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What to Wear on Camera

Hey there, and welcome to the next lesson. So far, we’ve covered a lot of material, including the importance of using the right lighting and backdrops for your film, as well as capturing clean sound and dealing with things like reflections and glare.

Now it’s time to talk about something equally as important: what your subject is wearing.

It may seem like a minor detail, but the truth is, the right wardrobe can make or break your video. Not only does it ensure that your audience doesn’t get distracted, but when someone looks and feels good on camera, that positivity will spill over to the viewer.

Without further ado, let’s dive into a few expert tips that will help your talent look their best on film.

Start with Colors Near the Face

The first important point to consider is the color or colors that are closest to your subject’s face. These can either highlight their best features, or drain the life out of them.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this, as each of us has a palette of colors that look best with our skin tone. That means you may need to do a little experimenting to see what colors work best on your talent when the lights are on and the camera is rolling.

That being said, certain colors, like emerald green, ruby red and sapphire blue tend to complement a variety of different skin tones because they’re highly saturated. So, if you’re not sure, that might be a good place to start.

To the contrary, pastel colors tend to appear lackluster on film, so you’re probably better off avoiding these altogether. If you must use lighter colors, I’d suggest layering them with brighter solids.

Be Careful with Black

Black may be a flattering tone in everyday life, but on camera, not so much. That’s because wearing black can cast shadows on the skin and make dark circles appear more pronounced, which can make your subject appear older or tired.

If wearing a dark color is something your talent is insisting on, navy blue is generally a better choice than black.

Keep it Simple

Shiny fabrics tend to be distracting, especially under bright lights. They can also sometimes cause unflattering shadows and other reflections.

Conversely, matte fabrics and solid cottons tend to dampen shadows and create a smoother body profile line. In other words, they make your subject look better on camera.

Another advantage to wearing solid colors and simple fabrics is that they tend to be more timeless from a fashion perspective. So, your video can stay relevant for many years to come.

Oh, and while you’re at it, skip the text or logos. They’ll probably just end up being a distraction to the viewer, and they’re a pain to fix post-production.

Be Picky About Patterns

A pattern that looks snazzy in person may not translate well on camera. In fact, they can be downright annoying to your audience – especially small, busy prints, like paisley or polka dots. Other patterns, like chevron, plaid, houndstooth and pinstripes can be difficult to see on film and can even make viewers feel dizzy.

If your subject insists on wearing something with a pattern, compromise by combining patterns with solids. For example, use a plaid tie against a solid shirt, or a printed shell under a solid blazer. That way the print will act as more of an accent than the main focal point.

Consider Your Background

Keep in mind that the color you shoot your video against will also have an impact on how your subject’s wardrobe appears on camera. For instance, colors set against a white background will appear brighter on film while a dark background will lessen a color’s intensity.

The goal is to have your subject wear a color that contrasts with the backdrop because this will help them stand out more on film.

Generally speaking, unless the color of the background plays a pivotal role in the story you’re trying to tell on film, I’d recommend using muted tones, like gray or dark blue. These neutral shades tend to complement different skin tones and a broader range of wardrobe colors, giving your subject more options. If you do decide to go with a white background, softer lighting will give you a better end result.

Comfort is Key

Last, but not least, regardless of color, pattern or fabric choice, whatever your subject decides to wear on camera, make sure it’s comfortable. Being on camera can be stressful enough without also being in clothing that doesn’t fit right. The more at ease your talent feels, the better he or she will ultimately look once the camera starts rolling and the more impactful the story will be to your audience.

That’s it for this lesson. Join us in the next module when we’ll be going over the basics of post-production workflows. See you there!