Lights, Camera, Action!
David Nelson, July 2020
I have been watching a few recordings of Yoga Garden SF Livestream classes and making some observations about different ways that we are conducting ourselves on Zoom. Please share your thoughts and add your own pointers in our Google Group discussion.
Quiet on the set!
- Review that all devices have sufficient power for the session, or are connected to power sources.
- Sign into Zoom before joining the meeting, so that you are the host from the beginning. This is especially important if there is shared hosting.
- Set the default for your “start meeting” to “no video.” Allow your clients to arrive without seeing you staring into your camera while you are reading your email. Think of it as a virtual theater. When the curtain goes up, the performance begins. You can provide an image or picture of yourself, or a nice graphic or quote as a placeholder while you are in the room but not ready to begin the class.
- If you are beginning before the timed start of the class, greet people by name as they enter the room. Make positive personal observations/comments (e.g., what a cute dog, nice artwork, etc….)
- Have your playlist url handy and ready to go.
I can’t hear you….
- Sound quality is usually cited as the first indicator of broadcast quality. For home broadcasting the easiest improvement in sound quality is to wear a headphone/mic set, such as Airpods or similar. There are excellent stationary USB microphones available for under $200.
- Cameras should be eye-level. If it is mid-torso level and you are looking at your screen, your audience is looking up your nose.
- Turn your camera horizontal, not vertical, to maximize your image size.
- Consider your distance from the camera–depth of the field. You may have a close position and a distance position. Avoid radical or unconscious movement towards and away from the camera. A frequent mistake is moving very close to the screen to see/read it (we see the pores of your forehead) and back, sometimes in a bobbing motion.
- Avoid strong light behind you or you will be a dark silhouette. Instead, strong, indirect light behind the camera facing you or the ceiling is best.
- The color of your light is important and mixing it is a problem. There is a range of light color between warm and daylight (3200K to daylight-balanced 5600K). You cannot mix colors, or your camera basically gets confused, and you turn orange or tan or darker than you were without the light. If you are admitting daylight into the camera, your supplemental light needs to be above 5000K. Otherwise, completely black out the windows and use bright warm light. Broadcasts during the night (excluding strong street lighting, can use the lower range of colors).
- We are all working with what we have for space, but as we move into the long-haul start to plan how you can best adapt your space for work–a stage for broadcast. The space does not have to be huge–one wall–but it should be thoughtful. Uncluttered is best with intentional contents that contribute to and not detract from your intended experience or performance. Know what the boundaries of your shot are, and also the depth of field you intend to work with. If you are demonstrating a reclining pose, do you fit in the shot? If you are doing a standing pose or handstand fully extended, do you fit in the shot? It may not be possible to do it all, but you should plan what this is going to look like when you plan your class and demos.
- You want to see your participants–so try to route your video output to a large monitor behind your camera. This allows you to see them without having to bob towards and away from the camera.
Curtains up, let’s roll….
- Smile. Greet your audience.
- Be prepared without a lot of fussing. Start your class. Keep it tight and moving–not a lot of dead time, unless you are creating that intentionally.
- If you incorporate interaction, direct it. Ask questions to encourage interaction. Don’t just leave it up to your audience to start conversation.
- Post your playlist once, when you are ready to begin. Give a countdown for the start of the music.
- Smile–video flattens your energy as your movement and expression becomes two dimensional. Be much more animated and expressive than you would in person to convey and project your energy.
- Hands up–hand gestures are an important part of how we communicate, but they are usually out of the screen when you are talking to the camera. Raise your hands to shoulder level. This feels completely weird, but it works on screen. This takes practice.
- Look directly at the camera as much as possible (not at the screen).
That’s a wrap
- Conclude your class with the same level of intention and ritual that you would in person, so that there is a clear sense of closure and completion.
- If you are signed in as host and leave the meeting, the meeting ends for everyone.