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.

Top tools & tips to maximize your productivity when working from home

Many people think that working from home is a walk in the park. I am often told how lucky I am to be able to work from my house, where I can do laundry, cook meals for myself, chill on the couch, and watch TV.

But I’d imagine that most people who are now having to work remotely due to COVID-19 are realizing that this is not reality. 

Working from home requires a lot of discipline and concentration, since there are many different distractions, especially with most people now having to work from home with their families. 

Here are a few tools and tips from several Bospartans to help maximize your productivity while working from home. After all, who knows? It may become permanent. 

  • The key to maximizing productivity isn’t a tool per se–it’s mindset. You are AT WORK. Don’t do chores. Don’t watch TV. Ignore the front doorbell. – Tricia Heinrich, Chief Content Officer 
  • At Bospar, we live in Zoom. It is great for interactive meetings where you can share your screen to show a deck or plan document so that everyone can follow along. It is also a good way to make meetings more personable, since it is the closest we can get to in-person. – Laura Ruark, Account Director 
  • Slack is essential! Not only does it cut down on the amount of emails that are sent back and forth, but it is key for quick communication with clients as well. – Gaby Perez-Silva, Account Manager 
  • Trello is the perfect tool for project management and keeping up with the many moving parts of a PR initiative. – Kourtney Evans, Senior Account Associate 
  • OneTab offers a great way to keep track of all of your open Chrome tabs in one list that you can easily create with the simple tap of a button. – Gabrielle Jasinski, Vice President 
  • If you’re having trouble staring at a computer screen all day, Sauron is the tool for you. It is a Chrome extension that switches all your web pages to dark mode so that it is easier on your eyes. – Ali Nagy, Vice President 

For me, Google Drive is a lifesaver for virtual collaboration. Docs, sheets, you name it–we’re working on it together. 

Since Bospar was designed to be an all-virtual agency from the start, we like to consider ourselves experts on working from home. So, while working from home may be temporary for some of you, we hope that these recommendations help make the most of your working-from-home time, however long it may last.