This post was contributed by Caroline Carolus at WebinarGeek.
Webinars are a fun and beneficial way to boost your marketing efforts. Many customers – maybe even your own business – work from home and webinars can help create connections. And if you are hosting a webinar, you need the right environment and resources to make it a good one.
When you host a webinar from your at-home office, you want the quality to be as good as possible. This means you need to find the right tools to stream and create a nice background without having to rent a professional studio. In this blog, WebinarGeek takes you through what tools you need to create your own webinar studio at home, in five simple steps.
Step 1: Find a dedicated space
The first step of setting up your at-home webinar studio is to find the right space to host. Webinars can happen anywhere and at any time as long as you have a laptop with a stable internet connection. But if you are looking to host a high quality webinar, you will need more than just that.
Setting up a permanent studio with cameras, lights and a background might take up way too much space in your home. It’s better to find a space where you can easily construct and deconstruct your studio for flexibility.
Step 2: Choose your background
A crowded background is the last thing you want for your webinar. Nothing is more distracting from great content than a person passing by or a messy scene.
When you host a webinar from home, you can set up your background in different ways. You can choose a full color background. For this, you will need to buy a roll of single color photo paper that you can buy at any camera store. You can either cut out a piece of paper and stick it to your wall, or you can hang up the roll on a paper stand.
Working from home can also create authenticity. You do not have to hide that you are working from home, but you do need to get a clean shot.
If you want to show your home in your webinar, you can also choose an area that you would like to show off. Please keep in mind that this requires you to clean up any mess that might ruin the shot. Move some furniture around, clean up the kids’ toys and put the dirty dishes out of frame.
It’s important to have a clean shot when showing off your home. Attention to detail can go a long way for great production design.
Step 3: Set up Your Lights
Great lighting is crucial for a high quality webinar set up.
Many homes have overhead lights which do nothing more than create ugly shadows and annoying glares. Daylight is also not the best option for filming – it can change throughout the day.
For consistent lighting, you need to turn off any overhead lights and close the blinds to block as much daylight as possible. Now you can use your own studio lighting to brighten the room.
You can choose to buy studio lighting from any camera shop. But you don’t have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on studio lights. Instead, you can build your own studio lights at home.
To create a three-point-light setup, you will need the following things:
- 3 Clamp lights
- 3 Daylight LED bulbs
- 3 Spring clips
- 3 Light stands
- Extension cords
- Shower curtain
- A few clothespins
Insert the light bulbs to the clamp lights and clamp the lights onto the stand. Fasten the lights with the spring clips for more security. When you set up the lights you may see that they are too strong and create distracting shadows on the wall behind the subject.
To fix this, cut out a piece of the shower curtain big enough to cover the clamp light and secure it in place with some clothespins. Now, your lights have been diffused and they are much softer than before.
Place 2 of the lights in front of you on either side of the camera at eye level. Place the third light, without the diffusion material, behind the subject facing the wall. This third light will create contrast between the subject and the background.
Step 4: Check your sound
Great sound is just as important as great video quality.
Shooting in an empty room may cause your webinar to be overshadowed with echo and reverb.
To prevent this from happening you will need to soundproof your home studio. You can do this by adding rugs, pillows, hanging curtains and blankets – or even moving a couch in your home studio. The trick is to stop sound waves from bouncing off the walls.
If you want a more permanent solution, you can use sound-dampening panels.
Step 5: Camera time
If you’ve gone through all the effort of creating a webinar studio at home, you don’t want to slack on video quality. Many laptops come with built-in cameras which can be a quick (and often a decent-quality camera option. But using the built-in webcam from your laptop isn’t always the best option – you risk cancelling out the great lighting, audio, and background.
If you don’t have a camera or don’t want to spend the money to buy a camera you can buy a USB webcam. Something like a Logitech C920 is a great HD webcam that is perfect for hosting webinars with.
Using an external camera
If you want better video quality, you can invest in a DSLR or a mirrorless camera to use as a webcam. But this usually means that you have to connect the camera with external hardware or software to get your browser to recognize the camera as a webcam. You can use a switcher – hardware that lets you switch between different camera angles during your live stream – like the BlackMagic ATEM Mini, or use streaming software like OBS.
Most DSLRs manufacturers provide apps with their cameras these days. These apps also let you connect your camera to your browser, without any extra software or hardware.
Whether you choose to build a DIY-webinar studio or you want to invest in materials for your home studio, it’s best to start small. Don’t go overboard and invest in multiple cameras, several lights and backdrops until you’re sure about the investment. But with the right equipment and setup, your webinars can look as professional as a full studio.