The advent of smart phones and internet speeds has brought the tools to make videos to us all. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier. The Seattle WordPress #TechItEasy group invited Howard Hales of Hale Syndicate to speak on Monday night. Howard showed up the tools he uses to shoot videos and testimonials for his clients. None of it was really expensive, and as one attendee said “I especially love that the necessary skills include ‘messing around’ with stuff; I can do that!”. (Margot)
I’ve tried listing each tool, but it was hard to catch names (even with some sneaky audio recording). I’ve cross-referenced with Howard’s online store, but there are a couple of guesses from the information I had. Also, Vine addict, Monika Salita has added her favorite, and I’ve added an extra tripod, so those of you who are very basic with this – like me. The listed prices are the ranges from the sale price and RRP on Amazon.
There are a few affiliate links in here. We know it’s not to make money, but to defray a few costs.
Phones for Video Projects
Howard’s recommendations started at either an iPhone 5s or newer or a Galaxy 3 or newer to cover Android. He didn’t mention any Windows phones, so apologies to those working for Microsoft or married to someone who does. You’re the only ones using Windows phones.
Howard did expand this to suggest test filming with other devices to check the quality. My attitude here is to try whatever camera you have and don’t buy new stuff if you don’t need to.
Video Filming Apps
Again, Howard put an iPhone slant on this because that’s what he uses. I use the same, so I don’t care, but if you’re an Android user, please add your favorites to the comments.
The built-in camera has limited options to make it easy but limits what you can do on video. You can’t just throw video into Photoshop to fix lighting, so these apps help you do it “in camera” so to speak.
Personally I can’t speak to either of these. (I attended to get over my video phobia) But at these prices it’s cheap enough to play and see which you prefer. And before you ask, we look at editing apps later.
Lighting for Video Projects
Howard’s recommendation is to use natural light where possible, but there are many times when there just isn’t enough *cough cough Seattle winter*. That’s where external lights help. For a cheap and easy solution, Howard did suggest bringing all your household lamps in and removing the shades. I recommend some extension cables too so you can move the lamps around to avoid creating shadows. Yeah, this is one of the “messing around” moments.
An alternative is to buy a cheap light. These can be attached to tripods or a willing helper.
Microphones for Video Projects
I’ve achieved decent audio using just my iPhone 5s, but that was more a fluke. A good mic will highlight the sounds you want and reduce the ones you don’t, like the wind and passing cars. Howard showed us a few different microphones at the lower end of the budget scale. A lavaliere mic is discrete and doesn’t need a third person (the interviewee wears it). Wireless options are more expensive. Shotgun mics work when filming a group of people, but need to be mounted or held. For a news or sports style interview, a handheld mic with a microphone flag can be fun and a bit more professional. Monika has suggested the snowball mic as her fave.
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone $30-40
Rode Microphones VideoMic GO Wind Bundle $179-350 – this possibly isn’t the one Howard recommended, but close to his description.
Blue Microphones Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone $50-60 – It’s not portable, but great for studio-style filming.
LEORX Portable White ABS Injection Molding Triangular Interview Mic Microphone Logo Flag Station $10 – a long name for a generic piece of plastic.
I couldn’t find a handheld mic fitting Howard’s description.
Tripods and Supports for Video Projects
We’re not octopuses, and I doubt even an octopus could hold a phone steady enough for a three-minute video, let alone a 10 minute one, so tripods and supports are important. Howard concentrated more on the fun rigs and supports, but I want to add that you get what you pay for with tripods. And they can be blown over.
Manfrotto MKC3-H01 Compact Photo-Movie Kit $60-67
Steadicam SMOOTHEE-GPIP5 Mount $150
Eyourlife Adjustable Tripod Stand Holder $10 – This is a tripod attachment to hold your smart phone.
Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount $15-25
BeastGrip Pro $80 plus lenses – A new model is coming soon and currently available for pre-order.
JOBY JB01256-BWW GripTight GorillaPod Stand $20-30 – This one is my addition. It’s small, so not good when you don’t have a table or wall, but flexible so you can attach it to nearly everything. My favorite part is that it’s small, so you’re more likely to have it with you when running on the go.
External Smart Phone Batteries
We know that smart phone batteries don’t last the longest. In fact Howard’s battery died during the presentation. He didn’t recommend a specific brand or type of battery, so I’ve listed the newer model of mine.
Video Editing Apps
Keeping with the mobile and smart phone video, Howard showed us how to do basic edits, including adding music, on his iPhone. iMovie was his video editing app of choice. I have it but don’t use it much. It has changed and is now so easy to use. OK, well it was easy previously, I just found desktop even easier.
Again, Howard didn’t recommend any particular cloud storage provider. He just stressed the need for high-volume secure storage. Prices are really low now too, so there’s no excuse for skipping it. I’ll always trust an offsite server that’s monitored in a secure location versus an external hard drive floating around my house. Here the ones I use.
Thanks to Monika Salita for the extra suggestion and to Margot for her great quote.
Howard Hale has a YouTube channel with video project tips and tricks. I recommend checking it out.
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