This is a short, sharp blog about getting started with video production on a very low budget. Lots of businesses want to start producing content and over the longer term would invest more – but right now, it’s about seeing if this medium works for you and whether you enjoy filming yourself. This guide will help you to get started, with some advice on low cost gear that will make a big difference to the quality of what you are shooting and a few tips for producing at the end.

How Can You Start Producing Video With Low Costs?

This blog is aimed at businesses and marketers and the like who want to start producing video without spending a lot on something they are not sure will work or that they will enjoy doing. The next stage would be to invest to upgrade your gear and even to get yourself some coaching to improve your video production and camera presence – get in touch if that is something that you are interested in!

Low cost self-production does not work for all businesses. Some people find it time consuming, stressful and that it does not reflect their business or the kind of clients they are pursuing. Outsourcing for them can take away the strain and help them jump ahead in terms of quality – so it you are looking for a video producer, get in touch.

 Let’s Talk…

Plugging over, the first question you are asking yourself will be what camera should I film my videos with?

What Camera Should I Film My Videos With?

Most people have a pretty decent phone camera or perhaps an iPad that they can use – even a webcam can be used and we’ve all been using our webcams a lot more since Covid hit.

There are other items that I would recommend investing in (see below) to improve the quality of what you are producing before investing in a video camera. This is all about low cost entry and experimenting with self-filmed video so let’s start with what resources we already have available to us.

If you are just dying to buy a camera you could look at a few compact, easy-to-use models around the £350-450 mark (Panasonic Lumix DC-GX800KEBS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100EBS or the Olympus PEN E-PL9). HOWEVER, if I was you I would wait and save up that budget until you have a good £1k+ to invest in getting a better camera that gives you more options.

Much more importantly, let’s look at your next burning question: How can I improve my video audio?

How Can I Improve My Video Audio?

You can get away with a lot visually but if the viewer cannot hear the audio or there are annoying issues in there that make it difficult to listen to then you are going to lose them.

If you only invested in one thing on this list, make it a microphone.

You can buy lapel mics that plug straight into you device and although you can get them for as cheap as £10, I would recommend spending a bit more to get something that is reliable and good quality.

For example, the Rode SmartLAV (around £50), which will plug into your phone or iPad headphones jack and then clip on to your lapel or collar. You may want an extension lead for your lapel microphone or need a headphones connection adaptor for the newer iPhone model.

Rode SmartLAV

Extension lead

Headphones connection adaptor

With a lapel mic you will get better audio and you can step back form the camera a bit, which is a more flattering shot.

Next question… how can you best light your video when filming with a phone, iPad or webcam?

How Can I Best Light Video Filmed On A Device?

Before buying that swanky new camera, you will find that some basic lighting makes all the difference when filming with a device such as a phone, iPad or even a webcam.

Firstly, the no cost option is to place yourself in the best spot. So:

  • Place the light source shining on your face and NOT behind you – for example, do not sit with a window behind you as this will create a silhouette and all lenses have difficulty in this scenario. Sit with that window behind the camera and the light shining on your face. Or maybe you have a lamp that you can put behind the camera and point that towards your face.
  • Natural light is flattering – as long as we’re not talking harsh sunlight that creates shadows on the face and makes you squint! Overcast days or sitting in a shaded spot is better. If you have a quiet outside space you could consider using that area to film in but that does tend to come with a number of uncontrollable factors, such as weather and noise.

The low cost option is to invest in a small light – such as this little ring light for around £10. Ring lights are very flattering and create a ping in the eye. They are easy to charge, plugging in like a phone, and clip on to devices. I think they are brilliant.

Ring light

Ok so there is one last thing before some tips for production and that is looking at how you can improve video production quality with a tripod.

What tripod should I use to film my video?

Putting your phone or iPad on some sort of tripod, monopod or similar will improve the quality of your video, it means you can frame a more pleasant and less shaky shot and also stops your arm from getting tired!

With any of these options, try to place the device so you are filming at eye level, or close to that, and take the opportunity to step back for a more flattering shot.

No cost options – stick the device on a stack of books or ask a volunteer to hold it! I prefer the less shaky, not-a-person option but only if you can get the right angle.

Basic tripod – easy and cheap, look for something portable and fairly durable here, like the Everasta 42″ tripod at around £23.

Everasta 42″ tripod

Stand with ring light – This Neewer stand with ring light is a bit more pricey at around £70 but you get a nice big light here with options for white or orange (warm) filters and there is more height available so it’s better if you want to present your video whilst standing up. It comes with a bag but you have to have a power source nearby to plug it in and be careful not to knock it over as these kinds of stands are less sturdy.

Neewer stand with ring light

The flexible small tripod – I love the gorilla-grip style tripods like this little Joby GorillaPod, which you can attach to any number of places. It might not be quite as practical as a standard tripod but it is small and very portable.

Joby GorillaPod

So that’s all the gear, what about some tips for getting started?

 Follow on YouTube for tips and insights

3 Tips For Getting Started With Producing Your Own Videos.

Or you could jump ahead and get in touch for video production training and presenter coaching… This can be done remotely online, as well as in person.

  1. Do some planning – If you are reading this blog you are already doing some preparation! Hopefully, you have some helpful insight into equipment here. Now I recommend that you book a day into your calendar to film yourself (even if that is next month, you have a target to aim for) and write out some video titles and bullet points for the content in each one. Viola, basic plan!
  2. Simplify the process – That plan was pretty basic wasn’t it? I like to really thoroughly plan but if I gave you a tick list of 100 to dos before you began filming that would be a major psychological barrier to getting started. It would feel like a huge mountain to climb. Simplify the process wherever you can – use the basic equipment (instead of buying a new camera that you need to learn how to use, how about just use your phone and a few of the items mentioned in this blog to improve the quality), keep scripts short and simple and consider just recording some short unedited videos straight to Instagram, for example. As you get more comfortable you can add more complexity.
  3. Stop being hard on yourself – Lots of people are very self critical and although that can be useful in small doses when it comes to improving, comparing yourself to a professional presenter or film maker is not being fair on yourself. You will improve over time and beating yourself up isn’t going to help.

Want to see a part 2?

There is so much more that I could go into here to help you with basic production of self filmed video content. Do you want to see more? Tweet me at @LetsTalkVidPro with any burning questions and I will put the answers into a further series.

Thanks for reading!