Though the majority of teaching videos that I create both for this training site and my Sunday School class don't have me talking directly to the camera, I do some this way periodically for you to see that a real person is behind this ministry. This is part of my answer to how I create the videos. I have been asked by a number of Effective Church Communication readers how I do what I do, so here it is.
Before I get into specific advice, I feel like a disclaimer is necessary. The videos that I create when I'm talking to the camera are extremely simple ones. They suit my purposes and seem to help the audience I am trying to help—church communicators. There are many, many websites and how-tos online if you want to do more professional video shoots with multiple cameras, and advanced sound and lighting. Be prepared, however, because with the advice from these sites also comes greatly increased costs.
Many professional ministries have recording studios, use professional sound systems, microphones and multiple cameras. I've been part of recordings like that when some other group had many thousands of dollars to spend and I've been involved in lengthy camera shoots. The complex videos then take weeks to months to edit and finish. All that is great, if that is your purpose.
For the videos that I do, I simply want to teach you something. I want to focus on my content and make the process to record it as professional as I can, but also as simple and low-cost as possible. With these limitations in mind, below is a short video that shows how I produce a video with me talking. After that is more information on lighting and makeup.
My camera, microphone and set-up
I have a fairly new (about year and a half old) computer and a larger flat screen monitor I'm looking at as I talk through either the training or if I have a message I want to share talking directly to people.
If I want to record myself talking to the camera, I use a small Logitech web camera that I have mounted on top of the monitor. Because I use the microphone in the camera when I record this way, I sit fairly close to the camera.
This may not be the idea set-up for some—many ministry videos have people sitting on a couch, chair etc. But I am teaching communication that most often involves working on a computer so this is right for me. If you want to do a pastoral or Bible teaching video, this set-up can also work because this setting is often where you do your study.
This is important because many amateur videos are poorly lit and you certainly don’t want to be sharing about Jesus, the light of the world when you are talking in shadow.
When you see the interviews of TV you always see lots of lights and the big reflective screens. Yes, you can get home versions of them, but you can also get a good-enough set-up by simply shining a light or two on your face from near or slightly behind our monitor. Test different lights and positions to see what works best.
Some people think that bright lights will make them look bad—in reality, they make you look much better, especially if you follow the next steps.
Hair and make-up
It's often said that the camera adds 10 pounds—I don't know about that—I think we are always shocked when we see a picture of ourselves because we don't look like we want to no matter how much we weight. Here we are talking about primarily headshots, so the weight distortion really isn't a problem.
But what I do know is that the camera flattens your hair and washes out your face. What you see in the mirror before you shoot a video is not what you will look like on the video. The advice below is primarily for women, but the first tips apply to men also.
Most important: use hi-definition powder
One of the most sadly famous television performances of all time was the debate where Richard Nixon looked nervous and sweaty. Shiny and sweaty does not look good on camera. To give your face (men and women) the nice matte look the camera likes and what makes you look natural on camera, you need to dust yourself with HD Powder.
There are a couple of options for this:
1. The industry standard is Makeup Forever HD Powder. A little jar of this costs $32, but it lasts for years.
2. Many other companies also make HD Powder—one I like is from Elf. I'll say more about this make-up company in a minute, but their HD Powder is only $6.00. (if you go to the ELF site before Nov. 5 they have it for half-price along with other popular items)
I did a couple of test videos using the 2 different ones and really couldn't tell any difference. Bottom line, get the Elf Powder—it is sold at Target and use it.
Additional notes about HD Powder: Make-up for film has always used something to make your skin look matte. If you have got botox surgery done, then find out what can make botox last longer to look younger and healthier on the camera. Many years ago when I first did some ministry TV work, Max Factor makeup was what we used. You looked chalky and awful in person, but again on the camera, it looked fine.
The reason many products today are labeled HD is because of High Definition cameras. They do give viewers fantastic detail in the final film product, but when they came out, women on television—particularly those over 18 years old had a very hard time because the HD showed every line, wrinkle, blemish in high-definition also.
Vanity proved to be an excellent motivator and HD make-up was quickly developed. What HD make-up does is it reflects the light. Instead of showing every line, it bounces light out of them. HD powder primarily (they try to tell you all the make-up is needed, but we'll get to that in a minute), makes any skin appear smoother, less lined, particularly if the lights are just right.
Tacky little comment here for technical reasons: that's why, if you watch closely on TV, sometimes the TV personalities look like they are very lined, particularly below their eyes and sometimes, no lines—it's how the lights hit the HD Powder. You can airbrush a photo, live shots are much harder. That's why they test and sit in certain ways.
Makeup Forever, a cosmetics line which was developed for stage, film, and modeling, is the industry standard for high-quality HD make-up. Their products are excellent, but they are very expensive. I've used them in the past for professional video shoots, but on my own, they are not affordable--nor, are they necessary for short video shoots.
After some trial and error, I've found the Elf make-up line at Target to not only be an incredibly reasonable make-up for daily wear, but great for videos also. It is super-cheap (most expensive item is $6.00—blush, lip gloss, mascara, $1.00).
What you need makeup for:
As I said, the camera flattens and fades. If you are young and gorgeous, a dusting of powder may be all you need.
I need more than that and what follows is pretty much what I do—I hope it makes sense—you aren't going to see any demos of how I look without makeup to illustrate this.
What you want to do is to emphasize your natural features. We aren't talking any kind of glamor make-up—but let me warn you, you probably don't want to go in public with your video makeup because what works on the camera will look too dark and chalky (after you powder it) for regular life.
There are lots of how-to make-up videos online and you might want to watch some, but basically, you want to:
- Use a foundation to even out your skin.
- Apply blush for a bit of color.
- If you need to darken your eyebrows—if your hair is blond or grey, you'll probably need to. Elf has a really nice little compact of eyebrow gel and powder that does a great job.
- Most difficult to do—apply some eyeliner—very important to define your eyes. The Elf products are great here; they have an eyeliner sort of grease pencil ($3.00) that is easy to use, blend and clean up if you mess up.
- Apply a light, powder eye shadow then softens your eyelids—no bright colors.
- Apply mascara.
- Powder with the HD powder.
- Retouch your mascara. Putting on mascara before and after the powder makes your lashes look thicker—false eyelashes are a real pain and for up close camera shots can look really tacky. My advice is to not use them.
- You may need to add a bit of powder blush on top of the powder.
- Apply a natural, pink-toned lipstick and gloss.
Test how it looks on your webcam—adjust for a natural, but defined look. Again, if you want more how-tos on eyeliner etc., there are a lot of great web videos that show you how to use all the makeup. The Elf site: http://www.eyeslipsface.com/ has a number of them.
For your hair, again, remember the camera flattens it and you may want to fluff it up a bit—but again, test and see.
One other silly little thing: I hate glasses glare, but if you wear glasses, I think you should wear your glasses--but if you do you can have a problem with glare and not being able to see the eyes of the person speaking is very distracting. What's the solution?
Again, this is a tip from a professional video person: get duplicate eye-glass frames and don't have the lens in them for use in your video shoots. Totally professional video shoots can adjust lighting for eye-glasses, but for shooting up-close videos at home, this works and is much easier.
Enough of all this—we are who we are, glare, wrinkles, sweaty and all of the above. We don't want to embarrass the Lord by not looking as tidy and professional as we can, but we also don't want to focus on ourselves too much. I trust these tips help a bit, but the bottom line is that this isn't about us. We aren't doing any kind of teaching video to promote ourselves, but to share the message our Lord has given us and we always want to make Him the most important thing about any video we do.