Affordable Video Production Studio Equipment 2018
Building an affordable video production studio doesn’t need to empty your bank account.
Before we continue let’s be completely honest, when you begin developing your video production studio it will require you to purchase some items.
The point is to keep your spending to a minimum until you can monetize your videos.
Although everyone does not have the same goals of developing a video production studio for the purpose of profit, there is a way to get it done without exhausting all of your resources.
In fact, there are methods that can actually use the majority of the things that are already at your disposal.
Let’s begin with the obvious. A place to shoot your videos.
If you plan to do explainer videos or videos that include some type of articulation about a product, service or method, you want a place that won’t be distracting.
An empty room, your home office, or even a decorated garage all work well as a studio. If the focus of your videos is to speak directly to your audience you won’t be able to do that with a distracting workspace.
The beauty of indoor studios is that once your studio is set you can just leave it as it is for the next shoot. No need to break it down and set it up again, once it’s there its there.
Of course, having an indoor studio has its own challenges like soundproofing, lighting and a slew of other things but when you want a worry-free consistent studio ready to go then think of an indoor studio as your option.
Yes, you can absolutely have your studio outdoors in a backyard, side of a house, etc but remember outdoor studios are always prone to the elements.
Whether it’s the birds chirping, your neighbor’s children, or traffic, distractions can ruin a shot.
Not saying that an outdoor studio is useless, DIY arts and crafts videos, gardening videos, lifestyle vlogs all operate outdoors.
Can you imagine a video of a DIY backyard firepit shot inside a bedroom? It doesn’t match and looks very odd to your audience.
The point is to complement the substance of your content with an amazing space. Got a great arts and crafts project you want to share with the world, take it outside.
The natural lighting with the open space will add authenticity to your project.
On the other hand, if you’re discussing the importance of time management in the workspace, keep it indoors. The professional ambiance and focus will give your videos the value your audience will appreciate.
Now that we have a place to shoot the next thing is what do we shoot with.
Okay, I know what your thinking “a camera is gonna cost me an arm and a leg, there’s no way I can afford a camera to shoot my videos.”
If you’re like me and have spent numerous hours surfing through Youtube you can relate that not all videos are made the same.
You don’t expect that a DIY explainer video will have the same quality of something like a music video or movie trailer.
What’s more important is the substance of your video.
For the most part, if the substance of your video is compelling, people will most likely look past a grainy low-resolution video purely for the content in it.
With that being said, a powerful tool that you can use to shoot your videos is probably in your pocket. Yes, I mean your smartphone.
Now let’s be clear, chances are the videos that your smartphone will capture won’t win you any cinematic awards but for the purpose of publishing video content, its perfect.
Not to mention the ultra portability of a smartphone makes it ideal when you need to take your show on the road.
If you have a smartphone made after 2015 chances are you can shoot 1080p videos with relative ease.
Especially if your videos are mostly talking to the camera from a stationary position, that will be more than enough for now.
Just make sure to shoot with your rear camera, front-facing cameras tend to be far inferior when it comes to editing and post-processing.
The selection and prices are perfect if you’re on a budget.
Let’s say you’ve got a little cash and think that an actual camera is something you want to make an investment into. Obviously, this is all dependant on the type of videos you will be shooting.
It goes without saying if your a travel vlogger chances are you might not want to invest in something like a 1080p webcam.
So let’s take a look at some affordable camera options and cover some of the best uses for each type of camera.
When it comes to webcams the quality won’t amaze you but they do serve a purpose especially when it comes to live streaming. Online educational services have made great use of webcams to deliver quality information via live or recorded content.
The ease of use with very little setup makes it ultra mobile for people constantly on the go. Most webcams require very little setup and even provide some accessories to mount on your laptop.
With many models utilizing USB for its connectivity it makes it versatile for both Mac and PC.
The overall takeaway is that webcams have an easy learning curve and can work with the devices you probably already have at your disposal.
To start the Logitech HD Laptop Webcam C615 or any comparable webcam in the $50 category would be an ideal start if you want to get started as soon as possible.
The majority of the webcams in this category record at 1080p and streams in 720p, again the quality of the videos are subpar but still make a great addition to your studio.
Whether you’re a gamer narrating your walkthrough of a specific level or an enthusiast educating the masses on new methodologies and techniques, webcams just simply work.
They cost about $50 bucks on eBay if you need it as soon as possible.
Point and shoots are the Vlog standards when it comes to active lifestyles. Of course, the price does get much higher but so does the quality of your videos.
They come in different form factors and with various special qualities like waterproofing but really, personal preference is a huge factor here.
In terms of what you can do with a point and shoot, the possibilities become more extensive. Moving videos or action videos have become more popular especially with lifestyle bloggers and travel enthusiast.
The point and shoot provide a unique perspective because it feels more real metaphorically speaking.
The motion, the interaction with not only the viewers but the world around it makes the audience feel more connected from their seats.
With this added opportunity comes added accessories which in the end means more money.
Obviously, point and shoots are not directly connected to your pc like a webcam so the power and the storage of content are required.
When you buy new cameras it will come with a battery but storage is seldom included.
In short, the quality goes up with the added bonus that the mobility of your videos can literally walk and talk with you. Now the pocket buster comes in initially buying your camera.
A couple hundred bucks will get you in the door with a competitive point and shoot.
The Sony DSC W800 or other comparable models in the $100 price range are more than capable of taking your video content to the next level.
As we move on we have to give notice to a popular type of camera that has given lifestyle bloggers incredible range with the content they are able to capture. Action Cams.
Now if your not familiar with what an action camera is you’ve probably heard of GoPro or maybe even seen a commercial or two.
The idea behind the action cam is obviously to record your actions whether it’s surfing, skydiving, or mountain climbing.
Actions cams are built for intense motion but many lifestyle vloggers as of recent have made action cams more popular when traveling and seeking adventure.
Why not, right? They tend to be small, portable, and in most cases come with accessories that can protect it from the elements so why doesn’t everyone have an action cam.
Let’s put all of our cards on the table here. Not everyone will need a camera that can handle the harsh elements of the world but the truth is there are those that live a life of adventure.
To be even more honest there are people that don’t have the capability to go on rigorous excursions. This makes the youtube personalities that do seem intriguing.
It’s the concept of living life thru someone else’s eyes.
Living vicariously through a youtube personality who can ride a motorcycle thru traffic, scale the side of a mountain, and even swim with the sharks give the curious audiences something to look forward to.
That’s where the action camera comes in, providing the audience with a front row seat to the experience they have yet to obtain.
If your on the move where travel and adventure is your studio, an action cam is where you need to begin.
The prices do range from $70 for an off-brand action cam to something like $399 for a more premium action cam like the high-end GoPros.
Now the quality and the extra perks come with the price. For the low-end models in the $70-$100 range, the basics are generally 1080p recording at 30 frames per second.
Which is perfectly fine. As you scale up to the $200-$300 range this is where you see things like optical stabilization and 4k recording.
Let’s not forget the one thing that all these actions cameras have in common, they are tiny. Literally small enough to fit in your pocket.
The ease of use is relatively simple with no more than 5 buttons to press on most devices.
The learning curve for these actions cams is short with most devices being compatible throughout all platforms.
It really comes down to what you will do with it.
Full disclaimer, the majority of these action cams have a crappy audio recording! At best so if your going to be doing a good amount of talking, an alternative is best advised.
An action cam is probably not best in an indoor studio primarily because they have poor low light options.
If you’re outdoors, have great light, and have an activity that is full of life and motion then an action cam is for you.
If you’ve ever had family members sit you down to show you their home movies, chances are you are familiar with a camcorder. A camcorder or camera recorder has seen many developments over the years.
They’ve gotten more compact and use modern storage devices like SD cards instead of those huge blank VHS’s.
They make a great addition to a video production studio but also have many different uses outside the studio that can be beneficial to your content development.
One of the great things about camcorders is that even budget options have excellent quality.
Although the video quality is not comparable to most DSLR’s the accessories for camcorders like batteries and external microphones tend to be more affordable.
Like everything camcorder’s do come with their faults. For example, if you are trying to create a cinematic feel to your videos with that “bokeh effect” most consumer camcorders won’t be able to keep up.
It will keep everything in focus, which is what makes camcorder’s so great especially for group activities like seminars or educational content.
It makes a great addition to your studio simply because it’s so easy to use. Camcorders are built to take long videos without overheating.
Plus the amount of time you get to record generally on most camcorder’s are far longer than most point and shoots and DSLR’s.
Camcorders can get a bit pricey ranging from $150 to a staggering $1000.
For a camcorder that can shoot your standard 1080P 30 frames, your looking at a sub $200 price range like the Canon VIXIA HF R800 Camcorder which can cover all the basics in your video production studio.
Camcorders aren’t really built for excessive moving so adventure vlogging probably isn’t your best bet.
If your videos are made to be informative and you need everything in focus you might want to pick up a camcorder for your studio.
Now as we move on to the last but not least camera for an affordable video production studio, the DSLR. It means Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras which among all the cameras mentioned has the bigger price tag.
However, with the bigger price tag comes the best video quality and versatility among the rest of the cameras mentioned.
What makes the DSLR amazing for video production along with the body is the lens.
Good glass comes at a price though so if your thinking of purchasing a DSLR you might want to think of investing in good glass down the line.
Most brand new DSLRs come with what’s called kit lenses, the introductory lenses to be exact. Now, these lenses aren’t the best in the world but for a starting studio, it is plenty.
It will definitely take some time to fully understand all the functionality that a DSLR will come equipped with so don’t get too discouraged.
Youtube has a great community of photographers that have loads of walkthrough step by step guides on how to use your camera.
Be sure to plug in your Model of the camera into youtube for some great tips and tricks specifically for your camera.
DSLR’s are not cheap and that goes for the rigs and accessories for your camera too. Most DSLR’s won’t have the greatest audio or battery life for that matter.
They are great for short videos, especially if you want to bring your production to a higher level but don’t expect a full day of shooting with these cameras.
It handles indoor and outdoor shots pretty effortlessly however not all DSLRs are weather treated so be mindful of the elements before shooting.
Given all the financial requirements it takes to get started with a DSLR it’s understandable if you opt out of purchasing one out the gate, but if you do, understand it is an investment that will add a whole new level of production to your content.
DSLR’s with a decent kit lens will start at about $300 up to a whopping $3000 or more for newer mirrorless DSLRs.
If you’re in the market for a solid intro DSLR you might want to start with a Nikon D3400.
Aside from the standard 1080P 30FPS, it does shoot 24FPS which gives you that really cool cinematic feel.
There are also what’s called bridge cameras which is basically in between the point and shoots and DSLR’s.
They are supposed to be the more affordable options to DSLRs but can be as pricey for the same functionality.
The only difference really is the fact that you cannot interchange the lens, but for the most part generally the same as DSLRs. If you’re not into changing out lenses then take a look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70.
Stabilizing the camera
Now that we have a place to shoot and narrowed down what type of camera we’re going to shoot with we’ll need to figure out where we put the camera.
The options again are all dependent on what type of videos you will be shooting. It will be absolutely silly to buy a three-axis gimbal stabilizer for a review video.
What we’re gonna do is break down some free options as well as some DIY options for the basic stationary videos before we discuss other types of videos and stabilizing solutions.
If at this point you’ve chosen the option to use a 1080p webcam for explainer videos or review videos than you can simply mount your webcam on top of your laptop or computer.
Since you won’t be moving too much your webcam will sit perfectly atop your device.
For everything else, you will need some type of stand or tripod to keep your smartphone or camera from moving unexpectedly during recording.
Most cameras will have a flat bottom so if you choose to record your videos sitting down laying it on a flat surface will do the trick.
If you need to have a higher vantage point stacking a few books on top of each other will help get you that perfect angle.
The items you’ll need for more elaborate standing videos is dependent on what you have at your disposal.
If your shooting indoors, for example, a shelf, bookcase, or any participant willing to hold your camera should serve you well.
Shooting outdoors can be a little tricky if you don’t really have much outdoor furniture to play around with. It’s generally uncommon to have a jungle gym in your backyard but if you do, great.
Otherwise, the buddy system is your best bet to keep your cost next to nothing.
When we talk about tripods and steady cams there is a slew of DIY options that can help you get the shot you need.
Although some of these DIY options come with an assembling process others require little to no effort at all.
When it comes to a DIY option for your smartphone the possibilities are literally just limited to your imagination.
If you were to google smartphone stands in your search bar you would get literally thousands, if not millions of results.
Luckily we’ve saved you the trouble and picked out the most practical and affordable options for your video production studio.
Back in 2013 Cnet published a blog about some nifty DIY smartphone stands. Now some of them seem great but impractical for what you will be using it for.
The idea is that you shoot your videos in landscape mode so DIY stands that have your phone in portrait mode are out.
My favorite is the coffee sleeve stand simply because it’s a free item that comes with your coffee if you need your Starbuck’s fix.
Now if your more of a hands-on type of person American Hacker has a video you can check out that walks you through some DIY camera stand builds from everyday items you might have around your home.
Check his video out here.
DIY stands and tripods for cameras really comes down to the size of your camera. Obviously, a DSLR will have some weight to it and the last thing you want to do is drop your camera due to a faulty makeshift tripod.
If your planning on a DIY stand or tripod it will require lots of hands-on work. Parts and assembly are generally simple given that you have the necessary tools laying around in your home.
The easiest build is literally like a bean bag for your camera. For this it will require some beans or rice and a bag, a Ziploc bag is optimal.
Indoors is great if you have a nearby shelf or standing furniture where you can place the bag, outdoors, however, will be a lot trickier if there isn’t anything to prop your bag and camera onto.
I get it. Not everyone can put things together or simply don’t want to be bothered with it. A DIY project is great if you have the time and energy but for most of us, we just want something that works so we can get to start.
Here are some of the more affordable options for mounting your video recording devices.
So what’s the best option for almost every occasion? Well, you want to be prepared for whatever life throws at you.
So whether you have a smartphone and later decide to buy a point and shoot or go all out and buy a DSLR you want a system that can handle it all.
Within the $30 price range, you can find some really versatile option for stabilizing your shots. This $30 dollar tripod selfie stick combo really does a great job at handling multiple systems.
A smartphone, point and shoot, as well as an action cam, are all compatible with this system.
Reviews online say that as an extended tripod it can get unstable with heavier cameras so best to stick to indoor studios if you plan on mounting an expensive camera.
Of Course, there are better all in one sticks but most of them cost more than $50 and since we’re here to discuss the tools you’ll need for an affordable video production studio we want to keep cost on a necessary basis.
Let’s take this moment to be completely honest. If you have a DSLR you don’t want to mount that expensive piece of hardware on a shaky monopod masquerading as an all in one tripod selfie stick combo.
For everything else that requires mobility it’s great but for something like a DSLR, don’t risk it.
What you need is an actual tripod. Especially if you have an indoor studio where you can set it up and leave it, no muss no fuss.
With that in mind, the $40 price range can get you an awesome tripod like the Ravelli APGL5 which doubles as a monopod in case you need some fresh air.
So the last thing we need to discuss when it comes to stabilizing your videos we have Steadicams and gimbals.
These are by far the most expensive things you can buy to stabilize your footage however its purpose is more niche.
If your not familiar with Steadicams and gimbals they are tools to help remove the shaky up and down side to side rocking when your taking videos.
This only obviously happens when your moving. If your building an affordable video production studio these would not generally be found in your arsenal.
Especially if all your doing is talking to the camera from a stationary position.
For those of you who like to walk and talk or get some moving video content there are DIY options out there that can cost you less than $20 bucks but as per usual it will come with some assembly like this one.
If however, you’re looking for something affordable, most solid Steadicams start at about $50 like this one you can find on Amazon.
When it comes to gimbals let’s face it, they are expensive. Especially for something as small as a smartphone. Gimbals for those start at about $100 t and go up too $200.
They come in different variants for action cams like the GoPro and smartphones.
The biggest pocket killer is gimbals for your DSLR. Now unless you’re in the business of making cinematic video content I would stay away from these gimbals, at least in the beginning.
Steadicams and gimbals are great tools for videos on the move. Otherwise, stick to a tripod or a stabilizing option for stationary videos. The point is to keep it simple, quick setup time and hassle-free gear.
At this point the next thing we need to discuss is lighting. Now obviously getting free and natural lighting requires that you shoot your videos at a specific time.
For outdoor videos, golden hour and blue hour is when most pro photographers take pictures and the same goes for shooting videos.
If you want more of a warm “golden” look to your videos then shooting from 4 to 7 pm would be optimal.
On the other hand, if you want a cooler deep blue feel then you want to shoot anywhere between 7 – 10 am.
Now for indoor lighting, obviously natural lighting is free however unlike being outdoors, the lighting can be very inconsistent.
Not to mention if your studio doesn’t have any windows than purchasing lighting equipment is the way to go and we’ve got just the way to do it on every budget.
As far as DIY lighting there are many options that can give your studio a professional look with a tight budget. As expected with a DIY option there will be some assembly required.
Check out this video at Full Sail University to get a nice quick lighting setup for under $100.
The beauty of purchasing lighting equipment is simple, it just works for what it was intended for.
Yes you can build something comparable with some can do attitude and elbow grease, but if you want something hassle-free, a time-tested retail item might be your best bet.
The next thing for us to discuss is how will we record the audio. For many professionals, audio is half the picture, metaphorically speaking.
For the most part, many people will deal with subpar videos but bad audio is a killer to your video production.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on your audio and luckily there are some great DIYs and budget options to get some great audio for your videos.
If you do find yourself in a position where you have to purchase some audio accessories we’ve got some affordable options to get you started.
An option that you can use if you’re using a device with an internal microphone that isn’t any good would be to use your smartphone. That’s if you’re not already recording with it.
Many smartphones, both apple, and android now have very good audio recorders that can capture really high-quality audio.
Now if you’re using your smartphone to record your videos sometimes the microphone will pick up some unnecessary sounds like wind, traffic, etc.
In these cases, the best option would be to have some type of recording device handy like a microphone or in this case a lavalier.
When we talk about do it yourself lavaliers let’s run down some pro wired lavaliers which run about $30, not a large chunk but if you decide to buy one check this out.
Wireless lavaliers can run up to $200 for solid professional grade type lapel mics but what we want to do it save you money without sacrificing quality.
When it comes to audio recording options you want to keep in mind that your audience wants a crisp clean sound.
DIY options are great because you can use what you already have like the headset microphone that came with your smartphone to produce great audio.
Check out this quick DIY walkthrough to making an awesome lapel mic.
Okay now that we’ve got the audio portion complete the next item on the agenda is the background.
Now shooting outdoors can have its own difficulties but the right combination of items in your background can make it look very professional.
The point is to do away with distracting items that can shift your viewers’ attention during your video.
If you have a decorative backyard or even a clean wall, your videos can have an open and warm feeling, not to mention it’s free.
The same rules apply if you’re doing something like a travel blog with the world as your background. Luckily for you, it won’t send you a bill for recording it.
Now indoor video production studios is a whole monster in itself. Backdrops can be anything from a decorative bookshelf to a green screen.
It really depends on your approach, the substance of your content, and obviously how much will it cost you. Luckily we have the information you need to make the thriftiest decision.
Most backdrops vary by price when it comes to design and materia. However you’ve probably got some awesome backdrops in your linen closet.
Yes, those king/queen sized linens are great way to start, just make sure it’s a nice solid color.
If you’ve ever surfed Youtube or follow specific vloggers you’ll notice many people are decorating their studios instead of using plain backdrops.
Although plain solid color backdrops work well, sometimes filling the background with interesting posters or picture frames even shelves with some of your collectible items can give your background a more personal touch.
Let’s say you’ve got some cash and want to spend it on a nice looking backdrop that can last a good amount of time.
The question now becomes what type of material do you want.
Paper backdrops are very affordable like the Superior Seamless Photography Background Paper which runs about $30.
Okay, lets recap. You’ve narrowed down where you want your video production studio to be. You have a camera to capture the magic.
However, you choose to stabilize your camera and get the perfect shot is in place. The lighting is just right and the sound is audible and smooth. Your background is looking nice and pro, so what’s next.
Editing and Publishing is the last thing when it comes to your video production studio.
Now although the big players on youtube are using some serious software to edit their videos, there are tools you can use that won’t leave you broke.
In fact, there are some really nifty tools that come free with your pc, whether its mac or windows.
The important idea here is that you have video editing software and audio software to publish a finished product for your audience.
Here’s some software you probably already have and some affordable options if you’ve got some cash to burn.
When it comes to Windows PC’s most come free with Windows Movie Maker. If you can get past the user interface and very simple transitions you can start putting together some real basic videos for free.
As for Mac’s, let’s be honest, Apple products were originally designed for the creative artist. So it’s no surprise that the free software that comes with a Mac is arguably superior to the free software on a Windows PC.
iMovie comes with a ton of great features but simply put, it’s better than movie maker.
Now in terms of free software that you can download for Windows as well as Mac, Openshot is a great place to start, it does come with more tools and options but like all free software, the really good stuff cost some cash.
But when it comes to a really good tool for editing videos Openshot will not disappoint.
Another great video editing software that is compatible with both operating systems is HitFilm Express.
As of 2018, this free video editing software was highly regarded for it’s easy to use interface, light grading tools, and green screen compositing.
The only downside is that the more premium tools will have you forking out some cash.
For the paid options there is always Final Cut Pro for Mac, and Adobe Premiere Pro compatible with windows, which tend to be the industry standard when it comes to fully functional video editing software.
Chances are the $300 and $20/month respectively are too steep starting out but eventually, as the value of your skill and videos increase so must your tools.
In any case, whether your budget is shoestring or next to nothing, there are tools and devices that can make your video production studio a workhorse.
The important thing is that your content is well thought out and valuable to your audience.
Where you choose to shoot your content is just as important as the tools you use to record your content. It’s a synergetic combination of everything that helps you create your content.
Just like how you choose to stabilize your camera, no one wants to watch you rant from the floor.
The lighting and audio play an equal role too, how do you expect to relay your message if your audience can’t see or hear your message.
Of Course, you can’t forget that a background is not only eye candy, it’s what sets the tone for your content. Lastly, the software you use is the cherry on top, it can make a mediocre video into a great work of art.
Starting an affordable video production studio is not hard. It doesn’t have to break your wallet or be insanely complicated. If you can remember the 7 things you need to get started all you need to do is get started.
You won’t be a master your first time out but neither were all those famous viral video youtubers. You have to make mistakes, grow and develop and it all begins now.
Creativity starts with curiosity, and curiosity is dangerous without knowledge.
Now you have a great roadmap with some insider insight on how to start.
Take the first step and you will see that setting up your first affordable video production studio isn’t that hard, you might even have some fun.