28 Apr Video Conferencing From Home
Compared with artificial light, daylight is blue. Mixing different light in a room will create blue and orange parts of the room to the camera. Draw the curtains or blinds to help reduce the amount of light on a bright day, even partially, and don’t forget light reflects off the buildings outside your window into your room. It doesn’t need to be direct sunlight.
Your camera is pretty smart and tries to average different light colour temperatures, but if you’re also moving around, and go from the blue side of your room to the orange side, the camera will constantly adjust the colour.
Try to avoid having a window behind you. Lots of daylight plays havoc with cameras, and you will end up an under-exposed, sitting silhouette. Your videoconferencing friends will have a lovely, sharp and well-exposed view outside your window. They won’t be focussed on you.
Lights and lighting
Assuming you’ve managed to conquer the windows, you’ll be down to artificial light to ensure you can be seen at the other end. Moody lighting is great for Hollywood, but not so for business.
Light that is too low will provide grainy pictures. Too much light won’t be comfortable for you (but will deliver great pictures). So what’s enough? Ceiling or wall lights are usually fine, but the best form of light is a strong light reflected off the ceiling or the wall. It sends out nice and diffused light and provides good, even illumination. Turn on the main light and turn your desk light around so it’s bouncing off the wall in front of you. Front light is much better than back light, but you should have both.
Whatever happens, avoid having lights behind you for the same reason as the window. It’s not always possible to change your lighting, so if you can move yourself around. Light from in front of you is much better (and more forgiving) than direct lighting from above. The bare minimum you can do is avoid having a light in shot. This will ensure you won’t have a lampshade as a hat.
Choose your background
There are a number of features that allow you to put a different background up. Yes, it’s fun and entertaining, but it’s also quite gimmicky and after a while becomes distracting. The software that handles it is clever but not infallible. We’ve seen people’s glasses and coffee cups come and go. Sometimes amusing, but not the image you want to give when you’re trying to make a serious point.
The best background is a neutral one. Limited features (books, wall picture etc) nothing much for people to see – basically something that’s frankly a bit boring. Not everyone can do this, or even wants to. If you’re committed to a part of the house that you can’t change easily, be aware of what the camera is seeing. Although photos are usually OK, I imagine the washing up probably isn’t! I’ve got a company banner up behind my desk at the moment.
Be wary of backgrounds that are too busy. Your videoconferencing form home system and internet line take up valuable processing power trying to send a nice image of your room. Each time you move around, it re-renders the image. The more that’s in the background, the more your system uses and the slower it is.