Support from FASE's Education Technology Office

Setting up your physical recording space

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The following guide is meant to outline the various aspects that are important to consider and assess when configuring your space so that it is optimized and ready for you to record in. While everyone's recording space will vary in many ways, following these suggestions will help you flag any common potential issues and deal with them accordingly. For some great visual examples of what not to do when filming, we recommend you check out the section entitled What Not to Do, in the article Putting Your Best Self Forward: 6 Keys For Filming Quality Videos.

If an ETO member will be remotely directing the recording, please visit our guide, ETO Prep Sheet: Self-Capturing with Remote Direction.

1. Set up your lighting

Consider the following when getting started with lighting your shot:

  • Try using the lights available in the space. With these turned on, assess how you look on camera. The goal here is to have your face is evenly lit with minimal shadows being cast on it.
  • Consider a secondary light. You may find that it's difficult to get decent lighting with the lighting that is available in your space. If necessary, add a secondary light source to help with any shadows that are being cast onto your face. You can try using light sources that you may already have (e.g., a desk lamp) or you may consider purchasing a "ring light" (see our guide Select your hardware for self-screen recording).
  • Use a direct light source. Position your secondary light in front of you and adjust it so that your entire face is illuminated and appears with minimal shadows being cast onto it.

Credit: Photo/Video Lighting on a Shoestring Budget (via


Use the visual reference seen above as a guide for what to strive for when setting up lighting for your shot.

  1. Uneven lighting. The majority of the left portion of the subject's face is obscured by shadows. To fix this, the light source should be positioned more towards the center of the subject's face.
  2. Even lighting. The subject's face is more evenly lit, resulting in a shot that is more pleasing to the eye. This look is achieved by having the light source pointed towards the center of the face.

For additional information and resources on lighting, we recommend you check out the section entitled More Lighting Tips within the How to Look and Sound Fabulous on a Webcam.

If you wear glasses, pay close attention to how your glasses appear on-camera. Specifically, are the lenses reflecting any light back to the camera? If so, you'll want to minimize or get rid of these reflections as they can be distracting and unsettling to your viewers. Please see the various tips outlined in the article How to Avoid Glare on Glasses in Zoom Video for further information on how to correct for the issue.

2. Set up your background

Although you will be the focal point of your video, the background of your scene is a very important item to consider. As a general rule, you should always assume that your audience will be "checking out" your space!

Optimize your background for your production by assessing the following:

  1. Content. Ensure the your background is comprised of items that you are comfortable with showcasing in a recording.
  2. Colour. It's important to consider colour contrast. You'll want to contrast nicely with your background to avoid blending in with the background.  For example, if you are set up in front of a beige wall, consider wearing a darker top.
  3. Movement. Ideally, you'll be recording in front of a static background as those containing movement (e.g., where there are people and/or traffic) can be distracting to the viewer.
  4. Tidiness. If possible, consider tidying up the space so that you're removing any unnecessary items out of your shot. Arrange any items so that they are positioned off one side of the frame, and not directly behind you.

Avoid filming in front of a window!

Credit: Putting Your Best Self Forward: 6 Keys For Filming Quality Videos (via


  1. Filming with a window behind you (i.e., during daylight) will result in you appearing as a silhouette within your video. This is due to the fact that you will be heavily backlit from the abundance of light shining through the window. As you can see, the result is less than ideal as the subject's face is almost completely obscured.

3. Ensure proper "framing"

When filming, you'll want to have your camera set up in a way so that you're framed in manner that looks good. As a general rule, avoid placing the camera above or below your face as this will result in an unflattering composition.

Credit: How to Frame Your Webcam Video Like a Pro (via


Consider the following when framing yourself:

  1. Use an imaginary grid. In your mind, place an imaginary grid over your shot (i.e., what your camera is capturing).
  2. Align your eyes on the grid. Adjust the positions of your camera and/or self so that your eyes appear on the 2nd horizontal line above the center point of the grid.

Use this method as a starting point and adjust accordingly. It's also important to check that there is a bit of space left between the top of your frame and the top of your head, which is often referred to as "head room."Doing so will ensure that your head does not move out of frame if you happen to move around a bit during your recording.

If you're finding that it's difficult to properly frame yourself using the built-in camera on your device, you may want to consider purchasing an external camera. Along with providing you with a better video quality, using an external camera will also allow you to position it in an ideal position without having to worry about repositioning your computer (i.e., with a built-in camera). You can find some camera suggestions (and camera mounting gear) via Select your hardware for self-screen recording.

4. Optimize your sound

Whether you're using a built-in microphone via your webcam or computer, or you're using a dedicated microphone to record your audio, you'll want to be mindful of the items listed below:

4.1. Microphone placement

The placement of the mic relative to your sound source is a very important aspect to consider when capturing audio. Placement is fundamental to capturing good quality audio. Regardless of the quality of your mic, if it is not placed correctly it will not be able to capture your sound source properly.

Consider the following aspects when setting up your microphone:

  1. Point your mic towards the sound source. Always ensure that your microphone is directed towards your audio source. Microphones that are attached to a stand will often have an articulating arm that you can use to properly direct your microphone .
  2. Place your mic 6 - 12 inches away from the sound source. The exact distance will of course depend on what your space allows for, but this is a good point to begin with.
  3. Ensure the mic is not obstructed by anything. In order to capture clear audio, your microphone needs to have a clear pathway to your audio source. If you're recording yourself speak, there should be nothing blocking the microphone from your mouth. Speech that is recorded using an obscured mic, will sound muffled and will be difficult to comprehend.
  4. Keep your mic in a consistent position. You'll want to keep your microphone in the same position as you record. If you need to change locations in between a recording, try your best to approximate your initial microphone setup. Any inconsistencies in the placement of the microphone will be heard in the final product (i.e., portions of audio will sound different relative to others).

4.2. Controlling for unwanted noise

Start by sitting in "silence" in your recording space. Depending on your room, you may notice that it's not actually that silent. While some sources of noise are out of your control, it's worth thinking about those sources that you can in fact control and determine what can be done to stop them from potentially ruining your recording.

Potential sources of noise occurring within your space:

  • computer sounds (e.g., fan, notifications)
  • printer
  • smart phone
  • house telephone
  • fan/air system

Potential sources of noise occurring outside of your space:

  • traffic
  • neighbours
  • weather

Where applicable/possible consider:

  1. Turning off items that generate noise.
  2. Repositioning your mic away from sources of noise to minimize their presence in your recordings.
  3. Recording when sound levels are quietest.

Recording system audio.

In addition to recording the visual material presented on your screen, you may also want to record the device's internal audio. If you're screen capturing (i.e., both video and audio) be sure to verify that the device is only outputting the audio that you want it to be outputting for the recording. In most cases, there is no way to delineate which sound sources you want the screen capturing software to actually record. Therefore, as a general rule, ensure all unwanted noise sources (e.g., email audio notifications) are turned off by either exiting specific software platforms, or disabling their sound notifications.

Do not use a device's onboard microphone if you're annotating on that same device. Since the microphone is built-in to the device, it will capture all of the noise that you will inevitably make as you annotate. As you can imagine, audio recorded in this way is very unappealing and difficult for the listener to comprehend (and tolerate).

5. Configure your recording device

Regardless of the types of devices used, always ensure that they are optimized for your specific recording needs. Consider following the pointers below so that your recording device is optimized for recording:

  1. Close any software on your device that you will not be using for your recording. Doing so will maximize your device's performance.
  2. Ensure that your device has ample storage space. If it doesn't, your computer will not be able to continue recording once it reaches its capacity.
Still have questions? Contact the FASE EdTech Office