Tuesday, November 10, 2015

White Background Videos

I was recently asked how I do my white backgrounds on videos.  Here's my setup (white background, video, lighting, and audio).

I just setup in basement.  Right in front of the pictures on the wall.

I use a crossbar suspended between two tall tripods, specially made for hanging backgrounds.  I drape a thick white background over it and clamp it tight to the edges with clamps, so it's as flat as possible.  Flat white sheets would work.  (For the ultimate 'farm rig', you could throw up a couple two-by-fours (2x4) with a top cross bar 2x4, and lean them against the wall with a sheet hung over it.  I also have a heavy bar holding the bottom down--again to make it as flat as possible.  Since I was going for a 'waist-up' shot, I didn't worry about the slight wrinkles near the edges of the background.  But if there are shadows in your shot on the background, they'll show up, so you may need to adjust a bit more than I did.

I add my mic next.  I have a cool tripod boom to put it on, and I adjust it to be pointed in the direction where I'll be standing.

This is really about where I put it.  When I get it all adjusted, the mic is never much more than a couple feet (maybe even as close as 8-12 inches or so) from my mouth.  You just have to be careful to keep it just out of the shot.

Here's the mic I use.  The AudioTechnica AT6500 shotgun mic set on 'tele' mode.

To use this or almost any other external mic with your smartphone (at least my iphone 5s--maybe other phones play nicer w/ external mic jacks...), you'll need to get an appropriate adapter.  You can see the right adapter here in my pic of the camera setup I have.  (You can also see I just have my iphone bungee-strapped to an ipad mount that is attached to a tripod.  I know there are much nicer mounts than this, specifically designed for iphones, but this is all I had.)

See the little adapter connected right into the phone?  It's a Rode SC4.  It's called a TRS to TRRS adapter.  It converts the TRS jack from most external mics (with 3.5mm outputs) to the TRRS input of most smart phones.  It's $15 on Amazon.  I need to get an affiliate program setup w/ Amazon so I can make money off you going to THIS LINK (or that Rode SC4 link) to buy it, but I don't have that setup yet, so enjoy WITHOUT benefiting me, for now. :)  It works great.  (And no matter WHAT they tell you at Best Buy, WITHOUT this adapter cable, most external mics will NOT work directly plugged your smart phone.)  Also, be careful not to get the Rode SC3, which connects some mics to TRS inputs like on sound recorders and DSLR cameras.

Back to the white background, though.  Light is the key.  --and I'm certainly not the best at this, but here's what I do.  I put three huge lights as close as I can to the background from all three angles (left, right, center).

The key is making the background really bright.  I find that to make it as bright as I want, it helps to put a light from the top as well.  Here's a pic of all my lights lit up, brightening the background.

Next is to position the camera and the mic to optimize your video shot and sound just the way you want.

You'll also notice that I put a warmer light right up there close to where I'll stand.  It should help make sure that the colors in my skin tones and hair don't get too washed out with the bright lights.

Here's a video showing my 3 test shots for this setup.

I used my iphone 5s for video, AudioTechnica 6500 shotgun mic on 'Tele' for audio, and a bunch of high power lights on tripods shining at a white background.  DSLR cameras can lock in the white balance setting, so the light doesn't vary.  But this works OK and looks decent.

Thanks for checking it out.  Good luck on your white background ventures.

Thursday, October 22, 2015