Skip to content

Let’s Talk Video Equipment

For the self-producer, here are some things to consider when selecting equipment:

  1. A video camera. This is pretty obvious, of course, but which one? There are thousands from which to choose that will be perfectly adequate for the DIY producer. Even something as modest as the video recorder on a smartphone will work. We usually suggest, however, that something a notch above  is preferable. Kodak’s Playtouch video camera, for example, is a low-priced option (about $175) that shoots decent video, and, just as importantly, has an input for an external microphone.
  2. Microphone. Using an external microphone should be a priority. Lousy audio is the easiest way to lose the audience for your video. We usually tell folks to go to Radio Shack and get a basic lavalier microphone that will clip on to a shirt. Plug that into your Playtouch and you’re good to go.
  3. Headphones. Headphones are not a must-have but definitely  worthwhile. If you have a simple camera in which the head phones share the same input jack with the external microphone, headphones won’t be an option. But if your camera has two separate jacks‑one for the mic and one for headphones–you should be listening to your audio as it’s being recorded (imagine your dismay if you spent a day filming only to discover afterwards that your audio wasn’t recorded properly!). Ear buds are fine. If you have only one audio jack, use it for your mic, but just run a test periodically by recording a bit of video and playing it back (using headphones) to make sure it sounds good.
  4. Tripod. Nothing fancy is needed here. Most self-producers won’t be doing any crazy camera moves, so a basic tripod used for still photography is fine.
  5. Soft light. For the slightly more ambitious, having a soft light is a nice addition. Self-produced videos usually rely on existing  lighting, most often fluorescent ceiling lights if you’re shooting in an office setting. Nearly all fluorescent lights cast a greenish hue. What’s more, lighting the top of someone’s head is rarely an attractive option. A soft light, such as a Diva-Lite by Kino Flo or a Lowel Rifa Light, allows you to illuminate your subject without much hassle and in a more flattering way.  If you don’t want to bother with lighting equipment, use daylight from a window as your light source. Having something reflective like a piece of white foam core to place opposite the window and bounce light to the other side of their face is also helpful.