Being a child of television, I was anxious to learn more about taking my own video. So I bought one of the huge, sit-on-your-shoulder type of video cameras. Then I had a couple of the fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand camcorders.
Then I used my Canon Rebel’s ability to record HD video. It actually did, and does, a pretty good job. But I’m not always carrying my “good camera” when I need to shoot quick video.
What I usually have in my pocket is my iPhone. And the iPhone camera is good, but starting with about iPhone 7, the camera is really good. If I’m at work and need to grab some quick video of an employee, my iPhone is the best. And it doesn’t have to be an iPhone. Almost any smartphone today has amazing video capability.
I realized that not everything that is recorded for training or communication needs to look like you hired a film crew.
Case in point, where do a lot of people turn when they need to learn how to fix something around the house? You got it – YouTube. Those videos are usually shot with a smartphone. Is the recording pristine? No, but they don’t have to be. It’s like asking a friend to show you how to do something. And it works! I did this to learn how to replace a washer in a faucet recently. Piece of cake.
You can get pretty creative if you don’t have an actual tripod to use with your smartphone. A friend of mine at work used two pans and some duct tape to station a smartphone on a shelf to look down at the work area. It was perfect!
I have used the FOANT professional lightweight tripod (Amazon, $13.99). This tripod can be used for cell phones, GoPro, cameras, and camcorders. It is small but can extend to a pretty good height. When I need more height, I put it on a table. It has a clamp that should fit most any smartphone and also comes with a remote that can connect to your phone’s Bluetooth so you can turn the video on or off without having to move the camera around to get to the button (yes, that’s happened to me).
If you have to move around while shooting your video, there plenty of stabilizers on Amazon as well. And the cost isn’t that much! I purchased the Ulanzi U-Rig Pro (Amazon, $19.95). This stabilizer allows for the addition of LED lights and microphone, and can also be mounted to a tripod if needed.
I've found you can't always have the right background for every shot. With the Fancierstudio Chromakey Green Chromakey Blue Collapsible Backdrop (Amazon, $39.99), I can put a subject in front of the backdrop and add a background in later. It's great to have if you're mobile. If you have a dedicated space, you can use Chromakey Paint on a wall. There is a big debate on the color to use. Some editors prefer a white background instead of a green background. Use what's most easy for you and what work's best with your editing style.
Look for quick tips on lighting and audio in a different blog entry.
Side note: Don't forget to check eBay every so often for bargains. Some people will buy great equipment and then decide they aren't interested in video anymore or have found something they like better.