Zoom for actors

Here are some recommendations for actors participating in a Swamp Meadow read-through or other online production.

We strongly recommend using the desktop Zoom app. The web browser version and the mobile app do not have all the options outlined below.

If possible, use a wired ethernet connection to your router. Otherwise, ensure you have a strong wifi connection. If your internet service is slow, prevent other people from streaming for the duration of the show (no Netflix!)

Basic video Zoom settings

Under Preferences > Video

  • Turn on “Mirror my video” to more intuitively adjust the framing.
  • Turn on “See myself as the active speaker while speaking” option so you will know when you will be visible in the stream.
  • Set “Suppress background noise” to Low.
  • To test : Advanced > Enable original sound from microphone (to eliminate Zoom’s audio filters).

Basic audio settings

Under Preferences > Audio

  • Select the speaker and the microphone you will be using
  • Test your microphone by clicking the “Test Mic” button. Zoom will record what you say then play it back so you can hear what you sound like.
  • During the performance, keep your mic muted and use the spacebar to temporarily unmute it when you say your lines (Important: the spacebar only unmutes if the Zoom app is in the foreground AND the chat window is inactive).
  • If using a smartphone with built-in microphone, standing 4 to 5 ft away from the phone tends to be sweet spot. Of course that varies depending on your device and how loud you are, so test, record and play back.

Advanced video setup

  • Light is your friend. More light makes for a clearer video.
  • A green screen works better than Zoom’s AI for virtual backgrounds.
  • Swamp Meadow has green screens and lights available for actors.
  • Virtual backgrounds are processor intensive, especially on older or less powerful computers. Consider turning video off between your scene if your computer seems to struggle.

Advanced audio setup

  • Hard surfaces create echos. Closing curtains or hanging blankets can reduce those.
  • A dedicated microphone (such as Swamp Meadow’s) will provide better sound quality.
  • Place the speaker behind the microphone to reduce the chance of feedback or echo.
  • Headsets or earphones can also be used as an alternative.