Today I wanted to take a look at how to improve your home office setup by going behind the scenes on how I improved mine.
So let’s take a look at the video!
So firstly a couple of precursors to all of this info.
It’s Not Just a Set…
For most of us, working from a home office (or office office) means exactly that - we need to work… so whilst the ‘film set’ looks one way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be that way all the time. So if you are setting up your office just to shoot your videos - be aware that it can take some time.
What I do is to setup my “set” and shoot a series of videos in one go. Whilst the setup time ‘wastes’ productive business time, I can justify it because I get 6-8 videos at a time and this will help my business over a longer period of time. Once I’m done shooting, the setup is taken down and normal service resumes.
It takes time and money
Secondly, cost… or the investment to your set can be done over time. I have slowly built out and tweaked things over the last few years. You don’t have to splash out on everything right away - find things that work, identify areas that need improvement, and slowly build your set up.
Before the Setup…
Firstly, shooting is about control. For most shoots this controlling light - in this case it means blocking out natural light - because if the light changes outside, then it effects the light on me. That in turn means that I have to keep changing my settings or adjust it in editing - both using up valuable time.
Not using natural light however, does mean that you need to use an external light. In this particular case I use a small LED panel. My preference is actually for a bigger softbox, but I’m limited on size, so this helps.
Secondly, because I work in Australia - i.e its hot … I jam the air conditioner on prior to shooting to bring the room down in temperature. Why don’t I leave it running whilst shooting? Sound - we’re likely to hear the whiring in the video if I’m not careful. And this is something that I do, where I can, across most of my shoots.
I think that having a balanced background is important for the viewer. They wouldn’t notice it if you questioned them, but they also could tell if something wasn’t right. It’s one of those hidden qualities.
So for me I bring in my bookshelf unit. In it I’ve got film related objects that just subtly communicate about my brand. So there’s fake lenses up there, a tin that looks camera and some pot plants that add some colour.
I also have picked up some LEDs that I’ve mounted behind the screens on my desk. I noticed them in other YouTubers videos and then hunted down a set. I think a lot can be learned by looking and studying other people’s setups. What do you like - how is that achieved? What don’t you like - why is that? Questions that make you start thinking about set design.
For me I like the way the blue clashes with the red - it really brings out my brand colour and adds a lot to the setup. I like to think about it in layers, and that adds another one - which helps bring up the production quality. They were a sound investment.
A lot of people get interested about gear, and whilst it’s not everything I will talk through my setup.
I shoot, as my client shoots are done, with a Panansonic GH5. That’s mounted on a small tripod, straight onto the desk. Because its literally half an arms distance from me I use a 7-14mm lens - its really wide and therefore keeps me in frame. The downside to this lens is that’s an F4 - meaning its aperture doesn’t allow me to be separated from the background - you dont get the ‘blurry background’ as some people say. So that’s not as I would like…. but you can’t have everything.
On top of the camera is my Rode NTG2 - it’s a professional shotgun microphone and because I’m sitting so close to it, I don’t need to mount it overhead on a boom pole etc.
Light wise - I mentioned that above. Its a small LED panel. The great thing is, is that it’s dim-able - so I can get the light brightness to where I want. The fluke is that it has to be on it’s lowest setting because I sit so close to it - otherwise I would be even whiter than I already am… the light would overexpose me.
How Do You Get To A Setup?
This for me is a new setup. I’ve had similar setups in the past, but I’ve recently moved house, so that means the process starts again.
To be honest, testing is your friend. Set it up, record, test, tweak and keep going.
Once you have something, you’ll know how to get there again. Although if you are new to all this, then I would suggest making some notes. Take pictures if that helps you.
Even if you have a setup that you’re happy with, it’s always good to shoot a test clip. You’ll notice things in the background, small problems with the audio, even that your hair or clothes need a quick tweak… but you’ll notice them on a big monitor, not your cameras small screen.
Let’s Wrap This Up
As I have discussed, this is a timely and, in all honesty, sometimes frustrating process. But in the end I like to think of the bigger picture and recognise what it means. How you set looks on video makes an impact on your brand message.
There is always a balance between over-investing your time and therefore not getting content out because you’re too worried about how it looks… and getting content out there, but having something which isn’t necessarily visually reflective of your brand.
I think it’s important to try and reach a balance. Try and improve your set, but also don’t let it stand in the way of getting your content out there.
I’m Outta Here!
As ever - we would love to hear your thoughts down below, be it in relation to this, or to ask a different question.
If this topic has been of use/interest to you, we run a free Facebook Group: How to Shoot Video For Your Business - its specifically designed for business owners looking to learn how to shoot their own videos.
And, of course, if you’re looking for a video production company in Perth to assist with your next marketing video project then we’d love to have a chat.