If you’re reading this blog post, you likely fall into one of two categories. You either have a bit of video production knowledge and you’re interested in brushing up, or the extent of your video recording skills includes pushing the red button on your iPhone and hoping for the best.
If your first foray into shooting “professional” video was anything like mine, it went a little like this: You took a 200-level video and audio production class in college, where you learned to use a couple basic pieces of equipment and software. Throughout the class, you had just about every resource imaginable at your disposal. As soon as the class was over, those skills went straight onto your resume and straight out of your mind. You got hired at your first post-grad job and were excited to see that they had built their own video production studio! (Or maybe you decided to dust off your skills years down the road.)
And then came time to actually set everything up and start shooting video, with no technical support… and you realized you weren’t quite so confident in your abilities after all. Or perhaps you fall into our second category and you’ve been tasked with shooting a video for your organization, despite not claiming any special video abilities!
Regardless, if you find yourself in the position of needing to shoot professional-quality video, without the professional qualifications, never fear – this blog post walks you through setting up your video equipment, and gives a few quick tips and best practices for shooting video that will impress everyone at work, your boss included.
Before I go any further, I first need to give a shoutout to Ray Ortega on YouTube – his videos helped me immensely when I was getting up to speed with all the equipment in our studio! If you have specific equipment questions, he likely has a video on his channel that can help you out.
- Camera – Obviously, you’re going to need a camera. While the cameras on cell phones are pretty good these days, if you have the budget, you may want to opt for something a little more powerful. We have a Canon 80D DSLR in our in-house studio and we find that it has everything we need – it’s easy to use, and the video it records generally doesn’t need a ton of work in post-production!
- Tripod – We have a fairly basic Manfrotto tripod. A tripod is a must-have for shooting stable video.
- TASCAM – One thing you’ll likely figure out pretty quickly is that the microphone on a digital camera is not strong enough to record great audio. Our solution is to get a recorder/mixer like the TASCAM DR-60DMKII and a couple of lavalier mics.
- Lavalier microphones – We have two lav mics, so we can have up to two people speaking in our videos. These microphones ensure our audio is clear, and we have the ability to adjust the gain individually for each person – so we can lower Mike’s volume, so he isn’t overpowering Vicky! :-)
- Lighting – Our studio must-have list also includes a set of three Interfit lights to ensure our talent is well-lit; but, I’ll admit, I need to brush up on my three-point lighting technique!
- Teleprompter – Okay, this one isn’t mandatory, but we’ve found it to be extremely helpful! We have the Padcaster Parrot teleprompter, which works with your smartphone to display your script right in front of the camera lens – ah, the magic of mirrors!
You'll notice our TASCAM is turned around backwards in the photos in this post! That's because the cord we ordered to help reduce feedback (mentioned below) is too short to reach if we turn the TASCAM around the right way.
Quick set up
- Connect the TASCAM to the tripod, then attach the camera on top of the TASCAM.
- Attach the lavalier receiver to the top of the camera, then connect the lavalier receiver to the TASCAM by plugging the cord into the receiver’s “output” jack, and the other end into the TASCAM’s “1/L” port.
- Connect the TASCAM to the camera by plugging into the “mic” jack on the camera and the “camera out (high)” port on the opposite side of the Tascam.
- After noticing a hum/buzz in our recorded audio that we couldn’t eliminate using the settings on our camera or TASCAM, we ordered this cord to connect our TASCAM and camera, which worked wonders on lessening the hissing noise! Note that the L-shaped end of this cord goes into the TASCAM and the straight end goes into the camera.
- After you’ve turned everything on (camera, TASCAM, lav mic, and receiver), plug the headphones into the headphone jack on the lav receiver.
- Mic up your talent, adjust your lighting, and you’re ready to roll!
- This video walks through the basic functions/set up of the TASCAM.
- Press the “Menu” button, navigate to “Rec mode,” then adjust to “Dual mono,” and “-6dB."
- Note that if using two lav mics, change to “stereo” recording mode.
- Press the “mixer” button and ensure the channel you’re using is on “C” for center. This will ensure the audio comes through both channels instead of just the left or just the right.
- If you need to adjust the volume of your talent, use the corresponding gain adjustment dial on the TASCAM.
- Switch from photo to video.
- Press the Menu button, navigate to “Sound recording” and change it from “auto” to “manual.”
- Set the audio recording level to the first quarter mark.
- Shoot in .mp4, 24 frames per second.
- Adjust the ISO as necessary for your lighting environment.
- This video walks through the video recording settings on the Canon 80D.
- Think about your background! You don’t want anything too busy or distracting.
- On that note, instruct your on-camera talent to stay away from clothing with small prints, especially pinstripes or plaids
- If you’re inside (which is easier for beginners since you can control more of the environment!) shoot in a room where you can close the door and turn off the air conditioning. This will reduce background noise in your audio!
- Make sure you have memory cards with plenty of storage space, lots of batteries, and any chargers you may need.
- Don’t forget to take everything apart and put it away when you’re done!
Are you a DIY video producer? If you have tips and tricks to add to this list (post-production, anyone?), questions, or if you see something that doesn’t look quite right, please leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am by no means a video expert, but I hope our experience getting our in-house video studio up and running can help speed up your process!
Want to see us in action? Below is a short video we recently produced to welcome our new U.S. GAAP eLearning library subscribers to the GAAP D family.
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