Making YouTube videos look sharp and professional on a budget
My team is doing some videos to show off some features in Visual Studio. Most of my videos or YouTubes are screencasts so the video quality of the people parts aren't a huge deal. I REALLY try to make my audio sound good but I've been somewhat lax on the video side, usually just using a webcam. While the Logitech 930e is amazing as webcams go, it's not really "pro." It looks good but it still looks and feels like a webcam in both field of view and depth of field.
I went looking for videos that had the look and feel I wanted and asked those folks that I admired how they did it.
I always love the way my friend Chescaleigh's YouTube videos look. They are clear and in focus, with amazing lighting and the background is "blown." That means there is a shallow depth of field with just Franchesca in focus and the background is a somewhat blurry.
Franchesca pointed me to the Canon T3i DSLR HD camera. This is not just a nice still camera but also a very competent HD Video Camera that puts out fantastic 1080p video directly to an SD Card along with the ability to use alternate lenses. It also has options you can add on later like a remote control for focusing and starting/stopping recording.
The trick with the T3i is that it's a little older and you can find them for as little as $200-$250 on Craigslist. I've seen them cheap on Amazon as well. That makes them reasonable for a budget but again, the results look AMAZING.
I also love this video by Rachel Weil doing an overview Visual Studio Code. She steps it up with an interesting background and razor sharp focus. Her audio is also fantastic.
Rachel adds this Canon EF 50mm lens to her Canon DSLR to get a really tight focus. I haven't bought this lens yet but it's on my Amazon wishlist for the future.
Good audio is so important. I tried cheap lavaliere microphones but I find I get the best results with a condenser mic held just out of frame. I like the Samson C01U but you can get decent USB Mics for <$50. Record your video and audio in separate files, and before you start talking *CLAP* very loud to make a spike in your audio, then you can line up your audio and video/audio files in your editor like iMovie or Movie Maker. Then mute the audio in your main audio/video file so you'll be hearing the high quality audio from your good mic and the high quality video from your camera.
Finally, you need GOOD LIGHTING. ZOMG it matters so much. Even if you ignore all these tips and just use a webcam, get a nice light. Maria from my team recommended this CowboyStudio Dual Mount Brackets to let me mount a mic and lights to my camera, then I picked up this FANTASTIC 160 LED Power Panel. It's perfect because it's dimmable and includes color filters for getting different color temperatures or a diffuse effect.
I feel like the result is very close to the look I wanted and looks much more professional given a reasonable budget. Again, if you keep your equipment module (mic, camera, lenses, stands, lights, etc) you can improve your setup, as I have, as you have the cash.
How do YOU make videos that look sharp? Let me know in the comments.
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Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Sound hardware seems [Ok] for you.
Light conditions of the room seems [Ok] (could be better, but it seems that is not the problem).
In other case, here you can use a lot of alternatives to improve the image and light conditions:
You can use a Softbox Diffuser too with a flash.
Image [KO] (a DSLR rocks, but I recommend you use good filters with your lens, prepare the camera settings in manual, tripod to stabilize the image, etc)
A good action camera is another alternative too, but a DSLR offers you more alternatives and flexibility.
In video, my Canon 7D is awesome for me... other people could be another hardware... depends on each one... :D
Lens: The 50 1.8 is great, however I have a 50 1.4, is a little bit more expensive, but the aperture is better, but the difference between both lens is very close.
Remember that to use a 50mm lens, you will need space between the camera and you.
The bokeh of the 50mm is great!
A wide-angle lens could be better and there are good alternatives too.
My favourite is the Tokina 11-16. Expensive, about 450$, but for me is awesome.
Video Post Production Editor [No idea what you are using] (here, is important the Software and the post-production actions, etc, but is not the most important. If the image has low quality or is bad, the video editor can not do miracles)
As in our profession, you can improve the results experimenting with different alternatives.
In your case doing focus with the scene and the normal conditions in the room.
The conditions of light, etc., in your room change the best expererience and all tips that we can give you here, could be valid or not, but I hope that my comments help you to take the best decision.
To spare my audience from my ugly mug, I kept my cellphone camera away from my face and focus on the topic at hand. Yes, all my recent videos were shot on my Samsung S6 (mostly using the built-in mic). It is amazing what cellphones can do these days...
This is the one I use. Has a few extra settings to customize the audio levels.
I personally use a Sony A6000 and 20mm F2.8 prime lens to great effect for multiple live streams each week--can see them here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjF7R1fz_OOUmgpmVDTyX85Z8OO142eia
Almost no DSLR has this clean HDMI out feature because they have to hold a giant heavy glass prism out of the way of the sensor with a solenoid and can only do it for so long before overheating or shutting down (also why DSLRs typically can't record video > 20 mins). Mirrorless cams can generally record for hours and hours without any trouble.
For audio I setup a Rode NTG2 shotgun mic and love it a lot more than messing with lavaliers, etc. Also nice to be able to mount it above pointing down rather than on desk taking up space.
All that said though if you're just getting started don't drop a ton of money on equipment until you are serious about it. Just a nice Logitech webcam (C920, etc) and good USB condenser mic will work great. Put some effort into lighting and you'll be amazed at the results like Scott mentions.
Above all the technique and lights stands a really tough job, but when you do this every time - you should get used to this.
I am still reading posts like how to rotate a video on iphone 6 and for now things you are trying to explain here are too hard for me and my blogging.
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