The advice in this article applies to both running webinars and virtual classes and recording videos. Learn more about these topics in our article about best practices for recording media.


Most of us are using home offices, kitchen counters and basements to work from. The webcam in a laptop is very small, this means that it does not take in much light (small aperture) and the image will look grainy in low light situations.

  • Avoid having a bright light behind you (to avoid a silhouette effect)
  • Ideally, face a window — but avoid very direct sun, which will blind you and may wash out your complexion or make you look shiny, depending on your skin tone and type
  • Use light curtains or blinds to avoid direct sun while taking advantage of your window
  • A well positioned desk lamp or lamps in front and to the side of you can help immensely
  • Adjust your monitor brightness

Liz Allen-Pennebaker (Core) and Adam Van Sertima (Montréal) discuss lighting with what you already have at home in more detail. In the video below, Will McCrary (CCO) shows some basic tricks for good lighting.


Avoid using the built-in laptop microphone. A good USB microphone, either one that stands on your desk or a headset, is ideal. If you don’t have one, try using a set of earbuds that have a microphone (your smartphone probably came with earbuds).

Try to minimize ambient sound in your recording environment. Close doors and windows, and turn off air conditioners and fans. If you can, use a small, carpeted room for the most neutral sound.  

Test Your Setup

You can record using Panopto or run a Google Meet session with no one else in it and record yourself. This will let you preview how you look and sound before you invest time in recording a video.

Using Your Phone or Camera

Consider using your smartphone with a pair of earbuds. The camera in most recent smartphones is very high quality and certainly up to the task of recording a short video with good light. The forward facing camera is typically much better than the selfie camera, but both are adequate. Using your phone allows you to change your physical setting and easily show objects.

Another option with your phone is to improvise a document camera, which lets you demonstrate or draw on paper–excellent for traditional art classes, math classes, and other applications where you would usually use a whiteboard.

You can install Google Meet, Zoom, Panopto and Youtube on an iPhone or Android phone.

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