One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about what video production equipment you need, especially what gear you need to start a video production business.
I’ve been pretty outspoken about gear and equipment in the past, going as far to say that there’s a bit of an obsession with gear in the filmmaking/video production communities. I’ve even gone on record saying that people should focus instead on learning how to grow their business and get more clients, rather than constantly chasing the next shiny object and trying to keep up with the latest fads in the market.
All of that is true. Still, it’s an undeniable fact that if you want to run a successful video production company, then you’re going to need some gear whether that gear is hired or bought for personal use.
And if you need gear, you should have a place that gives you the lowdown on your options and what’s recommended.
This is a special section of the site that lists my recommended gear for different types of video production. I’ve included my recommendations for a Starting Equipment Kit, an Advanced Equipment Kit and there are even sortable filters for different types of equipment you might be looking into.
Make sure you check out this new section, as I think it’ll help you make the best choices when it comes to video production gear.
One of the most exciting aspects of filmmaking is putting together your video production equipment package.
Keep in mind, and there is no “one size fits all” equipment package for everyone since there are so many variables (budget, type of project, locations, pro vs amateur, etc.), so what we have tried to do on this page is cover some basic gear you may want to consider.
If you’re looking for the best Video Company in Melbourne then look no further. Check out Vines of the Yarra Valley’s ultimate list.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s your budget, skill, and team size?
- 2 Example video production teams
- 3 Video Production Equipment
- 4 Video editing software
- 5 Remember That Content Comes First
What’s your budget, skill, and team size?
Yes, we know people aren’t equipment. But your team’s size and skill level influence your choice of gear. Do you have a seasoned video production manager, or is this your team’s first shoot? Do you have a strategist, director, scriptwriter, and graphic designer, or are you one person wearing all the hats?
Example video production teams
- Beginner: Video producer (one or two people wearing all the hats)
- Intermediate: Video producer (usually two people), camera team, copywriter
- Advanced: Video producer, copywriter, video writer, storyboard artist, director, camera team, sound team, makeup team, editor(s), graphic designer
Video Production Equipment
If you’re making a video, you need a good camera. And if you’ve done any reading about video production tools or video marketing, you know that there are a lot of opinions out there.
We’ll start with the basics. You can use a DSLR for filming. It won’t get you the same level of quality as a professional-level video camera. But it’s a lot cheaper, and the video quality improves all the time.
Many people who sell videos online use DSLRs, and the quality is great. Almost all DSLRs can record in 1080p, the standard for online high-definition video. And many are capable of recording in 4K as well.
For a mid-range DSLR (like the Canon EOS M50), plan on spending in the $600 range—though you can often find great deals on Craigslist.
If you do go with a DSLR, it’s especially important to get a tripod and an external mic. We’ll talk about those in a moment.
For even better quality and more in-camera features, you’ll want to invest in a high-end video camera. What will you get with a video camera? Better image stabilization, the better focus during zooms, and improved sound pickup, for a start.
Of course, you’ll pay more for that quality. The Canon XA11, a good mid-level professional video camera, will cost you about $1,300.
But if you’re thinking seriously about making money with your videos, a video camera is a must-have video production tool.
(We put together a list of the best cameras for YouTube in 2018. If you’re looking for a new camera, check it out!)
Highly portable camera
If you have a DSLR or video camera, why do you need another camera?
Because you never know when inspiration or opportunity will strike. Video from your smartphone or a compact camera can be great for marketing, documentation, and lots of other things.
If you’re all-in on video, you should be able to capture it at any time. And having a phone or small camera with solid video-recording capabilities lets you capture, edit, and upload your video in a matter of minutes.
Fortunately, most phones can already take pretty good video. You might get better results from a compact camera, though. You can get started on the cheap with the Sony DSCW800/B, a 20.1 MP camera for less than $90.
Editing is where a phone will serve you better than a compact camera; there are plenty of apps that let you perform basic edits before you upload your videos to improve the viewing experience.
This won’t be a high-priority item for everyone. But if you want to be able to capture video at any time, it’s a must.
No matter how good your camera’s stabilization is, you need a tripod. Even small shakes can be visible in a video—especially if you’re using a DSLR with a zoom lens.
A tripod turns even a basic camera into a much better video production tool. A tripod will seriously improve the video quality from any camera.
You might be surprised at the price of tripods when you start looking; there seems to be no upper limit to the cost. Most beginners will be fine with the most basic tripods, like the Mactrem PT55.
Stepping up to higher-end equipment will get you smoother panning, lighter weight, and increased portability.
No matter how still you think you can hold a camera, you need a tripod. It doesn’t need to be the best one out there. But it’s indispensable.
While video cameras have better audio pickups than DSLRs or phones, they still leave much to be desired. And if you’re using something smaller, the audio will likely be terrible. These devices aren’t designed to capture high-quality sound.
External microphones significantly improve the quality of your audio. This is especially important when you’re filming video lessons, courses, interviews, or anything else that contains speech.
Fortunately, you can get a solid external mic without breaking the bank. One of the most popular is the Rode VideoMic Pro.
At $212, it might be a bit much for beginners. But there are similar Rode models available for less than $100.
It’s important to think about the type of mic you need. Omni-directional microphones capture sound from every direction, while shotgun and directional mics focus sound capture in a specific direction. The best choice for you depends on exactly what you’re recording.
We’ll also talk about lavalier mics a bit later.
Looking for a Video Company in Melbourne? Check out our ultimate list of videographers here.
Good lighting makes a huge difference in the final quality of your video. If you’ve ever seen a video where an interviewee is poorly well, you know that it’s distracting.
Unfortunately, getting your lighting right is complex. You need to consider different types of light, foreground and background lighting, shadows, and equipment.
And that equipment can get expensive. If you’re just getting started, you can use a reflector to take advantage of ambient light. It’s just a matter of getting it set up to reflect the light properly. (You’ll also need someone to hold it unless you get a reflector holder as well.)
An entry-level reflector is an affordable way to start lighting your videos better. You can get a 5-in-1 reflector with translucent, white, black, gold, and silver surfaces.
If you want to step up to a more versatile and powerful lighting solution, you can use a softbox. These are large cloth boxes that cover bright bulbs to give you a soft fill light.
They take up a lot of room, but there’s a reason why the pros use them all the time: they provide the best light.
You can get started with less than $100 (this Neewer set is $57), but you’ll get better performance and longevity out of a more expensive set.
No matter how you choose to light your video, make sure that the lighting doesn’t create harsh shadows or bright glares. It makes a huge difference.
A gimbal is like a stabilizer for your camera. There are many different types and sizes; you can find gimbals for cameras as small as your iPhone and as big as a professional-level video camera.
By using pivots and weights, a gimbal stabilizes your shot, which is especially important when you’re moving. When your camera is still, a tripod will work. If you’re moving around, you’ll need a gimbal.
There are lots of different models, and they vary in features and price (though the Roxant Pro is a solid choice if you might use different recording devices).
The more expensive the gimbal, the lighter and more stable it will be. How much you should spend depends on how often you plan on moving your camera while shooting video.
If the vast majority of your shots are going to be stationary, you don’t need to worry too much about it. If you plan on making a lot of moving videos, it’s worth spending the money. The increase in quality will be notable.
Also, make sure to get a gimbal that will work with your camera. There are multiple attachment mechanisms, and most of them are pretty universal. But you should always double-check.
We’ve talked in detail about beginner video editing software in the past. Suffice to say here that it’s necessary. With some basic editing skills, your video quality will go way up.
You don’t even need to get into advanced techniques like colour correcting or complicated cuts. Just editing out your vocal pauses and inserting some text is enough to take your video from amateurish to pro-quality.
Mastering editing and production software is a long process. But you can get started with just a few basic tutorials, and you’ll see an improvement in your video quality right away.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to do it. Expensive software like Adobe Premiere Pro is great, but you can also use Shotcut, macOS’s Photos, or VideoPad.
Will your videos include people talking? Then you’re going to want a lavalier mic. This is a small microphone that clips to a collar or lapel and provides high-quality sound pickup. It eliminates background noise and records clear voices.
If your videos aren’t going to include many people talking, you can add this to your “someday” list. But most people who are going to be creating a video on a regular basis will want to have at least a couple lavalier mics in their gear bag.
If you’re filming with a DSLR, a wireless lavalier mic that plugs into your camera, like the Saramonic SR-WM4C, is a great choice:
Video editing hardware
You can edit video on almost any device. Most smartphones can download capable video-editing apps, and just about every computer can run one as well.
But if you’re going to be doing a lot of video editing, you may want to consider upgrading your hardware. Many top videographers use Apple hardware for their video editing, but Windows PCs have caught up in graphics processing power, too.
The main thing to pay attention to is that your computer has enough graphics power to let you edit at full speed. Lower-end graphics cards and laptops may have difficulty making changes to very large files. And that slows down your computer.
For most people, editing on your current device will be fine. If you notice that the process is slow and you think you might benefit from something faster, it’s time to consider making a change.
Adding text to your video is a great way to increase engagement, no matter where you’re going to be posting it. Videos on social media are often watched without sound, so you’ll lose a lot of viewers if you don’t have subtitles.
Even if you’re not posting on social media, you’ll still want to have captions available for viewers with hearing difficulties (and those who like to read along as they watch).
The problem is that if you’re going to be creating a lot of videos, transcription takes a lot of time. That’s why using a transcription service is a good idea. They’ll get you the text of your video back faster than you could do it yourself. You’ll have to pay for it, but once you’ve transcribed a few of your videos, you’ll see why it’s worth the cost.
You may also want to use your transcript (or part of it) as a content upgrade or to supplement the video on the page. It’s a good way to add value to your viewers/readers and give your site a bit of an SEO boost as well.
There are lots of providers to check out. You can get started by comparing GoTranscript, Scribie, and Rev.
Video editing software
With your new hardware comes the need for software to cut your footage into enjoyable, useful video sequences. But before you go out and buy a license to Adobe Premiere, be sure you need it.
If all you need to do is share your screen for a product demo, you can do that for free with QuickTime, which is included on all Macs, or Vidyard’s GoVideo, which is a free Chrome extension. If you’re sharing a webinar, you can probably do that through your webinar provider.
But if you need to cut scenes, include subtitles, or add music, you have three options:
Beginner: iMovie or Windows Movie Maker (free on most computers)
These no-frills options cover most of the basic features. You can cut clips, reorder scenes, add stills, add audio, create titles and credits, and insert some (very) basic transitions and special effects.
Beware: These special effects are about as subtle as PowerPoint’s notorious star-wipe fade. If overused (or used at all, says Mat), they can ruin your video.
Intermediate: Camtasia or ScreenFlow
These options aren’t free, but they give you significantly more control over cutting and splicing your video. You’ll have more options to adjust audio and lighting, crop scenes, zoom in and out, and add annotations.
The Vidyard team prefers Camtasia, as it has a little extra functionality, such as the ability to draw on the screen, add watermarks, and freeze regions of the film. But both tools are great options. You won’t be able to edit too heavily, but they’ll do the job for most marketers.
Advanced: Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects, Final Cut, or Avid
Advanced video software isn’t a big leap in cost, but it’s a huge jump up in functionality. It’ll let you add more professional graphics, animations, and audio effects.
If you’re used to intermediate software, an advanced tool can be a bit like stepping into an aeroplane cockpit and seeing a wall of gauges. Advanced software probably isn’t something someone running a small team is going to learn on the fly, especially on a deadline. But you can figure them out with enough time.
Check out our post on Should I hire a wedding videographer?
Remember That Content Comes First
Professional-looking videos are great. And for that, you need video production tools. But it’s important to remember that the best video production in the world won’t help you succeed if your videos don’t have anything to say.
Once you’ve figured out how to share a great message with your videos, though, it’s time to start thinking about video production. And these ten tools will help you achieve great-looking videos.
You don’t need to go out and get all ten right away. You can probably start with a good camera and some video editing software. But when you get serious about making money with your videos, you’ll need to step it up.