How to Choose Affordable Equipment for Making Your Online Videos

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Choosing the right equipment…

This is the first in the “making you look good online” series of articles where my aim is to teach you how to present yourself effectively on camera whether for internal staff communications, sales presentations, web conferencing, webinars, YouTube videos and video blogging, or simply sharing your thought leadership online.

You don’t need to be a Spielberg, nor do you need to spend a fortune on the latest high tech equipment for your web video production but if you want to stand out from the crowd you will need to purchase some basic pieces of equipment.

“Just be yourself”, they say. Wrong! If you want great results you need to need to present “your best self” –and I will show you how to do that.

Here are two key things to avoid when starting out:

  • Do not use the webcam on your computer
  • Do not use the video recorder on your cell phone

These tools will severely limit you.  Yes you do need to buy a video camera and as I want to make this series relevant for as many people as possible, I will focus on how you can achieve great results using affordable equipment that is commonly available to everyone.

The 3 essential pieces of equipment

All of these can be purchased in’s electronics section for less than $200 total.

  1. HD video camera, with a remote control for filming yourself. HD is vital for image quality ($150)
  2. Tripod, preferably 72-Inch, with built in bubble level ($20)
  3. Lapel microphone, newscaster-style, with full 360-degree coverage (so you don’t have to worry about where it’s pointing), with an integrated cable (20feet) that connects your microphone directly to your camera ($25). Wireless is an option too but more expensive.

If you are really serious, I also recommend you invest in portable studio lighting ($100). Later in the series I will cover simple lighting techniques to help you present yourself in the most flattering light.

Which HD camera to buy?

I love my Flip Ultra HD.  It’s great for everyday videoing but I do not recommend it for creating your online videos because it has 1 major flaw –it has a built in microphone only.  There is no jack to plug in an external mic.  I filmed some of my early videos using the Flip and sounded like I was speaking into a tin-can (or worse in a toilet).  Sorry Flip –you don’t make the grade.

The alternative solution I chose was the Kodak Zi8.  The good news is that it costs less than the Flip (but you do have to buy the extra memory option).

The Kodak Zi8 has two major advantages over the Flip:

  • You can plug a lapel microphone directly into the camera – so you get much better sound quality
  • It has a remote control small enough to hide in the palm of your hand, enabling you to control the camera while you are filming.  This is a big plus if you are filming yourself and don’t have the luxury of a camera assistant.

In future articles in this series I will cover topics including:

  • Pre-production (scripting your message, wardrobe, hair and make-up, setting the background),
  • Filming (lighting, camera positioning, learning your best angles, camera framing & psychology, how to speak and look at the camera, how to overcome distracting mannerisms)
  • Post-production (editing, putting it all together).

I won’t pull any punches, and will share all the secrets I have learned from many years in front of and behind the camera. From giving auditions as an TV actor, presenter and spokesperson – to being a talent agent – to working behind the camera with casting companies where I have observed thousands of individuals trying out for TV commercials – to working in post-production edit suites as part of a advertising firm. I know what works and what doesn’t on camera.  My goal is to help you look good online.

Originally Posted at She Takes on the World.