Art, angle, balance. This will age well. 8/10
April 30, 2020 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Rate my Skype/Zoom room (SLTwitter account). For Twitter-averse, LA Mag also wrote a short piece with embedded highlights: This Twitter Account Is Savaging Politicians’ and Pundits’ Skype Environs
posted by spamandkimchi (32 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
For the bibliophile take, there's also @bcredibility
posted by bl1nk at 3:34 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


I have noticed how reporters at home have books that have obviously been collected and read over years' time crammed together on shelves. Politicians meanwhile have books on the shelves behind them purely for decoration (several thick hardcover tomes with brown or maroon binding, usually held upright by expensive 'objets-trouvés').
posted by jabah at 3:43 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


I wish there was a more DogRates-esque version as well.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:44 PM on April 30


I'm really glad my work doesn't require us to use video during team meetings. My work computer is in my messy bedroom, and I'll be damned if I'm cleaning it up for my coworkers!

Fortunately the easy chair where I use my home computer is in a corner of the living room, so during my social-hangout meetings people only see a fairly bare and uncluttered backdrop. I'm sure this site would rate that pretty low, but it's not a professional situation so as long as I'm not actively embarrassing myself I'm okay with that.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:23 PM on April 30


OK real talk though, how DO you set up a Skype room (or even a corner of a room) to make you look halfway decent on video calls? I'm no photography genius, but even I understand you're supposed to shoot from a bit above and light your face well. If you're using the built in laptop camera, how does that even work? Prop your computer up on a stack of books? Put a desktop reading light behind it, shining directly at you over the top or something?

Or are we all supposed to be buying external webcams and, like... wee tripods to keep them at the proper height? I refuse to hold my phone at the proper selfie angle for an entire Zoom call, that's just not happening. My best approach so far is to sit far enough back from the laptop that the built in camera is not looking straight up my nose. Then people can see me slouching like a mofo, but everyone at work already knows I sit like that I guess.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:28 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I clip this music stand lamp onto the top bezel of my laptop screen and it does a decent job of lighting my face, but probably any reasonably bright adjustable/gooseneck lamp behind or next to the laptop and aimed at you should be fine. As for height, just park the laptop on a couple books or small box or something to raise the built-in camera to be level with your eyes. I can't think of many situations where one would be doing a lot of typing during a video conference, so the temporarily-awkward keyboard position shouldn't be too much of an issue.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:53 PM on April 30


A blank white wall, myself lurking in a corner of the frame, partially obscured by a literal and metaphorical darkness. Tbh, the people I work with already knew that I somehow never learned how to sit in a chair.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:56 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


My wife set up a karaoke "dancing lights" display behind her so she's lit from the front, but an array of rhythmic, dancing lights in the room behind her plays across her dark background. She's only done this with fun, family group Zoom sessions, but it's actually very cool.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:57 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


My favorite was bsteffen - "adding two points for on air cat fight."
posted by shoesietart at 5:34 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


I actually enjoy video conferences now because when they were in office conference rooms with ghastly lighting and unflattering angles it was a nightmare. Now I have control! I have played with my lighting, distance and angles till they are flattering. I hung artwork and moved a bookcase to the wall behind me for visual interest. It's shallow but also kind of fun. If I had to do it long term I would constantly be shopping for new cool things to swap out behind me.
posted by emjaybee at 5:41 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


cool things to swap out behind me.

That's what virtual backgrounds are for!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:49 PM on April 30


Do you want to telegraph the authenticity of your messy kitchen table, or broadcast a theatrical mise en scène, carefully crafted with objects that say something interesting about you and portray you in a visually pleasing way? I go back and forth between the two. Right now my background is plain white cupboards and an exercise bike that I don't use. I was considering shifting to bookcases, but was afraid of the Bookcase Credibility angle, and whether it would seem too curated. Would love to have a window in the background, but then the backlight problem.

I'm still surprised at how many of my coworkers are utterly unaware of framing themselves in the camera, or those who sit extremely far away, or those whose camera is on a different screen, so they are speaking at a 90 degree angle to the camera. And is it OK to make suggestions to people about not filming up nose?

Also, I catch myself leaning in really close to the camera. I think I am unconsciously trying to get closer to people.
posted by amusebuche at 6:11 PM on April 30


For a lot of people (including myself), the best video camera in your house is your smartphone and it can run software that makes it a webcam. I took the "head" off a selfie stick and put it on a mini-tripod, which seems to work ok.

A few years ago I had a remote interview. I raised my laptop up with books, pointed my lights at the wall for diffusion, and ironed my shirt. When I logged on to the conference, my interviewer was wearing sweats and was so backlit I could barely see his face. But he wasn't trying to get a job.
posted by meowzilla at 6:30 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


The implication that many peeps use a laptop down at typing level all the time is giving me backache. Screen high enough that your eyes are mostly level while you’re sitting up is an okay angle to be filmed at, if not optimal.

You might as well stack it on whichever books seem most embarrassing. Unless you’re still consulting 24 Hours to My Tech Specialty often... use that as a footrest.
posted by clew at 6:35 PM on April 30


You could try to frame your video calls with curious negative space like they did in Mr Robot.
posted by hippybear at 7:03 PM on April 30


Virtual backgrounds mostly suck and create weird ugly effects when you move.

Sometimes my cats make a cameo behind me, but sometimes one is humping the other, so that keeps it exciting.
posted by emjaybee at 7:32 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I myself have gone for the hostage video look (blank white wall), only broken up by a curtain and the occasional spouse or cat sauntering by. The Bookcase Credibility @bcredibility twitter is hilariously over the top.
Cory Booker. This is so stripped back it's a challenge to convention. There is no bookcase, the small pile of books are turned so their titles are hidden. All that is left is their essential bookness. Cory argues that this is enough and challenges us to examine our thinking.

Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki Another huge tech cheese unafraid to draw on a bookcase when in need of back up. It's a standard credibility wallpaper presentation in the unthreatening homely style but the globe over her shoulder is a quiet reminder of who controls what.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:48 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Virtual backgrounds ... create weird ugly effects when you move.

Yeah, that's the fun part!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:49 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I dunno, maybe let's not shame people doing the best they can while working from home during a pandemic.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:27 PM on April 30 [11 favorites]


Like, honestly, background judging... you're supposed to be in conversation with the person. Expecting people to set up a home studio to do work from home feels a bit... I dunno exactly. I'm not a fan, however.
posted by hippybear at 10:27 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I dunno, maybe let's not shame people doing the best they can while working from home during a pandemic.

Yeah, agreed. Working from home is invasive enough, I don't like the expectation that people's homes need to be curated for our consumption.
posted by Emily's Fist at 10:30 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Working from home is invasive enough, I don't like the expectation that people's homes need to be curated for our consumption

If the link had been to regular people's webcams, I'd have hated it, for just that reason. I was very happy to see that it concentrates on public figures, and also that so many of them are joining in with good humour. (I'm particularly fond of Charles Duhigg's reply.)
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:09 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Do you want to telegraph the authenticity of your messy kitchen table, or broadcast a theatrical mise en scène, carefully crafted with objects that say something interesting about you and portray you in a visually pleasing way?

I've gone for the 'over 50 and couldn't give a shit' look.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:18 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


That's what virtual backgrounds are for!

They require a computer with more capacity than a lot of companies provide as their employee's laptops.
posted by srboisvert at 4:04 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


They require a computer with more capacity than a lot of companies provide as their employee's laptops.

You can use a greenscreen with slower processors, but there's no way I'm going to rig up a bedsheet behind my chair just so I can pretend I'm working from $bland_corporate_environment. No, my coworkers get to see my Tiffany lamp (previous owners used my office space as a pool room and I haven't been bothered to switch out the lighting), (tasteful) band posters, and (yes) bookshelves.
posted by pianoblack at 6:01 AM on May 1


I dunno, maybe let's not shame people doing the best they can while working from home during a pandemic.

Yeah, no, this takes on only people who are doing webcasts or other available for public consumption broadcasts.

This account doesn't hesitate to give lower ratings to either side of the spectrum, but does pithy dunks on people like Ann Coulter, Rudy Giuliani, and Ben Shapiro. One of my new fave follows.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:03 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


I've gone with a stark white wall and occasional cat butt (because they want head skritches so, of course they turn their butt to the camera).
posted by agatha_magatha at 8:47 AM on May 1


I'm now obsessed with this. I'm embarrassed to say how long I scrolled through the ratings!
posted by trillian at 11:19 AM on May 1


"Working from home is invasive enough, I don't like the expectation that people's homes need to be curated for our consumption."

I'm not paying $100+ and waiting months to order a green screen. I tried it against the one blank white wall in the house and it almost worked except for the shadow.

I just don't fucking care about the lighting, what's behind me (the kitchen), whatever. I have a fat pasty head regardless anyway so what does it matter, lookswise. I did do a house purge a few months before this so I don't care on the stuff issue right now, but a lot of us were used to having our homes being private and not on display for every random on the Internet, your coworkers, etc.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:59 PM on May 1


Sometimes when my rage has burned through all my synapses (#FreeThemAll) and I need more coffee before I can go back to the pile of grading or the writing, I want silly no-stakes Twitter.

Somehow, these absurd judgmental comments on home decor are soothing to me.

*We no longer add points for orchids or manual typewriters. 7/10

And of course, they are only judging rooms of people who are already hyperaware of how they look, because they are on broadcast television: reporters, pundits, politicans.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:45 PM on May 1


> Or are we all supposed to be buying external webcams

There was a shortage a few weeks ago, for precisely that reason. (Verge, USA today)
posted by fragmede at 4:03 PM on May 1


I brought an inexpensive logitech camera a couple of days into lockdown, and discovered last week that the only ones of that model left are now priced at double what I paid.
posted by tavella at 7:22 PM on May 2


« Older The Deconstruction   |   The Islamic History of Coffee Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments