Lights, Camera, Action: Set Up a Home Video Studio on a Shoestring

If you want to get into shooting YouTube videos, one problem you might run into is the perfect setting. Professionals have a studio, but you can’t afford that. Some YouTube content creators set up and tear down sets every day. You don’t want to do that. Here’s a compromise: why not dedicate a spare room in your home or apartment for video shoots? Here’s how to pull it off.

Home video recording

Get a Good Set Of Lights

A 3-point lighting system is pretty much standard. That’s the minimum you want to use. Ideally, you’ll go with four-point lighting, which gives you an extra back light and better control over shadows.

Fortunately, you can buy lighting kits online for between $50 and $75. You don’t need anything elaborate. You just need something for product good lighting. Make sure you get a kit with at least 5000K color. This will reproduce natural light under the camera and make it appear as though you’re outside.

When you’re ready to set up your lighting rig, the key light is placed directly on the subject (you). The fill light also shines on you, but it does so from the side, to help fill in some of the shadows created by the key light.

The back light shines on you from behind and helps define your body by providing a “rim” of light. This light is responsible for separating you from the background – which is important if you have a green screen.

If you’re using a 4-point lighting system, the background light is the fourth light which acts as a sort of supplemental backlight. Instead of aiming the light at your back, however, the light is aimed at the background to help control or lessen shadows.

This can be helpful for offsetting the single eye nature of the camera – adding depth to the shot. The technique can also be used to illuminate background elements, like walls or outdoor scenery. This is helpful if you actually want to draw attention to subjects in the background.

Get a Good Mic

A good mic is going to make a world of difference in the audio output of your video. Some of the best mics are made by Blue. A Blue Snowball will set you back about $50 or $60, but it will be one of the best mics you can buy for a home-studio. The Yeti line runs about double, and is perfect for singers, podcasting, and field recordings where you need tight control over ambient sound.

Get Good Video Conversion Software

If you’re making a simple video, and want to convert it to multiple formats, then a good video converter is in order. Something like YTD will help you convert just about any video into the format you want. It has settings that optimize video for iOS devices, Mac, Android, and Windows. It can even author DVDs. Make sure you respect IP if you are using downloaded videos.

Set Up Your Green Screen

A green screen doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Go with a muslin background, and you’ll be off the hook for about $20. You can get black, white, or green. Get green. That way, you can insert any background you want during the editing process.

Get Good Video Editing Software

All you really need for video editing is something like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. These contain basic editing features that will let you snip the front and back of the video so that you don’t see yourself pressing the “record” button before you’re ready to film.

If you want something more advanced, Wondershare Filmora is the best choice comes with lots of advanced features while allows you to make cinematic film look videos with a few clicks. It’s free to download, but do need to pay $59.99 to remove the watermark. For a premium-but-affordable option, you can try Camtasia Studio; it costs about $100 and comes with a lot of advanced features that will help you make your video very professional. If you need top-of-the-line editing, and you don’t mind the learning curve, go with Adobe’s professional editor or Final Cut Pro X.

Get a Tripod

A tripod helps keep the camera steady. You need one. Don’t rely on bookshelves or a chair, or something else equally unstable. Tripods cost around $30 for a decent one.

Use a Good Camera

You could use your iPad or iPhone, but only if it does a good job shooting – fortunately, most of them do unless you’re still working with an ancient 3GS model. Even the 4S phones can shoot HD quality.

Set your phone or iPad up on your tripod, and you’re good to go.

If you don’t have an iPhone, you can always use your Android device, or get a dedicated digital camera. All you need is something that shoots in HD.


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