Equipment Tools Videos TESLO

How to Create Videos: The Equipment and Tools You Need

 

Equipment Tools Videos TESLO

With my YouTube Channels, social media profiles, and online courses, I’ve made around 200 videos over the last 12 months.

And in this post, I’m going to talk about the equipment and tools I use, along with alternatives to suit every budget.

A big part of my process recently has been to make it as easy as possible to start shooting a video; I have put my DSLR camera and lavalier mic away for the time being.

And because of this, along with speeding up the post-production process, I’ve brought down the time it takes to create a video for my English learners (from the initial idea to the uploaded video and post) from around 6-8 hours to about 1-2 hours.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at what you’ll need to create videos, what I use, and the alternatives out there. And we’ll start with something you’ll definitely need if you are going to feature yourself in your videos: a camera.

Camera Options

Most people already have a perfectly fine camera for shooting high quality video: a smartphone.

Using Your Smartphone

The benefits of using a smartphone are plentiful: you always have it with you, the quality is great (newer models), you can easily share video straight from your camera, and there are several apps that you can use on your phone.

If you do use your phone, then there are a couple of things you need to think about:

– how to improve the audio
– how to stabilize the camera

I have found that the iPhone earphones improve the audio quality (there is a mic on there), but there other options like this lavalier mic (cheaper options are available).

For some of my short and more relaxed videos, I just hold it up and shoot. But in most cases, you’ll need to think about where you can put it to get the shot you want. I’ve been using this tripod with my phone, and it’s a lot of fun as well as being functional. Alternatively, you can use a regular tripod with an adapter, or get a desk tripod if you are shooting from your desk.

If you are just starting out and have a smaller budget, and already have a smartphone, this might be the best camera option for you.

Webcam

Logitech C920

Photo: Amazon.com

I’ve been using my webcam for the majority of my videos recently.

The reason for this is because it’s the easiest way to start shooting; it’s always there just sitting on top of my computer at an angle that I like (it means I don’t have to tidy my room before recording!).

The quality isn’t quite as good as a smartphone (not with the webcam I have), but with a few tweaks, the videos look good – a big part of video quality from my experience is how you export your video (more on that later).

The webcam I use is the Logitech C920. It works best on a PC, but there are some tweaks you can make so that it works on a Mac too (this is the app I use). It normally sells for $70-90.

DSLR

The most expensive option is a DSLR camera. This is the camera I used when I first starting making videos (note: I have the t3i). Personally, I found it too much work setting things up and shooting this way, especially because I had to put everything away after recording. For me, it just created too much friction.

However, the video quality is amazing, especially if you get a good lens. Just like the smartphone and the webcam, you will need an external microphone as the sound quality is poor when using DSLRs.

I may go back to using this camera for future videos, but for now, my smartphone and webcam are perfect, and allow me to get more videos uploaded.

Microphone Options

Whatever camera option you go for, you’ll need an external microphone. Sound quality is important, and you just can’t get high quality sound from a camera/webcam/smartphone alone.

Shotgun Mics (DSLR)

One option that came up during my research for an external microphone was a shotgun mic (it sits on top of your camera), and this option from Rode is a popular choice.

I know other teachers who use a shotgun mic, and it will give you great audio if you have the budget for it.

Lavalier Mics (DSRL + Smartphone + Computer)

Lavalier Mic

Photo: Amazon.com

An alternative is to get a lavalier mic (this clips onto your top). You can connect it to your computer, an external recorder, or directly to your camera.

I used to use a lav mic connected to this external recorder, and then I synced the audio to the video during post-production. Things can get really expensive here (especially with wireless systems), so getting a $25-40 mic that connects directly to your camera is something you may want to start with.

And as I mentioned earlier, if you are using your smartphone, there are lavalier mics available for this too.

Desktop Mics (Mainly for Webcam Recordings)

As I’m using my webcam at my computer, I now use my desktop microphone.

I’ve had the Audio-Technica ATR2100 for a few years now and I still love it. The only drawback is that you need to be physically close to your desk, or wherever your mic is, when recording video. My stand-up desk helps me stay close enough to my microphone when I record.

If you’re not going to create videos with your face in them, – for example, a presentation style video using power point – then a desk microphone might be your best option.

As you can see, there are many audio options available, and what microphone you get will largely be influenced by the camera you have and the type of videos you want to film.

Lighting

Photographers and video makers constantly talk about the importance of lighting.

Shooting outdoors usually offers great lighting for your videos, but background noise and the weather can cause problems.

Therefore, you will most likely prefer to shoot indoors. If you’re in a well-lit room, then this won’t be as much as an issue. However, even if you have great natural light indoors, you may want to shoot video at night where everyday lights won’t suffice.

I decided to buy the Cowboy Studios kit, which is a bargain for what you get. There are DIY options for $10-20, but I decided that spending an extra $30 or so was worth it.

When I film, I place two lights either side of my desk, and because I’m far away from the back wall, I don’t need a back light. If you are filming against a wall, you can use the third light just behind you to eliminate shadows.

Post Production and Presentation Style Videos

Let’s talk about editing now as this is a big part of creating videos.

I use ScreenFlow and can’t recommend it enough. You can record your screen or from your webcam, it has everything you need for editing videos, and then you can export a video directly to Facebook, YouTube etc. It’s for Mac only, but I hear that Camtasia is a good alternative for PC users.

Alternatively, the free video editing software that comes with Macs and PCs is getting better and better. I’ve also played around with iMovie on the iPhone, and there is quite a lot you can do with this app.

Earlier on in the post I talked about how you export videos is important for video quality; if your software allows, bump up the bitrate. I export mine at 10,000 – 20,000; the file sizes are bigger, but the quality on YouTube and elsewhere is much better.

One more thing that you might consider getting is presentation software, preferably something that allows you to record presentations and export them as a movie file. Keynote (Mac) and Power Point have these features. If your software doesn’t, you can get around this is by using screen capturing software like ScreenFlow.

So, What Tools Do/Will You Use?

There are other things that you might need (animated intros, music files, extra gear), but the above will suffice in most situations.

No matter what you use, content is still the most important thing. But with the cost of creating videos decreasing, the barrier to creating something that looks and sounds good has been blown away over the past few years.

What equipment and tools do/will you use to create videos?

Leave your answers below (and please feel free to link to your videos)!

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  • What a timely post! I just bought a $27 Audio Technica lavalier mic yesterday and put the webcam you mentioned on my Amazon wishlist. 🙂 Is there a way to see yourself while filming if you’re using the webcam? That’s why I like my phone because I can make sure I’m situated in the frame… But the quality would definitely be better with the external webcam. Or maybe just having better lighting would do, too. I’ll check out the lighting option you mentioned.

    I spent a lot of time yesterday searching for better video editing software (it’s not hard to beat Windows Movie Maker except that it’s free and I already know how to use it), but it seems like 80% of the programs are for Mac. 🙁 I downloaded the free trial of Camtasia yesterday (see, timely post!) but I didn’t try it out yet. We’ll see how it goes!

    Thanks for the tips!

    • To be honest, I think you’ll be fine with your smartphone, especially if you bump up the bitrate when you export the videos on Camtasia.

      Lighting will help too: search for $10 lighting solutions (or something like that) if you want to DIY it.

  • This has been a big part of what I’m doing lately. I just started, and I’m finding that some pretty basic options are working for me.

    I use my Macbook’s webcam and a basic microphone — before I got the mic, though, I just talked into a headset (since I’m marketing English lessons and that’s what I use to teach the lessons anyway).

    For lighting, I just take two table lamps and put them on the desk on either side of the computer with the lampshades removed — easy, free, bright light.

    I also just use the software that came with my Mac — QuickTime to record my screen and iMovie to edit.

    Since I teach in a virtual classroom (currently WebEx), I make the videos by starting a WebEx meeting with just myself. I turn on the camera, and then I upload a presentation into the meeting. My “video” is technically a recorded screencast — with my face in the WebEx window.

    I feel like that’s a bit cumbersome to explain, but it’s really a very simple setup. Here’s my YouTube channel so you can see what it looks like:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo0uxF3wMsEVD_1i4mBRigg

    • Thanks Chris. Using your computer webcam, especially if it’s a newer version, is a good option too. However, an external webcam makes a substantial difference to the quality in most cases.

  • Sveta Lana

    Great post! I’m using my external Logitech webcam, however the sound is not perfect. I also started using my iPhone, but I need an adapter for my tripod. The best thing about your post for me is the lighting section. I knew nothing about it. I really appreciate it, Jack!

    • Thank you for the comment. I would definitely look into getting an external microphone (as you say, the sound quality on the Logitech webcam isn’t great). Keep me posted with how it goes!

  • Cara Leopold

    HI Jack. Arriving a bit late to the discussion here! I didn’t know about Screenflow. I’ve been using Snagit for Mac – it’s designed by TechSmith who make the Camtasia technology, but it’s better adapted to individual teachers and is a $30 one-off payment. I’ve been experimenting with it for tutorial videos and presentations and it seems to work ok. I didn’t realise you could record a “keynote” presentation. I’ve just been using Google Slides and then Snagit to record over them. Missing a trick there! I’ve also used Quicktime for screen capture but the QuickTime movie files can be gigantic. The big investment I need to make is an external mic as I’m just relying on an internal one at the moment and that won’t really cut it. Thanks for the links and the tips for material in any case.

    • Those QuickTime files are huge, right!

      From what I understand, Snagit isn’t a video editor like ScreenFlow. But I’ll look at this more closely. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • Cara Leopold

        Yeah, and I haven’t quite figured out how to encode them differently to reduce the file size. I see what you mean about the distinction between screen capture and video editor – that must be why ScreenFlow is more expensive than Snagit. All you can really do in the Snagit editor is trim bits of the video, although I’m guessing from what Chris was saying below that I could import a Snagit video capture into iMovie and edit it there. I did a bit of editing of my last screencast within the YouTube suite and that was sufficient. As you say, it’s better to keep the video creation process as simple as possible!

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