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Think you need lots of space for video calls? Try this.

by | Apr 21, 2020 | How To, Work from Home | 1 comment

At the time of this writing, we are on a “Stay at Home” order because of COVID-19. All non-essential employees are either working from home or in extreme cases, laid off until further notice. Either way, it’s prompted much higher laptop, webcam, and Internet usage and sometimes in a very small space!

My challenge was to create a professional-looking environment for Zoom video conferencing and Facebook Live streaming in a small space. How small? How about 4′ x 4′? And the real challenging part? To do it, I had to use things that were already in my home or garage!

My Small Space

I set out by emptying a corner of my studio and marking off four feet square. As you can see by the final product on the right you can fit a lot in that space. Read below for what I put in there to make it work.

My Parts list

task chair

It started with a small task chair. No arms to save space. Amazon has a perfect one here https://amzn.to/2XSXnWl

This Adjustable garment rack was a HUGE help. I originally got mine at Target.com and it is adjustable up and down as well as has the slideouts at the top but Amazon has a similar here: https://amzn.to/2wUW26h

(2) 8 1/2″ clamp base light with reflector. I got mine at Harbor Freight but Amazon has a similar one here: https://amzn.to/2XSp8yh

I used (2) 13W CFL lights that I already had. They do save some energy over old bulb lights but they still generate a lot of heat. LED lights like these would be a much safer choice – especially if you have to put diffusion material over them to soften the light. Amazon has a 2-pack https://amzn.to/2KjMRzw (Remember the get two of the same color balance! See images below.)

A moving blanket. 40″ x 72″ was draped over the garment rack to help keep the echo down. I got mine at Harbor Freight but Amazon has nicer ones here: https://amzn.to/2yBnt5q

I had a fairly sturdy 30″ tall plant stand so I used it. If I had to buy it I would do something like this 36″ stand: https://amzn.to/2VsYZVk You could go with a 12″ wide shelf if you have one.

A 24″ wide x 36″ high desk of some sort. It has to be 24″ to fit in between the posts of the garment rack. I used an adjustable posing table but you could use a laptop stand too, like this one https://amzn.to/2RYwJHY

An 11″ x 14″ certificate frame with a real certificate or a picture if you don’t have one. I got mine at Michael’s Craft but Amazon has a very similar one here: https://amzn.to/3btthwz

A 2-prong extension cord with multiple outlets. Amazon has a GE cord here: https://amzn.to/2RUi2FO

Some Observations:

As I was using things from my studio I did have access to an adjustable height posing table. A 24″ wide desk would do just as well OR if you have to use a 36″ or 48″ desk you could, you’ll just lose about 6 or 7 inches in front of you. It won’t affect how far back the computer is.

I used white poster board on the top of the posing table, just cut to size, so that the light from above would bounce back up a bit and eliminate the shadows under the chin.

I was lucky that I already had white walls. If you don’t you can hang full-size white bedsheets behind you. Just stretch them tight so you don’t get wrinkles. You _could_ do a Chroma Key or Green Screen behind you if you wanted BUT there’s some pushback because, if not lighted correctly, it looks like crap.

Speaking of lights. Make sure you don’t mix the color temperature of the lights. Get bright white if you can. Sunlight is about 5500K (kelvin) whereas most incandescent bulbs are around 3500K (warm light). I used 14W CFL lights here. See the examples below. This would be really cool if you used Phillips HUE RGB lights!

The books and the vase with flowers I already had. Maybe you do too.

How to make everything look straight? Put it into perspective. The angle of the lens makes straight lines look angled. It makes things seem closer or farther away than they are. Once you get the height of your desk and chair look at the items in your background to see what appears crooked. Then simply hang the items at an angle to counteract the effect. Pictures below.

Full images gallery:

1 Comment

  1. Jane

    Todd – thank you for all of the DETAIL submitted in this post. AWESOME. Jane Herron

    Reply

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