How to Make Great Videos: Setting Up to Record with Good Backgrounds

Video production tips

Part of an on-going series about how to make great videos, without needing specialized tools. Read more here.
Last time, we talked about how to avoid audio distractions. In this post, we’ll give some suggestions for how to avoid visual distractions.

Video Backgrounds

When you plan where you’re going to shoot your video, you want to make sure that the viewer’s focus is on you and what you’re presenting. So take a minute to look at what’s visible behind you. You don’t want a cluttered background. We’re not just talking about mess, although a messy background is definitely unprofessional. But anything that is visually more interesting than you is going to distract from what you’re saying. People’s eyes will drift.
Not good background for videoGood background: A clean desk
Bad background: A desk full of papers and tangled wires

Good background: A bookshelf full of books
Bad background: A bookshelf full of interesting desk toys

Good background: An office of full people sitting quietly
Bad background: An office full of people doing activities that are more interesting than what you’re talking about

So what do you do if your quiet room is messy or distracting? One easy trick is to stick an easel with one of those big pads of paper behind you. If you line up your camera right, people will only see the white background. No one can tell that your office is a mess!

Lighting Your Video

Another factor that will help you look your best is decent lighting. Overhead fluorescents are not kind to most skin tones. If you can film near a window so you will appear in natural light, you’ll look better. Otherwise, a nice desk lamp may also help. But don’t choose good lighting over good sound! It’s better to have less flattering lighting in a quiet room than beautiful lighting and a lot of street noise.
Next time, we’ll talk a little about composition.

Like this post? Read from the beginning of the series.

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