You may be feeling nervous about being recorded, that's perfectly natural and I totally understand. My intention is to make the recording experience as easy, and comfortable as possible. We'll begin the session by making sure your set-up is the best possible to get a good quality recording. Depending on your intention for the finished film,
Other than the technical requirements that follow, there is little you need to do to prepare for the session. Try not to plan what you are going to say. You may have an intention for the film you’d like to create but I find when people speak from the heart about their work, or what matters to them, this is when the most engaging words come. The way I work is about capturing what arises in the moment, trusting your inner knowing and wisdom.
Take a few minutes immediately before our call to sit quietly.
We'll begin with a brief chat to get settled, whilst checking everything is set up and working well.
This is not an interview or a conversation. My intention is to pay attention with a neutral face - this isn't a sign I am bored but a way to allow you complete freedom to be in the moment without relying on feedback from me. It may feel weird at first but trust that it is okay.
You may stay silent, you may speak if words arise. There is no need to fill the silence with words. Take time to pause, breathe and allow what comes. It’s likely that I will remain silent, although I may make a comment or ask a question if it feels appropriate. Really, there is no expectation for the session. It will be whatever it is.
Preparing for Your Zoom Session
Although working with Zoom provides a reasonable quality recording, the highest resolution possible is HD1280x720px. This works perfectly on a phone but becomes pixelated if viewed full screen on a monitor or laptop.
So, I am currently experimenting with the option of you recording our session using your own smartphone to capture a higher resolution image (HD1920x1080px). This involves you taking a little more time to organise the setup. If you choose this option I will also record using Zoom, as a backup.
Follow these guidelines to prepare as best you can in advance of our session, but please don't stress about it. At the start of our call, we’ll check to make sure everything is working well and make any adjustments needed.
You will need a device with a webcam for our Zoom call - this could be a laptop, desktop or tablet.
A smartphone, or tablet to record the session locally.
Small tripod, or sticky tape or similar, to position the smartphone for recording
Post-it Notes (to cover the screen of the camera during the session so you are not distracted by your own image).
Choose somewhere as quiet as possible, away from all distractions, where you won't be disturbed. (Pop a note on your door if you need to).
Take time to think about the background you’d like in your film. A blank wall works well, or you may choose your usual environment to give more insight into who you are. If you choose this option do take time to really pay attention to what’s visible and be sure you are happy with what people will see.
Position yourself on an upright dining type chair (to minimise movement when we are recording), with a back low enough not to be seen above your shoulders. (Please avoid using a swivel office-type chair which may be too tempting to absent-mindedly rotate during the session.)
The device you will be using for our Zoom call needs to be set up so the webcam is around eye-level, or slightly above. Take some time experimenting with the positioning. This is often higher than you might be used to - if so, use something to raise it up - and have some books or magazines available to finely adjust the height as necessary once we begin the call.
Sometimes because of the position of the webcam it can appear that we are not looking at each other, so at the start of the call we will spend a little time getting the positioning right to ensure it feels like we are connecting with each other visually. This has an important effect on the feel of the session and the impact of the recording.
Local Recording Device - Smartphone or iphone
You’ll be using the front or ‘selfie’ camera, the one on the same side as the screen.
Check your filming settings by going into ‘camera mode’ and clicking the ‘settings’ button. Look for the setting for Font Camera. For best results the video ratio should be set to 16:9 FHD 1920 x 1080.
Check you have around 10GB of free memory available for the recording. Ensure the phone is fully charged before we begin the session.
Switch the phone to Flight or Airplane mode to prevent any interference during the recording.
Usually the quality of the mic on a smartphone is good so the local recording will be done using that.
Do make sure it is not covered with tape when positioning it on your screen.
Natural indoor daylight works best, but avoid being in full sun.
Position yourself side-on to, or facing, a window, but not with a window behind you.
What to Wear
Wear clothes you are comfortable in.
Ensure the colour of your top contrasts with the colour of your background. It’s possible to look like a floating head if it’s a similar colour!
Avoid very fine checks or stripes which can appear to be moving when recorded.
Remove anything that may make a noise that could be picked up by the microphone - e.g. jewellery that rattles or clangs.
If you have any questions before our session please get in touch by email, and I'll respond as soon as I can.
It is surprising how creative people can be people when setting up for our session.
This one ticked all the boxes; plain background, good lighting, webcam at the right level.
I had no idea until I saw this photo afterwards that we'd been filming in the bathroom!
Positioning Your Smartphone
For best results, the smartphone can be taped/attached to your laptop in the position shown in the photo.
Ensure it is in landscape view and that the tape doesn’t obscure the camera or microphone.
Familiarise yourself with the controls for recording video on your phone before we begin the call.
Have it set up ready for recording in ‘selfie’ mode - flipping the camera from the back camera if necessary.
Once we are ready to begin I’ll ask you to press ‘Record’ and check all is working as it should be. After recording for a few seconds we’ll pause whilst you play it back to ensure it is recording both sound and picture as expected.
Position: You can see what your image looks like and adjust the position of the device and your chair until your head and shoulders are well framed on the screen. This may mean being closer to the webcam than you are used to.
Sound: The sound will be recorded on Zoom using the inbuilt mic on your laptop or pc.
Lighting: Check that your face is well lit and not in shadow. Have a lamp, with shade, available nearby in case it's needed for extra light to illuminate your face and eliminate shadows.
Position Smartphone camera: When you have your face on the Zoom screen use the opportunity to position your phone (using tape - insulation tape is good and easy to reposition), paying attention to lining the camera up with your eye level and positioning just to the side. See photo above.
Possible Noise Intrusions to Be Aware Of...
These have all happened during sessions!
Clock ticking loudly
Cat coming through a cat flap and munching food
Boiler firing up and rattling away
Fridge coming on and buzzing loudly
Pigeons or squirrels scampering on the roof
Washing machine in another room going onto spin cycle
Chair creaking with every movement
Dog deciding it’s time for some attention and jumping on lap