I’m working from Hawaii this week. I had a Zoom call first thing Monday morning from my 10th floor lanai. I really loved the idea of having the Waikiki skyline behind me, but as you can see from the photo below – it looked awful. So I went through my 90 second video makeover checklist and you can see what I ended up with below.
underexposed image

So I went through my 90 second video makeover checklist and you can see what I ended up with below. The background wasn’t nearly as sexy, but I looked great. And don’t worry, I took my classmates on a virtual tour by panning the camera around before class started. When you’re working from Hawaii, you must flaunt it.

Let me cover my 90 second makeover checklist and how I handled each step:

  1. Soft lighting from front – The backlight was just too bright compared to the light on my face. If I had some massive lights, I could have made myself bright enough to match the background. But I’m in an AirBnb, and that wasn’t an option. So I turned the camera so that the foreground and background were getting the same amount of light.
  2. Background distractions minimized – This was easy as I just had a blank wall and jalousie windows behind me. Nothing distracting, but I felt like the jalousies helped build that “Hawaii atmosphere.”
  3. Low noise / good acoustics – Being that I was outside, and there were birds chirping (and I’ll admit there was also road noise and trash trucks) I decided to put on the earbuds from my iPhone. By placing the microphone close to my mouth, my voice becomes much louder than any background noise. I’m not a fan of how earbuds look in a video, but this was a compromise.
  4. 2-5 feet distance from subject – Easy peasy.
  5. Camera stabilized with tripod, etc – I started with the laptop on the patio table…
  6. Camera at eye height – …but the laptop on the table was too low (looking up my nose and featuring my double-chin.) So I wandered the AirBnb and decided my suitcase was the best tool for raising my laptop to the right height. Laptop on luggage
  7. Camera rotation is horizontal – It would have been really hard to prop my laptop on it’s side. This bullet is mostly for people using their smartphones.
  8. Eyes on upper 3rd line – You can see that I tilted the camera down a bit so there’s not too much space above my head.
  9. Mic on and plugged in – It’s in the earbuds – and I checked in Zoom to make sure it was using the external microphone and not the built-in one.
  10. Eyeline to camera lens – I was using the Logitech c920, so the camera was above the screen. Whenever I was talking, I was looking at the camera.

    The last five steps mainly apply to recorded videos. I was in an hour long class, so I skipped these:

  11. Wonder Woman pose for 30 seconds
  12. Breathe deep
  13. Smile
  14. Talk
  15. Stop & Smile

This all took less than 90 seconds. The most time consuming was deciding my luggage was the best tool for raising my laptop.

I also took a few more seconds to try adjusting my webcam to see if I could get that top image to look better. I recently did a video on adjusting a Logitech webcam. But I wasn’t able to come up with a good image.

If you’d like a copy of this 90 second makeover checklist, you can download it now.

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