In this episode of The Rick & Clo Tech Show, we focus on the new remote working era that we find ourselves in, and how your tech setup makes all the difference, starting with your camera! Watch this video to see vast improvements in Chloe's camera quality with just a few simple changes.

Rick shows Chloe how to change her camera quality

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Link Library

Camo app

Gooseneck Phone Holder

OBS Studio

Logitech BRIO camera

EpocCam app


Transcripts:

Chloe 00:00: From the last video, looking at my picture quality compared to your picture quality, it is absolutely awful. And Dan said that you'd recommended using an iPhone instead.

Rick 00:19: Yeah, so Camo as an app effectively allows you to use your iPhone as a camera. There are similar things for Android devices as well, but I think what we forget is some of the most advanced camera equipment in the world is put into phones and these phones now cost almost £1,000, many of them.

Rick 00:43: The new iPhone 12 has a, what we call, the like double the sensor size on its one camera, which means low light performance is excellent, the ability for it to adjust for colour and, you know, most of these things will film in 4K now and when you think about it, that's sensible because that's where everybody's photography is taking place, but the by-product of that is that you have a device that is underused for what it's capable of.

Chloe 01:16: With laptops and computers, do you think that, obviously with the way the world is at the moment and going to remote, do you think they'll likely upgrade the camera within the laptop?

Rick 01:30 Yes.

Chloe 01:31: You do.

Rick 01:32: Yeah, I mean that's happening already. We're seeing the next generation of laptops that focus is going to be on camera quality, microphone quality. You know the work at home shift is going to be big and permanent for a lot of people. Spotify themselves said that they're now going to allow all their employees to work from anywhere, not just from home, but from anywhere.

Chloe 01:56: Yeah, it's crazy.

Rick 02:00: But it makes so much sense from a business perspective, from a personal health life perspective. We will see swings back to people wanting to get it together in office spaces. But, we don't want to lose all the benefits of the extra 2 hours a day, the time with family, the ability to actually not work a 9 to 5. I think that's one of the most difficult things to get your head around.

Chloe 02:25: So Dan has, so I've ordered my trusty bit of kit.

Rick 02:31: Ahh. This is the other thing that's very useful because it means you can position the camera anywhere, whereas with a tripod you end up with that whole kind of like spending hours balancing and moving. And this way you can just move it to being closer or far away from you without having to use zoom.

Chloe: 02:47: Yeah, it's really really bendy. So I literally just have to attach it to…

Rick 02:52: So attach that to your desk somewhere at the side and then you can clip the phone forward or back, so if you want to use the camera either way round, you can clip your phone either way round. And then connect the phone to your laptop with a lightning cable. I think if you've got a Mac it will be a lightning cable.

Chloe: 03:07: Okay, I haven't got a Mac but I've got just my standard USB cable, my phone. So I've downloaded the app so I'm gonna, I'm gonna attach this now and we're gonna see what, if it makes a difference to my camera quality. Bear with me, one second.

Rick 03:40: Okay.

Chloe 03:43: Let me see. So I've already downloaded the app as well and connected that. So I just plug it in and then go onto the Camo app, is it?

Rick 03:58: Yep. Now the nice thing about the Camo app is it even offers to download the software on the computer directly to it. So if you, say you did have a Mac you can actually AirDrop the software from the app to your PC.

Chloe 04:12: Oh nice.

Rick 04:11: But I think, on a PC, I think you may have to just click the link. So you have a piece of software on the laptop and what that does is it creates what they call a virtual camera. So that camera would then be listed in your list of cameras on your preferences on Zoom and on Teams and even easier, when you're in a Zoom call, on the bottom left where it says 'stop video', the little arrow up, that arrow up will list any cameras attached to your computer at the time.

Chloe 04:44: Ahh okay, yeah. So I've done the setup of it and everything already, so that is actually already on there. So if I then just pop my camera in. I don't have a clue what angle this is at so it might be…

Rick 04:59: You can start with whatever angle you like and then adjust.

Chloe 05:02: Oh, hold on.

Chloe 05:12: So then I just need to change it over.

Rick: 05.22: Mmhmm.

Rick 05:24: Aha, now it's come up with configure Camo Studio. Okay, so I believe it will need to configure.

Chloe 05:31: Oh hold on, does that mean..I haven't actually got the thing, Camo, open on my laptop. So do I need that open as well?

Chloe 05:39: Ah, here we go.

Rick 05:40: There you go, and look!

Chloe 05:42: Ahh, wow. All my flaws. Yeah, so then I just need to make sure that, when I'm, I need to make sure it's at the same sort of position.

Rick 05:54: Yeah. So I tend to actually place it directly in front of the screen, because if you're on a, well see if you're in a Zoom meeting like this, you'll have side-by-side video and there's a black gap at the top where the phone could be placed. And the closer that is to the horizontal that you're looking at, the less look away effect you have when you're in a…

Chloe 06:14: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because that's what I can see.

Rick 06:16: Even place it right in the middle and then make all of the important people appear around the outside. So then you're looking directly at it. But again this is the beauty of having the camera detached from the device so on mine, at the moment, I've got say this camera, but I've actually also got a virtual camera connected to like a DSLR, so I could switch to that and then choose.

Rick 06:37: And now this is a much different view. The lighting is slightly going to need adjustment for this camera, but then this one also has you know, the zoom effects and the focus. So here we can go from that to right in and then you've got a much more personal view and then with these virtual cameras, you've got a lot of other possibilities.

Rick 07:00: So we could talk about this another time but you know you can put your name up on it somewhere here. You know I can add loads of things. Say we want to put a web browser in so I can put a web browser in and I can say let's change it to Google. Give it an address 'google.com'. Okay, so now that's going to load Google in a window that I can place anywhere in my video, right. And I can change the size of it, right. Oh dear, Google is not.. Now the nice thing here for us is if I, oh by the way, I can move my video around as well.

Chloe 07:42: That's crazy, I didn't know you could do that.

Rick 07:45: All this software is free by the way. Okay, so this is called OBS Studio and OBS is what most gaming streamers and online streamers use for their…And then, you know, if I wanted to I can then switch back to my FaceTime camera which is much more basic, but it's functional.

Chloe 08:07: Yeah, but the picture quality on this one, I think is actually better than your DSLR, yeah.

Rick 08:14: Well that's one of the things you gotta watch out for because you get obsessed with certain stuff and actually this is one of the new MacBooks, the M1 series, so the previous MacBooks from last year have a 720p camera, what we call a low-res camera. They're not very good in low light. In fact, we've even, we were particularly disappointed in last year's MacBook Air, but the new M1 chips have got an optimisation for the new cameras and they are already improving. They reckon that the new Pro Series this coming year will be another big jump in camera quality.

Rick 08:50: I mean I've got one other camera on here which I'm not sure is configured but that's the Logitech BRIO. Now the BRIO is more zoomed out and is very very much optimised for streaming. For now, I'm going to switch back to my standard laptop camera, which works pretty well.

Chloe 09:06: This camera, iPhone stand thing that I've been introduced to is gonna be a life changer.

Rick 09:13: Well you look considerably better on camera now.

Chloe 09:16: It's crazy, isn't it. Obviously I need to set myself up properly because I'd just done it quickly and, you know, just to see the difference. So once I've got it set up in a permanent place for when I'm working, it just, from a marketing point of view and branding, if you've got a video quality that's not very good and you're having calls with, you know, potential clients or you're doing podcasts and videos and things like that, it just makes a big difference to actually how you look overall as a brand. Makes a big, big difference so yeah, I think I need to, I think you need to introduce me to things like the mics and speakers and stuff like that because, yeah, I seriously need to improve my setup here.

Rick 10:01: Don't worry, you know, and that's one of those things. We've actually just, so for all of our team that have phones issues, we've given them the software so they can use that. For our other team members who don't have iPhones, we didn't want to overcomplicate their day, their cameras are actually good enough. They've got MacBook Pro's.

Chloe 10:20: Right, yeah.

Rick 10:21: Happy with their cameras.

Chloe 10:24: So it's just these small, small investments because they're really not that much in the grand scheme of things are they, but that can really have, you know, such a big impact on how you look as a business and your overall experience as well online.

Rick 10:40: One of the things we found as well is that it's worth shopping around for the phone camera software. Although Camo is the one that you've got recommended from Dan which is good, I personally think that the subscription price seems a little high and if you don't want to spend a subscription every year then you could opt for something like EpocCam which is I think an $8 one-off purchase and therefore the cost of doing these things is pretty low. So, and like I say, OBS is free. Most of the other software for attaching cameras and DSLR's from the manufacturers, there's one from Canon, there's one from Olympus, there's one from Nikon allowing you to use existing hardware that you've got to make your picture look better.

Chloe 11:30: Mm, yeah, lots of options definitely. Well, thank you. I feel like I need to actually get this properly set up now so that I don't have to faff around with it in the future. I've got it in the right place, ready for calls.

Rick 11:42: It looks good already, I have to say so.

Chloe 11:44: Yeah, here's to better quality video calls.

Rick 11:47: Yeah, and we'll do audio next.

Chloe 11:49: YES! I think we definitely need to, yeah that sounds good.


The Rick & Clo Tech Show: Improve your camera quality for video calls