One of the many unexpected things to come out of the year 2020 has been the amount of time the average person spends in front of a camera.
From FaceTime catch-ups with family and virtual dinner parties to video conferencing with colleagues and online job interviews, people of all ages and backgrounds have had to learn a new social etiquette – and fast.
At Porsche, it has been no different, with works drivers swapping into the sim and liaising with their engineering colleagues via digital means, and virtual unveilings of models such as the 911 Turbo S, which made an innovative online debut in the wake of the Geneva International Motor Show cancelling in March.
British presenter and social media star Laura Edwards – known online as Laura Bubble – has spent much of her adult life talking down a camera lens. She started posting comedy skits and sketches to YouTube in her teens and in 2007 won a competition run by the BBC, which led to her having a regular Radio One slot as a TV reviewer.
She’s worked as a children’s TV presenter, has done stand-up comedy, and was picked by social video app TikTok to host its UK launch when it rebranded from Muscial.ly in 2018. Since then, her TikTok following has grown to more than one million and in 2019 she starred in a campaign to showcase the ABB FIA Formula E Championship to the app’s huge global audience.
“It was a neat fit,” says the 30-year-old, of the link-up. “I think Formula E is helping to introduce motorsport to a new audience and a younger, more tech-orientated generation because it’s so much more accessible than traditional motorsport. Social media is a huge part of life now – if you want to innovate and talk to a big audience it can’t be ignored.
“Since the beginning of lockdown people of all ages have spent so much more time online and platforms like TikTok have grown massively in recent months. But not everyone is comfortable on camera and for some it’s a really alien concept to suddenly find themselves thrust into the limelight on a video call.
“I was really into acting and editing, and I’ve always been interested in how people interact with each other.” Laura Bubble
“My family are all camera-shy but growing up I was really into acting and editing, and I’ve always been interested in how people interact with each other. As a hobby, I began making comedy sketches based on my observations. The numbers grew and it just took off from there.”
Some 4.5 million YouTube views later, she shares tips for those wanting to come across well on camera, as part of the #GetCreativeWithPorsche series.
Nail the basics
“Whether you’re making a 15-second TikTok film, posting online car reviews or on a video conference call for work, the number one thing to consider when you’re on camera is your sound quality. You might look the part, and have amazing visuals, but if the people on the other end can’t hear you properly it’s very distracting. Try to minimise background noise and if you’re producing content that you want an online audience to consume, think about investing in a good microphone rather than simply using your phone. They’re inexpensive and make all the difference.
“Think about your lighting. If you’re outside, don’t stand or sit with the sun behind you and if you’re indoors try to use natural light from a window as it’s so much more flattering. Ideally, the light wants to hit your face straight-on to avoid shadows. If you’re unsure how to set up a shot, study how other people come across online and try doing the same.
“I like to be in the centre of the screen, looking at the camera, because it’s visually appealing and helps the viewer to engage with you. Much more important than the framing, though, is what’s going on around you. Filming trackside at a Formula E race is very different to filming in your living room where you’re much more in control of the light, sound and can keep the distractions to a minimum. Editing is a much simpler process when you don’t have to consider continuity.
“If I’m indoors, I like my background to have a bit of interest – whether it’s a print on the wall or some greenery from a plant. I usually base my outfit on my location: if I’m filming against a plain wall I’ll aim to wear block colours, but if my background is busier I’ll go for something more simple. I’m always wary of making things too fussy, but it’s important to project a little personality. Avoid stripes and small patterns as these can warp on-screen.
“Dress the part and you’ll feel more confident. A few years ago I dialled into an interview for a presenting job only to find it was a video call. All of a sudden I was in front of 10 people in my pyjamas. I’ve never made that mistake again. Present yourself well and you’ll feel more confident.”
Make yourself comfortable
“There is nothing like practice in order to get better at talking to a camera. Whenever I take a break from making videos I always have to do a few takes before I get back into it and find my rhythm again.
A great tip is to set up your camera and start chatting – about anything. Just spending time in front of your equipment – even if it’s your phone – will help you to find your voice and get used to sharing your message aloud.
“In the early days I ad-libbed everything. It works really nicely as you come across more natural but when you start filming a greater volume of material you need to think about having a loose script in order to speed up the editing process. The same applies if you’re on a work call or a video interview – having bullet points that you can refer to will help if you get stage fright when it’s your turn to talk. With feeds like TikTok everything is short form and the optimal time is just 15 seconds so it’s crucial to get to your point quickly and neatly.
“One mistake people often make – and one I was guilty of when I started out – is to look at the viewfinder instead of the lens. If you’re unfamiliar with doing video calls you might find yourself looking at your own face on the screen and it’s pretty much the same thing. With practice you can train yourself to look directly at the camera, but it’s not always easy to start with. Get used to your equipment and practice, practice, practice.”
How to impress and/or grow a following
“If you’re posting videos online, and growing your audience is your aim, find a niche and stick to it. If you’re running a channel and in one video you’re talking about politics, then in the next it’s about nutrition, then comedy sketches, it’s going to be harder to develop a following. If you’re really passionate about something you can make exceptions but if you want to grow, and to develop a channel or social media platform, streamline your content. This is much more appealing to brands that might want to link up.
“In the past, if I’ve been unsure about a piece of content I’ve sent drafts to friends for a second opinion but it’s important to have faith in your work and to be yourself. When I first started out no one was really posting videos of themselves on YouTube – it was seen as a bit of a strange thing to do – so I kept it quiet from my friends and family. This meant I had to trust my own judgement but it also meant I didn’t adapt what I was doing for fear of what my audience would think. I just went with what felt right for me.
“I’ve had my share of nasty messages and emails. I always ignore them and my advice is to never engage with trolls. The vast majority of people on the internet are lovely, and it can be incredibly rewarding working in an online sphere, but it takes a lot of time and commitment and it’s sensible to have an eye on your security at all times. I see so many people posting with geo tags activated, or wearing their school uniform. Be as private as you possibly can when it comes to personal details. Don’t film in front of the sign that says the name of your street, for example.”
If you’re trying to carve out a career in front of the camera, visit @porsche_newsroom on Instagram and share some of your filmed content using the hashtag #GetCreativeWithPorsche. If the team likes what you post, it might make its way into a gallery of favourite clips in the coming days.