I’m sooooo over the plain paper backdrop. At least for a while.
Choosing the perfect background for your videos has a lot of impact on the quality and feeling of them. Whether you’re a YouTube vlogger or online course creator, it’s important to make a conscious decision, rather than just set up the old camera and start shooting.
There are 2 major background styles:
1. Real – your office, bedroom, outdoors
2. “Fake” – paper, curtain, green screen
Both are great choices for different reasons.
The Paper Backdrop
First, let’s talk about the fake background. I mentioned above that I’m over the plain paper backdrop. And it’s true, I want more character in my videos. But that’s not necessary.
Here’s when you should use a solid backdrop like a Savage paper roll, green screen, or plain old curtain:
- Keep things clean and simple
- Focus the attention on you, the person on camera
- Cover up a messy unorganized background – unmade beds and dirty laundry included!
- To be consistent
- To look professional
All of these are great reasons. I wrote to look professional, but you have to do it right. I’ve seen many many sloppy green screen setups that look amateur. Trying to get the all-white Apple look will be really hard without professional lighting. So the best option is what Wistia has popularized with the seamless Savage paper rolls.
I purchased my own Thunder Gray seamless paper, and used it for quite a few projects. Below you can see me using the backdrop without the cool light that Wistia used for their ‘vignette’ look.
Yes, it was clean.
Yes, it covered up my messy office.
Yes, it was consistent.
But it doesn’t show off my personality!
After moving to our new house, I decided to re-decorate my office and make it good enough for my backdrop.
The Office / Room Backdrop
Here’s when and why you should consider using your room as your background:
- To show off your personality
- To be more personal
- When you have a clean background
- When you’re using a DSLR, mirrorless, or other camera with interchangeable lenses that can create the nice, blurry background
Here are some inspirational video creators that I got ideas from:
STUDY WITH JESS: I love how clean her background is. There are a couple pops of color here and there so it’s not too bland. But it’s classy. I’d ditch the plant though!
CALEB WOJCIK: I’ve always appreciated Caleb’s high-quality productions. His setup is eerily similar to Pat Flynn’s (below), but I’ll let is slide because he is Pat’s videographer. Anyway, it’s clean, shows off his personality a bit more, and is consistent.
PAT FLYNN: As a long time Flynn-fanboy, I’ve also always appreciated Pat’s style. He seems very genuine in all the things he does, and I like that. One thing I liked about his setup, and a few others (Thomas Frank included), is that he shows his computer in the background. This can, and can’t be good. For him it works. For me, my desk isn’t as pretty.
THINK MEDIA TV: Sean Cannell has been making videos about helping media creators for a while. He just set up his new home studio. It’s not my favorite setup because he’s using what looks like a wide 10-18mm lens (which I love for vlogging, and have used recently for many of my own YouTube videos), and that doesn’t get the shallow depth of field (i.e. blurry background) that makes the others so good.
My New Setup:
My background is still a bit of a work in progress. I have to hang my guitar. But the first shoot I did for an upcoming Premiere Pro course looks good… at least I think so.
Framing might change a little in the future to show my typewriter and old cameras in the background. But I’m liking the clean lines of the picture frames, and I don’t think they’re too distracting.
What I also like about this setup is that it works fairly well for Skyping, hangouts, webinars, etc… when I’m using my webcam. Excuse the poor exposure below, but the background is still more interesting than a blank wall.
I just have to keep it clean.