How to Shoot Webinar Video in a Confined Space

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

Many webinars use video, so it means you’ll have to pick the type that best serves your needs. You also have the added worry of making sure the equipment fits in your designated space.

Many presentations use video from the built-in webcam on a laptop for video, or at least a clip-on model. The quality is not terrific, but seems to improve with every generation. These take up no more room than your computer, so space is not an issue.

When you decide you need something more sophisticated like a separate camcorder on a tripod, either because you want better quality or need to pan to different speakers, space becomes an issue. Although this setup can provide the increased image quality and versatility that you’ll need, it will also require a few more feet of real estate.

Suddenly that room that was big enough for the single-presenter webinar is getting cramped. Then there are webinars that need the equivalent of a full television production set. You’re not pulling that off in your corner office.

Regardless if you’re going full-tilt with an elaborate set or bare bones in your closet, you need to be sure that your space can support your video needs. And remember: When it comes to lighting and sound capture, it’s more than the size of the space that matters. It’s also the physical attributes.

These include

  • Concrete wall and ceilings: They reverberate sound and wreak havoc on audio quality. You can control this by using a lavaliere (clip-on) microphone and strategically placed sound baffles (sound-absorbing boards placed near the speaker) throughout the room.

  • Colorful walls: They influence color balance in the scene — and rarely to your advantage — by reflecting color on the subject. Solutions include using a white bounce card on the opposite side of the subject and taking an accurate white-balance of the scene before shooting.

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  • Natural light from windows: The soft light pouring into the room is great for capturing photographic portraits, but not as good when it comes to video, especially with the camera running for nearly an hour. Because sunlight constantly changes, it’s not consistent enough for the entire webinar. In these situations, draw the curtains, or bring black plastic to tape over the windows. Make sure it’s not in the shot.

    If you’re doing your webinar from a typical office building, use a room with no windows.

When it comes to using video at your webinar, you can do it a variety of ways. These include

  • Webcam: Make sure that you have good, even lighting so that you look your best on camera.

  • Video camera: Besides good lighting, be sure you have room to place the camera on a tripod in front of you. The camera should be at least five feet away from the subject.

  • Multi-camera: This gets tricky because the amount of space required to pull it off increases substantially. Not only do you need enough room for the camera, but you also need to be sure that you can position the camera at an effective distance, so there’s enough room to have a different perspective and angle with the second camera.

  • Video clips: Some webinars don’t use video for the presenter, but rely on video clips incorporated into a PowerPoint presentation. These require no extra room, and are quite effective for many situations.