We’ve all been doing virtual meetings for more than two years now. But even though many companies are trying to lure workers back to office settings on a more regular basis, it’s pretty clear that enough people like the virtual option—and are getting more work done— that hybrid meetings will continue to be part of our work lives.
We do a lot of video recording using remote platforms you know, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams (although we now use Riverside.fm, a platform that we wrote about in March 2022—https://bit.ly/schmoozeriver).
One common thread in these sessions is how often we need to help people acquire and set up gear that improves the video experience. So we compiled a checklist of gadgets that you can get to make your video look almost as good as CNN.
Start with your camera. If you have a recent vintage Windows PC, you probably have a high-definition web cam built into it (high-definition is sometimes called “1080p,” which refers to the resolution of the video image). If it’s older, the camera needs a refresh.
For external cameras, we like the Logitech C922x, a high-definition camera that sits on the top edge of your laptop screen or desktop monitor. It plugs into a USB port and produces a high-quality video image.
If you have any Apple computer, the FaceTime camera included as a built-in is pretty much always 720p, or less than full HD. If you buy an external camera for an Apple computer, be sure you have the right connector.
Apple only provides a small number of jacks on its computers, and often it’s the proprietary “Thunderbolt” jack.
Video programs can never have enough light, so get yourself a small LED video light like the “sylvwin” video conference light sold on Amazon for about $20.99. It can clip on the screen or sit on the desk, but you need a lot of light shining into your face for a good video. And never set up with a bright light or sunny window behind you for a video. This will make the camera adjust its exposure and completely darken your face.
Sound is something folks always forget about. The mic built into your laptop is also picking up all the sounds of your computer’s cooling fan and is too far away from your mouth, so you sound like you’re in a garbage can with all the room echoes.
You can get fancy USB desktop mics like the Snowball and the Blue Yeti, but most people position them too far away from their mouths on the desktop and they don’t make much difference. And a mic on a boom in front of your face doesn’t look great on TV.
The best choice for video is going to be a lavalier mic that you can clip to your clothing just below your chin. Watch for dangling jewelry and keep it away from long hair. Make sure you know which jack your mic will need. Amazon and other retailers sell a wide range of lavalier mics that have adapters for USB, Thunderbolt, and standard miniplug jacks.
Finally, get a pair of wired earbuds. Bluetooth or other wireless earbuds have a habit of not connecting properly to the popular video platforms and you either can’t hear or your mic can’t be heard. Wired earbuds plugged into your computer will eliminate echoes and feedback and all those glitchy little squeaks and squawks we’re so accustomed to hearing on Zoom calls.
Pretty soon, your home studio will look and sound as good as some of our local TV stations— or better!
Email [email protected] for a free PDF checklist of audio and video gear. Follow @PodcastSteve on Twitter.