Recording Your Video

Setting Up the Lights

Experienced professionals know that the key to lighting is trial and error and patience. It’s unlikely that your lighting will be perfect the first time you set it up. Take your time and make small changes until you are happy with the look you create. When the lights are positioned correctly, there should be no strong shadows on you or your backdrop. Your face should look bright and evenly lit without any glare or bright spots.

Begin by placing your lights as shown below. This basic configuration will need to be altered depending on many factors, including: the natural light in your room, the strength of your lights, the colour of your backdrop or wall, and the setting on your camera, but this is a good place to start.

Lighting Set Up
  1. Key Light:
    • This is the brightest light and it is placed first.
    • Position the key light higher than your face.
    • Check that the key does not cast a shadow onto your background, and also check that the key is positioned so your nose doesn’t cast a shadow across your face.
  2. Fill Light:
    • This light is placed second and used to fill in the shadows created by the key.
    • The fill light is often softer than the key.
  3. Backlight:
    • This is the third light, placed behind you.
    • This backlight (also called a rim, edge or hair light) can serve a variety of functions. It can be set quite low and turned to light the backdrop, or turned to light your back. Both these options help to create a sense of separation between you and the backdrop.
    • Remember to stand at least two to three feet in front of your background.

Important Points When Lighting for Video

Some important points you should consider:

  • Lights can get very hot. Always use caution when working with lights, and wear gloves when the lights are hot.
  • Turn out your overhead lights when using video lights, and cover windows if needed.
  • Take care when plugging multiple lights into a single electrical circuit. You don’t want to overload your system.
  • White balance your camera after you set up your lights and before you record.

To find out more on setting up three-point lighting for video, watch A Basic Light Setup. To learn about other options for low-cost lighting and options for setting up lights, watch Better Webcam Video: Chapter 3.1: Create Your Lighting Rig and Chapter 3.2: Set Up the Lights.

Audio and Video Settings

Check you have the correct settings before you record. It’s okay to use your camera’s automatic settings and focus—just be sure you are recording at the correct size, frame rate and sample rate.

Be sure the focus is set properly. We want your face and specifically your eyes to be in sharp focus. If you are comfortable with your camera’s manual settings we prefer a somewhat shallow depth of field, enough that you are in sharp focus while your background is nicely out of focus.

Video Settings

These are the video settings you should use when recording:

  1. Size: 1280x720 (or 1280x800) or 1920x1080
  2. Frame Rate: 30 fps
  3. Shutter Speed: 1/60:
    • Shutter speed should be roughly double the frame rate, so for 30 fps, 1/60.
  4. Set White Balance:
    • Once you have settled on your lighting setup, set your camera’s white balance. Remember to reset the white balance if your lighting changes.

Audio Settings

These are the audio settings you should use when recording:

  1. Input Level: Your voice should be set to record at roughly -12 dB:
    • Just as with screencasts, take the time to carefully set your audio input level. If the audio meters show your voice reaching 0dB (sometimes shown as red or 100%) this is called ‘clipping’ and you will need to re-record.
  2. Sample Rate: a minimum of 44.1 KHz.
  3. Bit Depth: a minimum of 16-bit.
  4. When recording audio separately, ensure both your camera and separate audio recorder or computer are set to record at the same sample rate. This will be important when syncing your audio.

Before You Press Record

Before you hit record, double-check the following:

  • Your Editor and the Course Producer have signed off on your Test Video and given you approval to record your course.
  • You’ve read your script or outline out loud and it sounds natural.
  • Your audio and video settings are correct.
  • There aren’t any distracting noises in your recording space. If your neighbour is mowing her lawn, wait till she’s done before you record!
  • You’ve done a final audio test while wearing headphones and it sounds good.
  • You are relaxed and ready to record!


Syncing Video and Audio

When recording audio to a separate recorder or to your computer, planning for syncing the audio is essential.

You could use a clapper at the beginning of each take or, more simply, clap loudly and clearly on camera with the camera and audio recording at the beginning of each take. In your edit, use the clap as the sync point to ensure your audio and video are aligned perfectly. Be sure your camera is recording audio as well, because this lower quality audio will be used for reference when syncing.

Room Tone

No matter how quiet your recording space, all rooms have a ‘sound.’ This is called ‘room tone’ and it is different from true silence. Record one minute of your room’s ‘room tone’ with your lights on. This audio can be used in your edit when you need to add in ‘silence’.


Recording on-camera video should be fun. Before you sit down in front of the camera, relax! Take a few deep breaths and shake out the tension. Think about talking to a person you genuinely like standing just behind the camera. Smile and be yourself.

  • Don’t try to memorize a script. Instead have a clear plan for your beginning, middle and end using bullet points.
  • Place your outline or script as close as possible to the camera.
  • Select your framing based on the goals of your video. The tighter the framing the more personal and intimate it will feel.
  • Relax, a few stretches or movements like shoulder rolls can help you loosen up.
  • Warm up your voice with some vocal exercises before you record.
  • Stand or sit up straight but naturally and don’t rock or sway back and forth.
  • Be sure you’re standing or sitting a few feet away from your backdrop or background.
  • Have water handy to sip between takes.
  • Watch yourself on-camera to see how you look and sound, make any needed adjustments to clothing, background or lighting.
Performance Tips:
  • Talk directly into the camera lens at eye level.
  • Keep your energy level consistent through the whole video.
  • Often, what feels like a natural expression can look like a grimace or slightly grumpy face, it can help to smile just a bit more than feels natural.
  • Speak normally or even slightly slower than normal.
  • Do multiple takes. Don’t worry about starting and stopping the recording as you go. Leave the camera and audio rolling. You are the only one who will see the raw footage. If you aren’t happy with a take, do it again.
  • Leave long pauses before and after you speak, this will help when it comes to the editing.
  • You will improve with practice.

For more on recording, watch The Instructional Video: Chapter 4.1: The Introduction.

To learn more, watch Improve Your On-Camera Performance: