The Meeting Room
How to make the most of your
aesthetically & sonically challenged workspace
By Andrew Taylor
Couple tips for anyone who wants to make videos at their business:
1. If your only practical location to record interviews is a meeting room, book the biggest one. Bigger spaces are always better. We’ll probably move furniture around, so clearing out any excess chairs and tables in advance will make things a lot easier. Do you like those nice looking interviews with the blurry background? That’s a lot more achievable with a bigger space, and unimpressive in a small space.
2. Interesting backgrounds are cool, but if the background isn’t relevant to the video or has unsightly things attached, it’s better to have a plain wall. As opposed to a bright green exit sign, an old sofa, or a wall mounted TV (like in the photo above, if you can see the shadow top right that I have battled to frame out as much as poss). So if this might be a regular thing, consider setting up a space (a big space) free of anything you’d rather people don’t see. Have a look through your phone camera to get a rough idea of how it looks and things you can adjust or remove.
3. The house lighting in the room is usually not ideal (sorry). It might be unflattering for the people on camera, or just dull with bad colour, and your video won’t look as nice as you’ve seen other business’s videos look. That means we usually want to create our own lighting, which means…
4. Plan for 30-45 minutes ahead of the first guest arriving to allow time to configure the location to look and sound best and solve issues. It’s rarely as simple as just turning up with a camera and hitting record.
5. Speaking of looking great, sounding great is actually more important. A room near a busy road or noisy workshop means that noise is going to be in the audio and it’s very hard, if not impossible to fix later. Audio software is pretty good these days, but not as good as a nice quiet room!
6. Using a window as a background is difficult as we may need to blast the interviewee with light to balance the light levels. Sometimes it can work, other times it’s an unwinnable battle against physics. If the windows are tinted or have semi transparent blinds, you might be in luck. Additionally, bright lights make our pupils contract so as a director of photography I take this into account when lighting people.
7. If any of this is overwhelming, experienced video folks are usually pretty good problem solvers, so don’t stress. There may be a nicer location in the building anyway, one that’s more relevant to the story you’re telling.
“We filmed an important corporate communications video in our board room in 15 minutes and it came out great! All the empty chairs really added to the atmosphere.”
-Said no one ever