I conducted an interesting experiment with video last week that yielded a fairly conclusive result. Simply, stand up in your videos. I recorded a short script in our TV studio on a greenscreen backdrop, and initially shot it while sitting down on a high stool-type chair. We have used this chair for other instructors to sit on while recording content videos and it seemed to work fine. However, a colleague, Owen Guthrie, had the opportunity to tour the media production studio at George Washington University a few weeks ago, and he made the point that their video subjects simply stand. I got to thinking about what this means for poise, presence, confidence, and aesthetics. So the next day, I grabbed the same blue shirt, and headed over to the studio to rerecord.
I ended up using the video of me delivering the script while standing as the final version. My hand gestures seem more natural, and stem from my core, not from my elbows resting on the chair. I am also directly facing the camera, and my hand gestures are more fronted.
Standing Version (used in final edit)
Then there is the initial version where I am seated, embedded below. Notice that I am at a slight angle to the camera, and the chair is enabling me to hunch over unnaturally. It’s similar to how having a podium can encourage some bad habits in public speakers – gripping the podium, being static. It was sort of nice to sit in a chair, but was it at all necessary? I also had difficulty pulling a clean matte on the color key due to green spill on the reflective black arms of the chair. This slowed down my workflow and probably affected the quality of the matte edge on other parts of the image. Overall, I think the chair impedes my message and hinders my authority as a speaker.
Seated Version (not used in edit)
So I think we can coin a new best practice for video creation with single speaker subjects, at least in our studio environment here at UAF: Ditch the chair and stand up.