What Equipment Do I Need To Shoot A Video?
Are you thinking of starting your own YouTube channel and making videos for it? Or want to make your first short film and wondering what equipment you need? This blog post lists basic video equipment I think you will need to get started.
A bit about me, I’ve been making video content for over 10 years, I recently wrote and directed my first feature film and to fund most of the costs around the film, I was making films for clients, using a lot the equipment mentioned in this post.
This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you buy any of the products through these links, Amazon gives me a percentage of the purchase cost.
If you have a small budget, getting yourself something like the Canon 600D second-hand from mpb..com is a good start. Mpb.com are great because they thoroughly check their equipment before selling it on and give grades as to how used it is. I got my 600D there secondhand with a lens for about £130. Such a bargain and it’s a really nice little camera.
If you have around £500 to spend then I would get a newer DSLR like the Canon EOS 200D. What I love about this camera is it connects to your phone so you can potentially film with it and then edit on your phone. This is great if you don’t have much money to spend on editing software and a computer when you start out.
I would advise going for steady tripod that is reasonably heavy (you’ll want it to be heavy when shooting in strong winds) and definitely one with a fluid head, which enables you to pan smoothly.
A good, fluid head Libec tripod is likely to cost you around £300 + but it’s honestly worth investing in. It’s a piece of equipment you will use forever and all the time.
A 50mm prime lens which lets a lot of light into the lens is an essential beginner lens.
I would also suggest, perhaps over the 50mm, getting a zoom lens that has image stabilisation. It’s great for getting in close on people and you will want to be able to zoom in and out to change framing rather than changing lenses at the beginning as you practise. I’ve always used the Canon EF 24-70mm and it has served me well. Obviously, depending on what brand of camera you get, you will need a lens that is similar according to that brand.
Rode VideoMicPro is a handy little on board microphone that plugs straight into your camera.
I have always used the Sennheiser MKE 600 which is a fantastic sounding shotgun mic. I use it with an audio recorder, the H4N Zoom, which has an XLR cable connection so this mic doesn’t plug straight into your camera, but best practise is to record audio separately and sync it in the edit.
Photography Lights. For YouTube videos and basic video interviews, you can’t go wrong with photography lights to create an even, diffused light over your subject. They are easy to use, they don’t really get hot and are very lightweight to travel with.
If you want to start creating mood with your lighting, you will probably want lights that are dimmable and that have barn doors so you can adjust the amount of light and the direction it’s facing. These Red Head Tungsten Lights get extremely hot, so you must be careful when handling them and watch the cable doesn’t touch the light and burn, but they are really good value for money.
memory cards and batteries
You will need a memory card for your camera. Different cameras can use different cards but most DSLRs and other cameras use SD cards. It’s a good idea to use a memory card that has around 95MB/s as it will read faster.
It’s a good idea to get an extra battery when you buy your camera. Then when one runs out you can have the other charged and never run out!
If you end up with a lot of SD cards you may want this handy little SD Carry Case with individual slots to keep them in. It’s also a good idea to develop a system of putting them into the case so you know which ones have important footage that hasn’t been back up yet. Maybe place uncopied SD cards face down and cards that are ok to be written over face up?
My personal preference for editing is Adobe Premiere Pro, which unfortunately is a subscription based software. I believe you can get it at £19/mo (as a student there may be a cheaper option)
You can also buy Final Cut Pro as a one off which is Apple software and costs £300 as a one off.
You would need a computer/laptop for both softwares but Final Cut Pro will only work on an apple computer.
There is a free option which is called DaVinci Resolve. As far as I know it’s highly professional to use, like the other two and I’ve heard the free version is excellent. I have used it a bit myself but am not proficient in it. The only reason I don’t suggest it first is because I am not an expert in it and it may have some drawbacks, although I think for someone starting out it’s pretty good.
There is also Adobe Premiere Rush which also comes as an app on your phone for $9.99 per month.
Steps to Make a Short Film
Some of you might be itching to make your first short film and below are some simple steps to take if you want to make a short film. If you’re looking for ideas to write a story and script for your film check out my list of film ideas here.
Write or find a short script. Sometimes finding a writing prompt or a theme for your film is a good idea, because it will make you focus your film to one idea. Try and keep it to 1-2 locations and 1-2 people to start with.
Storyboard your script. Draw out each shot. If you can’t draw, draw stick men or find photos that are similar. Don’t draw everything that happens in the frame, you’re just planning each shot. For example, if you have a shot of a man sitting at a table from a low angle, you don’t need to draw the man drinking coffee in the shot, picking up his cup, you just need to jot down what that shot looks like to remind you where to put the camera.
Find your actors and gather any props you will need.
Shoot your film. Take your time with each shot. If you’re not happy with one take, don’t be afraid to try again until you get it right. Watch out for continuity errors in different scenes.
Now you have all your scenes, it’s time to import your footage into your editing software and start to edit. Watch all your footage, choose the best takes and drag them onto your timeline. Then start editing them, editing the overall film before you start fine tuning. Don’t worry about the details yet, just get the basic film down on the timeline.
Add sound effects, music and balance the audio levels and add in any special effects or animation/graphics.
Export your film.
Watch your film with other people and discuss what was good and what you can learn to improve on your next film. A good idea would be to make the same film again, but making it even closer to what you first envisioned, working off any mistake you made and could improve upon.