can always take away unwanted footage from the frame, but cannot add it back, so the bigger the better!)
- On your mobile or computer device, under the camera settings, have a look at the different presets. 1920 x 1080p HD is the most common but for higher resolution, you can set this to 4K with newer mobile and computer devices
- Regardless of what device you use, keep the settings consistent throughout and do not use the zoom feature as this depreciates the video quality.
Once your equipment is set up on a tripod or flat surface, it’s time to play around with your composition in front of the camera. If recording interviews, the principals are quite straightforward – keep your body centred and eyes on the camera and avoid looking away or downward as much as possible. In addition to this, ideally have the top half of your shoulders upwards in the frame and a good amount of room above your head to prevent it getting cut out of the shot. Finally, try to keep your shoulders nice and relaxed and smile at the beginning and end of each sentence (without looking too forced).
Test recording and timing
Test shots are a crucial way of making sure you have the perfect set-up ahead of time. Whilst conducting the test shots, try out different rooms in the house to determine which is the most suitable. Here’s a few tips to bear in mind:
- Give yourself a 3 second count in to a recording, then count out at the end of a take before cutting or talking again so that the post production team have enough ‘breathing room’ between shots
- Have a glass of water handy to clear your throat
- Try out different rooms in the house and pay attention to the quality of image and the audio recording
- Ensure that your light source is in front of you – if you are backlit you will look darker on the video.
For more tips on what an ideal set up should look like – check out our video on presenting online.
Microphones and ring lights
There might be occasions where you aren’t able to record in natural light, or when the audio recording on your device doesn’t do your voice justice. This is where mics and ring lights come in. Both of these pieces of tech are relatively inexpensive and can really help to elevate your video to the next level.
Ring lights are easy to get hold of from most tech retailers, with prices spanning from £15 – £200 (for decent quality at an affordable price, choosing one around the £30 – £50 mark will suffice). If you’re recording on a handheld device, some ring lights come with a mobile phone holder or DSLR camera holder attached, meaning you get a tripod and lighting setup all-in-one. Make sure you’re investing in a tripod with enough strength to hold your device, especially if it’s a heavier camera (this is particularly important if you’re purchasing a cheaper ring light). If you’re using a laptop, then a clip-on ring light could be a worthwhile investment, too.
Ring lights often have a range of different settings you can play around with, but once you choose the right lighting for you, make sure to use the same consistent settings throughout your recording. This is especially important if you are recording over different days, so that the settings don’t change in between takes and affect the consistency of the filming.
Purchasing a microphone could be a worthwhile investment. Bad audio can really depreciate the quality of a video, which can be a real shame if there has been a lot of forward planning and the final take doesn’t do your script justice. There are two microphone options – free standing, professional standard microphones are a great option if you are going to be recording from home often. Alternatively, clip-on microphones are on the cheaper end of the spectrum but still achieve really good results. If you’re working on a one-off recording or you’re just going to do it a few times, then a clip on would be ideal. But if this is going to be a regular arrangement, a professional free-standing microphone would be worth the investment.
Here’s some links to suggested equipment:
Mobile phone and tripod ring light
Laptop ring light
Clip on microphone
Free standing microphone
- Create a dedicated shared drive ahead of the recording session to easily share files
- Familiarise yourself with the script ahead of time
- Test record yourself to check that the audio and video quality is all working well
- Ensure that all appliances are fully charged ahead of the recording session
- Make sure that your device has enough memory to store all the footage ahead of the session
- Decide on a location to film that is well-lit, quiet, no noisy backgrounds etc.
- Make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing, no loud patterns, large text or logos (unless intentional), wrinkles in shirts etc.
Top tip: Think about your delivery on camera – check out the section on body language in our ULTIMATE guide to presentation skills for tips on how to do this.
If you stick to these guidelines whilst recording, you should be able to achieve professional results from your home or office environment. Remember, preparation before the recording session is paramount to getting the highest quality results. To get the perfect shot, it will take a fair amount of trial and error and normally a few takes!
Lights, camera, ACTION! Leave a comment