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Essentials of Video Podcasting Equipment

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Essentials of Video Podcasting Equipment

Along with your podcast concept, topic, style, title, and artwork, which we covered in Part 2 of our Video Podcasting 101 series, there is something you definitely cannot forget.

Your video podcasting equipment!

Are you ready to fork out a good $1000 for a good podcasting set-up?

Nope? Good! 

This is because there is a multitude of great podcast equipment options for different budgets. Unless you already are knee-deep in the video podcasting world, you definitely do not need the fanciest equipment from the get-go.

What you do need above all, is a good camera, a good microphone, and a set of headphones.


Video podcasting equipment: a good camera

The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it? ” – Edward Weston

It goes without saying that you need a good camera to have a good-quality video podcast.


Types of cameras you can use

1. Smartphone

How good can the quality of a video from a smartphone be?

  • The iPhone 11 Pro offers 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, and 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps. 
  • The Samsung Galaxy S20 allows 8K video recording at 24 fps (7680x4320), 4K UHD video recording at 60 fps (3840x2160) and 1080p FHD video recording at 60 fps (1920S20 5G080). 

Even if you don’t own an iPhone 11 Pro or a Samsung Galaxy S20, you probably already own a smartphone that has decent video recording capabilities - good enough for starting your video podcast!

Try to make sure to use the rear-facing camera as much as possible as it will give you a better quality video compared to the front-facing camera.


2a. Webcam - Computer

This is an affordable option if you already own a computer with a built-in webcam. 

However, we do not really recommend this
. This is because the video quality from a computer webcam is normally poorer than other affordable options out there, such as an external webcam.

A built-in webcam simply does not have as much space for other electronics and lenses compared to a dedicated, external webcam. Built-in computer webcams generally have lower resolutions and can lead to you having a lower quality video podcast.

Thus unless you have a computer like the Dell XPS 13 Laptop with a Widescreen HD (720p) 2.25mm webcam, we suggest that you opt for an external webcam instead.


2b. Webcam - External

This is popular with the growing Twitch and gaming communities that extensively rely on video streaming as a medium. As previously mentioned, external webcams pack in more and better components, and thus normally provide better quality videos.

Logitech webcams are great overall:


3. DSLR, Mirrorless, and Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Whilst more commonly used for photography, DSLR, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras offer incredible resolution and video quality.

Do make sure that the model that you are using is suitable for the average duration of your podcast episode, as some camera sensors may overheat fast.

Examples of cameras include:

Do note that if you are live streaming, you will also need to have a capture card. A capture card is a device that takes an external video signal and turns it into a video signal that your computer can process.


4. Camcorder

The last route you can take is to use a dedicated video camera or a camcorder.

Examples of camcorders include the Panasonic HC-V770K and the GoPro HERO 8 Black*

*GoPro has launched its live streaming service, allowing users to live stream from their GoPro camera to their account at GoPro.com.

Other Tips

Additional Cameras: You may want to think about using more than one camera if you want to record more dynamic shots and spruce up your video podcast.

Memory Card
: Make sure that your device (apart from a webcam) has enough space to record your entire episode.

Battery Life
: Battery life is another factor. Apart from webcams, you need to make sure that your device has enough battery to last the entire length of the recording. Some also tout that using a dummy battery, or a battery adapter, is a good solution to ensure that your camera has enough juice to power it throughout your entire recording.

Lighting
: Good lighting can increase the quality of your video podcast. From desk lamps, to ring lights, to softbox lights, you can bring in different lights to improve the lighting of your videos.

Make sure that you have even lighting across your whole face. Avoid overly bright lights or harsh shadows. Why is good lighting important? At its core, good lighting can help the audience to better see and connect with you, your co-hosts, and your guests.


Video podcasting equipment: a good microphone

Is good audio still relevant for video podcasts?

YES!

A recent study looked at the extent to which the medium of delivery of a story affects people’s engagement with a narrative, comparing the medium of video to audio.

Researchers found that although participants reported themselves that they were more engaged when watching a video compared to listening to an audio, there were stronger physiological responses recorded when participants listened to audio stories.

Good quality audio is thus extremely important in viscerally engaging with your audience.

Here are four key pointers essential in preparing your audio setup:

  1. Invest in a proper microphone, one microphone per host
  2. USB microphone, XLR microphone, or a two-in-one? What do you value?
  3. Dynamic microphone or condenser microphone? Where and what will you record?
  4. Get a pop filter


1. Invest in a proper microphone, one microphone per host

While it may be extremely tempting to use the microphone on your phone or the microphone built into your computer, we recommend that you invest in a good external microphone.

If you have more than one host/speaker, do make sure that everyone has his or her own microphone. We understand that sharing is caring, but not for good audio quality!

2. USB microphone, XLR microphone, or a two-in-one? What do you value?

As a podcaster, it is important for you to decide whether a USB microphone or an XLR microphone is the best for you.

USB microphones

USB microphones are plug-and-play, allowing you to easily plug the microphone into a Windows or Mac computer and begin recording.

USB microphones have a built-in analog-to-digital converter, converting analog sound waves to digital signals for your computer to process. This means that a dedicated separate device (an audio interface) is not required.

Examples of popular USB microphones:

Pros: USB microphones are simple to use and also generally cheaper than XLR microphones. They also do not require any additional gear for them to interface with your computer.

Cons: You can normally only record with one USB microphone connected to a computer at a time, making it tricky if your podcast has multiple hosts and guests recording on-premise.

Further, your sound quality will not be as good as compared to if you were to record with an XLR microphone and an audio interface.

Related article: Best USB Microphones to Buy in 2021 [Podcasting & Recording]


XLR microphones

XLR microphones are dedicated microphones that record analog audio sounds. They do not have or rely on a built-in analog-to-digital converter. Thus XLR microphones require a separate device called an audio interface.

Examples of popular XLR microphones:

Pros: XLR microphones generally offer better sound quality than USB microphones, as the audio conversion is performed by a dedicated audio interface. This allows you to have a more professional-sounding podcast. XLR microphones also allow your podcast set up to be customizable to suit your needs as you scale. 

Cons: XLR microphones are on average, more expensive than the average USB microphone. Further, a separate audio interface is required, which may be bulky for people that travel a lot. If you record with more than one XLR microphone at the same time on-premise, you will also need a multi-channel audio interface. This can significantly increase costs.

Related article: XLR Microphones: The Best Ones for Podcasters of All Levels


Audio interfaces for XLR microphones

Audio interfaces are the middleman to convert the analog audio signals from the microphone into digital signals that your computer can understand, or the 0s and 1s.

We recommend the following audio interfaces if you’re getting started:

These audio interfaces plug right into your computer via USB – easy peasy!



Best of both worlds – great for starters

So… what should you get if you’re starting out? Our recommendation for you to start out is to get a microphone with both a USB and XLR connection. The best of both worlds? Hell yeah!

Our tried-and-tested favorites are: Audio Technica ATR2100, Samson Q2U

Why they are good: These microphones are relatively affordable (even cheaper than some of the “cult” USB microphones). With both a USB and XLR connection, you will not need to buy another microphone should you want to upgrade from a USB setup to an XLR + audio interface setup.

This makes the Audio Technica ATR2100 and the Samson Q2u awesome to have as your first microphone and to grow with you as you grow your video podcast.


3. Dynamic microphone or condenser microphone? Where and what will you record?

Yet another technical detail to consider? We’ll make it easy for you.

There are dynamic microphones and condenser microphones. Simply put, your decision should be based on where you will record, and what you will record.

Dynamic microphones
reject background noises very well. If you plan to record in a space where there may be ambient or distracting noises, such as your bedroom or office, consider choosing a dynamic microphone.

Examples include:

  • Audio Technica ATR2100
  • Samson Q2U.


Condenser microphones are better at capturing delicate sounds. As it is more sensitive, they tend to capture more background noises compared to dynamic microphones. If you plan to record in a space that is extremely quiet, such as a studio, consider choosing a condenser microphone.

Examples include:

  • Blue Snowball
  • Samson Go


4. Get a pop filter

Ever listened to a podcast and your ears were attacked by loud “P” and wind sounds? Let’s make sure that never happens with your podcast! All you really need is a cheap pop filter that prevents plosive sounds from ruining your precious recordings.

pop filter photo


Video podcasting equipment: a set of headphones

The last piece of equipment you need for your video podcast is a set of headphones. Everybody who records should have his or her own set of headphones. Headphones will help prevent your microphone from picking unwanted sounds that distort the audio of your podcast.

When starting out, don’t worry about splurging on a set of headphones. A set of headphones that you already have lying around the house should do the trick! As you grow, you can consider investing in proper closed-back studio headphones that give you more comfort and block out more unwanted sounds.

Examples of headphones include:

Now you’re all set to record your very first video podcast!

But you may ask… How exactly can I do that? What software should I use for my recordings? What video podcast platform is the best for me? What do I use to edit my recordings?

Don’t worry! We have compiled the essential steps for you to record, edit, and publish your video podcast.

Read How to Record, Edit, and Publish a Video Podcast.

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