When it comes to making your own videos, kit is important. Whilst you can get some pretty decent images off a smartphone, you will find that you will need a few additional bits and pieces to create something that looks and sounds professional. Read out quick guide to the video kit we couldn’t live without and what to use if you are on a really tight budget.
Video Kit – Camera
A smartphone with a good quality camera, such as a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy, can be a good place to start. You will need plenty of space for data storage. You will also need to install an app such as Open Camera to overcome the 4GB file size cap that are a feature of Android phones. Depending on the quality of video footage you are shooting 4GB file will give you somewhere between 12 and 30 minutes of video. Iphones don’t have the same issue and will record as long as there is disk space, but the cameras are not as good. However, they are still capable of producing very attractive pictures as this iPhone shot advert for Bentley shows. You can also buy a range of clip-on lenses for smartphones that will give you a range of different looks such as fish-eye or wide-angle.
If you want to graduate from using a smartphone and use a dedicated camera instead then take a look at the second-hand market. A DSLR camera such as the Canon 550/600/700D can be picked up relatively inexpensively. They can be fiddly, though, and require extra bits and pieces to make them work such as lenses and a separate audio recorder. If you want an easy to use video camera then the Canon XA30 is worth considering. It is easy to use and has the ability to plug a microphone directly into the camera. It does have its limitations but for the self-shooting business owner it will do everything that you will need.
Video Kit – Grip/lights
Whichever camera you opt for you need a tripod. Something sturdy with a fluid head is best. Again, there is nothing wrong with second-hand as long as it’s in good condition. We recommend a Manfrotto, but there are lots of other options out there. Beyond a tripod you might want to consider a gimbal, a jib and a slider. We use our gimble near constantly and our slider is invaluable. The jib is useful, but we often find we can achieve what we want with the gimbal. If we had to chose between them then the gimbal would win every time.
Lights are essential video kit if you plan to include interviews shot indoors, but they are useful for a whole range of situations. Lighting can be used to create a variety of atmospheres and looks, but you need to know what you are doing. If all you are looking to do is throw a bit of light on a person’s face or an object then a single LED panel light is all you need. Alternatively, shoot in good natural light, but watch out that you don’t shoot towards the Sun or you will end up with your subject being in shadow.
Video Kit – Sound
When it comes to sound, audiences will quite happily forgive a slightly dodgy image if the sound quality is good but nothing will ensure that your viewer clicks away faster than bad sound. You need a decent microphone to capture sound properly. The internal microphone on your smartphone will not do the job very well. A shotgun style mic is the most versatile and depending on your camera you either plug it into your camera or a separate audio recorder. We use a Sennheiser mic with a Zoom audio recorder. You will need someone to hold the mic, however, unless you opt for a lavalier mic (we use Sennheiser) or radio mics (Sennheiser, again). Once again, never skimp on audio quality. Bad audio is very difficult to listen to and you will lose your audience even if your pictures are lovely.
Video Kit – Editing computer and software
We use the Adobe Creative Cloud software. It’s versatile and excellent (bar the odd irritation). It is also pricey. If you are planning on shooting videos for yourself on a strict budget then consider one of the free/budget options such as VSDC. These will not offer all the tools you might find on Adobe, but they are an excellent place to start.
Great video kit is, however, just a tool. The key to brilliant videos is a strong story. Sign up for our free guide to using video for more tips and information.