What Camera Should I Use for a DIY Video?

Cesar Quintero_Stock_Future_DisruptTech_Blog_smallA few weeks ago I produced and directed a video to rave reviews from the agency and the clients I worked for. Everyone especially liked the camera work, which was done by the amazingly talented Peter Mariuzza. A fellow producer wanted to know which camera and lenses Peter had used. We dutifully answered the question, but we both had the same reaction to the question: it’s not about WHAT you shoot with, but about HOW you use the equipment.So to the question: What camera should you use for your DIY video attempt, I can only say, “it depends”, and “it doesn’t really matter”.

If you’re a true do-it-yourselfer, start with your smart phone. They have great video cameras today, even in “selfie” mode, and if your objective is a video introducing you, as the face of your company, it might work just fine for you and your budget. Make sure to keep it short and simple. Refer to my blog 10 On-Camera Tips to Showing Off Your Best Self to make sure you LOOK good, and here a few more tips:

Shooting:

  • The built-in microphone is probably good enough, if you shoot a close up
  • Use a table and a stack of books, or a bookshelf to get the phone camera to where it needs to be for proper eye-line
  • Shoot in horizontal mode – please!
  • Put your light source behind the camera, or to your side. Don’t shoot against a window. The camera will adjust to the outdoor light and the subject in the window will be very, very dark
  • Make sure it’s in a quiet environment

Editing

  • Use the free edit software on your phone or computer to trim the clip and ID yourself and let people know how to reach you. On an iPhone, iMove is built in and serviceable, alternatively use CuteCUT which is quite versatile and good, but for my fingers sometimes being to “thick” for finer editing. For videos longer than :30 you need to go to the Pro version (a whooping $7.99 for CuteCUT), for most free-be editing software
  • Upload to YouTube and share via link on your social media outlets or website (for the web you can also use embed.ly, which is amazingly easy to use)

You might discover that:

  1. Video is not for you
  2. The time investment is so formidable that you’d rather pay a professional to shoot and edit (often you can find ‘starving’ filmmakers who do a fantastic job for a fraction of what a production company would cost)
  3. Your smartphone’s capabilities are just fine – then, I would suggest investing in a few inexpensive items, like a tripod, a clip-on microphone, and a light

Mark my words. If you start geeking out on equipment too early, chances are you’re not focusing on content and how to engage your audience (see the past two months of blog entries here).

If you already know what the DIY route is not yours to take, talk to a video professional about what you can do yourself, where they come in and what an all inclusive and realistic budget is – or, just call me: 212-343-3099.

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