Meeting backgrounds

I’m currently job hunting and going through video interviews. After a couple, I still feel like I’m not able to communicate nearly as well as in person. I don’t think the forum can help much with that, but one thing I was thinking of was backgrounds. Here is what I’ve done so far, just a white wall.

I tried adding some drawings, but my wall is 12’ behind me and the drawings just look like a mess.

I don’t know if D2LO uses the same background in calls as in his youtubes, but I like this.
D2LO background.jpg
I also like Frank Stephenson’s background in his videos. It’s not evident in this shot, but in his videos, it seems like he has 3 cameras on him. That kind of production isn’t warranted for a interview, but I like the decor that says, “approachable designer”.

Any thoughts?

I do keep the sketch wall for a lot of calls. It is just sheets of foamcore leaned against the wall so I can switch them out easily based on who I am talking to or remove them. Behind the foamcore are grey PET felt acoustic tiles.

You can always move your desk closer to the wall so you have more of a backdrop.

I know someone who has a couple of nice painting behind her for calls which is really nice.

I like Frank’s set up as well.

If that is your camera set up you might think about raising the camera height to be just above eye level.

Meeting backgrounds are telling, not only about your attention to detail in your communication but your tastes as a designer. IMHO, first, change your camera POV - elevate it so you are not seeing the ceiling and you are looking straight and level into the camera, move or rotate the camera so the background is more interesting, distance doesn’t matter unless you want to display work behind you like Michael and then be sure it is in focus. You’re a designer - jury rig your set for your interviews like you would for a formal business presentation and don’t forget lighting. Good luck!

Good point on lighting Dan. An easy fix is I’ve switched all my lighting to bright daylight LEDs. A couple of desk lamps and an overhead with daylight LEDs make a huge difference. Of course you can go further with some inexpensive photographer’s lights. The cost and size on these have come way down since LEDs.

I think the angle (around or above eye level) and decent lighting makes the biggest difference. The low view from a laptop camera has a tendency to make one look huge and imposing.

I find it more comfortable to talk to someone at eye level as well.

+1 on the camera placement. You could do a separate webcam instead of just a laptop screen.

Also, get a ring light,

or a LumeCube style light pad:

Try avoiding what looks like a hostage situation…

Wow, I’m glad to see some people have put thought into this. I didn’t think of it until I was in the middle of an interview thinking, “I really should have moved my kids toys before now…”.

Good point on the separate webcam. I think I’ll shop for one as my internal one is grainy. I like the idea of a ring light too. I thought of recording some youtubes or podcasts and researched how they are shot and recorded. I didn’t think of using that same info for setting up my video meetings.

Dan: I’m going to have to put some thought into decor. I like the sketches, because it says, “I’m creative”. On the other hand, a more sober decor says, “I’m a dependable person to work with”. Good food for thought!

SHIELDS: I love the image you found. Now that I compare the two, it’s true!

Look to the influencers, Ray. Look to the influencers…

Could go all-out for the eternal WFH vibe like this cool dude.

Personally I like a background of books, for myself and for others. Gives other people something to do when they aren’t listening to you.

If you are on a Mac and have an iPhone, another option beyond hunting for a camera is using an app called Camo. It let’s you use your iPhone’s good lenses as a webcam over USB.

I searched through my IT drawer. I have a beautiful camera, but it’s from 2011 and it doesn’t have webcam drivers. I’m debating investing in an HDMI - USB converter and trying to use it as a web cam. I also only have a zoom lens, so I’d need to buy a new lens too…ugh.

I tried my Playstation camera and can’t get it configured…bummer again.

What I can do for today is raise my laptop. Also, I saw on a tutorial about how to use your screen as a light source. I’ve opened a warm blank page on the lap top to give some extra light. I think it brings my skin 1 shade back from ghostly.

Lighting: it turns out, my lighting might not be too bad. I think I need another source to my left. Also, I have warm bulbs, but I’m going to try the daylight ones that D2LO suggests. I saw that in most of the tutorials too.

Webcam: I saw some comparisons that seem to give an edge to the Logitech Stream Cam lines. As I said, I could also rig my camera up, but that’s a bit of an investment with completely unknown returns. Any thoughts?

Wouldn’t it be easier to move the foamcore closer to the desk than moving the desk closer to the foamcore?

While I very much like your background, its authentic and appropriate, I find Frank Stephenson’s entirely staged and fake, something like our local sportscasters have, except they have a picture of Jordan and a trophy of some sorts.

B&H Photo has a number of decent webcams in stock now. I just got one for a coworker that’s 1080P for video calls and it seems to look great.

Camera angle-wise, yeah much better. Much less imposing, more inviting.

iab: I’ve heard book case sales are way up. Despite having a large library, I don’t want to stage myself with a big book case behind me.

What we are looking into, here, basically is “staging”. If you ever worked in theater or film it might come naturally. For others it can feel awkward.
But as designers we do know, how the details tell a story.

So I do different surroundings for private talk and business meetings. The childrens artworks are relevant to relatives, but not meant for my clients to focus on.

two other aspects:

  1. consistency.: The surrounding should convey the same message as my attire and talk do.

  2. freedom of restraints: As I am in the position to still do physical travel, as well, due to business requirements,
    I am aiming for a minimal setup, that can be recreated anywhere in Europe, without
    too much hassle.