Magnetic Notes
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Magnetic Notes

A professional-grade HD television studio, 2017.

I spent two hours with a mobile video genius and learned 26 useful things

  1. Keep the camera and your eyes slightly higher than the speaker. Filming from above is more flattering (fewer double chins) and they’ll look more alert and engaged if they’re looking slightly upwards.
On the left, the original footage: Nic’s eyes show crisp pinpoints of reflected light. On the right, after editing and saving at lower resolution, his eyes (and everything else) are subtly fuzzier.
  • Who is talking?
  • Where are they?
  • Why are they here?
Left: It looks weird when people look out of the frame on the short side. Right: Much less weird when they look out the long side.
Setting up the classic ‘long side’ interview shot (sketches by Stefano)
Left: Vertical lines aren’t straight, so Daniel’s environment looks a bit wonky. Right: Vertical lines are generally pretty straight, so I look more comfortable. Also, Daniel is being filmed from below, while I’m being filmed from very slightly above my eyeline.
Left: default iMovie titles. Right: a different font, different alignment and a finger-over-lens animated background
Two instant ambient backgrounds; finger and laptop screen
A £1 foam pop shield on an iPhone looks ridiculous, but makes an incredible difference to the sound for close-up voice recording.
  • Soft diffused light
  • Soft furnishings for better acoustics and less echo in the room
  • A static background. Lots of people milling about = fine; stray individuals walking in and out of the shot = distracting.
  • Enough space so the subject isn’t squashed against a wall — which looks bad and can sound bad.
  • Something to prop yourself or your camera on.
  • Busy, bustling environments can work well, so long as the subject is wearing a lavalier microphone and you can hear them clearly.



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Tom Whitwell

Consultant at Magnetic (formerly Fluxx), reformed journalist, hardware designer.