On most of my recent calls, someone has asked me about my home video set up because it looks good. I’m writing this quick post so when it next happens, I can point them here.
I have been working from home on and off for the last few years, but only when the pandemic stopped my travel did I really upgrade my home set up. I have done a bit of experimentation to get to a point where it’s pretty good.
These are three main things I focused on:
Lighting makes a huge difference and is the first step to take, even with a standard webcam. I use three lights, one face on and two to fill in shadows at the sides. I have a 10inch dimmable USB ring light (inexpensive online) and some side USB lights. Lamps will work as sidelights, definitely get a ring light.
I wasn’t happy with my webcam because I wanted that oh so lovely blurred background, this is not possible with most webcams as they just keep everything in focus. I already had an SLR camera that I use mainly for workshop photos, so I decided to use that.
I have a Sony Alpha 6000 with a 16-50mm lens for that blurred background (an alpha 5100 is also good). To make the camera into a webcam, it needs a video capture device. I use an Elgato Cam Link, which I’ve mentioned before. You can check what other cameras can be turned into webcams with the Cam Link here elgato.com/en/gaming/cam-link/camera-check.
I also use a dummy battery plugged into the main so it’s not relying on a battery and a tripod to hold it above my monitor. I set it to a video setting portrait, autofocus and auto white balance.
For a more flattering angle, keep the camera up at eye level, this might mean putting your laptop on a pile of books.
There are lots of options for this and it depends on your environment. My home office is pretty quiet, so I can use a mic on the desk and no headphones. I have a Rode NT USB mini, which is a lovely thing. A lavalier or lapel mic is also a good option and you can get an inexpensive one.
A few other things
I got myself a long ethernet cable so I could get off of wifi, this helps keep everything a bit more stable and a lot of USB hubs to power everything. It helps that I sit in front of a bookshelf and took a little bit of time tidying up my background. I find that virtual backgrounds and curly hair don’t mix, but a green screen would probably sort that out.
I took some inspiration from the many similar posts on the internet and particularly this video, which really shows the power of lighting and sound youtu.be/0wqUWYx3UrY