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The Ultimate Hardware Kit to Take Your Videos to the Next Level

At a time when creating short pedagogical videos is starting to be seen as the right way, I thought it would be useful to share with you some of the best practices I follow.

I've been lucky enough to work in the industry of educational video for 13 years now, so I've had the opportunity to use a lot of tools, and see what worked and what didn't, while keeping one watchword: keep it simple so that the ratio of quality to time spent remains acceptable.

Why? Simply because a video can have a more or less long lifespan depending on what you explain in it, and if you spend too much time producing it, it will be disillusioning for sure once you realise you have to redo it only 3 months after uploading it online...

So here are my tips and some references to hardware that will help you do quality work for cheap!

 

1- The Audio is Crucial

Why is this so important?:

The human brain can’t stand poor audio quality. At least not as much as poor video quality. The risk of a poor audio recording is that viewers will immediately stop playing your video. It would be a pity if they missed the essential part of your content...

 

My hardware recommendations :

  • Scenario 1 - you are not on the video

If you are not on screen in the video, i.e. you are doing voice over, commented slides or interface presentations or demonstrations, I recommend a headset microphone, like gamers use.

gif gamer

References:

Logitech G432 Headset - less than 60€.

 

  • Scenario 2 - you appear on screen

You humanise your video content and comment on what’s on screen: slides, interfaces or if you go further with the editing, you make relevant keywords appear that support your speech. Forget the gamer's outfit and put yourself on stage! I’d recommend you to opt for a quality audio source, either discreet or stylish (but be at ease with it!). 

References:

Shure MV51 Tabletop Microphone - less than 200€ - awaken the Jean-Jacques Bourdin in you! (FYI: for our non-French audience, Jean-Jacques Bourdin is a famous radio presenter ;) I guess someone like Nike Ferrari would be the equivalent in the UK... )

bourdin

 

Sennheiser XS Lav USB-C lapel microphone - under 60€

 

You should avoid:

The microphone integrated into the computer or the webcam, because they catch all the interfering sounds in passing. You should also avoid hands-free phone kits, including earpods. You are not making a short phone call, you are posting permanent video content.

 

2- The Video

Why is this so important?:

It's your image and I'm pretty sure you don't want people to find online content that could damage your e-reputation!

I had a bitter experience of this once :( And I'm a sharer, so here it is (and please don't do that!):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoxY0dn74K0

And regularly I get teased for that darn minute and a half video :)

So get ready, get your hair done, and position yourself in front of the camera at the right height: not lower than your camera or above it, it will make you look condescending.

 

My hardware recommendations:

Logitech C920 webcams - under 80€ - great value for money

Webcam Huddly One - 450€ - amazing

 

Also remember:

The background behind you is important! If you are not inspired, choose a neutral, depersonalised background. Otherwise, adjust it to your taste, like a YouTuber, with decorative elements that do not distract from your speech. 

And above all: avoid the automatic backgrounds of video conferencing solutions, they are not qualitative enough for a recorded video!

The alternative is either to edit or to use simple tools such as UbiCast's WebStudio to customise the background of the video.

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3- The Light

Why is this so important?:

We tend to forget it, but for professionals, a film set is like a tanning booth. Lighting is everywhere to avoid shadows and to highlight the actors. Ideally, you should apply a bit of foundation to avoid shiny skin, or simply blot your forehead with a piece of paper towel before recording. This will make the last traces of stage fright disappear :)

gif trac

My hardware recommendations:

Clip-on desktop ringlight - under 40€.

 

4- The Content & the Duration

Why is this so important?:

This is the decisive factor to engage your audience. We've just talked about the form with the hardware I  recommend, but the most important thing is the substance of your content. You may have a BBC studio, if your content is not interesting enough, you won't engage your audience!

Be prepared as this will allow you to remain clear, concise and ultimately record yourself more quickly. Also, try not to exceed 10 minutes of content, unless the video player you are going to use allows you to chapter your media.

 

My recommendation:

Download our Guide on How to Structure a Pedagogical Video! It's all there: the recommended length, a framework for writing your text, suggestions for additions to your video.

There, I think I’ve talked to you about everything that seems essential to me when producing video content. You are now ready to come on stage and share with as many people as possible what you have to say and explain!

Silence... Rolling!

clap cinema

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