When it comes time for us to shoot a video, we’re kind of limited to the physical space that we have. So I want to share some best practices for how you can make the most out of the space that you already have and also how to set up a video background. If you absolutely cannot shoot or you have no background or just you have some kind of limiting factor, you can still make use of these ideas.
Let’s start by focusing on your lenses.
One of the things that’ll be really important when you start to think about video backgrounds is first your camera lens. If you’re shooting on a DSLR or point and shoot where you have a lens, chances are there’s some kinda zoom there. And so what this means is that you have the ability create that beautiful image with a crisp subject and blurry background.
The cool thing about these prime lenses is that it only focuses on one specific focal point, which means there’s no zoom. You have to physically kind of move the camera close to the subject, then focus to get the crispness that you want. That lends the ability to make you look super crisp, and the background beautiful and blurry and filled with bokeh and all these things that we really love about beautiful speaking videos.
But the thing to know about smartphones is that there is no physical lens that’s zooming in and out of the camera, so these smartphones have built in lenses with a wider depth of field, which means it’s going to make you and your background, all in focus.
Now the second layer is knowing how to frame your shots, regardless if it’s a DSL or a smartphone. Generally you’ll want to shoot “corner to corner”. This means if you look at my frame now and if you look behind me, yes there is a cat tree, but in that corner it’s a deep corner. It’s the deepest corner of the room, and my camera is at the opposite end of the room: the other deepest corner.
It’s that distance behind you that’ll give you a the pretty blur. We won’t see it right now in this video because I’m using my front selfie camera, but if you shoot using the back camera (which is what you should shoot in for full resolution) you’ll get that effect.
To set this up, get yourself into the camera frame, then get your husband, wife, friend, or your kiddo to lock the frame by looking through the viewfinder or screen, then double tapping on the image of you to “lock” the focus on you. You will see a lock icon appear to know you’ve done this right.
PROPS TO ADD DEPTH
Whether you’re shooting in your living room, or dining room, or your office, try to pull yourself away from the wall and put something back there. For example, I even put this cushion here on purpose every Friday when I shoot these videos because there’s a contrast in color and layers, which helps me to pop from the background.
I know that it takes a little bit of work upfront, and sometimes it feels like a pain in the butt, but taking that little extra time to plan, will pay off.
Here’s a summary of questions to ask yourself:
- Where am I going to sit? Am I centered in the frame?
- Am I shooting “corner to corner” to add some depth to my shot?
- Do I have something interesting in the background and around me like cushions or even a plant that creates that separation between you and the video background?
REMOVABLE VIDEO BACKGROUNDS
In case you’re in a space where you just don’t want to shoot the background, or you’re limited with space, I would try looking at a temporary video background. If you know you’re always going to be shooting videos against the same wall then you can get a removable wallpaper. It’s made of vinyl and it sticks pretty easily, but it will also remove easily without destroying your actual wall or the surface. You can get those anywhere from Fred Meyer, Target, Home depot, Bed, Bath & Beyond, like all those types of stores.
Another option (even more temporary, and I’ve actually done this myself), is to just get a wide curtain that you hang up on the wall. You’ll just want to keep in mind how wide the frame of your camera is, to make sure you get a curtain at least that width? Test this first by putting your camera up on the tripod, shooting a little test frame, and then going back and looking at the footage. Measure the width and make sure the curtain you buy is actually wide enough because you don’t want to go all the way to the store only to realize that it’s not wide enough for your videos.
As a general rule of thumb, I like to put up the background, stand up against it, then take one big step forward to create a little depth between you and background. Of course, if your space doesn’t allow for this, then just do what you can to make sure the edges of your background don’t show in your camera’s frame. BUT, if you can pull yourself away from the background, that’s ideal.
If you have any questions about video backgrounds? Leave a comment below!