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Using a webcam: This is how you get a good picture

Birgit Götz

Now, in times of the Corona crisis, many meetings are held via video chat. You should give a good picture, especially in professional meetings. This is what you should pay attention to in front of the camera.

EnlargeVideo chat: look good in front of the camera
© GoodStudio - shutterstock.com

Businesses use video conferencing tools for meetings, schools hold distance learning, language schools video link teaching, and many other groups around the world are staying face-to-face with their webcams and smartphone cameras rather than relying on email or phone calls.

A video conference can be a challenge, especially for those who are confronted with it for the first time. We'll show you how to avoid the classic mistakes and how to make sure you look and sound amazing the next time you call. We use the video conference tool Zoom.

1. Clean up your background

Your webcam not only shows you, but also a pretty cluttered background. If you can't change that, Zoom offers you a virtual background. However, only if you use the desktop / web version and not the mobile application.

If you're using another application for your video call, see if you can set a photo as the wallpaper (Skype for example now has the ability to blur the background) or move your laptop to a more convenient location. If that's not possible, install the app on your smartphone and go somewhere that has a nice-looking, but not distracting, background.

The optimal background is not a wall directly behind you and certainly not a window. Instead, try to sit down so that there is some distance between you and what is behind you.

2. Find the right angle

We love Huawei's laptops, but we hate the camera angle provided by the webcam hidden under one of the keyboard keys.

Even if your laptop has a camera above the screen, it's often too low to be at eye level. That means you have to tilt the screen backwards and end up with a good view of your chin and plenty of ceiling as a background.

You should therefore raise your laptop, for example with a laptop stand, so that you can look straight into the camera.

EnlargeLaptop stand so that the webcam is at eye level

3. Illuminate yourself properly

Natural light is probably the best source of light available when working from home. If there are no windows near your laptop or webcam, your computer screen and ceiling lights will light up your face.

The most important thing is to have as much light as possible in front of you and less behind. If there is too much light behind you, the webcam will underexpose your face and people will not be able to see you clearly.

4. Use a good microphone

The quality of laptop microphones varies enormously. Record a short video and play it back to hear how you sound. Windows 10 has a built-in camera application that can record from a webcam.

If it turns out that your microphone is not good enough, you can also use another device for video calling: such as your smartphone or tablet, a microphone or a headset / headphones that have a built-in high quality microphone.

The advantage of using a headset or headphones for group video calls is that they eliminate the possibility of echoes as your microphone picks up the sound from your speakers and creates a feedback loop.

5. Use a better camera

Sometimes the sound is the least of your worries: it's the quality of your webcam that ruins your look. You can also test this in advance by recording a clip in the Windows 10 camera app.

If the result is unsatisfactory, consider a USB web camera.

This is the easiest way to upgrade your laptop's camera. There are also other options, such as a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR), a Go Pro or even your smartphone as a web camera.

6. Check your internet speed

Even if you have a great webcam and microphone, a slow internet connection will affect the quality of your video calls. Keep in mind that your upload speed matters. It is the upload that broadcasts your video feed to the other participants in the video call.

Zoom recommends at least 1.5 Mbps and at least 600 Kbps (0.6 Mbps). You can find out how fast your upload speed is at www.speedmeter.de.

If your speed is between these values, you can be satisfied as long as no one else in your home is also using broadband for video calls at the same time. If your speed is below the minimum, see if your 3G or 4G connection on your smartphone is perhaps faster, as you might be better off using cellular data for the most important calls.

This post was first published by our English colleagues on techadvisor.co.uk

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