FYB 135 | Podcast Video Recording Equipment

 

Why should you, a podcaster, start considering putting out video content, and what do you need to do just that? In this episode, Tom Hazzard breaks down which equipment you need to launch podcast video content and increase your exposure. Video is the currency of social media and is currently one of the best ways to attract listeners and expand your audience. Don’t have the budget for a complete set of quality equipment? Tom is here to offer budget-friendly options and give tips on making the most out of the tools you likely already have! Join in to find out more about the tools you need to feed your brand in video format!

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The Best Podcast Video Recording Equipment That Won’t Cost A Fortune

Why Video?

Welcome back to the show. My co-host, Tracy, is off doing something important. You just get me now but that’s all right because I’m going to talk about some things that are a little more tech and might bore Tracy but are very important. I think of our show was about 40% are also recording and distributing video. Why are they doing that? It’s because they get more exposure and it’s not just about YouTube. I don’t expect many podcasters are going to have a large YouTube subscribing audience, although YouTube is still the number two search engine on the internet.

Most podcasters should be there if you want to be found by all the people that could benefit from listening to you or watching you. Video is more important these days for social media exposure because the video is the currency of social media, whether you have one of those coveted approvals from LinkedIn to be able to do live video on LinkedIn. Live is different than prerecorded but still, anybody can put a prerecorded video of a certain length up on LinkedIn but also on Facebook.

FYB 135 | Podcast Video Recording Equipment

Podcast Video Recording Equipment: We’d much rather you record and put more content out there than put a lot of obstacles in your way or make it a harder process for you so that you then stop recording.

 

Live video gets you the most exposure always but the video at all is going to get you more exposure than not. As much as I hate to admit it, you can’t share a podcast audio clip on social media. You have to convert it to a video if you want to do that. We certainly do that at Brandcasters Podetize. They are called audiograms but you generally don’t do that for a full-length episode. You probably shouldn’t do that. You would want people to go listen to it or watch it, either on your website or through one of the listening apps.

Video is important because when you put out a video clip from your video, some video clips are going to be created from it that are used to promote on social media. They get people’s attention more than anything else. They cause people to stop, take notice, click, turn on that sound, listen, and then hopefully, you hook them. They want more. I would always recommend leaving social media and going to your website to consume the whole video or audio.

The point is, video is getting attention. All of us have the opportunity as podcasters to record video and some may not want to. I want to talk about some of the tools that you might use to record videos. To me, that comes down to three things, the video camera, lighting and also the green screen. It’s something you should consider. It’s not a must-have. I’m going to tell you why everybody should start considering and playing with the green screen and trying it out. I have been doing it for many years. I’m very bullish on the green screen. We are going to talk about that as well.

Camera

I’m not going to continue to debate the merits of video for the rest of this episode. I’m just going to take it for granted. If you are reading this, you are interested in learning more about the tech of video. The rest of the series we are going to do over the next few episodes are also going to be video-related but this episode is the tech day and I will talk about the equipment. People reading this episode has a laptop computer and the vast majority of them have a built-in webcam.

You certainly can use that if you want to. If you are on a budget, bootstrapping it and it’s all you’ve got, that’s great. Use it. It’s better to be putting video out of any kind than not recording it because maybe you think your webcam is not as good. I’m going to demonstrate something. The video camera that I have started with is not my built-in webcam. I want to show you why. I use a USB webcam but now I’m going to switch.

I’m on a MacBook Pro. I’m going to go to the built-in FaceTime HD camera and you are going to see the difference. What I’m going to suggest that you are seeing is a drop in my video quality. The color is not as good with the built-in camera. I know the resolution, meaning the number of pixels, and how fine and sharp the video quality is, not as good. If you are on the road and you are recording an episode from a hotel room or something, keep it simple. Use the webcam better than not.

Video clips cause people to stop, take notice, click, turn on that sound, listen, and hopefully you hook them. Click To Tweet

I’ve got a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro laptop. I want you to understand something about these video cameras. Until 2020, I had a MacBook Air I was using that. It was pretty old. It was from 2013. I don’t know why I hadn’t bought one in such a long time but it was still working for me. I didn’t have any problems with that. The webcam was pretty darn good. When I’ve got a new laptop in 2020, I thought, “In 2020, they have to have improved that webcam or certainly it’s got to be as good as it was.”

The webcam built into that MacBook was worse than my one from 2013. I was puzzled by that and wondered, “Why is that?” I checked into the screen of the laptop. The laptops on the 2013 edition of the MacBook Air were about 4 millimeters thick. That’s a little more than 1/8 of an inch. It’s maybe not quite 3/16 of an inch for those of you in the English system. There was some space in there but on these new MacBook Pros, it’s 2 millimeters thick.

The entire screen bezel around the screen and the thickness of the room in there for the hardware of the webcam is incredibly thin. I learned that’s the reason why these webcams aren’t as good. You can’t have as big a lens and there’s not as much room for the hardware. Everything has been miniaturized in years and webcams are one of them. When it comes to a webcam, you are sacrificing quality when you go to that built-in webcam.

If you are on a budget and that’s all you’ve got, by all means, use it. I have been using a USB webcam. I’ve got a newer MacBook Pro with the M1 chip, which is well worth it. It’s excellent. I switched back to my USB webcam and the colors are brighter. It’s more in focus. It hooks on to the top of your monitor or laptop and sits there. This one has a built-in light that you can touch with your finger and it activates the light.

In general, I don’t use those lights. It’s because I wear glasses. I prefer glasses to contacts. If I have that light shining right there on my laptop at my face, you will see the ring. One of the drawbacks to webcams that have a built-in light in them is that, when you have glasses, it creates quite a reflection. That’s a tip. You want to be prepared for that. If you wear glasses, that may not be a feature you want to buy in a webcam and you may want to get a different kind of light.

The webcam that I showed you with the ring light built into it, I checked on Amazon and it’s $29 Prime. It’s ridiculously cheap. When I bought mine, it was $56. I have seen it range from as high as $60, usually down to $50 but $29. Maybe a new model is coming out and they are working through them but for most people, that cost is not going to be a barrier to getting a high-quality webcam.

What is high quality? Everybody talks about HD. There are different levels of HD. There’s 720P, 1080P and 1080i. I know this can get very confusing. HD quality 1080 is great and most of the webcams have that available. Anything within your budget, I would try it out. When you get into these webcams, I’m going to show you two more that we have here.

We have been testing a lot of these, partially because if you are used to watching my partner, Tracy, on a video on these podcasts, you will notice that she talks with her hands a lot. You will see her hands come in front of the screen. When she is recording in her office, she is not using a green screen. She likes to have a natural background. You guys see, a lot of times, there are bookcases on either side. She has got a lot of depth of field, meaning there’s a long distance between where the camera is and the entire space.

Using a green screen is a little different and it shortens your depth of field. It’s because Tracy doesn’t use a green screen, which puts her hands in front of the screen, it changes things because the screen is looking at not just the distance between the camera to her face or hands that might be a couple of inches in front. It also sees the distance all the way back to the wall.

Sometimes you will notice Tracy goes in a focus with her webcam because most of these webcams have an autofocus feature. Unfortunately, you can’t control that and change the autofocus so that it won’t do it. You can’t set your focus manually by rotating a dial. I wish I could do that on a webcam and fix the focus, and never have it adjust for me because it thinks it should but that’s the way it works. What I have found is, with the green screen, that doesn’t happen as much. Effectively, the camera is only paying attention to my body and hands. It doesn’t tend to change focus all that much.

Another member of our team who many of you know, Alexandra, has also tested a lot of webcams and found one that she prefers. It’s by Logitech. This one also happens to have that privacy filter. If you are worried about somebody hacking your camera and you don’t want them to see you, you can flip it down to manually make sure nobody can see you through the camera.

This Logitech camera is pretty much the top of the line for webcams. I’m making a distinction between webcams and other cameras. Logitech is pretty expensive at $100, $150 or maybe even $200. They have different capabilities. They have software that has certain enhancements. They have filters. They can try and make you look younger or put a blur effect on it. There are all sorts of things. Even if most of you are recording with Zoom, that keeps updating and has a lot of features and filters within it, too. I’m not getting into that level of discussion now about the video. Mostly, it’s just the hardware for you to consider.

Logitech is good. There’s a microphone built into this. You can see some little screen here if you will. That’s because if you want to use this as your microphone as podcasters, I don’t recommend you do that. These microphones are not of good quality. It might be better than the one built into your laptop but I would always recommend you to take with you your high-quality microphone on the road. The good ones are not very bulky and can pack in a bag pretty easily.

With a Logitech webcam, I have nothing bad to say about them. They have some great ones. I used one in the past and was very happy with it. It’s because of the autofocus feature, Tracy has been experimenting with other ones. This one is called NexiGo. If you look at it, it looks like the Logitech that’s copying the form factor of it. There’s another sub-$100 webcam that Tracy, so far, is liking the most because, for her, it’s not doing the autofocus that much.

FYB 135 | Podcast Video Recording Equipment

Podcast Video Recording Equipment: When it comes to lighting, record yourself on your device in your environment, look at it and make a judgment.

 

What I want to share with you also about webcams is most of us have, in our pockets, a very high-quality webcam. It’s on your phone. I have an iPhone 12. This is one of the most advanced, highest-quality video cameras that exist in terms of quality and capability. It’s amazing. You can use that. This next category of hardware is going to bridge between cameras and lighting.

There are these devices you can get that are a stand, sits on your tabletop, has a holder that is spring-loaded to hold your cell phone, gives you a ring light, and has some features of adjusting brightness and color. For me, wearing glasses, that type of thing will work much better for lighting because it can be off to the side. It can be angled more above me, so it won’t reflect in my glasses so much when I’m looking straight into the camera.

The more important is to show you the cell phone holder. You can mount the cell phone above your laptop. You can record audio on your computer with your good high-quality microphone, even using a Zoom call, but then record video on your phone if you want to. The only downside to that is when you record video on your phone like that, the green screen thing won’t work because the standard video recording on a cell phone won’t pay attention to the green screen. It will just look green.

Don’t underestimate your cell phone, especially if you are on the road. There are high-quality microphones you can plug into your phone. You don’t even have to have a laptop to record a podcast episode. You can record the audio right into your phone and you can record the video and have very good quality. There are always pros and cons because you don’t have a green screen.

We have some customers that we work with and we edit their video that recorded the video completely separated from their audio. They like to record people in person or even if it’s some cells, on a higher quality video camera. I’m going to show you an example. We have here in our offices about three of these Canon VIXIA. These are HD video cameras. You can shut the lens down. You pull this out to the side and it starts up.

There’s a screen showing you what you are going to record. It records very high-quality HD videos. Sometimes if we are doing a webinar and recording things here, we will set three of those cameras up, 1 on me, 1 on Tracy, 1 on both of us. We have some podcasters that do that. You will get the best quality video if you record with that type of video camera. However, it’s a lot more work. It’s not just setting up three different cameras, making sure they all have enough power and are plugged in but also the recording to an SD card. This is a memory card and this one is 32 gigabytes. That’s what you record on.

When you are done recording, it’s not on your computer already. You can’t just upload it to the cloud for production. You have to take that manually, take that SD card out of each camera, load each one into your computer, copy over the files, name them to keep them organized because that will get confusing, and then upload them to the cloud or wherever you are going to upload them to be edited or produced. It’s very high maintenance. I don’t recommend that for most people. It’s an awful lot of work.

As we always say at Podetize, we would much rather you record and put more content out there than put a lot of obstacles in your way or make it a harder process for you so that you then stop recording because it’s like, “I’m so tired of doing that. I don’t want to have to do all that work.” I would rather you record even if it’s lower quality, and then get your content out there. If you want the best quality video and be able to edit, think about it. With these Zoom videos, if I say um and uh a bunch of times as I’m talking, we don’t want to cut that on the video because it creates all these little jumps on the video and it looks bad.

Usually, with video, you don’t edit to have that match your podcast. Some people do but if you do that, your video ends up looking very choppy. When you have multiple cameras, you can switch between the 3 cameras or even 2 cameras, and then cut out anything you want because you are not just making a jump within a single camera like this. You are jumping from one to another and it doesn’t feel like a jump. There are pros and cons to all this with video.

In terms of cameras, I want to wrap up this little part, which is what you have to consider for recording video, your built-in webcam to your computer, and an external USB webcam, which I’m a big fan of for quality. It works with whatever you are recording or broadcasting with Zoom, StreamYard or live on YouTube. You have your cell phone as an option also that’s there or a real video camera. Back in the ’80s, when these first came around, they were huge and you had a big video cassette in it. This is essentially the modern-day version of that, just with an SD card in it.

At the time I bought them, this Canon VIXIA was only $200. They still have models out now that are the same form factor. Even my model is older and no longer available, they have versions of that now. It’s still starting around $200 and going up a little from there but it’s not a killer. Some of you might even have a GoPro. I want to make sure to bring the GoPro in as an option. That’s another kind of high-quality video camera. It’s usually used more for sports stuff. You can mount it on a tripod. You could use that just as you would with one of these other cameras.

Lighting

Let’s talk about lighting and I’m going to finish with a green screen. Here’s my feeling on lighting. Record yourself on your device in your environment. Look at it and make a judgment. How does it look? Do you think you look good? Does it look light enough? Review it. It always surprises me how many people don’t look at their own stuff after they record it and don’t listen to their own podcasts. You can learn some things and I recommend you do that.

Most of us have in our pockets of very high-quality webcam. And that is in your phone. Click To Tweet

What you want to have is lighting that’s intentional and not random. I have lighting in the ceiling in this office and I have put in the color temperature I like. I also have some natural light behind the camera, coming in through some windows. I have this set the way I like it but you can always get a device, either if you are using your cell phone or not. I have another good one that’s just a light, a similar type of device.

That is a ring light with a tabletop stand. You can put that off to the side and experiment with these sorts of things. They range in price from $30 to $100. You can get some more expensive than that. On Amazon, there are a lot of choices for lighting. You can change the use of the brightness, color temperature or cast of the color from bright white light to something a little warmer. Thanks to LED lights, this technology has gotten very inexpensive.

If you want a very large ring light, there’s a company called Neewer that I have had good luck with and can recommend, although I do want to make it clear. I’m not necessarily endorsing any particular brand of products. I’m just sharing with you what we have seen, used and experienced. Everything that I’m telling you is from personal experience.

We also have lights we use. When we do webinars, we have some lights that come with tripods and you mount them. They plugin and they are very bright LED lights like a movie set type of shooting. If you are going to use three of these video cameras, you probably want high-quality lighting. We have some of those. We use them for some webinars we record. We used them when we were recording at trade shows when we did go to trade shows.

Neewer is a company that makes some good ones but I’m sure there are lots out there. This technology is pretty common. All I’m saying is, make sure your lighting is intentional. See what you could do to reduce reflection on your glasses. If you are like me and you wear glasses, set your lighting up to be in the best condition that you can.

The last thing I want to talk about with video-related equipment is the green screen. With a green screen, lighting is important, too. If you are in a very low-light situation, it’s harder for the software to see and tell the difference between the green screen background and you or other objects. It’s important to have your green screen lit. Mine is lit from the lights above. It doesn’t take much lighting to do it but you’ve got to have some.

I’m going to turn off my background and there’s my green screen. This also is a roller shade and I’m going to lift it up. I’ve got a room divider screen behind me. This is attached to my ceiling, four screws, to a couple of brackets. There’s your green screen right behind you. I like that solution because I set up and I record here. I do calls here all the time.

I’m also going to talk about solutions where you aren’t able to do that permanent setup. This green screen roller shade is simple for me. It will attach to a ceiling or a wall behind you. Four screws, it’s about $150 and $20 shipping. This thing is not available on Prime. I love the consistency and how clean it is. A lot of people use these virtual backgrounds that they don’t have a green screen because programs like Zoom have that feature where it can detect your body and try to cut you out.

If that’s the best you can do in your situation, then do it. That’s great because it’s probably better than an unintentional background in your video that’s random and isn’t representing you well or how you want to present yourself. I would probably use it. Notice with the green screen. It’s cutting perfectly around my hair, body, hands, and fingers, moving them around. I’m very bullish on the green screen and having intentional backgrounds.

I have had my staff create a bunch of different versions. There’s the Podetize word above my head. I can make it look like I’m sitting in a lounge chair over here in an office. These things work much better if you’ve got a green screen. I can also make myself look like I’m on the bridge of the Star Trek: Enterprise. What if you don’t have a situation where you want to screw a green screen into a wall or ceiling? A lot of people may not want to do that. I can respect that.

FYB 135 | Podcast Video Recording Equipment

Podcast Video Recording Equipment: Have an intentional background presenting you in the right light. What is your brand presentation? What kind of image do you want to project?

 

I have a solution for you, too. For $29, you can have a fabric green screen that sits on the back of your chairback. It got this little pocket that sits over your chairback and it’s all made of the green-screen material. There’s a border around it. It’s pretty big but when your camera is a pretty tight view like mine is, you are in a hotel room, on the road or even just in your office. It’s not easy for you to have a big green screen on a roller shade hanging from the ceiling as I have.

I will describe how this thing works. If any of you have ever used those sunshades for going over the windshield of your car where it’s made of two circles of wire and has this fabric material over it, and you fold it in half and twist those circles, and it breaks down to be a circle that’s 1/4 of the diameter of the whole thing, that’s how this works. This thing will fit in the same pocket your laptop will if you’ve got a computer bag you are traveling with or in any luggage or suitcase.

Video is the currency of social media. Click To Tweet

This is what I’m recommending people to use, who either don’t want to or it’s not practical to have a bigger green screen or they travel around a lot. One thing I want to point out. You can clearly see the green screen material that’s the pocket that is over the back of the chair. What I’m here to tell you is that, when Zoom or any other program is using the color to separate you from the background, even though there are shadows and different amounts of shades of green going on there with that pocket, I will throw on this blue gradient background. That looks pretty good, too.

That concludes my presentation on video equipment, cameras, lighting and green screen. Hopefully, Amazon shoppers know listings change frequently. Depending on when you go there, some of the listings may have changed or no longer exists. Search in Amazon for what you are looking for, green screen roller shade, green screen back of a chair or Diva-Lite. That’s what a lot of these things are called. Thanks very much for reading. In our video series, we’ve got a couple more episodes related to a video. Come back and check that out. I will be back in the next episode.

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