Record Webcam Videos That Look and Sound Great

Improve video quality by improving sound and lighting

webcam still
Still frame from a webcam recording. Gretchen Siegchrist

Recording footage with a webcam is an easy and convenient way to make videos. However, many webcam recordings suffer from poor video and audio quality. You can make a few adjustments before recording with your webcam that drastically improve the quality of your videos.

How to Improve Webcam Video Quality

Many computers come with a webcam built in at the top of the screen. Otherwise, you can purchase a webcam that connects to your computer.

It's also possible to use digital camcorders as webcams by connecting them to your computer and recording directly onto the hard drive.

  • Set up your audio recording. Most computers have built-in microphones, but you'll get better sound quality using an external microphone. Even a basic desktop microphone that connects to your computer greatly improves the audio quality of your webcam recording.
  • Position the webcam. Too many webcam recordings feature people staring at their computer screen, while the webcam stares down at them from above. Avoid this by placing your webcam at eye level. If your webcam is fixed, make sure to look into the webcam and not at the recording screen for the best presentation quality.
  • Clean up the background. Many webcam videos are recorded in people's homes or bedrooms, and the intimacy of the setting is part of the charm. However, it's important to make sure that the background isn't cluttered or distracting and that nothing inappropriate shows on the screen. You don't want background objects to protrude awkwardly from your main subject's head.
  • Adjust the lighting. The brighter it is, the better your webcam recording looks. For a simple solution, use household lamps to approximate three-point lighting. The main subject's face should be brightly lit with no odd shadows.

Record, record, record. Once you have your equipment set up, you're ready to start recording with your webcam.

The nice thing about webcam video is that it's easy to do multiple takes until you get a perfect video but viewers aren't looking for perfection. You can usually get away with quick takes and off-the-cuff videos when the sound and lighting are right.

Additional Webcam Video Tips

Adjust the quality of your webcam recording. Most webcams let you adjust the format and compression of your video. If quality is important, increase the resolution and decrease the compression. If file size and speed are the critical factors, record smaller, lower-resolution video files.

Use your webcam for live, streaming video. These same instructions work whether you're recording directly to your computer, exporting the video to a site such as YouTube, or streaming the video live.