Recently, I have been asked over and over: “Blaine, how can I make videos at home that look and sound great, is easy to do and won’t break the bank”
And if your not asking this its for one of two reasons:
- You already know how to do this
- You don’t understand how important it is to leverage the power of video in today’s fast paced world.
Now, if you don’t know why you need video, just look around at what the “gurus” are doing in the industry – that’s right they ALL use video, and most of them have it on their sales pages. Why? you may ask..
They Use Video Because it Literally Forces People To Pay Attention And Buy What Your Promoting
Ok, enough of that lets get into the good stuff…
You really only need about 3 basic things to get started doing video at home (or wherever you prefer to shoot):
An HD Camera:
Yes, in today’s world and with the price of electronics I would recommend nothing less than HD. The Camera that I suggest to most people is the Kodak Zi8 Pocket Camera.
I reccomend the Zi8 for many reasons:
- It’s small and easy to take with you anywhere
- It is extremely affordable ($100-$200) – to compare, a camera with this quality 5-10 years ago would have cost you in the tens of thousands of dollars
- There are a ton of accessories
- It has an SD memory card slot, meaning if you want to shoot all day, just buy a couple extra memory cards
Extra Media Cards (SD cards for the Zi8)
You will always want to carry at least two with you and with how affordable they are now its not a problem to do that. Plus if you run out you can get them practically anywhere.
Find a bunch here, the general rule of thumb is you want at least 2gb but at the time of writing this the 8gb card are the best amount of space for money
A Decent Microphone
You NEED a microphone, there is no question about it! Spend $20 and get the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone
My friend Glenn Arcaro (the Hollywood video guy) has told me time and time again that people care much more about your auido than video. If you have subpar audio they will leave your vid. If your video is subpar but your audio sounds great they will stay and watch.
You also may want to spend $20 and get a fullsized tripod like this.
A note on tripods: Yes you can easily spend $1500 or more on a tripod (like this manfrotto), but unless your shooting professional video there really is no reason. My thinking is by a cheap one (maybe a second for a backup) if your traveling and forget it or it breaks or is stolen, who cares! It was $20. And at the end of the day the $20 one does the exact same job as the $1500 one – holds your camera steady.
Total: $300-$400 depending on the prices you get for things.
Blaine, That Set Up Is Great but I want something even better!
Well luckily I have a few upgrades you may want to look at to make you even more professional (and still stay under $1000)
…But before I continue I must warn you – when you get all the cool toys figured out and start seeing the results you have with video you will be spending more time doing it and probably have to upgrade your computer and hard drives to handle all the footage, the results you get from video make it addictive 🙂
Home Studio Stage 2:
A lighting/Backdrop package:
Now there are more options than you can shake a stick at with this. But considering were on a budget, I’m going to recommend some great products that I have tried out myself.
Cowboy Studios Makes a Ton of great starter packages at incredible prices. I recommend a 3 light setup with at least a couple backdrops (Chroma Key Green, Black, White) and if your studio will stay in one room most of the time, get a backdrop mount:
- CowboyStudio 2275 Watt Digital Video Continuous Softbox Lighting Kit BOOM Set with Carrying Case – 2 Light stands, 2 Softboxes, 1 Boom Kit $248.34
- CowboyStudio Photography 10′ X 12′ Black, White & Chromakey Green Muslin Backdrops with Background Support System Background Stand and Carry Bag $162.57
- CowboyStudio Photography 3-Roller Wall Mount Manual Background Support System Wall-mounted $62.71
A Wireless Mic:
Ok, so you don’t NEED a wireless mic but they are really handy, especially if you want to walk away from the camera a bit. I will give you two options, budget and Pro Quality. If you can easily afford the better one it is worth the money.
- Azden WMS-PRO Wireless Microphone System $144.00
- Sennheiser EW 100-ENG G2 Wireless Microphone System $795.95
A Good Backup Hard drive:
You will want to get an external hard drive that can store your video and it MUST have redundancy (meaning if one of the drives fail there is another to keep your data safe) I have about 6 in my office at the moment, but I definitely must say the g-drives are quite amazing, and a 2-4 terabyte will do fine for most people.:
So that is my main list, and of course as technology improves and time goes on I’m sure it will need to be modified and updated, but I can tell you as of writing this the above setup will get you going and you can easily do it for under $1000, if you add in the lights, backdrop and a good hard drive your right at $1000
Thanks for reading my home video studio writeup – Post comments/questions, or good jokes below.