The Panasonic G6 is the camera I’m currently using. It is, by my estimation, the very best in terms of bang-for-your buck that you can currently get. It produces videos of a quality that rivals what you can get from cameras that cost twice or three times as much. For online use, videos shot with the G6 will be indistinguishable from videos shot with a pro camera to the average viewer’s eyes.
The Panasonic G6 is an interchangeable lens camera using the Micro Four Thirds format. The Sigma 30mm f2.8 is another price/performance champion and offers great image quality at a comparatively low price. The focal length is ideally suited for “talking head” and presenter style videos and works well indoors, since the camera doesn’t have to be placed too far away from the subject.
Another lens I like to use is the Olympus 45mm f1.8. It’s a brilliant lens and it’s objectively slightly better than the Sigma, but it’s less suitable for indoor filming and also pricier. Most of your viewers will not be able to detect any difference between the two lenses, so if you’re trying to keep costs down, the cheaper Sigma is definitely the better choice.
At this point, you’re probably realizing there’s a pattern to my purchases: the Podcaster Mic is not a cheap piece of equipment, but neither is it astronomically expensive. It sits in that sweet spot where you can record audio quality that is practically indistinguishable from professional-level audio, but most listeners won’t notice much of a difference. You save yourself a few thousand Dollars worth of expenses to get 90% of the same result.
Lower priced than the Podcaster Mic, the Zoom H1 offers good audio recording capabilities in a small package. It can be used as a USB mic, to record directly to your computer or it can store recordings on an SD card. It needs to be set up on a tripod, since the microphones on it are very sensitive to handling noises of the device itself. Alternatively, you can plug a lavaliere microphone into it and use it as a recording and storing device for your audio.
At around $30, this Logitech Mic is a very affordable microphone. As you’d expect, the recording quality isn’t exactly stellar, but it’s still miles better than the built-in microphone you’ll get on pretty much any camera (even if you’re spending thousands on the camera). Part of the reason is that recording quality gets worse, the further away the microphone is from the person speaking. This little mic can easily be placed in close proximity to your mouth, while the camera is always going to be some distance away.
The C920 is at the upper end of the pricing range for webcams, but it justifies its price. It produces fairly sharp 1080p videos and it’s compatible with pretty much any desktop or laptop computer. If you don’t want to spend $500 or more on your video equipment, then I recommend you get this or use an existing mobile phone or laptop camera. In my opinion, money is wasted on the wide range of camcorders that are available for anywhere between $100 and $500, since they don’t offer manual controls or interchangeable lenses while producing video quality that isn’t significantly better than that of a good webcam.
Like mentioned in the video, you most likely already have devices with video recording capabilities. Check your laptop/smartphone/tablet for a built-in camera. If you have several devices with a built-in camera, do a quick test run with each to see which has the best video quality.
Combine that with either the Logitech Desktop Mic or the Zoom H1 and record in indirect sunlight instead of bothering about an indoor lighting setup. Result: you can hit the ground running, make decent looking videos and your total cost for the setup is $30-$99.
My most-used tool for recording screencast videos is Camtasia Studio. It’s quite expensive, but there’s a 30 day trial and if you do a lot of video, it is a worthwhile investment. If you are a Mac user, Screenflow is an equally good, yet cheaper alternative.
For the presentations themselves, use PowerPoint, OpenOffice Impress, Keynote, Prezi,… whatever you want. People often ask me what the best software for presentations is. The answer is that there is no “best” software. You can make a stunning presentation with the most basic, free presentation tool ever. And you can make a terrible bore-fest with the most advanced presentation software ever. It’s all about how you create it, not what software you use.
The must-have tool for audio is Audacity. A great, versatile piece of software and it’s completely free to use.
Another great (and free) service I recommend is Auphonic. You can use this to convert audio files and even improve the sound quality with automatic noise reduction.
I’ve used many video editing tools and for my purposes, they’ve all been fine. That ranges from Windows Movie Maker through Sony Vegas all the way to Premiere Pro. What I can say for sure is that for most non-professionals, something like Premiere Pro is not really worth the extra investment over cheaper and simpler video editing tools. It just adds a thousand features you’ll probably never use.
If you’re getting Camtasia Studio for screencasts, it actually doubles as a pretty good editor for both screencast and live videos. It’s not the best, but it gets the job done and if you’re buying it anyway, you might as well make use of for live video as well.
A free editor that’s often recommended is VirtualDub. I’ve never used it myself, but I’ve been told it’s a good enough basic editor for most purposes.[sociallocker id=”8867″]