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.
Edit: I’ve since upgraded to a brilliant Elgato Key Light Air, paired with a USB sidelight, the ring light wasn’t working with my specs.
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 with a c-clamp to attach it to my desk. I set it to a video setting portrait, autofocus and auto white balance.
For the best angle and eye contact, keep the camera up at eye level, this might mean some careful placing.
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