Here's the Equipment You Need to Get Started with Your Video Course

If you’re creating a video course for the first time, you probably have questions about what equipment to choose. Most of the guides out there give you too many choices and make things overwhelming. 

Let’s fix that.

I’ve put together a quick primer on the essential equipment you need to get started. In each category, you’ll get 1 - 2 choices to keep things simple.

Microphone

Audio is the most important part of your video. You can get away with decent video quality, but if people can’t hear you, it’s going to lower the quality of your course. Here’s what you need:

Rode VideoMic Pro or VideoMic Go ($229/ $99, depending on your budget)
Both of these mics connect directly to your camera so you don’t have to sync audio in post production. I can't tell you how much simpler that will make things! Also, you don't need any additional equipment to make them work (except a battery for the Pro).

The fabulous Rode VideoMic Pro. Connects directly to your camera for quick, quality audio. 

The fabulous Rode VideoMic Pro. Connects directly to your camera for quick, quality audio. 

The VideoMic Pro has an additional level boost to enhance your audio. The VideoMic Go is powered by your camera, so you don't need to buy batteries. Both are great for quick shooting.

Rode SmartLav+ ($79)

I. love. this. mic. If you’re shooting smart phone videos, this little lav mic provides excellent sound. I even use it as a backup for my audio when I shoot.

Camera

I’m no camera expert, but I’ve had great results with Panasonic cameras. Specifically the Lumix series. Here’s my recommendation:

Lumix GH3 or GH4

Lumix cameras are known for their great video quality and ease of use. I use a GH3 for all my videos. It’s been discontinued but it works like a charm if you can get your hands on one. A used GH3 will run you $600 - 700 dollars. Or you can grab a new GH4 for about $1200. 

Tip: Wait until the GH5 drops in 2017 and save hundreds on the GH4

If it’s not in your budget to buy a camera, don’t worry: you can rent one for a fraction of the cost. BorrowLenses.com has good rates and usually runs promos. Use my personal link to get a $20 credit.

Your Smartphone

Another affordable option is to use your smartphone to record your videos.

No matter what camera you choose, you'll need a good stand. Read the next section for my recommendations.

Camera Stands

Ravelli or Manfrotto stand - You can’t go wrong with either of these. I use a Ravelli APGL4 with quick release. It’s sturdy, and super adjustable--exactly what you want in a stand. Ravelli are hard to find these days--not sure why--but Amazon has all the Manfrotto stands for a great price.
 
Camrah Smartphone Stand 

This is the smartphone tripod I use. The legs adjust so you can place it almost anywhere.

Grab on of these if you’re shooting with your phone. The legs adjust so you can place it just about anywhere.

Lighting

Lighting is the second most important aspect of your videos, after audio. Here’s what you need.

Daylight Bulbs 

When it comes to lighting, natural light is best. But that’s not always possible, especially if you have to shoot at night. That’s when daylight bulbs come to the rescue. 

Normal house lights will cast a yellow tint in your videos. You don’t want that. Grab some high quality daylight bulbs from Amazon. These will have the right brightness and color temperature to help you look your best. 

Light Stands

You’ll need two lights in front of you. Here’s how my lights are setup when I shoot.

If you've heard of Wistia, a video hosting platform, you've probably seen their excellent videos too. Click here to check out Wistia’s lighting guide for some helpful tips on DIY lighting.

I had a chance to visit Wistia's headquarters a couple years ago. The image below is a shot of their in-house lighting setup. Notice the placement of the lights.

Editing Software

I’ll keep this simple. If you have a Mac, use Screenflow to edit your course videos. You can edit video, adjust your audio, add call-outs, text, and more. Want to extract your audio and offer it alone, you can do that too. 

If you use Windows, check out Camtasia.

Want more tips for making video courses?

Checkout my latest course, Jumpstart, for a checklist to help you create your course. Plus, get all of my shooting and editing tips that I use to create video.

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