How to Record a Zoom Meeting in High Quality for Video Editing
If you need to record a Zoom meeting or call in as high quality as possible in order to edit it later as part of a longer video, there are a couple of things you need to know to get the best results.
This post is going to be a pretty short, but I hope informative.
If you hear of any other tips and tricks for getting the best out of Zoom then do let me know in the comments below!
If you need free video editing software to edit your Zoom interview, for Mac or PC and that’s easy to use for a novice, do check out this post on Free Video Editing Software for Beginners.
Before we dive in, it’s probably worth stating from the start that there are a couple of much better ways to get a high quality capture of your call than to use Zoom’s own ‘Record Meeting’ function.
The best way is to by-pass Zoom all together by recording the audio and video feed from each camera locally and just using Zoom to talk to each other, but not as actual media. See the QuickTime update below if you’re both filming on Apple hardware.
Another is to use a screen recording program like ScreenFlow, instead of relying on the output from Zoom’s in-built recording feature. This will allow you to capture your screen at its native resolution instead of being limited by Zoom’s own recording functionality.
If you read nothing else in this post, definitely check out the excellent creative and technical ideas in this post from Michael Cioni of Frame.io, which I talk about in more detail lower down in the post.
Zoom Security and Privacy Concerns – It’s worth noting that if you’re using Zoom you should be aware of the security concerns that have been raised about it, although hopefully the recent public scrutiny will result in major improvements.
Update September 2020 – Enable High Fidelity Audio
As of September 1st, the Windows and Mac OS Zoom client allows you to enable high quality audio in your Zoom meeting, which should make using interview audio from these calls a much more pleasant experience. You will need to turn it on though. H/T @MichaelKammes.
This option in Advanced Audio enhances “Original Audio” mode, allowing for disabling echo cancellation & post-processing, while raising audio codec quality to 48Khz, 96Kbps mono/192kbps stereo for professional audio transmission in music education and performance applications. Professional audio interface, microphone, and headphones required.
In the image above I’ve recorded myself in both Zoom and Screenflow and then taken the clips into Premiere Pro to fill a 1920 x 1080 frame size.
You can see that I forgot to toggle off ‘Mirror my video’ in the Zoom video preferences so it’s horizontally flipped the image. The Screenflow recording is crisper and has more detail but it’s noisier in the shadows than Zoom.
Make of this very unscientific comparison what you will!
I've been editing audio professionally for 20 years, and I'm just now discovering a whole new issue that is correctable. When you hear a robotic noise over a Zoom call in the middle of a word, many times you can delete the "skip" and the word comes together nicely.
— Michael Cardillo ?? (@MichaelAudio) April 28, 2020
The Best Way to Record a Zoom Interview in High Quality
I’ve actually been asking people who are on Mac to record locally via QuickTime so I can get a ProRes file when set to maximum, though you hit the same resolution cap depending on the camera being used. They just send me the ProRes file afterwards.
So far we haven’t had any issue running it in parallel with Zoom as the camera and mic feeds go to both the Zoom call and QuickTime.
And I record the Zoom call on my end as a backup and reference track. – Kevin Barry
Update – Record Pro Res Video Locally Through QuickTime on a Mac
Kevin Barry shared a great idea with me on Facebook, where he gets interview participants to use QuickTime media player to record their FaceTime camera input locally and save the file out as a Pro Res version to preserve as much quality as possible.
To do this, you simply open QuickTime Player, choose File > New Movie Recording.
Click on the drop-down arrow to the right of the Record button and choose the camera and microphone you want to use and change the Quality setting to Maximum.
Maximum will record a 1280 x 720, 30fps Pro Res 422 .mov file
High will record a 1280 x 720 30 fps H.264 .mov file at 7.8 Mbit/s (approx)
At the end make sure you save the file!
Windows Users: As Luis mentions in the comments, if you’re running a PC with either Windows or Linux (or Mac OS!) you might want to check out OBS Studio (Open Broadcaster Software) for a free option.
It’s what all the cool streaming kids use these days, although it might not be quite as simple to set up as the QuickTime tip.
Recording Podcast Interviews via Zoom – Obviously you can do the same thing for recoding podcast interviews conducted over Zoom, using Quicktime but just choose “New Audio Recording”.
You’ll both want to be wearing headphones to ensure there is no audio bleed into your microphone from your speakers.
How to set up a Zoom Interview Home Studio
Here we go!!! Wish us luck. ? pic.twitter.com/8suyxC8TBA
— Erik Naso (@ErikNaso) April 5, 2020
This isn’t about Zoom specifically but Erik Naso demonstrated how he lit his TV reporter wife for NBC7 at home. If you’re going to broadcast from home – do it right!
If one of the participants on your call is using an iPhone then getting them to record a regular video clip, through the back/photo camera will give you the best looking results.
Then get them to set up a second device for the actual Zoom call as close as possible to the iPhone eye-line, and make sure they’re wearing headphones so that the iPhone only records their speech.
Michael Cioni of Frame.io shares his high-end set up in this detailed blog post, which he’s used for recording himself at home for pieces to camera for Frame.io’s excellent remote collaboration video series.
But what if you don’t want to use the ZOOM link and you don’t have access to an additional mirrorless or SLR camera?
The best solution is using something that we all have: a smart phone.
First, I recommend downloading a third party video recording tool that offers more manual control. There are lots of them out there for Android and iOs, so feel free to experiment and research.
I prefer Filmic Pro, which is $15. With Filmic pro I can set my resolution to 4K, my frame rate to 24, and I can connect my Rode Lav directly into the phone.
The very end of this blog post shares some excellent tips for getting better looking results even if you’re just shooting with an iPhone or a laptop. Well worth a read!
The Best Way to Record a Zoom Meeting
If you choose to use Zoom’s in-built, and pretty effective, recording feature here’s what you’ll need to do to get the best looking and sounding results.
You’ll need to toggle on a few different settings in the Zoom desktop app preferences to get set up correctly, which I’ll describe below.
Preferences > Video
- Enable HD
- Choose camera (for external camera feed)
- 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio
Preferences > Recording
- Optimise for third party video editor
- Record separate audio file for each participant
- Record video during screen sharing
Within Zoom, to record a meeting you simply press Record > Record on this Computer in the on-screen controls. Be sure you have permission from everyone on the call to do so.
You can also record in several different ‘modes’ including active speaker mode where only the speaker is shown, gallery mode (which might work well for 2 person interviews) or bigger meetings and various shared screen modes which include either a large or small thumbnail of the speaker or a smaller gallery view on the side. This support article will show you what each of these look like.
You should know that by default the recording resolution is set to 640 x 360 at 25 frames per second and although you can store up to 1GB of footage directly in the cloud, you are strongly encouraged by Zoom to record to your local drive.
By this Zoom mean the built in hard drive on your computer, not an external drive or other cloud location such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
By default on a Mac and PC Zoom stores your recording files in the current user’s document’s directory: /Users/Jonny/Documents/Zoom
Zoom Audio Processing
To get the best sounding audio you should record a separate audio file per participant, which you can toggle on in the Zoom preferences here.
This creates two different audio tracks in the Local recordings folder, which you can then sync up later in your video editing software.
You should also be aware of some settings in the Audio preferences which will effect the quality of the recording.
Automatically adjust microphone volume will attempt to normalise your sound level, lifting up quiet speech and reducing the loud. Depending on how well it does this, you might want to uncheck it.
Under the Advanced tab you’ll also also find Zoom’s built in audio processing including background noise suppression and echo cancellation. You can choose how aggressive these are, or disable them entirely.
Zoom HD Video Recording Resolution
The recording resolution Zoom can deliver is dictated in part by the resolution of the camera doing the recording. I’m not sure if this is just the camera on the host recording computer, or the lowest resolution camera being used by any participant in the meeting.
On most iPhones that’s 720p for the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera and it’s the same MacBook Pros and iMacs.
If you have multiple camera’s attached to your computer you can select which one is used for the call in the Zoom Video preferences.
Either way you’ll want to test your set up to ensure you get the results you need.
Obviously if you can use a better resolution camera, such as the main ‘back’ camera on an iPhone you’ll get better looking images.
As far as I know, the best quality resolution that Zoom can record is 1280 x 720p ‘HD’, without 1920 x 1080 being switched on by Zoom support directly.
You will need to enable HD for your calls in the preferences to make sure you aren’t recording at the default 640 x 360 and have a Pro or superior Zoom account.
Full high definition video, 1080p, is limited availability. Business or Enterprise plans who would like to be considered for this feature can submit a request to Zoom Support.
In Webinars, for attendees to have 720p or 1080p feeds, it needs to be enabled by Zoom Support. All other prerequisites for 720p or 1080p still must be met as well.
As far as I know, the Group HD functionality would be a pre-requisite for being able to record in 1080p HD and that requires you to fulfil the criteria listed here.
But from what I’ve read online, some people are still having problems ensuring this on long calls. Although it’s hard to know what other mitigating factors there might be with their troubles!
Lastly, you should also toggle on ‘Optimise for third party editor’ in the Recording preferences.
Zoom says this will generate an .mp4 file that’s better suited to being edited, but the default file is also an .mp4, so maybe there’s some other things going on too.
Just a note to say you might want to toggle off ‘Mirror my video’ if you don’t want it to be horizontally flipped. Zoom adds this to counteract any flipping your camera might do itself.
Frame.io Zoom “Integration”
If you set your Zoom recording folder to be a Frame.io Watch Folder, you could have the recording automatically uploaded to a project for review, or so a client or producer can send you the file for editing.