Sales and marketing videos used to stand firmly on the shoulders of the in-house or agency creatives. But with the rising demand for authentic and spontaneous videos, as well as the ongoing work-from-home required by lockdown, we look at the equipment you need to record professional videos at home.
Whether you're looking to record a webinar, generate better engagement on social media or maximize your success in virtual sales meetings, looking professional is a must.
Sidestep the challenges of being glued to a webcam, unflattering videos and broken audio with these five pieces of equipment.
A Decent Camera
We’ll start with the obvious, you’ll need a camera to get started. Using your mobile phone remains the easiest way to upload videos to social media or hold live events. Phone apps also offer one of the quickest and most affordable ways to add captions your videos. With studies showing that 85% of videos on social media are played without sound, captions an essential tool if you want to see higher engagement rates and viewing time.
The latest phones usually offer great video recording quality. But if your camera is less than sharp or you're serious about taking video further, you may want to invest in a DSLR camera or mirrorless camera.
In our personal lives, selfie sticks are often a little like Marmite. Some love the freedom they provide while others scorn them for encouraging narcissistic ‘take-20 behaviors’ that prevent us from living in the moment. (Many popular venues, events and tourist hotspots such as Disneyland and The Tate have even banned them.)
Whatever your view on using selfie sticks in your personal life, they’re undeniably a useful tool to record professional videos at home. (Even Barack Obama has been known to use a self-stick…) They can help:
- eliminate awkward angles
- keep your camera (relatively) steady
- ensure that you’re standing in a good area for lighting
- shoot on-the-go 'behind the scenes' footage (albeit, that may now require some added creativity!)
Here are some issues to consider if buying a selfie stick:
- Mount compatibility with your mobile device
- How lightweight or rugged you need it to be
- Angle adjustment for flattering photos.
- Extending length needed
- Bluetooth compatibility with your device for timer or remote enabled videos.
- Tripod conversion options
Best for: Spontaneous and on-the-go videos
Expect to pay: £10 - £25
Tripods have come a long way since the click, run and hold a smile for 15 seconds of old. The new-generation, flexible models offer similar benefits to selfie sticks, such as lightweight designs for on-the-go shots, adjustable mounts and Bluetooth enabled remote controls.
Flexible tripods also offer several distinct benefits:
- More freedom to express yourself. You can hook their flexible arms onto any surface meaning more freedom to move and gesticulate. (So as long as you stay in shot. They're also can't be used for the creative effects you'd see on TikTok using selfie sticks.)
- More shot stability through their sturdier design.
- Ability to use an amateur-professional-level camera and recording devices, such as DSLR cameras and Go-Pros.
Best for: More formal sales/marketing videos, live webinar, live videos or zoom calls
Expect to pay: £15 to £75 for mobile-friendly flexible tripods
Laptop Or Tablet
Live webinars or video streaming are successful because they help to create two-way instant dialogue. Keeping track of all the comments and questions is therefore essential - but also challenging.
A co-host can counteract some of these difficulties on live webinars by calling out responses but with live videos you’ll need to keep track of these yourself (or a colleague will need to alert you electronically). Either way, you’ll still also need to gauge your audience’s engagement so you know when you expand further or move quickly on.
Constantly peering away from the camera can hamper your engagement. It's therefore best to position a laptop or tablet device at eye-level near to your camera with a stand (or even another flexible tripod!).
For longer videos such as webinars or sales presentations/demos, you’ll also need access to prompts (unless you're a rare natural with the memory of an elephant!). Again, instead of scrap notes in front of you, a well-placed device to the other side of your camera helps you continue looking at the screen.
Even if you've set up your devices to monitor engagements and provide prompts, there will be conversation points or ideas that you wish to return to later. In this instance, telling your audience, "Great point...That's just reminded me...I'd like to return to that later" and noting it down on a pad is fine! In fact, it shows that you're engaged with what is happening.
Even with the best 4k camera, the mics built into DSLR and camcorders are basic and pick-up background noises and even their own internal whirs and clicks. Using an external microphone can improve your audio quality significantly
There are a range of options available, depending on your budget and needs:
- Wireless lavalier microphones. These can clip to your clothing and so are great if you want to move around (or use your hands when speaking!). They will still pick up some background noise, but still provide much better audio quality than your mobile or camera's mic.
- Wired lavalier microphones. These are slightly cheaper than the wireless models but are usually long enough for most needs where the camera is at arms’ length.
- Shotgun microphones. These attach to a camera top and so will only pick up sound from wherever they're pointed at.
Expect to pay: £25 - £50
Lighting rings produce a flattering halo shadow, providing a soft, flattering light for facial close-ups.
Lighting rings may seem like something for the true video pros (or the vain!) and an unnecessary expense. But the reality is that you can pick models with high, genuine ratings on Amazon for under £10.
(See here for a comparison of the best lighting rings for your budget).
Expect to pay: £15 - 30
As you can see, recording professional videos at home has never been easier. There are so many pieces of equipment on offer that can take your video production to the next level without breaking the budget. We hope to see your videos on social media soon!