Let's talk about Video Gear.
We're going to be looking at the tools and equipment that you're going to be using to create great videos.
The first is that you do have a decent budget. So not a "tiny" and not "no budget", because the suggestions are gear that you're going to potentially have to purchase and they're not always cheap.
Since this is a Video for Entrepreneurs Course, the expectation is that you are willing to invest in this area of your business in order to help it grow.
And the second thing is that you've got some kind of semi-permanent recording space. It doesn't need to be a full-on studio, it doesn't need to be a full-on office, but you've got someplace that you can sit down and work, that you already sit down and work every day, that you are going to be able to adapt into a place you can record.
We are not going to be looking at creating some separate sort of studio away from where you work. We are just going to be talking about basically how you can adapt your office into a mini recording studio.
Let's start with the most obvious thing, and that is the camera.
So, the two key things can take away from this are that webcams suck. The default webcams that have been in computers for a long time are terrible. They are getting better though, like in the new MacBooks and the new Windows-based PCs.
But up until about 2020, the default webcams in most computers were rubbish. So the default webcam maybe in five years is going to be probably incredible. But we're at the moment where the default webcams are bad and this also extends to the sort of the very low-end external basic USB webcams. Most of the time they're not great quality.
Surprising how Logitech kind of conned the world into thinking that their entry-level webcams are worth buying at all. They're handy if you have a monitor that you need to attach because your laptop is closed and you can't use the default one there but they're not great.
So we are going to be looking at getting a proper camera.
There are three proper cameras that we're going to talk about. There are three because you can't really ignore how good an iPhone is. And with Apple's new Continuity Camera feature, it makes it a perfect low-budget contender.
If you've already got the newer models of iPhone and MacBook, then you'll just be able to use your iPhone using the Continuity Camera feature as a webcam.
So when it detects that you're using a video software that has a webcam input, it'll suggest that you use your iPhone as the camera and the quality is amazing. It's as good as any video that you would take on your iPhone, or if you had a FaceTime call and suddenly you're getting it beamed straight into your computer wirelessly, which is awesome.
So this is the best starting point if you've got this. The downside is that you need to take your iPhone out of service and set it up as a camera. If you like using your phone a lot and don't want to have to set it up and take it back down again, then that can be a bit of a downside.
Then we've got two proper cameras, both of them are Sony. Sony has built up a bit of a reputation for being kind of the industry standard when it comes to adapting mirrorless cameras like these are to use as webcams.
Lots of Gaming Streamers and YouTubers swear by these Sony mirrorless cameras for their setups. And that's what we are going to be suggesting also.
The Sony A6400, is kind of a mid-range camera. You can record up to 4K 60 frames per second with this. It's pretty good build quality, and it costs around $700 to $800. They used to have a cheaper version of this which is the SonyA5100 that's been discontinued. It could only do up to 1080 resolution, but it only cost a few hundred dollars, around $300, but it's incredible for this use.
The Sony A7 is basically going to the top of the line. This is a professional camera that people use to make films and do professional photography. It's a good mirrorless camera, and more professional streamers, YouTubers, and creators are using this as their go-to webcam so they have this permanently set up as a camera.
It's the top of the line and this is not going to be something that you're going to buy and then need to replace in a couple of years unless something dramatic changes in the way video gets captured.
So these are the options we would suggest. If you don't have an iPhone, then every single one of these is a bit of an investment. But if you're looking for a cheap option, then the iPhone is a great one. You'll just have to figure out the best way to have it set up as a camera when you need to film.
There are a couple of other things to mention when we're talking about cameras. These are some extra bits of equipment that you might need to think about.
Cam Link (Capture Card)
The first is a Capture Card or a Cam Link, which is kind of a popular model by a company called Elgato. A cam link basically takes the HDMI signal out of your camera and turns it into a USB. And so you can just plug that into your computer when you purchase one of these cameras(For at least some of the earlier models, you couldn't just plug that straight into your computer).
You need a Capture Card like this to convert the signal to a USB that your computer can then interpret as a webcam. These cost around $60 and $100, which seems expensive for a USB, but it's a real workhorse and a lot of people recommend it.
You can avoid needing a Capture Card for some of the newer models of Sony cameras since you just need to plug the camera directly into your computer, which is cool.
Assuming newer models will just move to that, now that they know that this way of using their cameras is becoming more and more popular knowing that these cameras come from a photography and film world and now they're realizing that lots of people are using them for this kind of use case and so they'll be adapting them to work for those use cases a bit better.
The next thing is a lens.
You're probably asking, why would you get a lens when these cameras have big lenses already? The one great thing why getting an extra lens is good is that you can get a really nice depth of field. Sure, you can do that with some software and tools like that, but nothing beats the natural look of a really good lens. So if you want this, you can upgrade your lens.
There is a lens made by a maker called Sigma, which is a Japanese brand that works well with Sony cameras. It's a big lens with a pretty good price point and still costs quite a lot of money. Relative to other lenses of that size, it's a really good option.
There's an endless amount of lenses that you could use if you want to upgrade, but if you want to get that "kind of effect", or even better, then think about upgrading from the default lens, which won't kind give you the same kind of depth of field and nice blur in the background.
And then lastly is a tripod or some kind of way of mounting your camera. Cameras just can't be set up and then sit on your desk. You need to have them mounted to something. Some have a full set of kind of arms that you can connect various devices to like the microphone and the camera.
You could also just get a basic tripod that has a phone mount and have that perched on your desk especially if you're just using your iPhone. The nice thing about this is you can pack this, and you can move it around your desk to find, a good spot since it's pretty adjustable.
There are lots of brands and models of phone tripod on Amazon at a pretty good price. The iPhone option is also really good if you don't have a permanent place to record. So whenever you go away on holiday, work overseas, or in an Airbnb, you can just take a tripod and iPhone and that's going to be the way that you can record nice high-quality videos.
Basically, you'll need a tripod for either of those options.
The last thing is, when you use cameras like the examples, you will need to get a dummy battery which is where you swap the default battery for a battery that goes into the battery pack and it has a cable that comes out of it that you can plug into the wall.
The reason you need this is because otherwise you're running these on battery power and that's only going to last like a few hours maybe. And if you're filming a lot of videos and you're using this as your default camera for video calls and things like that, then you're probably going to want to have, never-ending power.
A dummy battery is another thing worth adding. Not essential since you can just start recording without it. You just have to charge the battery every now and then.
So moving on to microphones now.
People can tolerate a bad picture, but they can't tolerate bad sound. People just have a much greater aversion to things that sound bad because there's almost like a physical response when you hear bad sound or glitches in the sound or anything that kind of annoys you like that. It's a much more kind of visceral annoyance.
If the picture is a bit low quality or fuzzy or hard to see, you can still kind of watch through it. So fixing your sound and investing in your sound is really important for the overall look and feel of your videos. And so we're going to talk about two options today.
The Blue Yeti is a microphone that you can just attach via USB. You can stick it on your desk. It's got a nice stand and the sound is really good. There are different sound modes on the back so you can change it so that it just captures the sound directly from the way you're speaking.
You can make it so that it can capture sound from all the way around it. It's got a bunch of nice settings for that.
This is kind of an entry-level thing and the quality is pretty good and you can pick them up for like around $60-$100, think and there's also a newer model which we are not sure how much better that is than this one and that goes for maybe up to $150. Super easy to use, plug and play, good quality, and has some nice settings on there.
Now if you really want to go crazy and you have the budget, then you can try out the Shure SM7B, which is kind of getting a reputation as the gold standard for podcasting and YouTube videos.
If you've watched any kind of video podcast, you've probably seen people with a setup like this with the microphone in their face, or near their face, and they'll probably be using a Shure SM7B. The reason so many people use these and are quite comfortable with them up in their face is that the sound is really good.
The downside is that they're indeed expensive. So the microphone itself costs about $400, which is not too crazy. But the problem is that it uses a special type of cable called an XLR Cable and that's for plugging into professional audio equipment, not into a computer. So to actually get it connected to your computer and running nicely, you need to get some extra gear.
Audio Interface, Preamp, and XLR Cables are the things you need in order just to use this thing. It's not just going to be $400 that you need to spend in order to get this microphone, but you're going to have to spend a bit more. So if your not here to break the bank and just want a good microphone, get to the Blue Yeti.
But if you do want to invest in this, here are a couple of details.
An Audio Interface is basically a way for you to connect your XLR cable that your SM7B microphone has and then be able to connect the sound from that into the computer. You need this interface to plug into there and then you get like a USB-C that can connect from the audio interface which is this red thing into your computer. So then you have the sound coming through.
But it doesn't end there yet because the sound that comes out of this naturally is extremely quiet. You have to turn the gain way up on the audio interface.
To be able to talk far away from your microphone with the gain all the way up, you get a horrible sound and lots of background noise and hissing and it's just not good. So what you need is a Preamp.
One example is a preamp from Cloudlifter. What this does is it automatically boosts the gain of your microphone in a very clean way. You basically plug your microphone into the Cloudlifter and then you plug it again into the audio interface and then it magically sounds incredible. So you almost just need to get these two things and a few XLR cables to get this thing working. Once you do that it sounds great.
Lastly, you're going to need a boom or a stand (If you pick the Blue Yeti, you don't really need to worry about that because it has a stand that comes with it by default). If you get the Shure microphone, you're going to need to get either a stand and kind of have that pointed at your mouth or get it attached to some kind of boom so that you can kind of move it around and have it in the right position.
With these microphones, you do need them pretty close to your voice. Even if you're not close enough because you're moving around a lot, the sound can still be pretty good. The closer you get, the better the sound is going to be.
Next we're going to tackle is lighting.
Lighting is really important because you are going to be needing to record videos day and night, and if you don't have good lighting, recording videos at night is almost impossible. They're going to look terrible.
You might think it's going to be fine and after looking back at it after your recording, it looked like you're recording from a cave. So, you're going to need to get a really good light that's going to help you record in dark conditions.
What you need is Softbox.
If you can find a good place to set this up, you can just switch it on and it's going to illuminate you all day, all night and you're going to be able to record videos comfortably any time of day. You're also going to be able to take calls looking like you're not trapped in some kind of dark cave somewhere.
So get a Softbox. It doesn't really matter which, the entry level ones are still going to do the job.
If you want to go crazy, you can look at investing in more and getting more lights to set up but one of these at the minimum will really help you have a nicely soft illuminated space.
That is all the gear that we're covering in this lesson: Camera, Microphone, Lighting.
Those are the kind of the essentials. Hopefully, we've given you enough options for you to go crazy if you want to go and really invest in this. It's fun to nerd out on this if you've got a bit of a budget.
If you are working and creating these videos for work, then it's worth investing in these because they will help your business. If you're trying to do it on the cheap and don't have the money to invest in it, hopefully, there's been at least some tips or some free or cheaper options that you can try out.
Presuming you are just looking for the baseline, I would say try and record with your iPhone, get a Blue Yeti, and grab some lamps from around your house and see if you can hack together a lighting setup with that.
See you in the next lesson where we look at setting up your recording space, your studio!