To be the next big YouTube star, you need the right tools. But before you break the bank on expensive video equipment, start with these simple devices. You can always upgrade later when you become famous.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C9, $100
Most videos are created at home, so the first gadget any aspiring video creator needs is a high-definition webcam. The built-in webcams on laptops are decent, typically offering 720p video quality, but the HD Pro Webcam C920 outperforms them by offering the ability to record in 1080p, which is considered the baseline for web videos. Key features of the fuss-free camera include autofocus and automatic light correction for lowlight settings, as well as two microphones, one on each side of the camera, that provide stereo audio.
Canon Video Creator Kit, $1,300
If you want to take your project outside the home, Canon’s Video Creator Kit has everything a roaming videographer needs: an EOS Rebel T6i camera, a zoom lens, a Rode VideoMic GO microphone and a 32-gigabyte memory card. The digital SLR camera features an autofocus system that provides continuous focus on moving subjects and a sensor that allows for shooting in low light.
Built-in Wi-Fi and near field communication, or NFC, capability means video can be shared among compatible devices and social networks, and the camera’s touch screen can rotate for shooting selfie videos. Slide the SDHC card in the camera, attach the zoom lens and mount the microphone on top, and you are good to go.
Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom with Ballhead, $80
With flexible legs that can wrap around just about anything, GorillaPod tripods from Joby are a must-have device for shooting video in unusual places. Bend the legs around the arm of a chair, a stair railing or even a tree limb, and the camera will stay put. The sturdy GorillaPod SLR-Zoom was designed to hold a DSLR camera with a telephoto lens but is lightweight and easy to carry. An optional ball mount swivels to give you the right angle, and a built-in bubble level will ensure your video is stable.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable, $160
Video capture devices are necessary for posting Let’s Play video games on YouTube or streaming games on Twitch at home, but the hookup can be time-consuming, which makes them inconvenient if you are playing at a friend’s house. Fortunately, AVerMedia, a technology company in Taiwan, offers a solution with the Live Gamer Portable, a device that records gameplay on an SD card.
Setup is simple with an HDMI cable (extra cables are provided for options like a headset connection), and the device has a single, large button on top that starts and stops the recording. Video is recorded in 1080p, which looks sparkling when posted online.
Rode smartLav+, $79
Audio is half the video, and a good microphone is crucial. Portable devices have built-in microphones, but they do not make the cut, especially during an interview. Upgrade to a Rode microphone instead. Rode’s smartLav+ is a discrete, wearable microphone that can plug into the headphone jack of a smartphone for field interviews with broadcast-quality audio.
The microphone comes with a Kevlar-reinforced cable and a foam pop shield that minimizes wind noise and vocal plosives. It is meant to work with the Rode Rec app, but is also compatible with other audio apps.
Mattel Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Creator, $33
The Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Creator from Mattel puts you in the director’s chair, allowing you to make animated shorts with Minecraft characters like Steve and Creeper. The kit includes a movie stage, two reversible backgrounds, props like TNT and a crafting table and four mini figures.
After setting the stage and downloading the Minecraft movie creator app, you can shoot your movie, one frame at a time. An overlay of the previous image shows you just how far you should move the figures for each click of the camera. It takes some patience (my 30 minutes of shooting produced five seconds of video), but you could be the next Tim Burton.