Are you broadcasting your room on Zoom? Make sure there’s good lighting, symmetry and depth in the frame — because your space may be rated “hot or not” on a scale of zero to 10.
Room Rater, a buzzy Twitter account that has amassed nearly 214,000 followers since launching in mid-April, seeks to do just that: post a number of Zoom- and Skype-based news and talk show appearances to offer a snap, yet funny, judgment on what viewers take in.
At first, it began as simple commentary between 56-year-old Claude Taylor and his 51-year-old girlfriend Jessie Bahrey at the start of the coronavirus quarantine.
“It occurred to us that it would be fun to make a Twitter account and start tweeting these observations,” says Taylor, who heads up a liberal PAC in Washington, DC. “We were just really looking for some light-hearted content to share with the people to help them get through this period.”
One of the account’s most recent tweets includes a shot of Wanda Sykes appearing virtually on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” showing her seated on an aubergine chair with a plant in the background. The rating: 8 out of 10.
“Is that art on the wall?” they tweeted. “Raise the camera so we can see the rest.”
Another tweet, which gave a 10 out of 10 rating, shows journalist Jeff Jarvis in a yellow-painted room with wooden bookcases, French doors and large windows letting in lots of natural light.
“Would prefer 1-2 pieces on left but I quibble,” the tweet reads.
It doesn’t hurt to show off a little, either, they say.
“We’re not interior decorators — we just pretend to be on Twitter,” quips Taylor.
But Taylor has an eye for working with a frame. He’s also a decades-long travel photographer. Among the elements that he and Bahrey look for: depth in a room, books, artwork, plants and good lighting. Not all of those features are necessary, but using them well in a frame can take someone to a perfect 10.
“The zero tends to be what we call the ‘hostage video,’” adds Taylor, which shows someone against a flat, bare wall at a bad camera angle. “They really do look like hostage videos.”
Sometimes it’s a combination of bad rooms and differing political thoughts that can lead to a zero rating. On Thursday, the account tweeted a photo of right-wing firebrand Jack Posobiec that received a “solid 0.”
“Alt Right Nazi F–ks generally don’t do well on Room Rater … dorm room look with posters,” they tweeted.
Obama, on the other hand, got a 10 out of 10 — but not for any home decor reasons.
As for being stuck in the middle with a four, five or six rating, that’s usually about camera angle.
“It’s usually too low,” says Taylor of the view of the person’s face, adding you can put six fat books under the laptop to fix it. “You want it at eye level.”
The other issue with a low angle is getting a view of the person’s ceiling, but sometimes that’s permissible. In an April broadcast, political consultant James Carville has showed his dark wooden-slat ceiling, which earned him a nine.
“Most of us, including myself, don’t have a ceiling like that,” says Taylor.
The profile, which also serves as a fundraising arm to provide PPE and masks to Native American communities, has seen shots improve since it launched.
“We’re seeing countless examples of reporters who started at very low places and worked their way up to being eights, nines and tens,” says Taylor. “So that’s been very fun to watch and everyone’s taking it with the spirit that’s intended.”
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