Video: Time for an Upgrade!

The coronavirus pandemic has redefined what a meeting is. “Meet me on Zoom” has become 2020’s ad hoc catchphrase, and because teleworking and sheltering in place will likely continue into 2021, online video will continue to be an integral part of the “new normal.”

Video’s prominence means that people can and should upgrade their approach. Thanks to Zoom culture, we’ve all now seen the home offices and dining rooms of our favorite pundits, talks show hosts and reporters, not to mention those of our colleagues. Rating virtual backgrounds has become a pop-culture sport, while at the same time, more serious  explainers have popped up all over the internet to help.

Being a former TV pro, it pains me to see substandard video – whether on Zoom or for promotional purposes. Following are some tips and tricks for improving your videos, whether they’re for online meetings or for creating ads, promo videos or b-roll.

Video Calls

Our days, consisting of logging on and off of various online meetings, often give us a peek into the homes of our colleagues – including their bric-a-brac collections and kitchen ceilings. If you’re tired of showing off your own greasy ceiling or inadvertently sharing old family photos with the world, a free virtual background can change things up, as can picking a background image from your own photo library, which most video conferencing software allows.

However, the coolest background or nicest home office can’t hide poor camera framing or bad lighting. Investing in a simple video light will improve your appearance and enable viewers to better see your facial expressions. Professional grooming and attire are still necessary, and so are pants…most of the time. To improve audio quality, headsets and microphones can be cheaply upgraded.

The next key is framing your shot to improve the quality of your finished product. Best practices include:

  • Dividing the screen into three vertical sections, and positioning oneself near the inside edge of the left of the frame is a good start. Left is recommended most often, because graphics can be positioned over the right shoulder.
  • To keep eyes and body language focused on the audience, it helps to imagine someone standing to the right of the camera, as if they were there with you, asking questions.
  • The most common framing is a medium shot, showing approximately the lower ribs to just a few inches above the head. The close-up shot is better for more personal or technical content, showing the presenter from roughly the armpits to just above the head.
  • The reason to have a few inches of space above the head is because it prevents the top of the presenter’s head from moving offscreen during conversation.

Overall, achieving a more pleasing background and framing your shots more effectively are fast and easy tricks, and they cost nearly nothing.

Promotional Video and B-roll

For b-roll or promotional video or even online ads, better results are available through simple techniques. Steady and static wide shots using a tripod are useful for video editors and should not include zooms or pans. Over-the-shoulder shots are useful for demos, and video segments that show how software works provide effective detail for promotion. More footage is always better than less, and framing should be horizontal rather than vertical.

Improving video quality is quite easy and can help companies achieve more “bang for the buck,” whether it is to increase the professionalism of online meetings or to make more visually pleasing promotional content.

Video has become integral to our “new normal,” so striving to make it excellent should be a priority.

Journalists Discuss the Future at PRSA Silicon Valley 2018 Media Predicts

PRSA at Bospar

The PRSA Silicon Valley Chapter hosted their 12th annual Media Predicts event in December, and the panelists’ insights were fascinating.

The panel was moderated by David Kirkpatrick of Technonomy. Participants included Nico Grant of Bloomberg, Jenna Blaha of Elle, Jillian D’Onfro of CNBC, Michael Liedtke of the Associated Press, and Ahiza Garcia of CNN Business.

Here’s a recap of what they think is coming down the pike in 2019.

Technology Regulation

It’s not difficult to understand why, with our current political climate, the main focus of the night was the future of technology regulation: from the Facebook trial over the Cambridge Analytica debacle to Bill Gates stating that technology companies need more regulation, there is growing user unrest about the monetization and misuse of user information and data.

In the course of the Facebook trial, Senator Dianne Feinstein implied that she felt Facebook was representing the entire tech industry at the trial and that the decisions made at the trial would determine “how strongly [the] industry will regulate or reform the platforms that they control.”

Bloomberg’s Nico Grant agreed, saying we will see more regulatory action in 2019 that will make tech companies more accountable.

Whether or not this change is something that occurs in 2019, the fight surrounding technology regulation is clearly underway.

Technology in Healthcare

With technology continuing to be one of the largest and fastest expanding industries, it’s no wonder why it is helping shape and redefine other industries such as healthcare. For example, there are tech companies, such as Zingbox, whose main agenda now is to provide IoT service protection solutions for healthcare.

There has been rising discontent with the people of this country in regards to healthcare practices. The panel discussed the topic of doctor malpractice and patient misunderstandings that can arise from visits, as well as the possibility of using AI and robotics to help solve the issue by having a device that could record and transcribe patient visits and assist with patient electronic files.

On the other hand, there are healthcare devices that we all love and use, such as trackers, sensors and other wearables. These types of devices are not exempt from the misuse of data collection. Jenna Blaha said that while most people might want the latest gear because of the social cache, at the end of the day they just want to live their lives. The fact of the matter is that there is a Catch-22 situation with regards to wearables, the use of the information they gather, and how that information is used. “It’s the anti-technology technology club,” stated Blaha. Users have become more aware of the issues surrounding their health and in turn have begun to hold companies liable for their actions and to pressure them into taking a stance.

Women in Technology

It was inspiring to see three women in technology on the panel this year.

Women make up 50 percent of the population in the United States but only 26 percent of the technology workforce. It is the responsibility of women to help pave the way for other women as well as to educate them, the panel agreed.

Blaha has made it her priority to interweave technology and fashion. At the 2018 Media Predicts event she even said, “Technology is driving sustainable efforts across the spectrum. Elle has to talk about it in a way that would be interesting to the readers that come to us.”