Shooting video demos in a small room - what's a good background and how close should the camera be?

Dismalhead

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Hey all,

About to remodel my music room - have to do a floor repair so I figure it's time for a makeover.

I've shot a few videos of me playing songs but the background and lighting are awful at present. It's beat up '70s paneling with sticker residue and scuffs all over. So I want to be able to make equipment demos and videos of me playing songs that I can post to YouTube. I will probably have my little wall of amps and hanging guitars behind me. Room is 11' x 11'. Budget is about $600 after I repair the floor and replace the carpet.

Purely seeking opinions here:

1. What's a good background color to paint the walls for videos? Right now I'm leaning toward dark gray.

2. How close should the camera shot be if I'm standing in the videos (I never play sitting down)? The room is 11' x 11'; not that big.

3. Colored lights, white ring lights, both?

Hoping somebody has some experience with this. Would appreciate any photos of your video making spots. Also wondering about how you hang your guitars. As you can see in the photos, I have a dozen individual screw-in hangers. I think I'd rather have something that groups them closer together.

Thanks!

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still_fiddlin

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You generally don't want a busy background, and you can use lighting to put that way in the background, or I suppose a "green-screen" setup might be the best solution if you have video software that can take advantage of it.

I have a small room (also 11'x11') and make terrible videos there :). I do try to *not* light up the area behind me, but, of course, if you have a light in front of you, in that small of a space it's pretty hard not to include the background. Then the solution is to get close or zoom so it's yourself that's filling the screen.

p.s. I'm assuming the question about the guitars is for when you're not making a video. Take them down for the video, if you're recording yourself playing. They're just distracting. If you want to have some handy, one of those racks where they're sideways against the wall would be my vote.
 

Ben Harmless

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This is a really cool pursuit. I wanted to do some of this during lockdown, but was working in a space that exhausted me and I never did anything.

I don't have much to add, other than my approach to things like this, including mixing my own vocals. The philosophy goes: "If in doubt, embrace lofi." If it makes sense for your music, go black and white. Distort the shots. Light at a low angle, from behind. Go with uncomfortably close shots.

Obviously totally music/art/vibe/situationally dependent. Classy jazz performances probably wouldn't translate this way. Just an option.
 

Dismalhead

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This is a really cool pursuit. I wanted to do some of this during lockdown, but was working in a space that exhausted me and I never did anything.

I don't have much to add, other than my approach to things like this, including mixing my own vocals. The philosophy goes: "If in doubt, embrace lofi." If it makes sense for your music, go black and white. Distort the shots. Light at a low angle, from behind. Go with uncomfortably close shots.

Obviously totally music/art/vibe/situationally dependent. Classy jazz performances probably wouldn't translate this way. Just an option.

That's a really good suggestion. Not only is it probably appropriate for my technical limitations and the music I play I think it's kinda classy too. I don't have a great video camera.
 

StoneH

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For lighting, I bought two of these (and I'm buying a third). No wires, all colors, change intensity, long runtime, charge on USB.

 

bgmacaw

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I've been thinking about this as well since I'm moving my home office / studio to a larger bedroom that used to be my son's room. It needs a lot of work so that project got delayed due to my wife's desire for remodeling the kitchen (sigh).

What I was thinking about was a stick-on mural background with either bricks or a bookshelf, as described in this article: https://www.makeuseof.com/stylish-backdrop-ideas-for-youtubers-youtube-videos/ Here are some examples from Amazon...

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I'll probably use vinyl distressed wood look on the floor and maybe an area rug.

I generally like indirect lighting in a room but I'll have to consider what will work for video.
 

studio

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From my 30 years of being a professional camera operator and audio engineer:

Treat your video studio as you would your audio studio. Its a smaller space which means you will have some compromise in your setup and install.

You have 4 walls, each one can be treated as a different shot location. All you have to do is reposition your lights and you have a new background to choose from! One could be grey, another green screen and then colored fabrics of your choice!

All cameras, despite what the manufacturers tell you have a sweet spot. You need to find that spot that works for you in your environment.

There will always be room for improvement but you should start with the basics. The fundamentals. Take a lighting course on YouTube etc. That alone will bring your camera work up 100%.

Just like a music recording studio, start small, take constructive criticism, and copy what others before you have done. Always always always have fun with it. Thanks.
 

estreet

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I think I would spend the money on a camera rather than the room if the one you have isn't great. Are you filming just yourself or will there be other musicians too? Filming several people in a smallish room needs a pretty wide angle view. I find Go-Pro cameras nice and easy to use for the Job. I sometimes use SLRs too but that requires more thought and attention to focus etc. I often set up several cameras and edit the results together but if it's just you then one or two is fine. The sound is probably more important. I never use the camera sound but I record simultaneously then combine the sound with the picture in editing. My room is about the same size as yours and is more messy lol - but I don't worry about it too much. Sometimes I use a black blanket as a background. Here's a simple one shot with a GoPro and the sound recorded to Garageband.



Here's one done with the black blanket.



And here's a live one with several cameras edited together:

(2 GoPros and a DJI pocket 2)

There's a load more on my Youtube channel going back about 15 years - the later ones are better quality as I accumulated better gear.

Carl.
 

Rene Asologuitar

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Have you guys seen TDPRI's
very own ReneAsologuitar video studio?

Simple set, and he gets work done!


The background is a little too busy for me, but this is my music room, hahahaha.
Thanks for featuring my little music space, studio!!!
By the way, via TDPRI, studio helped my get to my current recording set up which is very simple, and I love it!!!
For one of my lighting help, I used a "Happy Light" panel which serves the purpose, and "makes me happy as well".
Let me know if you are interested in my simple set-up, quite inexpensive, and designed with the help of "studio"!!!
I have a few samples of my recorded videos in Twangers Central and Worship Service Players.
One added "plus" that studio recommended for me, and it works great visually and removes a bunch of my clatter, is my "invisible microphones".
Thanks studio!!!
Respectfully,
Rene
 

drewg

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I think I would spend the money on a camera rather than the room if the one you have isn't great. Are you filming just yourself or will there be other musicians too? Filming several people in a smallish room needs a pretty wide angle view. I find Go-Pro cameras nice and easy to use for the Job. I sometimes use SLRs too but that requires more thought and attention to focus etc. I often set up several cameras and edit the results together but if it's just you then one or two is fine. The sound is probably more important. I never use the camera sound but I record simultaneously then combine the sound with the picture in editing. My room is about the same size as yours and is more messy lol - but I don't worry about it too much. Sometimes I use a black blanket as a background. Here's a simple one shot with a GoPro and the sound recorded to Garageband.



Here's one done with the black blanket.



And here's a live one with several cameras edited together:

(2 GoPros and a DJI pocket 2)

There's a load more on my Youtube channel going back about 15 years - the later ones are better quality as I accumulated better gear.

Carl.


I like especially that black blanket setup. Can't even see the blanket, just looks dark and classy. Thanks for sharing those!
 

Warhol

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Hi,

I don't think there is a right or a bad background for making videos, just a few simple rules to highlight a shot.

Mostly, it is enough to have a colorimetric contrast between the foreground and the background.
For this it is easier to shoot in a dark room and play with artificial lights and colors.

In most of my videos, I try to do it, like here for exemple :



I just used a warm background (orange and yellow lights) because of the « cold » foreground (green t-shirt, bleu guitar).

Here is the opposite (cold background and warm foreground) :



Also, it is possible to simply avoid this constraint of the background by using black and white (by pushing the contrast):

 

StoneH

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My space couldn't be much smaller. My body and guitar take up most of the frame, so I don't worry about the background. The Strat is not staged, it lives in that spot because I can open the closet door without hitting it. The second pic is what my recording space looks like almost 24/7 (different guitars on different stands, and different mics depending on what I am recording).

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gitlvr

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You can rig up a huge diffussor cheap if you want. I have a white semi transparent shower curtain stretched in front of a closet, with two can lights with 60 watt bulbs in them behind that. It gives me a huge amount of nice, even light, and I have a small, dimmable lamp to my left to give just a bit of side lighting.
Note that I have not read the entire thread, so if I'm repeating anything consider that it means that this is important.
It does not matter what the background is, or any of the other variables in play; with video, lighting is number one, closely followed by good audio. If you light what you have properly you'll be fine.
MHO
 

gitlvr

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To add to my last post, this is the first video made with the lighting setup I mentioned above. I need to do a bit of post processing work to make that even better, so it is still a work in progress. But IMHO this is miles above any of the videos I have posted before it.
My room is 8'x10', fwiw.
 




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