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Video podcasting has become a big thing. As audio podcasts grow, video podcasting follows right behind.
The equipment needed to do video podcasting is a little bit different from that needed for an audio podcast.
Difference Between Video Podcasting and Audio Podcasting
One of the questions I am constantly asked is “What is the difference between video podcasting and audio podcasting?” The answer is potentially not as obvious as you might think.
First, the obvious difference is that there is a video of the end result. This means you can't just sit around in your PJs and record like you can with audio podcasting.
The biggest difference is the length. With video
Video Podcasting Equipment
Believe it or not, audio is the most important part of video podcasting. This means you are going to need a microphone close to your voice in order for your message to be heard clearly.
Most audio podcasting microphones won't work well for video because they're too big and distracting in the shot. However, you can sometimes frame your shot tight enough that you can use a studio microphone just barely out of frame.
The best kind of microphone for video is something that's small, not distracting, or completely invisible. This leaves you with some decent options, but you must decide what you want to use.
These have clips that allow them to be clipped to your clothing and even possibly hidden from view. This type of microphone allows for arm movement. A word of caution: sometimes these microphones are extremely sensitive and will pick up noise if anything brushes against the cable.
I suggest the following options for a good lavaliere microphone.
Low-end: JK MicJ 044
Mid-Range: Rode SmartLav
High-end: Rode Lavaliere
I am not talking about the kind of cheap headset mic and headphones you typically see gamers wearing, but a professional mic-only headset. You see these often used by public speakers. They're small, keep the mic always the right distance from your voice, but can be visible and distracting in videos.
Cheap: JK MIC-J S90
High-end: Countryman E6
This is usually a very long microphone that would be mounted out of frame, usually above or below the talent. This is the kind of mic you typically see in professional filming with a boom arm and assistant. This mic stays in one place (unless you have an assistant to follow you), is out of frame, and picks up a very narrow cone of audio. These produce great quality but can be expensive.
Cheap: Rode VideoMic
High-end: Rode NTG4
When you are in noisy environments, or you need to interview someone at an event, a handheld microphone is often the best choice. This does a great job of reducing background noise and focusing more on your voice, all with very little setup.
It's great for interviewing, too, because you can control the conversation by holding onto the mic and pointing it at whom you want to speak. Make sure you get a mic designed for this use, so it will have minimal handling noise.
Although condenser microphones are not ideal for most audio podcasters, they could be great for video! Listen to how well a condenser microphone works for Rhett and Link's Good Mythical Morning on YouTube. This kind of microphone will be in the frame, but could be nicely decorated to be part of your set. This would definitely record some post-processing.
Built-in Camera Microphone
Whatever you do, don't use the built-in camera mic. It is generally low quality and far too distant from you to make the sound good.
Audio Recorder or Wireless System
If you are thinking about video podcasting, I have to assume you want high-quality audio. This gives you two options for recording your audio.
Connect to the Camera via Wire or Wireless System
This method will give you the least amount of work, but it could be cumbersome or expensive. As long as your equipment has no latency, your video editing will be easy because the audio is recorded straight into the video.
A wired system may have to rely on the camera's built-in preamp, which is usually not very good. But you could use a recorder or mixer with a preamp between your mic and the camera. There are always available options when you understand the problem.
You might consider a wireless system, like the Røde RØDELink Filmmaker Kit or RØDELink Newsshooter Kit (not yet available). Both of these are digital wireless systems. This allows you to wear or hold the microphone and maintain full freedom of motion. They are pricey, but worth it if this is how you plan to create your content.
Connect the Mic to an External Recorder
If you have budgetary constraints, a great option is to record the audio and video separately. Sometimes this produces higher quality audio because you don't have to rely on your camera's pre-amp.
The concept is that you attach your mic to an external recorder (or even your smartphone). You will then start your video and audio recordings simultaneously. For a small recorder, consider a Zoom H1. As soon as you start the video and the audio recording, clap or snap or make a clicking sound so that you have a reference point in post-production for syncing the audio you recorded to the recorder and the video itself.
When in post-production, use the spike in the audio where the click, clap or snap was recorded to match up the audio. Once it is matched up, mute or delete the audio that originated from your camera.
To avoid audio drifting, be sure your audio recorder and camera are set to the same recording rate (usually 48 kHz).
Video Podcasting with Good Lighting
Lighting is often overlooked and is probably the second most important aspect for video podcasting. Great lighting can make even a cheap camera look good. This is because a well-lit scene doesn't require the camera to work so hard to expose everything.
Lighting doesn't have to be expensive. There are two cheap kits I recommend, both under $170: one with two softboxes and an overhead light (3,800 watts) (my kit), and the other with three softboxes (4,500 watts).
Ideally, you'll want three points of light:
- Key light: bright light from the front, angled from either left or right.
- Fill light: dimmer light for fill-in from the front, angled from the opposite side as the strong light.
- (Optional) Rim light: usually an overhead and rear light, from an angle, that helps separate the subject from the background. Ideally on the same size as the fill light, but shining from the back.
If you can't afford a lighting kit and you don't have enough other bright lights to help, then try to record near a window with sunlight coming in. Try to diffuse direct sunlight with a white sheet, tablecloth, or shower curtain. Then, you could use white surfaces (like a dry erase board, white sheet, back of a poster, or small reflector) to reflect some more light from different angles. Or use house lights to better light the subject or “studio.”
You could even use some clip on lights pointed in the general direction of where you will be shooting. As long as you give good light to the area, you will be fine.
It is now time to discuss the camera you are going to use.
You are going to want a camera that can capture at a minimum of 1,280 × 720 (720p) at either 24 or 30 frames per second (FPS). Some cameras may capture at higher resolutions, but at a sacrifice in other ways. For example, 720p will always look better than 1080i. And some features, such as image stabilization, might not work as well at 4K as it would at 1080p. Higher frame rates (like 60 FPS or more) are usually only necessary if you want to make slow-motion videos.
If you are recording the audio from your mic into your camera (via cable or wireless system), then ensure your camera has an audio input and turn its gain all the way down. It is always best to let a wireless system or other interface handle the preamp for your mic. If your mic is connected directly to the camera, then set the input gain where necessary.
Four Camera Types in Order of Recommendation
There are, currently, four different types of cameras you could consider. Here they are, in my order of recommendation.
- Camcorder. A dedicated, HD digital video camera that captures or SD cards or other digital storage. This will allow you to record for as long as you have available storage. You may not have interchangeable lenses or the full depth of field that a DSLR would provide, but these are often compact, flexible, and affordable.
- DSLR. These cameras are usually focused on photography, and USA import laws prevent them from recording longer than 29 minutes and 59 seconds.
- Smartphone camera. Cameras on mobile devices have gotten continually better. Using the right app to do the recording will also help a great deal.
- Webcam. Although not always ideal, versatile, or portable, an HD webcam can still look good with decent lighting. Learn how to use your webcam software (or buy additional software) to control the exposure and white balance.
Alsoensure the camera is at a flattering angle for your videos. We've all seen people record videos at unflattering angles.
You may even want to consider getting multiple cameras to be able to switch
You want to pay careful attention to how everything looks in the shot. Examine your surroundings. Ceiling fans, doors, windows, clutter, pets, people, rooms, and more can make a video look extremely amateurish. The background should never compete with the subjects for the viewer's attention. But it's also okay for the background to contain interesting lighting and props (that's where depth of field can blur the background to make it look great).
One option is to record in front of a green screen and then replace that with whatever background you choose. Be sure not to make this look amateurish.
There are some accessories you might want to consider.
- Props for the foreground or background
- Table, desk, or counter for holding other accessories, important items, or essential tools (like your computer)
- A chair, stool or something to make sitting more comfortable
- Tripod for your camera
- Stands for your lights and backdrop
Live Streaming Interface
The decision to live-stream your video adds a bunch of new complexity. Video live-streaming requires a lot of bandwidth and computing power.
You may need video-switching capability in addition to on-screen displays, like lower thirds.
In order to achieve the newscaster level of live quality, you can easily start spending a few thousand dollars. You may even require an assistant to run things for you. However, the results can look amazing and then require little to no editing in post-production.
It Can Be Done
Video podcasting might seem like a daunting idea when you start to analyze everything, but it really isn't that terrible. You are going to want a microphone, potentially an audio recorder or a wireless system, good lighting sources, a decent camera, a background, and a few accessories.
Do not try going off the cuff with your video until you've had some experience. It is best to plan things out ahead of time. Decide what you want to discuss and in what order. You are going to want to keep it around 15 minutes in length or less. Be sure to open up the video smiling.
Be confident while on camera. Nothing makes a video look more amateurish than a subject who stumbles over their words. Practice what you are going to say if that will make you feel better.
If you take the time to focus on the details, you are going to create amazing content. It is worth that extra effort because you will find it easier to find viewers if your content is top-notch.
Just Do It
Now that I've armed you with the tools you need to get started, what is stopping you? There is never a “right time” to start. Just make up your mind and go for it. I ask that if you follow the steps I've outlined and
The final thing I want to tell you is have fun! Make this a fun activity and you will continue doing it consistently. Enjoy the content creation process!