Recording best practices

Desktop recording best practices via Zoom, QuickTime Player, or other applications

Find a quiet space

  • Avoid background sound such as fans, HVAC, or other activities. These can be distracting to the viewer on the other end. 
  • For Voiceover Recording: If you have a walk-in closet, setting up a small table and chair can make for a makeshift ‘recording booth’ because clothes hanging absorb a lot of noise. 
  • Avoid empty rooms with hard floors. Spaces that are the least echoey usually have rugs, bookshelves, wall tapestries even! If this space is not available, consider transforming a space.

Connectivity & Computing Power

  • Be aware of your bandwidth. When possible plug into a wired connection. Wireless connections can be spotty and lead to stuttery video. 
  • Conferencing applications use significant amounts of your computer’s memory and processing power. Close down applications you don’t need during your session and pause automatic processes such as cloud backups and file sync’ing.
  • If you’re interested in checking the speed of your network, we suggest running Speedtest (https://www.speedtest.net/) to check your upload/download speeds. Zoom requires a minimum bandwidth of 600 kbps (up/down) and recommends 1.5Mbps, but we find more – 20 Mbps – is better.

Lighting

  • Position yourself so you can be seen. Light yourself from the front.  
  • Consider a desk lamp moved behind and above your laptop and positioned to have the light come from above and off slightly to one side of your face at a ~30-degree angle. 
  • Avoid backlight
  • Avoid overhead lighting as this can cast unflattering shadows

Audio

  • Test the Audio on your computer to make sure the sound is sufficient without ‘going into the red’.
  • If possible, record a separate audio file to a mini recorder, mic, or voice notes app on your phone. 
  • Tip: Many phone headphones include a mic you can plug into your laptop for a better audio than you can using the laptop’s built-in mic. Where possible, run the cable behind your back and out of frame.

Framing

  • Position your desktop or laptop camera so you are centered in the frame.
  • Use books to prop up your laptop so the screen and camera are positioned perpendicular to the ground. 
  • The camera should be at or slightly above eye level so when you look at the screen you are making ‘eye contact’ with your audience.

Eye Line

  • Similarly, be aware of your eye line!  Video calls often lead to people’s eyes darting between focusing on the other person’s face, their own face, and other things on their computer or environment.
  • Allow the interviewer to direct you on the best eye line before your recording.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer or the person on the other end during your recording
  • TIP: Put a sticker on your screen to draw your attention to the right spot.  

Clothing

  • Avoid patterns on your clothes, especially fine details like herringbones. 
  • Choose neutral colors. Avoid reds and greens, or colors that reflect and modify skin tone dramatically.  

Background

  • Less is more. Look for a background that doesn’t reveal too much about your personal life. Beware of book spines, views out windows that could reveal your locale, artwork in the background that may create copyright problems for videos intended to be shared with the public.
  • In general, the less ‘busy’ the background, the better the recording quality will be of your face and eyes due to limitations of web video.

Posture

  • If seated, be aware of slumping, slouching, or swiveling in your chair. These are natural tendencies but can be distracting for the viewer. 
  • When possible, use a stiff-backed chair or a small pillow behind your lower back to help with posture.