Tools of the trade: Equipment options for in-house video production

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (honestly, though — is there anyone who DOES live under a rock? Wouldn’t that be awkward, uncomfortable, and, well, painful?), you’re probably aware of video’s power to help in the marketing process. We create videos and animations nearly every week for our clients — to the tune of 480 different videos stored right now on our favorite hosted platform, Wistia.

And nearly every marketing article you read extols the benefits of including video in your email, your website, your trade show booth, etc., etc. But what they don’t often tell you is how to get GOOD video. We’ve all tried to use the wonderful camera in our iPhone but realize pretty quickly that, despite some pretty good images, the sound, lighting and overall presentation can pretty quickly start to look (and sound) bad.

For most of our projects, we use professional video rigs and crews. But every once in a while, a project doesn’t call for the big guns, either due to timing or budget. So how can you get good video if you just need something quickly and inexpensively?

First, let me address the videographer (the person shooting the video). Unfortunately, shortcuts here can pretty quickly make even the best equipment look “bad.” There’s no substitute for someone with some good photography or design experience behind the camera to make sure the shot looks good. All of the “right equipment” in the world won’t help if you can’t frame the video well.

And the science (or art?) of lighting for video can be a real challenge. Using available light in an office or manufacturing setting can be difficult, as you often get yellowish or greenish color casts. Shooting outdoors is one answer, but don’t do so at high noon, or you’ll end up with drastic shadows or squinting subjects. Some basic education would be helpful in this area, and a quick Google search for video training can provide you with a head start.

Next, let’s talk about the equipment. It’s easy to get pretty overwhelmed with all the options for lighting kits and tripods and sound equipment and microphones. Here is a basic list that we recently compiled from several different sources to help us in our video equipment shopping:

  • Tripod: Just about any good one will work, but here is a good inexpensive option from Amazon.
  • Tripod adapter: Your smartphone (if that’s what you’re using) will need a way to mount into that tripod. This Joby mount is a good option.
  • Microphone: Sound is one of the biggest problems in getting good video in most environments. This shotgun mic will help isolate the sound to the person speaking.
  • Boom pole: Helps you get your mic closer to the person speaking without suddenly appearing in frame. Try this boom pole.
  • Recorder: You need somewhere for that sound to go. This recorder, while a bit expensive, will work well with your microphone, as well as being able to serve as a microphone itself as well.
  • Basic lighting set: Once you get a better understanding of HOW to light for video, a couple of soft box lights like these will help you achieve the effect you’re after.
  • Halo light: This halo light fits around the lens of a DSLR camera, and is a great tool for framing your subject with light.

Of course, don’t forget things like sandbags, backdrops, cables, etc., many of which you can find inexpensively on Amazon. The aforementioned Wistia is also a great resource for where to find just the right piece of equipment; in fact, many of the choices in this list are from Wistia’s suggestions.

While it’s still not EASY to get great results while shooting video quickly and inexpensively, hopefully these tools will help you improve the outcome. And, of course, we’re always happy to help you tackle any video or marketing project that you might have.

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