Choosing Your Gear
Once you’ve decided on your setup and location, it’s time to think about equipment. We recommend you begin with gear you already own or have access to and build on that. If you are moving from screencasting to on-camera video, you will already own a quality microphone, headphones and screencasting software. Equipment you need for on-camera video can include:
- A professional quality microphone (See Audio).
- Three lights with stands (See Lighting).
- A camera with tripod (See Camera).
Start simply and build on what you already have.
The sound for your on-camera video needs to be high quality. Audio must be recorded using a separate microphone and not your camera’s built-in microphone. You can record the audio from the external microphone directly into your camera, to a separate audio recorder, or directly into your computer using your screencasting program or a separate audio program.
Audio should be recorded at a minimum sample rate of 44.1 KHz and bit depth of 16-bit.
Choosing a Microphone
For on-camera audio use a professional quality microphone. You could either stick with the microphone you already own and use for screencasting, or buy a shotgun or lapel microphone. The microphones recommended below are our preferred options as they are easier to keep out of the shot:
Your Screencasting Microphone
If you have the Intermediate Screencasting Kit then we recommend using the MXL 991 microphone from the MXL 990 and 991 Recording Pack (See The Right Equipment for the Job).
A shotgun microphone is a highly directional microphone that should be aimed directly towards the mouth either from above or below. This often requires a boom stand to hold and position the microphone and an XLR cable and a preamp to connect it to your recorder or computer. Our recommendation is:
- Rode NTG-2 Condenser Shotgun Microphone ($220, B&H)
Lapel microphones, or lavalier microphones, are small microphones that can be attached to clothing. They can be connected directly to a camera or recorder via the 3.5mm (1/8 inch) audio connection. You can also connect a lapel microphone to an iPhone and record with an audio recording app. Our recommendations are:
- Aputure A.lav Professional Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone ($35, Amazon)
- Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omni-Directional Condenser Microphone ($30, Amazon and B&H)
- JK MIC-J 044 Lavalier Lapel Clip On Omni-Directional Condenser Microphone ($50, Amazon and B&H)
There are many options for recording your audio. Two options are:
Recording Directly Into Your Computer:
Recording to an iPhone (for use with lapel microphone):
- Rode Rec iPhone App ($5.99)
Depending on the audio equipment you choose, you may need to add one or more of these accessories:
- XLR Cables (Amazon and B&H)
- Boom Stand: Samson MK-10 Microphone Boom Stand ($20, Amazon and B&H)
- Pop Filter: Nady Microphone Pop Filter ($20, Amazon and B&H)
Check with our Course Producer if you have questions.
For more on planning your audio and microphone recommendations, watch The Instructional Video: Chapter 3.2: Talent Audio, watch Better Webcam Video: Chapter 4.1: Choose Your Microphone, and read How to Choose the Right Microphone for Voice Recording.
We recommend a three-point lighting setup. This consists of a key light, a fill light and a backlight. This setup requires:
- Three lights with bulbs.
- Three stands.
- Diffusion material to soften harsh light.
- Clips to attach the diffusion material.
We have a Basic Recommended Lighting Kit below, but there are many great options for lighting video. These include LED light panels and professional quality studio lighting of many kinds. If you have access to lights or would like to invest in higher-end options, please discuss this with our Course Producer.
Basic Recommended Lighting Kit
The Down and Dirty Lighting Kit recommended in this video by Wistia is a perfect place to begin. It goes over everything you'll need and is a great primer on setting up three-point lighting. For less than $100 you can purchase the basics needed to create solid video lighting:
- 3 Lights: Power Zone 8.5-Inch Clamp Light PZ-300 ($35, Amazon)
- 3 Light Bulbs: Full Spectrum Light Bulb ALZO 27W Compact Fluorescent CFL, Pack of 4, 5500K Daylight, 120V, Joyous Light Pure White Light ($25, Amazon):
- Look for daylight balanced "High-CRI" or "Full Spectrum" bulbs.
- 3 Light Stands: CowboyStudio 7 feet Light Stands ($55, Amazon):
- Any reasonably priced equivalent will do. You may be able to find DIY solutions.
- Diffusion Material: Rosco Cinegel 1/2 Tough White Diffusion Material ($12, Amazon):
- There are DIY options, but because lights can get extremely hot, do not use flammable materials on or near lights.
- 3 Spring Clamps ($8, Amazon)
- A Package of Wooden Clothespins ($4, Amazon)
- Extension Cord: GE 51954 12 foot Extension Cord ($8, Amazon)
Optional: Upgrades for Lighting Kit
- Light Bulbs: Cree "100 watt" LED bulbs 5000K ($30, Amazon) or Cree "60 watt" LED bulbs 5000K ($12, Amazon):
- Better light, longer lasting than compact fluorescents.
- Light Reflector (Amazon and B&H)
- Backdrop Paper Roll: 9-foot Grey Seamless Roll Paper ($50, Amazon)
- Fancierstudio Background Stand Backdrop Support System Kit 8 feet by 10 feet ($40, Amazon)
- Cheaplights 6 Piece 3.75” Spring Clamps ($7, Amazon)
Other Lighting Gear to Consider
- Clamp Lamp with 8.5-Inch Reflector
- 6" Spring Clamp
- 40-Inch Extension Grip Arm with Big Handle
- Rosco Diffusion Filter Kit, 12 x 12" Sheets
- BlueMax 26w CFL
- Kino Flo 6.6" 26W Kino KF55
- 30-Inch Octagon SoftBox Umbrella Style
- AC Socket Stand Adapter
- 8.5’ Light Stand Two Pack
- 8.5’ Light Stand Single
- Double AC Socket Stand Adapter
- Twin Light-Socket Adapter
- 22-Inch 5 in 1 Light Multi Photo Collapsible Reflector
For more on lighting, read the tutorial, Video Lights For All: How to Build a Complete 3 Head Kit on a $100 Budget.
Before looking into new video equipment, check to see if you already own a camera that will work. It may be possible to shoot video on a video or still camera you already own or have access to. For instructors working with live video for the first time, we recommend using one static camera on a tripod.
All video for Envato Tuts+ should be captured in high definition at 1280 x 720 (or 1280 x 800) or larger. If you choose to buy a camera, speak with our Course Producer about your options before purchasing.
For more on choosing gear, watch The Instructional Video: Chapter 2.1: What You Need. Also, for more on selecting a tripod, watch Better Webcam Video: Chapter 2.2: Tripods.