by Tracy Johnson
It’s clear that video is a powerful tool for communication, engagement, exposing a brand, selling a product and getting attention online. There’s no reason to invest thousands of dollars in expensive cameras and video gear. You can build your own video studio on the cheap!
Most of us are overwhelmed easily at the prospect of starting a video strategy, starting with the equipment and technology needed. But it’s not that intimidating when you really get into it, and you probably have some of the most important gear you need already.
You’ll be amazed at what you can produce in your video studio that’s built for less than $500. Not only is it a fully-functional professional video studio, you can put it almost anywhere. You really don’t need much space.
Rick Morton, morning personality on Z90/San Diego explains how he did it in this short self-produced video, which was created entirely in one corner of his morning show’s office:
Pretty cool, huh? And remarkably easy. Once it’s set up, you can generate a ton of high quality video.
Here’s everything you need, with prices: to build your own video studio on the cheap:
An unused office or just a wall in a low traffic area will do fine. If there’s absolutely no space at your station, do it at home. It’s a tax deduction! You will want to find a place that’s as quiet as possible. If it’s just outside the break room, you may have some background noise or have to re-record some of the footage and that can get annoying.
For greatest flexibility, paint part of your studio area white (a clean white background can look great in some videos). Paint another part chromakey green (for a green screen background that can be replaced with any image you choose). In a third section add a backdrop with your logo. Paint it on or get a large vinyl sticker or poster from a copy shop. Another nice effect is the backdrop with repeated logos on a plain backdrop. You’ve seen these in many press conferences.
If you’re building the studio to be shared with other stations in your cluster, make sure the logo can be replaced easily and quickly. Or, you may just go with the chromakey background to make it as flexible as your imagination.
Maximum Cost: $50.
Note: If you don’t want to paint a wall, or don’t have a wall to paint, get a green screen background for about $20. You can hang it whenever and wherever you need it.
You can do a lot using the green screen and graphic or video backgrounds in production, but you should also have something that provides depth and identifies with your brand, like an aerial shot of your city. That’s what Rick used in the video above.
Try to find a high resolution photo and have it enlarged at a copy center. If you can’t find one, check with a local traffic service and see if they’ll take a picture from their helicopter the next time they’re out.
You could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a professional camera, but you don’t really need to. All you really need is a smartphone, which you probably already have. Many video cameras on phones are higher quality than DSLR video. Cost: $0.
If you want a “real” camera, get a GoPro HERO3. Cost $199.
If you do a lot of action shots, it might help having this, but you don’t need it to start your studio.
This is a big help in getting the perfect angle, and they’re dirt cheap.
Get the Stargoods Flexible Iphone Tripod Mini Octopus (Set of 3). Cost $16.99 (for 3). Or, upgrade for a better one, like this. GripTight GorillaPod Stand Cost: $29.
This is the most important item of all. Most amateur video is poor just because it’s not well-lit. Natural lighting is always best, but you can’t always count on it, especially if you’re in an internal office with no windows or a studio. So invest in a lighting kit like the 600W Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit by LimoStudio.
They’re not expensive, and will make a huge difference in how your videos look. There’s a bit of a learning curve to use lighting kits most effectively, but you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. And there’s always Google and YouTube to help you.
Cost: Under $100.
You could spend several hundred dollars for professional software like Final Cut Pro but there’s no point unless you’re planning to become the next Spielberg.
If you have a Mac, you already have iMovie. That’s all you need. If you have a Windows PC, download simple video software that you can find it for free.
Cost: $50 (maximum).
When you create a video, upload it to your account on YouTube (start your own Channel) or Vimeo. You can upload it in HD, and the popularity of these platforms will lead to more potential fans discovering your work.
That’s it. You might find you can do this for as little as $200 if have most of the hardware (smartphone, computer). But it will certainly be less than $500.
Now get to work. I can’t wait to see what you create.
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