The goal: Shoot a video of a doctor speaking into a camera and sharing key messages. In this case, the doctor’s office did not provide an ideal background. The better choice: a colleague’s home office with its rich wooden shelves and professional appearance. But when shooting especially at someone’s home, you should carefully search the background for personal items that may distract viewers or detract from the professional message. Missing these items sometimes is easy. They blend into the background like hidden pictures in a Highlights magazine challenge. Here are five things to focus on.
- Cups/bottles: Before speaking on camera, people often hold cups of coffee or bottles of water while thinking over what they are about to say. At the last moment, they set those items down beside them. While everyone else is concentrating on their words and composing the shot, these cups and bottles loiter in the shot, turning an otherwise cool video into an unkempt look.
- Books: Books and papers line the shelves in an office. Did someone stack them neatly? Do any include bizarre titles viewers will stare at? Are any too personal or proprietary to share with the public?
- Pictures: In this case, the shelves included several family photos. Do the photos add a nice, personal touch to the video or do they distract people? Does the person appearing on camera care if strangers see their family photos? Perhaps more important, do the people in the pictures mind showing up in a video going public?
- Sports memorabilia: This doctor’s home office includes a Los Angeles Lakers sign. I cropped out the sign. The Lakers have no connection to this medical video. I don’t want people, instead of listening to the doctor, thinking, “I love the Lakers,” “I hate the Lakers” or “Did the Lakers win last night?”
- Fake pheasants: This doctor’s home office included a fake (or stuffed) pheasant on one of the bottom shelves. Even if it wasn’t a pheasant, the animal was poking its head into the bottom of my shot. When first walking into the office, I noticed the pheasant and started asking questions about it. Viewers will likely also ask questions such as “What the heck is that?” If a fake pheasant isn’t your problem, maybe a plastic cat with a bobbing head is the issue. Anything that might strike up a conversation might make your video strike out.