Lindsay Bell

DIY Video: How You Look Matters

By: Lindsay Bell | September 24, 2014 | 

DIY Video: How You Look, Matters

By Lindsay Bell

Anyone who’s ever tried to take a picture of me, or shoot video of me, knows one thing for certain.

I have EDCO.

Yes, that’s on top of my already written about OCD.

What is EDCO?

Are you sitting down?

Extreme Double Chin Obsession.

Stop laughing!

This is serious!

Double chins run in my family, though my sister, Beven, has one of those glass-cuttting jawlines that make me cry in my pillow at night.

She’s also the oldest, so you know, at least I have that.

But somewhere down the genetic line, we were blessed with those chins—you know the ones.

They just kind of slope down towards the neckline. Not much definition.

And man-o-man, it doesn’t matter what weight I’m carrying, if I’m caught on film and not positioned just right, well, double chin is hopeful.

Triple or quadruple is more likely.

If I can control my environment, I can usually get a shot of myself I actually like.

Hence why you won’t see many, if any, chin shots on my Facebook page.

I know, I know, first world problems. But it’s a thing, and it drives me insane.

Doing Video with a Face for Radio

But video is another story. You’re moving! Your MOUTH! If a double (or triple) chin is coming, you really can’t do much about it.

Or can you….??

Laura Petrolino wrote a great post at the beginning of our visual content month, giving you tips and tricks for getting started with video.

And, we’re talking the DIY stuff.

The type of videos we do a few times a month—at our desks, in our living rooms, even in front of brick walls!

But, Laura’s post was more about adding video to your content strategy, how to create video that your clients and customers will get value from, and she touched on ways to become more comfortable speaking in front of the camera.  

I’m a little more shallow than Laura (…more vain than Laura? Both…?) so I wanted to write about how to make sure YOU LOOK FANTASTIC when you press that record button!

You can thank me later.

Girls on Film

I went to one of the best.

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy winning journalist and producer, and heads up T60 Productions.

He’s worked with us here at Spin Sucks, and wrote last week about some of the benefits of taking the plunge, and hiring a professional video production team, if your budget allows.  

But if money’s tight, or you just enjoy the rawness of DIY video, there are a few things you can and should be doing to ensure you get the best possible outcome (in other words, you look mah-va-lous), and don’t drive your viewers bonkers.

I spent a long time working in TV, so bad video (and yes, that means YOU too), makes me crazy.

I asked Tony what his biggest bug-a-boos were when it came to DIY video.

Tony’s Top Three Mistakes

  1. #1 Mistake: The camera lens is too low. Many people who shoot video of themselves flip open their laptop, adjust the tilt to frame themselves up, and hit record. The #1 thing you can do to improve the way you look is to stop doing this! Shooting from a low angle tends to be very unflattering unless it’s a highly stylized perspective. (Note from Lindsay: And you get a double chin!!!). Solution: You want the camera lens to be even with your eyes or slightly higher. Think about how you take a selfie! Prop-up the laptop or camera on some books. Lower your chair a bit. You will look so much better. A side note on camera angle… if you can see the crease where the wall meets the ceiling in your shot, your camera is too low!
  2. #2 Mistake: Bad lighting. Most people just use the existing light in the room. They don’t think of the source location of the light in respect to their computer. Solution: Position your light source to be right behind the camera lens and slightly above it. Think about all of those mobile news cameras you see on TV. Their lights are right on top of the camera pointing down at the people they’re recording. If you can’t manage that, put the light just to the left or right of the camera… the closer to the lens the better. Also, if your camera situation is mobile, set it up in front of a window. Natural light is AWESOME to light people on camera. That’s what I use for my vlog setup.A side note on lighting… maybe the worst scenario is when the room is fairly dark and the light from a computer screen is illuminating the person in front of the camera. Avoid that at all costs.
  3. #3 Mistake: The wrong chair. Comfortable, fluffy chairs are no good. Chairs with high backs that can be seen in the shot are no good. Solution: I tend to look for the most uncomfortable chair in the room (a metal folding chair is great!) and use that. Why? It forces you to sit with good posture. Sit-up, smile, and be the star that you are!
  4. BONUS TIP! If you are shooting video using your mobile phone, turn the phone on its side so your aspect ratio is horizontal, not vertical. Do not contribute to vertical video syndrome!

A Great Example

A few weeks ago, we asked a handful of clients to create a testimonial video for us to include on the Arment Dietrich website.

We had just a couple of requests (you can see them in the blog post Amy Bailey wrote about the project) and left it up to them to do the rest.

What Amy did next was hilarious…and extremely smart.

She recorded a video for us and then she wrote a blog post and did outtakes to educate her audience on how to DIY videos.

So, there you have it.

While content is king, if the video you are creating is crap —and look, sad as it sounds it’s true, if YOU look like crap—no one will be watching for long.

About Lindsay Bell

Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

  • Yes! Lighting and shooting from above are key!
    It seems I can’t ever get enough lighting — I bring every lamp in the house into the room, plus use sunlight — and am wondering if my built-in webcam (MacBook Air) just isn’t good enough?
    I would also make an appeal for proper “set dressing.” That is, get rid of the clutter in the background — it’s distracting. On the other hand, have SOMETHING there. Nothing screams “hostage video” like a bare wall.

  • Hahahahaha, I *love* that video from Amy!

  • RobBiesenbach Yep. I have an (old) Pro and a newer air and the videos on the Air are never very good – especially compared to the Pro.

  • I heard everything about this blog, although I have to tell you: Never have I ever noticed a double chin on you – and I look at your face on a screen all the dang time. We’re our own worst critics!

  • Excellent advice Lindsay.

    I do not have EDCO. Rather, I have wcivbm syndrome. That is, what crap is visible behind me syndrome.

    I’ve not historically done much video work, so the last year has been an adventure.

  • ClayMorgan SO DO I! (Not that I’ve fixed it.) For a variety of reasons, sometimes I have to do my videos in the bathroom (mostly because it’s the only quiet room in th e house). I *hate* that little bit of towel/towel rack in the background. SIGH.

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

    Your “Doing Video with a Face for Radio” sub-head made me chuckle! And I loved Amy’s outtake video. I have also dealt with the leaning tower if books and pantry items in an effort to look presentable on Google Hangouts or videos. 🙂

  • SusynEliseDuris

    Great post, Lindsay.
    The advice resembles advice I received when I was a working actor and I was self-taping auditions.
    Some things I’ve learned over the years: frame chest up, use natural lighting (or use chinese lanterns if you don’t have it) is best against a white, blue or black background, set white balance (see for info) on camera. For sound, use a great mike. And, for editing purposes, make sure you are doing multiple takes, so you have options.

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger the outtake video was hilarious! (eyes are horizontal…). I, too, have dealt with the leaning tower. I have one video where I was standing in the bathtub to achieve the angle I wanted/needed. The things we do….

  • Super-instructive post. I have made all of these mistakes and more! Thanks for the tips.

  • biggreenpen TaraFriedlundGeissinger She’s a very fun client!

  • So here is the thing…I make ALLLLLL of these mistakes! Hahaha! Every.Single.One. 

    Which leads us to the conclusion that the only thing that actually makes it possible for me to record these things is my COAS (center of attention syndrome) 

    Super great tips! This one is definitely getting bookmarked for our clients.

  • You are nothing if not hilarious! Before you came along, it never occurred to me to obsess over one’s chin. I had no idea! One time Tony was here shooting and he said, “I have some advice for your team. Tell them to stop shooting so low.” Glad to see that tip made it in here.

  • LauraPetrolino Yes, you do. Much to my chagrin.

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino I was reading down this list thinking…”yep, do that…ah man…do that too…geezz…that’s me too”

    Hahaha! I’m going to have to set up a better video production chamber in my humble home

  • LauraPetrolino You don’t make the third mistake because you stand.

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino True! Standing desk FTW!

  • ImMarkBernhardt

    RobBiesenbach Got it. Put something on the wall to avoid “hostage video” look.

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen TaraFriedlundGeissinger Amy is the BEST! I laughed so hard when she sent us that!

  • belllindsay

    JonMikelBailey Thanks JM!! 😀 SpinSucks

  • belllindsay

    howiegoldfarb My ‘Fifty Facelift’ is fast approaching, my friend! LOL SpinSucks

  • Gini Dietrich

    She’s insane.

  • Ellie Pierce

    Not all of us were blessed with a PERFECT JAWLINE, Gini.

  • Lindsay Bell-Wheeler

    Yeah, Gini.

  • Great post. When people (used to) take photos of me, I would tilt my head up/back and smile, sometimes with my mouth open. And the result… ugh!

    A colleague suggested I tilt my head down… not too much that it looked unnatural, to just pull my chin down… ever so little… toward my chest bone. 

    Eureka! Now, GQ is not inviting me to grace their cover (those fools!), but I do like my pics… and videos… a lot more. Your point about higher camera angle / light angle accomplishes this, too. Thanks!

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino in tree pose …

  • Also: adopt a zero-sodium diet for 48 hours before your shoot, get a prescription for diuretics (and use them,) and ice any residual eye bags for thirty minutes prior to the first take. Works like a charm!
    I’m (only half) kidding. Tony’s checklist will definitely lead to a better result!

  • Awesome video tips! Down with the double (or triple, or quadruple) chins! Shooting from a higher angle is advice everyone needs to follow. I tend to think it helps me with my posture too.

  • Karen_C_Wilson See!!?? Everyone’s making fun of my EDCO!! I think shooting from a higher angle just naturally is more flattering. Let’s face it, gravity is a KILLER! LOL

  • DwayneAlicie And don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day! 😉

  • JackVincent Thanks, Jack! There’s a VERY thin line in my case between the ‘lowered chin’ (which I agree, does work) and the double chin explosion! LOL  Glad you’re enjoying your photos more though, love the profile pic! 🙂

  • ginidietrich I’m not going to name names, but I too was obsessing with how low certain *koff* people were shooting. I was thrilled when Tony’s stepped in to play Bad Cop! Also, it’s less ‘the chin’ and more the ‘under-chin’. Of course it would never occur to you – your’s is PERFECT! 😉

  • biggreenpen ginidietrich LauraPetrolino With plant pots on her head….

  • LauraPetrolino COAS – hahahahahaha!!!! <3

  • biggreenpen My pleasure, Paula – amazing how one or two really simple changes can make a world of difference!!

  • SusynEliseDuris Susan, I was going to mention the ‘head and shoulders’ shot as well (in my video I did to accompany my post) but the video was starting to run a bit long. LOL I’m so glad you mention that here. I worked in casting for years…I remember audition tapes well!

  • biggreenpen TaraFriedlundGeissinger Amy rocks! Anyone who can poke a little fun at herself is a friend of mine. And ladies, I don’t know how many times I’ve gone through a meeting thinking “This thing is going to topple in three… two…” LOL

  • ClayMorgan You DO have WCIVBM!!! Hahahaha!! I expect to see a cleaner BG in your next video, Clay!

  • Eleanor Pierce That, my friend, is very true. 🙂

  • jasonkonopinski Weird. I just automatically shoot horizontal. I have to remind my self of that point the next time!

  • RobBiesenbach I’ve added a few extra tips in my accompanying video, Rob, including clutter – in the BG and also on one’s person!

  • Eleanor Pierce RobBiesenbach I use my Air..I think they’re great!

  • ImMarkBernhardt RobBiesenbach If you shoot yourself off-center, as I mention in the video below, you get less of the ‘hostage situation’ (or worse – mug shot! look) if shooting against a bare wall. Be careful about ‘adding a background’ (i.e. decorating) if you don’t have an eye for composition or colour.

  • belllindsay

    shanlee Thanks for the share, Shannon! SpinSucks

  • belllindsay

    jennimacdonald Thanks again, Jennifer! 😀

  • belllindsay

    JackVincent Thanks for the RT, Jack! ginidietrich SpinSucks

  • belllindsay

    jendennis2000 I’m so glad you did, Jen, thanks! 🙂

  • belllindsay

    DemandCon Thanks so much for the RT, appreciate it! 🙂 ginidietrich T60Productions

  • belllindsay

    JamboTw Hi James, thanks for sharing that piece! 🙂 SpinSucks

  • jendennis2000

    belllindsay Thank you! I share your camera anxiety, and this really helps.

  • belllindsay biggreenpen ginidietrich LauraPetrolino And a dog trying to trip her!

  • I’m a STAR! I made the Spin Sucks blog. Hey, even if it was just for my outtakes. Thanks guys. Hope you all laughed! Look out Hollywood – Here I come!

  • amybailey Hollywood? What is this thing you speak of..?? 😉

  • DickCarlson

    My web cam setup is the bottom part of a plunger stuck to my glass desk, and some PVC piping screwed into it that rises up about 26″ to just above my 24″ widescreen monitor.  There, my Logitech camera is jammed into a pvc 3/4″ tee.  It allows me to easily move it up and down, side to side — and, if I want, pick it up and go anywhere.  It’s a good 8″ above my eye level so at least 2-3 of my chins are hidden.  Lighting comes from two windows in my office, one large floor lamp with a white shade that bounces light off the white walls and ceiling, and two clamp lights used on rainy days or at night.
    (Yes, I used to take pictures for a living.)  (Yes, I am compulsive about images.)
    Next week, I’ll tell you about my exotic boom mike setup made from the bottom of a swing-arm lamp from Goodwill.

  • belllindsay amybailey surely she meant Vancouver film capital of the world

  • belllindsay ginidietrich yes aim high and ensure there are ceiling mirrors!

  • amybailey belllindsay biggreenpen ginidietrich LauraPetrolino  did Lindsay just tell Laura to become a pot head?

  • I remember one summer at video camp there was this girl named
    Rita…..I was in love with her film making equipment.. To say she was
    stacked is an under statement. She had Sony on top of her Polaroid. Oh

  • belllindsay This is great! And you definitely have a better webcam than I do …

  • Howie Goldfarb belllindsay amybailey No no – that would be far too nice. I mean the rough streets of Hollywood where you can get mugged by a man dressed as batman and are sure to collect more gum on your shoes than you thought possible. But at least we have sun! But you’ll have to drink booze, because we are out of water.

  • Howie Goldfarb amybailey belllindsay biggreenpen ginidietrich LauraPetrolino HAHAHAHAHA! I love when I come back to a comment tread and THIS happens……

  • Kate Nolan

    Or Pete.

  • Howie Goldfarb O. M. G.

  • amybailey Howie Goldfarb *nodding slowly* Now you’re speaking my language…. #booze

  • ImMarkBernhardt

    belllindsay ImMarkBernhardt RobBiesenbach Yeah, I got the “Cheetos complexion” thing going for me in the avatar I’m using here, due to using just the backlighting from LEDs on a wooden lattice. I’ve done better with lighting in my home library and at my office, yet plan to improve with the tips in the article and videos. Background will vary by location.

  • amberlturner

    May I add another tip to help with the chin issue? 

    Most people hate their necks, or don’t realize that their necks look wider than they really are when they are being photographed, or in this case, video taped. One of the best ways to solve this (a photographer’s tip here) is to simply push your head forward. Keep your chin parallel with the floor, but simply push your head forward. 

    Try it with your phone taking a selfie or have someone else take your picture before and after doing this. You will notice your neck not only gets slimmer, but your chin looks less… doubly. It also makes EVERYONE (no matter the age) look younger.

    I hope that helps! 🙂

  • Gini Dietrich

    Or Pete!!

  • JamboTw

    belllindsay My pleasure! SpinSucks

  • amberlturner “…less doubly” – hahahahaha!!! I love that! Also, great tip, and I’m definitely going to try it! Thanks, Amber!

  • belllindsay

    RobBiesenbach Thanks Rob!! 🙂 SpinSucks

  • ImMarkBernhardt belllindsay RobBiesenbach ….I just thought you had a nice tan… 😉

  • belllindsay SusynEliseDuris I recently invested in a good mike when I was told (a couple of times) that the sound from my MacBook on webcasts and webinars was tinny. Made a huge difference, and definitely worth the $75-$100 or so. From here I’m going to look at a separate webcam …

  • belllindsay ImMarkBernhardt The off-center thing is a great point! Never thought of that. I’m totally a symmetry guy, so it’ll be tough adjustment …

  • If I had the money, I would just hire a stunt double and pass them off as myself. Of course, when you show up in person people are like ‘hey, you don’t look anything like your video;’ and I’m like ‘yes, I know; I look much better in person, don’t I?’

    I don’t consider myself overly vain, buy vain enough to care how I look; I just think we tend to be much harder on ourselves than necessary because at the end of the day, it’s us we are thinking about, not how somebody else looked on the vid, right? 

    You got it rockin’, whatever that ‘it’ is, you just need to keep doing it.

  • This was so perfect (and SO hilarious). I am launching some videos soon and I have already been thinking about all the random junk in my house I’m going to have to stack up to get the camera at the right height. 😉 Thanks for this.

  • annelizhannan

    RayHiltz Matter of fact, you always look great;) DIY Video tips-How You Look Matters

  • RayHiltz

    annelizhannan Ahhhh, thanks, Anneliz 😉

  • Erika Madden HA! Thanks, Erika! Camera hight is KEY if you want to avoid EDCO!!! 🙂

  • belllindsay

    JeffSheehan Hi Jeff, thanks for sharing that! Appreciate it! SpinSucks

  • belllindsay

    McMasterMCM My McMaster friends! Thank you!! 🙂

  • belllindsay

    OlyviaMedia Hey Erika, thanks so much! 🙂 SpinSucks

  • belllindsay

    RayHiltz Hi Ray, thanks so much for the share! 🙂 SpinSucks

  • RayHiltz

    belllindsay Pleasure, Lindsay. 🙂

  • OlyviaMedia

    belllindsay SpinSucks You’re more than welcome!

  • McMasterMCM

    belllindsay No worries! Great post – many of us are squeamish in front of the video camera 🙂 ^MAF

  • belllindsay

    T60Productions So, you work for us now, right?? 😉 SpinSucks

  • belllindsay Oh, and the morning of your shoot should begin precisely like this:

  • belllindsay

    MartyRhodes8 Thanks for the share, Marty!

  • belllindsay

    HillmansContent Hi David, thanks for the share! Cheers, LB

  • DanielGHebert

    genemarks SpinSucks Thanks for the RT Gene!

  • belllindsay

    HillmansContent 🙂

  • belllindsay

    BillRoss SpinSucks Hi Bill, thanks for the share!! 🙂

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