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Tag: Zoom

We’re Living in a Vertical Video World

If you’ve been fighting back against the vertical video revolution, it’s time to jump into the pool. The water’s warm. Here’s how I found peace with this disruption.

I recently had an epiphany about the growing trend of vertical video disrupting the fundamentals of video production. My mini “ah ha” happened during a Zoom interview recording at work, when one person’s Zoom feed was accidentally locked in a vertical position. More on that story in a moment…

But regarding the general battle between horizontal and vertical video… It’s already over.

The smartphone has effectively killed horizontal video. We’re just living through the transition. Yes, it’s going to take some years, but it’s time to acknowledge the truth.

And that’s been really hard for me to do.

The First Time
Ten years ago, I was producing a corporate video shoot inside a multimedia brand center. My business client walked up to me ten minutes before the interview was scheduled to begin and asked if we could shoot the video vertically. She thought the background of our video shot would look more compelling if seen vertically.

I looked closely for any sign that this wasn’t actually a serious suggestion. The moment felt like those western movies right before the gunslingers do their shoot out. I squinted my eyes, tapped into my inner Clint Eastwood and waited for what felt like minutes before I responded.

“Vertical?”

“Yes.”

It was a serious request.

Vertical Alignment is Coming
So, I explained that we couldn’t reset the shot in time, as our interviewee had already arrived. And I dodged the bullet.

But I remember feeling unsettled that the horizontal foundation of all video was so casually being challenged.

That was a decade ago. A lot has changed. The truth is my client was just slightly ahead of her time.

I have not forgotten this story, and it has been a reminder to me that creative winds and video boundaries are constantly evolving. That’s life. Everything changes.

Vertical TV Sets in your Home?
Today, vertical video is everywhere, primarily fueled by the social media apps on our smartphones. Vertical is natural. Vertical is comfortable in your hand. Vertical is accessible in every way, except on standard horizontal TV monitors.

But if you look around, there are plenty of vertical video monitors in public spaces.

It’s just a matter of time, until they show up in your home…

No More Rules
I know I’m fighting a losing battle whenever I try to correct someone who’s shooting a smartphone video vertically. Sure, I still work in a horizontal medium, though (here it comes) not exclusively.

Yes, today I am creating vertical video too. (There, I’ve come out and said it.)

And the transition to vertical video is only accelerating.

The iPhone has a Vertical Lock
So, back to my more recent story directing the remote interview via the Zoom feed. The interviewee was using her iPhone, which was fine. (The image quality was actually superior to the other three webcam Zoom shots in the conversation.) But for some unknown reason, the phone’s camera was locked in the vertical orientation. I asked her to turn her iPhone ninety degrees and then immediately back again. No dice.

I was stumped. I turned to the other crew members in our TV control room and asked for suggestions.

“Turn off the vertical lock!”

What? The iPhone has a vertical lock? (I had forgotten.)

I pulled out my iPhone and was quickly reschooled on this iOS feature.

That was indeed the solution for our remote interviewee, and her Zoom interview proceeded on horizontally.

Tap the Portrait Orientation Lock
After the interview, I looked again at my iPhone. I swiped down from the top right corner to access my Control Center screen.

It’s the “Portrait Orientation Lock” button. (The icon is a little lock surrounded by a circular arrow.)

If it’s activated, your iPhone screen and apps won’t rotate horizontally when you hold your iPhone horizontally.

Your phone’s screen is then effectively locked into a vertical orientation.

Huh.

You might wonder why that feature is even there. Clearly, there’s a need to prevent horizontal anything!

And after doing some research, I am reminded that this frustrating feature is not that new. Apple has been satisfying the vertical preference for quite some time. In fact, I first discovered this way back in 2018.

A Vertical Matrix?
Yes, you and I are clearly living a vertical video world, though admittedly with any number of horizontal holdouts.

This feels a bit like my own Matrix story. You’re welcome to join if you feel similarly inclined. (There are plenty of pods to house all of us.)

But guess what? I wouldn’t place all bets on vertical video. Oh no. The truth is video can no longer be restricted to any dimension. It’s not horizontal, and it’s not vertical. Sometimes, it’s square (of course).

Maybe video will evolve into the circular. Perhaps oblong? Who knows… Trapezoidal?

The days of vertical video as the mainstream will surely be numbered.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Learn to Love Vertical Video
For now, I’m simply happy to say that I’ve successfully discarded my horizontal bias. I have made my peace with vertical video.

I am comfortable working on digital canvases that orient both vertically and horizontally.

Barrett has evolved.

5 Easy Ways to Upgrade your Zoom Video

If you want to look and sound better during your next Zoom meeting, don’t forget these simple best practices to present yourself in the best possible light.

It’s been over two years since Zoom saved us from pandemic isolation. Sort of. Yes, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have been lifelines to our outside world over these many months. As life is evolving to a new normal, ‘hybrid’ is now clearly a part of that equation. That means the need to Zoom isn’t going away.

As remarkable as Zoom has been, I think everyone is exhausted. We’re cranky. We may know how to do a good Zoom. But we don’t want to. No. We don’t want to make that extra effort. Not anymore.

If you can hear my voice on Zoom, that’s enough. You don’t need to see me. And if for some reason I forget to turn off my camera, don’t expect much. If only half of my head is in the shot, that’s more than enough. If my bright window is dominating the image and obscuring my face, get used to it. It’s still me. Besides what I have to say is all that matters.

Is this perspective resonating right now? If so, I get it. You’re sick of having to show up for your close up. You didn’t sign up for this.

I know.

But let me offer this gentle reminder…

Zoom can Help You Stay Connected
Practicing good Zoom etiquette is worth it. If you want to show up in your life, then you do want to show up for your close up. It matters. If you want a seat at the table, then you’ve got to show up at the virtual table.

Turn on your webcam and follow these five best practices:

1.
Illuminate your Face
You should be facing the window… not the other way around. Please want to actually see you. Not your silhouette.

2.
Turn Off your Ceiling Light
You may think your ceiling light fixture is helping. It probably isn’t. Not if it’s directly over your head. That’s because it’s shining light down on top of you instead of in front of your face. That creates incredibly unflattering shadows. I don’t think you’re trying to audition for the next zombie movie. So turn off that ceiling light and flick on your desk lamp instead.

3.
Elevate your Webcam
Your webcam should never look up at your chin. If your shot features your ceiling, you need to raise your camera to a more perpendicular angle with your face. Simply elevate your laptop with a few books.

4.
Reduce the Headroom in your Shot
Headroom is the amount of space between the top of your head and the top of your Zoom box. I can almost guarantee that you’ve got too much headroom. There should only be a little gap. Please, tilt down your webcam. Your viewers want to see more of you, not more of your wall.

5.
Wear your Headset or Earbuds
Sure, your computer’s onboard microphone will work, but it’s too far away from your mouth to provide crisp audio. Instead, the audio has that far-away feel. That’s because the microphone is far away. Your headset mic sounds so much better. Please wear it. If you’re concerned about how your headset looks on you, then wear your earbuds or AirPods. The audio sounds that much better. Really.

Don’t Forget to Smile
Life presents unexpected twists and turns. It can be really rough. The headlines are getting any easier to consume. I know it’s sometimes hard to pull it together. But your Zooms don’t have to reflect the imbalance you may feel.

If you take a little extra effort to follow these video-conference best practices, you can better present your best self.

And if you’re doing that, I expect you’ll feel better too.

How to Hear Zoom Audio when Screen Mirroring to your TV

If you use a MacBook laptop and Apple TV, there’s one important setting to change if you want to hear your Zoom audio on your HDTV.

The Zoom app is mostly designed to be used on smartphones and computer screens as an interactive experience. But with Zoom having grown as a performance/presentation platform, sometimes it’s preferable to watch Zoom as a one-way experience. Then, it’s more enjoyable if you can experience it on your big-screen TV.

So how exactly do you get your Zoom feed to show up there? There are multiple ways to do it, but the gateway to my older (non-smart) HDTV is via my little (but mighty) Apple TV box.

Once I’m screen sharing in the Apple ecosystem to my Apple TV, it’s immediately available on my HDTV.

Apple makes screen mirroring (AirPlay) to its devices a snap. But getting Zoom’s audio to stream to your HDTV can be more tricky. Here are the ways to do it.

Use an iPhone and Zoom App
As long as you first activate screen mirroring from your iPhone to your Apple TV before joining your Zoom, you’ll be fine.

On your iPhone’s Control Center (open by swiping down from top-right corner of your screen), you’ll see the two layered rectangles icon for screen mirroring.

  • Tap it and select your Apple TV
  • Then join your Zoom presentation

Both video and audio will follow to your TV.

Use a MacBook’s Web Browser or Zoom App
Turn on Screen Mirroring via the Control Center icon on your laptop’s Menu Bar. Then choose the Apple TV.

Or a faster way to share your screen is just click on the Screen Mirroring icon on the Menu Bar. But you’ve first got to make sure that icon shows up on the top right. Here’s how to activate it.

  • Go to ‘System Preferences’
  • Click on ‘Screen Mirroring’ on the left panel
  • Click ‘Dock and Menu Bar’
  • Click Show in Menu Bar… ‘always’ (as opposed to ‘when active’)


Then proceed to your Zoom presentation.

What Happened to the Audio?
But I’ve found that one big problem can crop up when screen mirroring Zoom from my wife’s MacBook Air to our Apple TV…

The Zoom video projects fine onto the TV screen, but the audio doesn’t naturally follow. The Zoom audio remains tethered to the laptop’s speakers.

To fix that frustrating problem, there’s one additional step you’ve got to take.

Change your Zoom Audio Settings
By default, the Zoom audio output is the laptop’s speakers, even if you’re mirroring your screen. (Zoom doesn’t know that you’re practicing screen-mirroring magic.)

You’ve got to go into your Zoom settings and manually change the audio output to your Apple TV. Only then will the Zoom audio follow from your computer to your Apple TV.

In the Zoom app:

  • Click on ‘Home’
  • Click the Settings gear icon on the right
  • Click on ‘Audio’
  • Click on ‘Speaker’ drop down
  • Select ‘Apple TV’

And to be sure you’ve got it right, click on ‘Test Speaker’ and you should hear a happy melody coming from your TV’s speakers.

And voilà!

Turn Up the Volume
Zoom has proven to be a really powerful app over these past couple of years during the pandemic. But you’ve got to make sure the audio settings are right.

Once you do, you can finally sit back and enjoy the Zoom show on your TV!

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