With advances in technology being at an all time high, creating quality video content on a low budget has never been so achievable. As a professional Videographer and Video editor, I’ve seen the bar rise steadily in the quality of amateur video content that I’ve been booked to edit. The purpose of these videos vary greatly from companies opting to shoot content in house to keep video marketing costs down to hobbyists shooting family events and travel videos.
In recent months I’ve seen a huge shift in the type of business enquires that I receive. My most popular video editing and filming assignments seem to be coming from people wanting to create unique video content for YouTube.
These YouTubers range from people looking to start up their own channels right up to seasoned established channels. For example last November I was booked by James Matthews Media to shoot behind the scenes footage for his Zhiyun Weebill Lab Gimbal review. His channel is currently sitting at 82K subscribers and the video created from the raw clips I captured can be watched below.
What equipment do I need to start filming YouTube videos?
I’m assuming that for you to be reading this article you’re likely to be completely new to film making and probably don’t have any camera equipment at this stage. Choosing which gear to purchase is a tricky one to answer because there are a myriad of different camera and mobile device manufacturers on the market offering products to suit even the most modest of budgets.
So for this exercise, I’m going to set myself a challenge of sticking to a maximum budget of £600 and I’ll detail where these products can be purchased brand new with warranties. By choosing to go with brand new options it will mean that there’s the possibility of getting things for even less if you choose to go down the used market route thus making things even more budget friendly.
1) Choosing a Camera that’s right for you?
The first thing you will need is a camera and a lens and choosing this will depend on a number of practical and preference factors such as:
Will you need 4K?
Auto Focus Capabilities
Mirrorless or DSLR
Size and weight
The cost of additional accessories
Low light capability
How long do you intend to keep the camera for?
Will you need onboard stabilisation?
The cost of the lens
Do you want a Full Frame, APS-C or a Micro Four Thirds sensor?
The above are a few things that you will want to consider before making your choice. Once you’ve assessed these factors you’ll know which camera will best suit the majority of your needs. I say the majority because it’s important to remember that no camera will offer the perfect solution for everyone.
Being a life long Sony user, if I were choosing to buy a camera on a low budget I would opt for the Sony A6000. It’s packed with useful features and currently retails at £376 in Jessops with a 16-50 Kit lens with a Power Zoom. The 16-50 Kit lens covers a lot of useful focal lengths and will allow you to shoot both wide and close up without having to swap out your lens. It’s small and compact and has a 24.3MP APS-C sensor, which would be ideal for a run and gun shooting all for a reasonable price. Sony is also one of the leading camera manufacturers when it comes to auto-focus, which is a very useful feature to have if you’re going to be filming yourself.
2) What Video Lighting should I choose?
When filming content the type of lighting that you use is really important as it determines the look and feel of the final piece. Most YouTubers tend to film from home as the cost of studio space and obtaining licenses to film in public places is cost prohibitive so you’re going to need lights.
To get a consistent looking video you will need to control all the light sources in the room. It’s advisable to close curtains and shut out any outside light as moving clouds passing the sun will be picked up by your camera’s sensor. This will result in footage that changes brightness and contrast throughout the recording and can be very off-putting to your viewers. It will also make your editing workflow twice as long to colour correct and colour grade.
There are a variety of different types of lights that you can buy and the most common video lights tend to be LED panels. As you’re going to be filming yourself you’ll want the softest light possible so our next recommendation would be lights with either softboxes or translucent shoot-through umbrellas.
These types of lights have a sheet of diffusion material covering them, which will give you a much more flattering look on your face and minimize harsh shadows that form under the eyes in direct light. They are also fairly cheap and come in packs which will allow you to get multiple lights in order to not only illuminate yourself but also your background. We managed to find these 135W continuous lighting kits for £27.99 including delivery on eBay.
And to get you started we’ve attached a diagram of a basic 3 point lighting set-up and a link to a short video tutorial that covers this topic in more depth.
3) How to capture good quality Audio
One of the most obvious giveaway signs that a Video has been captured by a non-professional is poor sound. Most people can tolerate watching a low quality image but will seldom watch content which has poor quality sound. So with this in mind, it’s important that you choose your sound capturing device very carefully and consider how and where you intend to use it.
The options that we looked at were Lavaliere Microphones and Shotgun Microphones. But as with all camera equipment, nothing is perfect so both come with pros and cons. It’s important to note that both options are very sensitive to sound so choose the quietest times and places to shoot your videos. Before pressing record have a listen to the ambient noise in the room, is there an air-conditioning unit or fridge on? Can you hear footsteps or noises coming from the next door neighbours or people in your home? As all these sounds will be picked up in your recording. Once you have golden silence begin.
Shotgun Microphones vs Lavaliere Microphones
They tend to offer superior sound quality as you can get your microphone closer to the source of the sound. This means that the Microphone has less chance of picking up other ambient sounds in the room giving you a cleaner audio file to work with in post-production.
As we’re on a budget the likelihood is that a wireless Lavaliere system is going to be out of our price range. So we’re left with an option where you’re going to have to record the sound on a separate device such as a Zoom H1 and then sync the captured audio to your video clips in post. As well as wanting to find the most cost-effective options we also want to select gear that won’t add more time to your overall editing workflow, so that rules out the Zoom H1.
This option is likely to be the choice of most new YouTubers as it offers a quick and easy way to capture sound in a run and gun situation. This Microphone is plugged directly into the camera so you don’t have to worry about synching issues as the sound is recorded at the same time as the visuals
As the Microphone is mounted on top of your camera this means that it is likely to pick up more ambient noise in the room than the Lavaliere Microphone. With everything considered I’ve decided to go for the Shotgun Microphone as it offers practical versatility and quality for a good price. The one we chose to go with is the Rode Video Mic Pro which we found on Amazon for £119.
Which budget Tripod should I choose?
The last thing that you will need is a Tripod as it’s important that your videos are stable and shake free. As its likely that you’ll be recording yourself, a Tripod will allow you to compose your shot the way that you want it to look. So you can concentrate on what you’re saying in front of the camera, confident in the knowledge that it’s going to tell the story that you’re trying to convey to your viewers.
For this I chose the Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminium Tripod, which I found for £46.95 including delivery on Amazon. I went for this because of its sturdy sleek design and reasonable price point.
So to conclude the above selections are based upon what I would choose to start my journey into the world of YouTube, with only £600 to spend. It is by no means the ultimate comprehensive must have set-up that will work for everyone in every situation. But you could definitely shoot great quality video content with it that would rival most YouTube videos being created in 2019.
It is important to remember that your gear is only part of the filmmaking equation. And as such the key to success will ultimately be determined by the story that you choose to tell with the gear that you have.
I hope that you’ve found this blog informative and useful and I wish you all happy shooting. Were always at hand if you require a more professional finish to your videos or need to have your footage professionally edited. To find out more about our Video Production or Video Editing services please click.