How to Create a Mobile Video Production Studio in a Bag
Have you ever been out at restaurant, or in the park, and wanted to shoot a mobile video for your blog or website?
As your online business grows, you may want to start creating quality mobile videos on the go, whenever and wherever the excitement happens.
With the right equipment and a modest budget, you can create mobile video like the pros. I want to show you how to create a mobile video production studio in a bag (and for less than $400).
When I set out to build my online business, I didn't want to spend a lot of money. In the beginning, I would have rather spent my money on video games and relaxing than on my business.
I learned a lot by finding ways to save money. I learned that mobile video production and multimedia creation doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
Yes, there is a sliding scale of quality and no one wants to watch a blurry video. But, I know it's possible to create great mobile video content without complex technology or an unlimited budget.
I've broken mobile video production into three major categories: Video, Audio, and Accessories. Within each of those are sub-categories to provide extra suggestions and tips.
I've also tried to break the equipment into a Good, Better, Best model. Please note that the Better and Best options may cost you more than a few hundred dollars.
Anymore, cell phones can shoot great mobile video with the software and camera built into the device. While almost everyone can hit “record,” most people do it wrong.
If you're going to use your cell phone, make sure you record in landscape by turning your phone horizontal. Recording in portrait (holding your phone like you were typing a text message) screams amateur. Recording in portrait also provides poor results.
Also, if you're going to use your phone, set your resolution at the highest possible setting. Most modern phones can record at 720p (1280×720)with no problem. Most Android phones can even record at 1080p (1920×1080) with ease.
TIP: Turn on the gridlines in your camera's settings. Lines will make it easier to hold your camera level by overlaying vertical lines on walls and horizontal lines on the floor.
TIP: Use an app like Ultra Video Camera ($.99 in the Google Play store) to use an external mic for your mobile videos.
COST: This option will likely be free to you.
If you don't want to run down your phone's battery, upgrading to a dedicated camera will be a better option. I currently use the Nikon L820 I purchased for our vacation to Costa Rica. The L820 will soon be replaced by the newer L830.
A major advantage to a dedicated camera like these is that you can mount them on a tripod. I'll share a couple of tripod options in the Accessories section below, but tripods provide a stable image instead of one that shakes Blair Witch style.
Dedicated cameras also have many more options for letting light in, boosting colors, and zoom features that a cell phone won't typically offer.
Lastly, most dedicated cameras accept SD cards that will hold hours of video. You can get a SanDisk 16GB SD Card, which holds more than enough, for around $10 on Amazon.
TIP: Android users, you can buy a 16 GB MicroSD card with an SD adapter, put the card in the SD adapter, and put it in the camera. After shooting, remove the SD card from the camera and the Micro card from the adapter. Put the MicroSD card into your phone and you can upload your videos to Box or Dropbox easily.
NOTE: The Nikon L8x0 does not allow external mic inputs.
COST: This option will cost approximately $200 for the camera and $15-20 for each memory card.
You might also like: Camera Review: The GoPro HERO5 Black Edition
While you'll need to spend additional money on lenses, the EOS 60D shoots an almost perfect image. With the right lens, the EOS 60D will allow you to take excellent pictures in low light even without using the flash.
NOTE: This camera does allow for external 3.5mm (ie headphone jack) microphones to be used with it.
COST: This option will cost approximately $699 (no lens) to $999 (with lens) for the camera and $15-20+ for each memory card.
You might also like: Why I Bought a Canon 80D
Great video is nothing without great audio! While the camera options above can provide a great picture, they often leave something to be desired when it comes to great sound.
If you're going to be using your cell phone for video, you can also use it for audio. The problem with using your phone's built-in mic is background noise.
Whenever you're in public, your built-in microphone will pick up a ton of background noise. If your audio source, ie your voice, is within a few feet of your phone's mic, you might be ok. However, if your source is more than 3 feet away, you're better off using one of the options below.
COST: This option is free.
For $20, you can get the Movo LV1 Lavalier Lapel Mic on Amazon. It's the one I use in most of the videos you see me more than 5 feet from the camera.
I like this mic because it allows me to record directly into my phone using free apps like Tape-a-Talk or Smart Voice Recorder (my preferred). The Movo LV1 also includes a tiny windscreen and a battery.
COST: $20+, a couple hundred if you go with a wireless setup.
If you really want to take your mobile video production to the next level, here are a few must-have accessories.
If you're not going to hold your camera you have to put it somewhere, right? I have two tripods. One goes on my desk, the other I use when speaking.
My desk tripod is the Sunpak 620-1212DCC. It's right around $12 and works perfectly for elevating your camera off your desk and up (almost) to eye level.
My standing tripod is the Vivitar VPT1250 50-Inch Tripod. At 50″ tall, it's a good way to elevate a camera to almost eye level if you're standing.
These tripods are so light you can carry them anywhere and they even come with protective sleeves. I toss them in my backpack before I head out the door and I'm set.
What the Pros Are Saying
Since I'm no pro and my mobile video production experience is somewhat limited, I got the advice of some online business pros. Here's what they had to say –
I would take my Sony RX-100 camera – It's as close to a DSLR camera that you can get but it's small like a point and shoot. I record audio separately, so I would add my Zoom H4N and a couple of XLR mics for high quality sound – Jonathan Taylor, Beginner Internet Business Podcast
I would recommend the Go Pro Hero 3 +. I have 2 and that camera is 4k ready and has features out the wazoo. I would bring 2 Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stands, and 2 Audio-Technica ATR2100s with the Zoom H4N to record great audio – Chris Cerrone, The Cerrone Show
A smartphone (an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy), a big mirror or white board to reflect light on the dark side of my face, an iPhone headset to start, stop the video and serve as my mic (or a lavalier mic), then I need video editing apps, also my iPad to serve as my teleprompter – Rey Brown, Smart Phones Made Easy
I would carry an iPhone or DSLR camera w/ a stand, a portable mic & on-camera led light.
The led light I'd use is the Genaray LED-2100. It works very well and is not too expensive. As for a camera, whatever you can comfortably afford. I like the Canon DSLRs myself.
The main thing most people may overlook when it comes to shooting good video is lighting and audio. The Rode VideoMic Pro is a great mic that will fit nicely into a bag – Noble Crawford, Noble Media Group
So many people recommended the Go Pro products I may have to give them serious second thought.
It's also good to know you don't have to spend a ton of money to produce decent quality mobile video. With a budget of a couple of hundred dollars, you give your video production a serious boost.
One thing I want to reiterate is what Noble said – most people overlook good lighting and audio. Make sure you're well-lit, if not over-lit. Most camera lenses don't let in as much light as our eyes do, so what may feel like too much light to us may be perfect for a camera.
Now you're all set to start creating great mobile video on the go. You can share your message without spending a lot of money. All you have to do is take the first step!
Here's a final list of everything mentioned:
- Ultra Video Camera
- Nikon L820
- SanDisk 16GB SD Card
- 16 GB MicroSD card with an SD adapter
- Canon EOS 60D
- Movo LV1 Lavalier Lapel Mic
- Sunpak 620-1212DCC
- Vivitar VPT1250 50-Inch Tripod
- Sony RX-100 camera
- Go Pro Hero 3
- Sony Wireless Lavalier UWPV1
- Go Pro Hero 3 +
- Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stands
- Audio-Technica ATR2100s
- Zoom H4N
- Genaray LED-2100
- Rode VideoMic Pro
Question: What would you add to this list? If you keep a mobile video production studio at the ready, what do you carry?