Since people are forced to work remotely from home, here are some helpful tips for using the Zoom video conferencing app.
We all want the same things in life.
We want to look great, be safe, happy, and can I add, look great?
In our new normality of the COVID-19 era, many of us have turned to the webcam and video meetings instead of school, work conferences, and many of us spend our days on videoconferences hosted by Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, WebEx and the like.
And many of you are probably looking in the picture window and saying, “Really? Am i so bad? “
It should not be so. We checked in with Florida photographer Larry Becker, who just wrote a book on how to improve our appearance called “Great on Camera”, for a few ideas.
Start with the basics. Comb your hair, shave your face or apply your makeup and think strategically about your clothes. Wearing a busy plaid or outfit will make spectators’ eyes numb. A solid, solid color will help bring out the best in you. However, Becker says to avoid shirts that are bright white or dark black because they look like “spots” on the camera.
This is where most people fail at web conferences. They have what Becker calls “Shady Face”, which means that half of their face is shaded or somehow blocked. He recommends having a fixed lamp, directly near your face, for uniform and regular lighting. No side lights or backlights, please, he adds. He suggests, as we have several times, to avoid sitting back to the window, because the camera will expose the light and make you a silhouette. Instead, flip it over and face the window, which will give you a soft, pleasant light for people.
You want people to focus on your face, not on what’s behind you. Many people like to be photographed in front of a shelf, but Becker says that sometimes the “trinkets” on the shelf can cause distraction. He likes it “simple and simple”, like blank walls or a wall with nothing but a hanging work of art. Becker photographs himself in front of bricks he calls “boring” and therefore not distracting.
Here’s the biggest no-no. Get rid of what he calls the “wide angle face”. The cameras on smartphones and webcams are wide-angle, which means they give you a wide view. So if you get too close, you will look distorted. In other words, step back from the camera. “The closer you are to a wide angle, the more distorted you are. “
Don’t let the webcam look at you because it will turn you into “Look for my nostrils dude.” Let’s put it this way. The camera under the face is the oldest unflattering aspect of books. This is what director James Whale did in the original 1931 film “Frankenstein” to make the monster more threatening. Some people recommend that the camera look at you, but Becker doesn’t buy it. “Eye contact is the best connection.” Look at this camera directly, straight ahead. What to do when the webcam is physically under your eye? Pile a bunch of books under your laptop until you see the webcam in the eye.
When we have just told you to move away and not to be so close, do not be so far that the microphone will not hear you. Remember to put children and other noise distractions in another room during your meeting, if you can. And, it’s huge: don’t forget to mute the microphone while listening. Otherwise, everyone can hear you typing. For better audio quality, Becker recommends using an accessory microphone, which will make you much better. You can take a microphone that plugs into your laptop’s USB port for $ 99 and more (we like the Rode NT-USB mic as a starter) or, better yet, for $ 20, it recommends a small clip-on microphone, the Movo LV1, which connects directly into the microphone jack of your laptop. In Zoom, you can enter the general parameters and adjust the audio, to choose your accessory microphone instead of the webcam microphone.
Finally, we wrote earlier this week about the great webcam shortage of 2020. Many people have discovered that if they want to be on Zoom and other video conferences all day, they want to be at their best. Laptop webcams are ultra low resolution, and for $ 100 to $ 200, you can get much better specs and more presentables with a separate webcam.
Sad to report that the situation has not improved. Logitech, which dominates webcam manufacturing, is still sold with all of its products. The Brio, which broadcasts in 4K resolution and normally sells for $ 199, is sold on Amazon, except from third-party resellers, who ask for $ 359 and more. On eBay, auctions start between $ 275 and $ 350.
Logitech Brio is a webcam with 4K resolution (Photo: Logitech)
What to do? Try one of the classified sites, like Craigslist, Letgo, or Facebook Marketplace for a used model at a reasonable price, or take this old digital SLR out of the closet and connect it to the computer to use it instead. It’s a lot more complicated than using a webcam, but a software site like eCamm is compatible. YouTuber Adrian Salisbury has a tutorial on how to do this here.
Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey is spending $ 1 billion on coronavirus rescue efforts. (Photo: PRAKASH SINGH, AFP via Getty Images)
In other tech news this week
Google and Apple have teamed up to help fight the coronavirus with “contact tracing” technology apps to help determine if people you know have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Samsung introduced new lines of smartphones starting at $ 109. The A series is the company’s low-priced response to the more expensive Galaxy S line.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said he will donate $ 1 billion for COVID relief.
Verizon and Cox Cable ended the in-person visits, turning to smartphone apps to communicate with customers instead.
This week’s Talking Tech podcasts
How to record a podcast remotely. Photographer Jan Schrieber helps test different recording methods, with the Zencastr and Cleanfeed, Voice Memos and Anchor apps.
The great webcam shortage of 2020
Samsung’s $ 110 smartphone
Zoom alternatives for schools
iPhone won’t recognize you in a mask
Follow Jefferson Graham of USA TODAY (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter.
Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/04/11/zoom-meetings-go-better-these-6-tips-look-your-best/5125980002/