I have been creating online content since 2009. It started as a creative outlet to help me deal with the craziness of raising three little ones and continued to become a way of self expression and artistic growth. I had to teach myself how to use a DSLR camera, how to edit and how to deal with lighting. I remember sitting in front of my computer for hours trying to figure out how to use the latest version of Imovie or Final Cut Pro to create my videos. I understand that it can be intimidating when it comes to choosing the right equipment for your video projects, especially if you will be using it yourself. Thankfully technology has become more affordable and accessible and a person who is willing to put in the work and hone their craft can take advantage of what is available to us.
In this article I'm going to talk about the things I've personally used when it comes to videography.
Cameras: Canon 4ti
In 2009 I started out using a The Flip camera. They were very affordable and were easy to use and upload footage to your computer. Everyone and their mother (literally) had one. But the technology moved so fast that these little guys became obsolete within years. After a while I wasn't even able to open the files on my computer any more. So I moved on to a DSLR.
Currently I use a Canon T4i for filming. I like the depth of field and professional look that it affords. These cameras are known for being able to withstand low light which is great for a beginning filmmaker who is still learning about lighting (which is a whole 'notha beast!). I always shoot in manual mode because when the lens automatically focuses it makes noise that is picked up over the on camera microphone.
If you are willing to spend some time with this camera and learn how to use it's features you can get some beautiful images.
Having a tripod is is important to capturing steady professional shots. I still remember the days when I used a pile of books as my tripod when i was doing my Youtube videos. Having a tripod makes such a difference when setting up shots. I like this particular brand of tripods because they are very durable. I've had mine for several years and it still works great.
The fluid head works magnificently in creating smooth pans and also locks down into place when needed. The only thing that I would have added is allowing it to be a monopod so I can be more mobile with the camera. Luckily Manfrotto makes those types of tripod/monopod as well.
Sound: Rode Shotgun Mic,
When creating a film or video sound seems to always be an afterthought for beginners. The thing is sound can really increase the overall production quality of your project. Clean, clear sound keeps watcher engaged in the story.
When I was in theater I remember that we focused A LOT on voice training because they always said if you can't hear the show you can't see the show.
To capture the best sound you want to always record the sound using an external mic if possible. You will really be able to really tell the difference and everyone will appreciate that extra step you took to up the production quality of your movie.
Use the rode mic when you are recording around three feet away from the camera. The farther you are away from the mic the more you are going to need to use a device that records sound separately from the camera.
Sound: Zoom H4n
The Zoom H4n is a device that can record up to four channels of sound directly into a SD/SDHC cards. It is possible to mount the zoom to your camera or even to a boom pole. The nice thing is that the zoom is a little more mobile. I've done scenes where we've hid the zoom behind plants on a table to record conversations.
I'll be honest I have more experience with the zoom as an actor on set than a filmmaker. We used it on the set of my first documentary and it produced wonderful sound. It was easy to use and was very mobile during shooting. The challenge with recording sound separately is syncing it during editing. Make sure that you have a clapper or clap in the frame when starting the recording to help make syncing easier.
These are the main items that I have used over the years when I am shooting my own projects. I do my best to use natural lighting because I just love how it looks! Lighting is a whole 'notha beast that I'm looking to tackle this coming year. In fact, today my husband and I will be looking online at some simple lighting kits.
My main philosophy is to keep things as simple as possible when I have to shoot my own videos. As I've grown in experience over the years I've made more connections with professionals who do a much better job than me when it comes to different aspects of production. However the fact that I've worked in ALL areas of filmmaking has allowed me to be a better producer and leader in my opinion. I have a basic understanding of how these pieces fit together to create the final product.
I hope that by sharing with you what I use, you'll get some idea on what might work for you.