TIPS FOR HOME BROADCASTING
Television studios are set up for broadcasting. Most homes are not. You can, however, easily adapt your home by looking to the TV studio for guidance. Here are some tips to improve your setup, with Amazon links to some recommended products to save you time. You do not need all of these items, but choosing the right ones for your setup can greatly enhance the quality of your live interview.
1) CHOOSE A GOOD CAMERA
Many laptops or desktop computers have a built in camera. But just because your computer has a camera, doesn’t mean that is the camera you should use.
You can buy an external webcam which gives you a better quality image. For example, the Logitech C920 HD is a very good webcam at an affordable price, which is also easy to transport and mount on a tripod or on your computer.
You might consider using your smartphone’s built-in camera. Sometimes these are actually better than the cameras in computers. For example, the latest iPhone camera is excellent for video calls.
If you think you might need to do broadcast interviews while you are out and about, or from different locations, then the smartphone solution might be best.
If you use a smartphone, always turn it on its side to make the image wider than it is tall, just like a TV image.
2) HOW TO POSITION YOUR CAMERA
Your camera should be level with your eyes — no lower, no higher. It should be pointing directly at you so don’t tilt it up or down. If it needs to move up or down, use a stand or tripod to adjust its level.
If you are using the built in camera in your computer, phone or tablet, then elevate the entire setup to get it to the right level. An adjustable laptop stand can help. By all means, get creative and use whatever you have to hand: a shoebox, or maybe a pile of books. But remember, no tilting!
You can also mount the camera on a simple, mini fold-up light stand which sits on your desktop, or use a tabletop tripod.
If you’re using your phone or tablet instead of a computer, you will need an adjustable floor stand to hold it.
3) GOOD LIGHTING IS VITAL
In TV studios they have big lights. At home, we don’t tend to. The easiest light source you can use is natural daylight, especially on a cloudy day when there won’t be sharp shadows. So if your interview is during the daytime, try to sit with a window directly in front of you. Try to avoid having a window behind you, as you will look too dark in comparison.
If you can, consider adding artificial lights. Often the lights in our homes are down lights, attached to the ceiling — they light us from above. This can create undesirable shadows on the face. Adding some cheap and simple LED photography lights on mini light stands directly in front of you at eye-level, can make all the difference. If they are dimmable, you can get the levels just right.
Try to avoid creating shadows behind you or on your face and body.
4) GOOD SOUND IS VITAL
Most people make the mistake of relying on their computer’s built in microphone. But in a TV studio, they clip a mic directly onto your clothes, or place a larger mic just in front of you. So you should do the same at home to improve your sound quality.
It’s best if you wear some sort of in-ear monitor rather than using the computer’s loudspeakers. You can use normal headphones with a long wire (or an extension wire), or a special hidden earpiece that fits into your ear and wraps behind it. A more expensive version can also double up as headphones which you can use at other times to listen to music. Hide the wire behind your head and keep it out of view.
Using a simple clip mic is a good option. Place it around 6 inches away from your mouth, usually on your lapel or the upper part of your shirt. Make sure you run the wire back to the computer in such a way that it isn’t visible.
If you want to spend a bit more in order to get much better sound, you could opt for a fixed mic on a stand. Position it in front of you, but just out of the shot, at around your tummy level. This will also require an audio interface between your computer and the mic, and you will also need to buy a mic cable.
If you are using your smartphone or tablet for the Skype connection, you will need to use headphones with a built in microphone. For a professional look, you should consider an iRig, which plugs into your phone to let you use a separate microphone and earphone.
5) CONSIDER YOUR BACKGROUND