The Tools You Need For Video

So far in our series on video content, we have discussed why you need a strategy and how to develop a strategy. These posts are important for today’s post. If you haven’t read them yet, please do so now.

Why am I asking you to read the first 2 posts before this one? Simple: you need to know how you think about video before making it happen. If you are truly going to develop great focus in your strategy, you must think rightly before finding the tools you need. Plus, thinking rightly will help you avoid costly mistakes.

There are roughly 3 levels when it comes to the tools necessary for developing video content:

Entry Level

Smartphone + Mic

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, your smartphone has an incredible camera (unless you haven’t upgraded since the last presidential election). The quality of most smartphone cameras rivals other cameras on the market. Why spend money on something when you already have what you need in your pocket?

The one thing you need to buy at this level is a microphone. Rode makes a great mic for smartphones that can easily clip onto your shirt. This is the best and most inexpensive way to have great audio (In next week’s post, we will talk about some technical issues to make sure your content is great. Clear audio is incredibly important, so don’t skip this part).

Another mic option is the Rode VideoMic. Unlike the mic above, this one is great for capturing multiple people at one time.

With these 2 tools and an idea worth filming, you will be able to create a lot of high quality content.

Kinda Serious

DSLR Camera + Shotgun Mic + Zoom H4N + Light Kit

This setup is for those who are ready to make the plunge into a more serious set up. You will get better looking results than you can on a smartphone.

Let’s start with the camera. Get a DLSR (those big looking cameras your wedding photographer used). If someone on your team already owns a DSLR, then I suggest going with the brand they own. Why? Because you already have someone in your office that is an expert on that brand.

There are a range of options in each brand, so go for what your budget allows. Also, the lenses that usually come with new cameras aren’t the best for video, so get an additional lens. I suggest getting one with a low mm. range The lower the number, the closer the camera can get to the person you are filming.

Next, you need a good shotgun microphone, like the Rode Shotgun mic Most DLSR cameras don’t record audio well, so I suggest getting an audio recorder like the Zoom H4N. You can combine the audio and video when you edit. It’s much easier than you think.

If you plan on shooting videos in a consistent space, then plan on getting a basic lighting kit. A soft box light is great for lighting the faces of whoever is on the video, and 2 smaller lights can help eliminate any shadows. Once you purchase the lights, a quick YouTube search will show you how to best set them up.

A side benefit of a great DSLR camera for video work: you will own a camera that will take fantastic still images. This can be a huge asset to your website, social media channels, and print design.

Mega Serious

Prosumer Camera + Wireless Mics + Lighting Kit + Adobe Editing Software

At this level, you are ready to run with the big boys. Yes, the DSLR cameras are fantastic. That’s why so many filmmakers and TV producers use them. So if you are serious about great video content, then invest in a high end DSLR model like the Canon 5D mark iii or Sony a7R II.

Perhaps the biggest drawbacks with most DLSR cameras is their time limit. Most of them are limited to 12-20 minute clips. If you plan on recording longer segments (like an event), then you need a big kid camera.

When I say prosumer camera, I mean that these cameras are almost as good as some of the incredibly expensive models used on TV shows and movie sets. Models like the Canon XA25 are great options. Cameras like these are probably the exception for the content you are creating.

Another benefit of prosumer cameras is that the audio recording is much better. At this level, I suggest investing in a great shotgun mic and 2 wireless lapel mics. Unlike the lapel mic in the Entry Level, these are wireless. This setup is great for doing interviews.

If you are at this level with equipment, then you need to be ready to invest in a great editing software. Probably the best one is Adobe Premiere Pro. With the Creative Cloud subscription, you pay $19.99 per month to always have the latest version.

By now your head is probably spinning. But that’s OK. Take some time to decide what setup is best for you and your team. Come back next week to learn how to make videos that don’t suck. Because too many of those already exist in the world.

Headshot of Chris LaFay

Chris LaFay

Chris's goal in life is to conduct connection and bring heart to every interaction in life. He puts humans above to-dos. He consistently brings the band back together, leveraging long-term relationships across a swathe of experience to empower career transitions, life event pivots, and, ultimately, an incredibly versatile, flexible, and creative team for his clients.