Video Production Basics: Equipment 101
If you’ve read our blog post on the basics of lighting on set, you’ll know it’s a complicated process that uses a lot of equipment. But don’t worry: we’ve got all the skills and equipment under our wings, and you should be in the know too! So, we’ve compiled a list of must-have video production equipment for capturing audio and visuals for your video!
If you are looking to have dialogue (or really, any kind of audio) in your video, you’ll need to first record that sound. To do this, you’ll need a microphone! There are a multitude of different types of mics, and each has its own purpose. The smallest and perhaps most convenient mic is the lavalier, or lav mic. These are small personal mics that are typically placed on the actor’s body, such as clasped to their clothing or taped to their skin. Lav mics are good at capturing sound up-close and staying out of sight of the camera!
In contrast, boom mics are used to capture a more general sound. Boom mics are typically used with a boompole— those long, fuzzy, ovular microphones on the end of a long pole that you always see in the outtakes of movies. Boom mics are good for capturing the audio of an entire scene, and for minimizing background noise. However, if you’re using a boom mic you’ll need to keep the camera’s frame in mind! A shadow or a corner of the mic dipping into the camera’s view can lead to multiple takes, which no one wants at the end of a long day of shooting.
Another prevalent type of microphone for the videos we produce are condenser mics. While the first two microphones have emphasis on being invisible to the camera, a condenser mic holds sound quality over visual quality. Because of this, we typically use condenser mics when audio is the most important: voiceovers!
We’ve talked about lighting and color correction before, but now let’s expand on other aspects of lighting! To properly light your scene, you’ll need lights. The most popular are tungsten, daylight, and LED lighting— all of which you can alter with gels and filters.
You can also alter lighting with reflectors and diffusers. They typically come in white, gold, or silver, and in a variety of sizes! Reflectors are used to do exactly what their name implies: to reflect light. You’ll want to have it in a position where it reflects light from the environment (or a key light) onto your subject. A reflector is also commonly used to create a stronger fill light! A diffuser, on the other hand, has a translucent surface. They are used when the key light is too harsh and is casting undesired sharp shadows. When held between the light source and your actor, it softens and reduces the amount of light hitting the subject!
Arguably, the most important piece of equipment is your camera. Any high-quality video camera will do the job if it’s used with the right tools! For example, to reduce the shakiness of your final product, you might use a stabilizer. This can come in the form of a tripod, a glidecam, a steadicam, a shoulder rig, or many more! While tripods allow you to have a fixed camera, glidecams, steadicams, and shoulder rigs allow the camera operator to move while filming. They stabilize the camera and minimize the shakiness of the footage.
You also want to consider different types of lenses. The options are endless, but you’ll want to find a lens that fits your purpose. If you are shooting in a dark environment, you’ll want to use a fast lens. This means that the lens has a big aperture, and can capture a lot of light even in low-light conditions. If you want wide panorama shots (like landscapes), you’ll want to invest in a wide-angle lens. If you’d prefer up-close shots like portraits, you’ll need a short telephoto lens. Or, if you’re looking to zoom in and out, make sure not to use a fixed lens.
Using camera to their maximum potential is complicated stuff, but we’ve got you covered! If you have any questions, just shoot us a message!