Your phone is the most important piece of equipment that you have however a few affordable items can really help to get the most out of it. Here are items that I use all of the time with explanations about why I use each one and links to purchase them on Amazon.co.uk.
However, if you’re near Cork, Ireland then I would highly recommend that you visit Barker Photographic or if you’re near Dublin, then try Conns Cameras. Both stores stock amazing mobile video equipment and will be able to give you invaluable advice to make sure you’re getting the right gear for your own needs.
CAPTURE EXCELLENT SOUND
The first and most important piece of equipment that I recommend you to invest in is a microphone.
Studies show that sound quality is more important that video quality to your audiences enjoyment and retention rates.
And so a good quality microphone is a must have. RODE mics are used to capture TV and Film sound so I was really delighted when they released the Rode Smart Lav+.
And while the sound is excellent and the design is neat, the length of the cable (45.5″ / 115.6 cm / a little over a meter) is too often too short for nice interview. However there is a solution (see the Microphone extension cable).
The Rode SC1 Cable is an extension cable for the Smart Lav+. I don’t love having to carry around this extra bit of kit and while it’s very long and annoying to untangling, it’s a must-have!
It’s solid and it will give you more flexibility for example if you’re filming someone speaking from a podium and need to run the cable a few meters and still get great sound.
Unless you’re using Filmic Pro or another filming app that allows you to monitor sound while you’re recording, this adaptor won’t be much use to you as most camera apps don’t support being able to listen and record sound at the same time.
However with Filmic Pro, this little adapter can be your best friend. You can plug in two microphones and one set of headphones so while you’re filming you can listen and monitor your sound while recording.
So for example, if there’s any audio interference such as airplanes flying overhead or tapping on the microphone, you’ll be able to. stop recording , fix the issue and start filming again. This can save you a lot of headaches in the end.
The is my go to studio mic and it produces broadcast quality, exceptional sound.
‘Shotgun’ mics pick up the sound from where they are pointed so if you can keep it within a couple of feet and point it at your mouth the quality of the sound will be excellent – even with noises from traffic or other sources in the background.
It’s a bit pricey compared to a lot of the other products that I recommend but it’s so worth it. I justified the price further as you can also connect it to your computer via USB and use it for video conferences and webinars.
Cables can get in the way especially if you’re filming a wide shot of someone speaking or a person speaking from a podium.
This wireless mic is a great solution from RODE. The transmitter can clip onto the person speaking but it’s quite big and noticeable but the great part is that you can plug in the RODE Smart Lav or another lav mic and clip the transmitter to the back of the person’s trousers and run the lav cable up through their clothes to clip on underneath their clothes and disguise it.
You or your interviewee can roam freely as the receiver plugs directly into the phone (SC7 Adapter required with the iPhone) so you can record excellent sound on the. move.
This patch cable is necessary if you’re using an iPhone with the Rode Shotgun Mic or the Rode Wireless Mic.
It is designed to allow the mics trs compatible input to connect to trrs compatible devices such as the iphone or ipad.
It’s easily fitted by inserting the trs (black) jack into the Rode Mics and the trrs end (grey) into the smartphone or tablet.
KEEP THE CAMERA STEADY
Stabilisation is pivotal to making your videos look more professional and a table top tripod is portable and affordable.
However you can’t adjust the height and will still need to put some books underneath it to get your shot at the right level.
The clamp expands to fit larger phones including the iPhone 11Max and you can easily change it from landscape, or horizontal video, to portrait.
The monopole is the perfect combination of a monopod (a one-legged tripod) and an adjustable pole.
It’s really light, you can fit in your bag and you can also extend it’s height to your shoulder.
While your shot won’t be tripod steady it will be remarkably close and I find that the small movements from side to side can even add to interviews.
The best part of the monopole is that you can use untwist the phone-clamp on the Table Top Tripod above and then twist it to the top of the monopole.
Where it falls short is its height. It won’t extend to most people’s eye-line if they’re standing so when you’re presenting to camera or filming interviews you might need to find something a few feet high to rest it on like a bench or a foot path.
Gimbals are great for filming steady walking shots. time lapses and panoramas but where I get the most use out of them is for perfectly timed pans e.g. to show from one side of a room to another, and tilts e.g. from a building entrance right up to the top floor.
It’s actually really difficult to get a nice pan or tilt with even the most expensive tripods because the speed needs to be smooth and constant.
Gimbals move mechanically so the results are professional and much quicker to achieve.
I rarely film myself presenting or pieces to camera using a gimbal because I can’t plug in my microphone due to their current design.
The Vimble 2 is perfect because it’s light, durable and affordable.
It has a built in telescopic pole so I can get great shots from a height. It also comes with a nice case including a tripod that you can screw into the bottom.
If you want to go next level you can attach the monopole and with a bit of practice you can make it look like you’re using a drone.
GET THE LIGHTING RIGHT
Carrying around lights and getting access to a power source can really put pressure on the filming stage.
These days I’m happy once I have a light reflector in my pack. You would be surprise at how much natural sun you can bounce off the sun onto your self or another person especially using the gold and silver sides of this reflector.
I often use the sun light to eliminate on side of a face and the reflector to eliminate the other and the results are awesome.
When folded out the 32 inch reflector almost reaches my hip and when closed down it will neatly fit under my arm.
It’s really light and fits into most cabin bag size cases.
If you don’t want to invest in lights, then I would highly recommend one of these so that you can customise how your shots look.
** And practice folding it up a few times before doing it in public as there is a nack to it.
I’m new to ring lights but I’m loving how it looks. It has a nice even light so it brings out your best when presenting to camera and the reflection of the light puts a white circle around the pupil of your eye which is a cool and engaging effect.
There is a clamp to place your phone in the centre of the ring and the tripod is adjustable so it’s easy to get the lens to the height of your eye (eyeline).
You can also attach it to a monopole – but I haven’t needed to try this yet.
It’s USB operated so if you already have a battery pack you will be able to use it anywhere.
Alternatively, you can plug it into a laptop, desktop or USB plug.
Full studio lighting kits are more affordable than ever. Now you could spend thousands on lighting but this affordable pack from Neewer can really help to boost the production quality of your videos for under €100. Bargain!
The KIT INCLUDES:
- 2 x Photo Studio Softbox with 45W Dimmable LED Light Head
- 2 x Aluminum Alloy Light Stand – useful as a tripod stand also
- 2 x Power Adapter with UK Plug and Cable
- 1 x Large Carrying Bag
I personally don’t have this set – I use an older kit that I bought years ago that have stood the test of time but the general reviews on Amazon report that they are great for video but finicky to set up and take down. If you have space to set them up and leave them somewhere then these could be a great solution for you.
PRESENT LIKE A PRO
If you’re delivering a presentation online through Zoom or Teams, a ring clicker is a great way to separate yourself from the webcam.
You can position yourself away from the lens giving your audience some space and you won’t have to reach forward to hit the keyboard to move through. slides.
The ring is excellent because you can move your hands freely throughout. This clicker is also great for in person workshops to help you look more professional.
Don’t forget to animate your slides so that the audience can focus on each part of your slides message without being bombarded by too much information.
If you’re using Zoom then you may have already tried out the virtual backgrounds and found that the look just isn’t what you’re going for.
In order to get virtual backgrounds to look great you’ll need a great webcam (try using your phone camera with the EpocCam app), excellent lighting (make sure to face a window and benefit from all of that natural light) and a green screen.
This green screen is excellent as it’s large enough to fill the background, you can fold it up and store it away and it also doubles up to give you a nice plain grey background also.
If like me, you’re recording yourself speaking to camera using a script and find it impossible to remember the words then a Teleprompter will be a great investment.
It fits a 10″ tablet or iPad (not included) to reflect your text onto the screen so that you can read your read script while maintaining eye contact with the lens.
The app I use is PromtSmart Lite – it’s free and has a voice recognition built in so there’s no need for someone else to help you or to use a remote.
It comes with a phone clamp so you can fit the phone behind the screen and act like the news presenter that you know you are.
This TelePrompTer is marketed as ‘portable’ but I have never left the studio with it as it would take ages to take apart and put back together.
When I’m out and about I’ll just use the Prompt Smart Pro app on my phone but the drawback is that I have to use the front facing lens and I can’t use apps like Filmic Pro to record capture high quality footage at the same time.