We are using our webcams more than ever and as virtual meetings continue to be the new norm, some of us may be wondering how to make our webcam picture better for the users on the other end. Let’s get started!
How to improve lighting for virtual meetings
Fortunately, there are easy fixes for webcam lighting problems. First, a short primer on basic photography. Camera lenses find the light source in a room and focus there. Overhead or back lighting might be bright, but it throws your face into shadow when you turn on the webcam. A high quality camera may be a little softer, but most aren't great (not calling out names, Macbook).
Position yourself so that the brightest light in the room is behind and above your camera, not behind you. If you have a big window, close the shades, or sit so that you're facing the window. If there's a table lamp nearby, make sure that's in front of you, too. Now you're not backlit, so the focus is on your face.
The best light placement is indirectly from the front, with minimal lighting in the rest of the room. This is a challenge if you work in a great room, so maybe a move to the bedroom is better for meetings—just not in bed.
Test out different lighting and seating positions before you have a virtual meeting so that you don't waste time fiddling with your setup last minute.
Use auxiliary lights
Aside from that stage-ready lighting in your bathroom, most homes just don't have a professional light setup. With a minimal investment, however, you can have decent auxiliary lighting for your video calls.
You've probably seen ring lights attached to screens or on stands. They're simple rings with a diffused glow that eradicates that grainy most-wanted look, and dissipates the shadows that aren't terribly attractive, either. You can spend as little as $20 on one, or several hundred for a deluxe model with a tripod and custom settings.
A basic photography light kit gives you a professional setup without breaking the bank. For about $45, you can get a pair of lights that you point towards your face on either side of the camera at an angle for minimal shadows and the cleanest focus. Don't point them directly at you, or you'll look bleached out. Again, play with height and distance before you need to be live so you have the optimal effects. Photography lights are on adjustable stands, so you can play with whether they're best on the desk or the floor.
If the light is too bright, use the old photographer's trick of waxed or tissue paper over the bulbs to diffuse some of the glow.
Similar to a ring light, a key light is a rectangular light that is like a spotlight on your face. If you've got one lying around it's probably fine, but these lights can throw a harsh look and need companion lighting to work well with a webcam. Spend the $20 on a ring light instead.
There's no point in looking marvelous if your mic is bad. Invest in a microphone that minimizes background noises so you sound clear. Try to turn off anything that might make sounds in the room—you don't want white noise around you.
Set the stage
Now that your external technology is in order, take the time to fine tune your home studio. Test the settings on your camera if you want to blur the background, for example, or to ensure that your face is in focus and not blurry. Desktop.com has different background options you can play with to find the one you like best, so you can set that as your default setup.
Since you haven't been to an actual meeting in a while, here are some personal tips. Don't wear vibrant colors or patterns; they probably won't transmit well and will make your colleagues dizzy. Stick to muted colors and limit the jewelry. If you're using your own background, be sure there is no glare on the artwork.
Star quality, right from your Desktop
So back to the style thing, we realize that you can't have productive meetings if everyone is ill-lit, with bad audio and worse wardrobe choices. Desktop.com offers a video meeting application for remote team communication that you can open straight from your browser. It has all the features you'd expect, with blurring, screen sharing, and background options. You can meet with your team, external customers, or both—without installing outside software. Now—are you ready for your close-up?