Gadgets

Lighting, posture, camera: an easy guide to an affordable, professional setup for your next video call

As we just bid adieu to the one year ‘panni anni’ (pandemic anniversary’s social media nickname), chances are you are still working from home. The video call fatigue is real and many of us now dread them. That does not have to be the case; you could switch it up just want to look more professional for your video meetings.

MetroPlus has rounded up some technical tips to upgrade your at-desk camera settings, from ergonomics to tweaking your camera to the right setting to have you look like you are in a fancy remote studio instead of the same room in which you likely ate breakfast that morning.

Get situated

First, we have to get that posture as close to perfect as possible. You look your best in a video call if you are sitting ergonomically and if you want to get specific, websites such as Omnicalculator.com have tools that help calculate this, where you can punch in your height while wearing shoes and your desk height.

The use of a smartphone as a webcam via the EpocCam app

The use of a smartphone as a webcam via the EpocCam app   | Photo Credit: EpocCam

Ultimately, your thighs and feet should be parallel to the floor, with your thighs and lower legs forming 90 to 110-degree angle. In many cases, you do not need to worry about standard chair height, as they are adjustable and their position is easily changed. Your elbows and underarms should lie straight on the table and armrests; try to have a 90 to 110-degree angle at the elbow. The key is to avoid dreaded ‘tech neck’; you should be looking straight, you should be looking at the top third part of the screen. Plus, your monitor, if there is a webcam attached, should be tilted at 10 to 20 degrees.

The aforementioned margins are basic suggestions, and since each body is different, it is advisable to keep tweaking until you feel totally comfortable. Such metrics are ideally important as desk-time over the past year has increased and the more comfortable you are, the more seamless your recording experience.

The glow-up

Lighting is everything, and not all webcams that come built into laptops offer the clarity they promise. While some may opt for an external HD webcam, fixing up your lighting can help out. There are the basic tips: no backlight, and try to leverage natural light as much as possible.

The use of a ring light

The use of a ring light   | Photo Credit: PixelCatchers / Getty Images

Many now opt for a ring light; initially a must-have for professional shoots, we saw a ton of them being used for social media live-streaming in 2020, often seeing them in the reflections of the subject’s eyes and glasses. Ring lights, often costing between ₹1,000 and ₹5,000, help evenly distribute warm or cool light onto the subject without creating washout and invites little shadow. Be sure to position your light about two feet away from you. This helps the camera auto-focus easier, making recording that much simpler. Ring lights are also a vanity favourite because they help minimise the appearance of blemishes in the camera recording.

Need a quick hack? Open up a white image or a blank word processing document on your monitor or laptop and use that as a light source on your face.

… and action!

The camera is important — very important. Everything you have set up so far has led to the success of this final gadget. As mentioned, not all laptops or tablets come with the best built-in webcams and many may choose to buy an external webcam.

What of DSLRs?
  • And it gets fancier; a more technically savvy lot may want to hook up their long-neglected DSLR to their laptop via an HDMI or USB cable. Companies including Canon and Sony have a way to connect their cameras to your computer, dependent on the model. All you may need is a USB cable, which should have come in your camera box.
  • Users can download corresponding softwares: EOS Webcam Utility Beta for Canon and Imaging Edge Webcam for Sony. Be prepared for the occasional bugs and for the possibility of quite a bit of battery power being eaten up, so charge and plan your calls accordingly.

Most people who want to save some money will realise the best webcam they own is actually in their own hand: the smartphone. Teamed with great lighting, the smartphone can go a long way in a video meeting that you are not dialling into from your phone. Applications that convert your smartphone into a external webcam such as Epoccam, IP Webcam and Droid Cam have surged in popularity. They are installed on your smartphone and computer and in a few simple steps once the two devices are connected to each other either through WiFi or USB, it all works. Just remember to silence incoming notifications so your video meeting does not get interrupted.

Frame rate is an integral deciding factor; it impacts the style and viewing experience. Basically, different frame rates yield different viewing experiences, and choosing a frame rate often means thinking about multiple factors — in this case, it is how realistic you want your video to look. Therefore, either setting your camera or choosing a webcam that offers 60 frames per second is ideal.

And of course, angles. Straight ahead and at the subject’s eye-level are advisable. We have seen tilt shots and high up angles for more casual environments such as YouTube vlogs.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 6:22:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/professional-inexpensive-setup-for-video-meeting-webcam-posture-lighting/article34308593.ece

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