• Meaghan Mooney

Step-up Your Virtual Setup

Looking back at this time, last year... I was interviewing guests in person and I didn't know what zoom was. I also had no idea that in a month's time, I would no longer be interviewing guests in person, and instead, I would have a zoom account.



It still amazes me, how quickly our world changed and virtual screen time became mainstream. However, what never really surprised me was how quickly we realized, doing things virtually, doesn't have the same "visual appeal" that we're used to.


Take television for example: TV production, tech and talent have been perfecting what looks good over airwaves, over decades. Even when it's live and unpredictable, it's still reeled in.



Looking ahead, the future will certainly include much more virtual screen time for all. Which to me means, it's up to us (not just people in TV), to take what looks good in real-life and translate it for on-camera or on-screen. It'll take a bit of reinventing the wheel, and a lot of leveraging what people like me already know. For example, launching two lifestyle shows in two different cities, I've been able to learn a lot about lighting and set design.



I applied a lot of that knowledge and everything I innately know from having a background in textiles and fashion, to how I set up my at-home studio. Keep in mind, it's currently decorated to promote my children's book, Tilly Tails: A Day at the Beach. Actually, it will always be a work in progress, but at least now there's a dedicated nook, that's visually appealing and ready 24/7, for lights, camera, action!


Here's some of my style tips for your on-air set:

TIP #1: Designate an empty corner as your backdrop.

This gives you interesting diagonal lines behind you and depth-of-field. Just be sure to place yourself and your laptop or phone a reasonable distance away from the wall.



What to do if your corner includes lamps or natural light? Since background lighting messes with the camera's exposure, you'll need to keep those lamps off and cover your windows. I used these blackout shades (yup, there's a window behind that door!) Lastly, keep in mind, the whiter the walls, the brighter your set-up will look.




TIP #2: Now, here comes the light.

Lighting is super hard to master. Over the years, I've tried playing around with a bunch of different equipment and seeking experts' advice. After lots of trial and error, here's what works for me:


This lighting kit, together with...


...this ring light.


I'm also a big fan of Lume Cube! These work great in smaller spaces. One may get you the results you need or maybe you'll see a big difference with 2 lume cubes and a ring light.


TIP #3: Time to decorate!

The goal here is to minimize distractions, while also infusing your personal style. You can easily do this on a budget by repurposing old furniture-- like the door I'm using to cover a window, which I bought 10 years ago at a store's close-out sale in Providence. No door? No problem! Fill that corner with a shelving unit.



To fill those shelves so that they look stylish, either go "shopping" in your own home or give yourself the great excuse to go accessory shopping for realsies! Look for fancy frames, zen gems, and any table top decor you've always eyed, and now have an "excuse" to buy.



Finish that wall's look, by adding a plant in a chic planter. Since this is a "no judgement" blog ;), yes, I opt for faux plants. I used this fiddle-leaf one. It looks lush, even up close! Because of its height, I chose a planter with a 9" diameter that's not too high off the ground.


On the other wall, I found that a small table, console or desk offered a nice balance. I used this chalk paint to give an old ikea table a fresh, distressed look. But, before I did that, I considered buying this table and swapping out the hardware for more elegant ones. Speaking of elegant-- I'm drooling over these handles!


And here's a few more that I love because of their modern flair:



Complete the look with some framed artwork. Again, nothing too distracting, but stay true to you. If a pop of color represents who you are or a particular piece of artwork speaks to you, I say, put it on display.



Or make your own wall art, here. That's what I'm doing for another project. Stay tuned!!




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