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What’s in Your Video Toolkit?

February 17, 2010
at 12:00 pm PST

Now that you’ve written your script and created (or at least thought about) your video’s set, you’re ready to film. But wait: before your camera starts rolling, let’s round up supplies for a video toolkit.

The great thing about your toolkit is that it can start out small and grow as you gain experience and interest in video.

Your basic toolkit requires just two items: a camera and a tripod. Let’s walk through how to pick out the right equipment and assemble your video toolkit.

CAMERA

Your camera can be a consumer-level camcorder, a prosumer model (a cross between professional and consumer), or a high-end studio camera. But if you’re just starting out, a consumer-level camera is your best bet. These run anywhere from $150 for the Flip up to around $1000 ($US) for more advanced models.

Moving up in price and quality, prosumer models will run you $2000 up to $10,000. These models typically offer 3 CCDs to capture more accurate colors and clearer images. Prosumer cameras also offer better zooming, higher quality lenses, better sound, and more inputs for microphones and other devices. The studio camera is what you’ll find on professional movie sets and TV shows and can run anywhere from $20,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sites like CNET, PC World, Camcorderinfo, and Amazon offer thorough product reviews from pros and consumers alike so you can find the model that suits your needs and price point.

TRIPOD

Why a tripod? One mark of a truly amateur video is a wobbly camera shot. No matter how steady your hand, you can’t beat the steadiness of a tripod. Plus, a tripod comes in handy if you want to film yourself or do an interview. So take my advice and get yourself at least a basic tripod. Most camera shops have a basic model for around $30. If you can spring for it, get a more expensive tripod with a level to ensure your shot isn’t crooked. You can thank me later!

This VideoMaker video walks you through how to pick out and use a tripod:

ADVANCED TOOLKIT

LIGHTS

Once you’ve got a few videos under your belt and you’re ready to grow your toolkit, I recommend investing in some lights and a microphone. There are a plethora of lighting options available, from full studio kits to small, yet bright battery-powered LED lights that fasten onto your camera. The small LED lights are pricey ($300-500), but great for lower light situations. Some come with gels or filters to soften the light or add warmth. I invested in these LPMicro LED lights and find that they work quite well.

If you’re in a pitch-black room, an LED light isn’t going to completely illuminate the subject, but in settings where you need a lighting boost, my LED lights have saved me on more than one occasion.

MICROPHONES

I could write pages and pages on microphones, but the short story is that microphones work wonders to reduce background noise so your viewers can clearly what the subject is saying. As I mentioned in my previous post, the microphone on your camera is omni-directional and picks up all sounds, including the roar of background noise, while handheld microphones and lavaliers (lapel microphones) are uni-directional and will most clearly pick up the sounds that are closest (i.e., the speaker). If you plan to use an external microphone, make sure your camera has a microphone in port (note that Flip cameras don’t).

Another VideoMaker video illustrates my point about audio:

OTHER ITEMS IN MY VIDEO TOOLKIT:

  • Extra batteries
  • Reflector
  • ProPrompter
  • Gaffer tape or electrical tape (to cover cords so people don’t trip over them)

 

What’s in your toolkit? What did I forget to include? Please post questions and comments below.

Next time, I’ll offer up tips and tricks for filming your video.

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9 Comments.


  1. Useful discussion about video toolkit. It is necessary to keep yourself equipped with the basic tools that you’ll be needing in your video coverage. However, you don’t need to go advanced automatically. You can spend buy what you need one at a time.

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  2. Anymore, I’ve been just using a flip mino HD camera. I’ve had others, like cannon , and the like, however the mino works amazing for me.You’re right about getting a tripod, they’re an absolute necessity anymore, you can’t understate the importance of a good , solid mount, even with the cheapest of camcorders.

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  3. Your camera can be a consumer-level camcorder, a prosumer model (a cross between professional and consumer), or a high-end studio camera. But if you’re just starting out, a consumer-level camera is your best bet. These run anywhere from $150 for the Flip up to around $1000 ($US) for more advanced models. Polaroid Portable DVD Player

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  4. I own a sony camera worth $300. It is a HD camera. I find it very suitable for photography. But i want to buy another better camera having high mega-pixels and good picture quality at night. Please suggest a camera.Ylod

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  5. I think lighting is extremely important, even with a mediocre camera, if you have perfect lighting the images will come out looking great.

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  6. With this itens on a kit there´s a good chance of high quality video cames more naturally.

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  7. I agree with Briana D, I also consider the lighting very important. It is one of the must be stuff for good looking images. But you should own up-to-date camera, then it is really easy. Enjoy your pictures.ylod

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  8. Anymore, I’ve been just using a flip mino HD camera. I’ve had others, like cannon , and the like, however the mino works amazing for me.

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  9. You forgot a good eye and some basic skills for this, is not easy as it seems!

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