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Video Production Equipment Essential List for Beginners and Pros

Check out our essentials guide to video production equipment. We share the best cameras, microphones, lighting and more for a full production kit.
Stephen Robles
Video & Podcast Creator
Published:
Oct 17, 2023
Last Updated:
October 16, 2023
11
min
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

There’s no doubt about it: video is extremely popular. Online videos have an audience reach of 92% worldwide, and it’s estimated that 82% of global internet traffic will come from either video streaming or video downloads in 2022. 

At Riverside, we understand how powerful video can be in launching your success, whether you’re a solo content creator, podcaster, or brand marketer. 

But getting started in video production can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. The video production industry has grown at a fast rate—which means everywhere you turn, there’s an equipment manufacturer claiming their product is absolutely vital to your video production process.

So what special equipment—if any—should you invest in as a video content creator? In this article, we’ll give you answers to all of your burning questions about video production tools, along with a list of the most necessary equipment and software to get you started.

Do you need special equipment for video production?

In 2022, most people have a video recorder in their pocket. When you can take out your phone to make a high-res video for TikTok or Instagram, do you really need to invest in dedicated tools for your videos?

The answer: it depends.

It’s very possible to use the tools at your disposal when you’re getting started on your video content creation journey. If you’re on a budget or simply a hobbyist who cares more about the content than the quality of your videos, your phone might be all you need.

But the right videography tools can level up your production process. If your goal is to build an audience or market your brand, you can’t rely on your phone alone. The right combination of video production tools can make a huge difference in the audio and video quality of your videos—and some of them can cut your recording and editing time in half.

What equipment is used in filmmaking or video production?

If you do a simple Google search for “necessary filmmaking tools,” you’ll probably see lists including some combination of:

  • Cameras
  • Lenses (wide angle, polarizer, zoom lens, etc.)
  • Microphones
  • Boom poles
  • Audio cables
  • Lights
  • Tripods
  • Tripod dolly
  • Stabilization equipment
  • Digital audio recorder
  • Light reflectors
  • Headphones
  • Extra batteries
  • Memory cards or videotapes
  • Shoulder mount rig for your camera
  • Hard drives
  • Camera bag

Any or all of these devices are useful in making different types of videos—but you can easily max out your budget by buying every tool. The question you need to answer is, what do you need for the type(s) of videos you’re making?

What to consider when purchasing video production equipment

Whether you’re making a movie or a YouTube short, the right video production tools for you depend on your specific project. To choose the best gear for you, ask yourself the following questions:

What’s your budget?

If you have a limited amount of money to spend, start with the bare essentials first. You can always add more later. 

What’s your team size and skill level? 

If you have an experienced video production manager, director, scriptwriter, and designer, your gear will look a lot different than if you’re a one-person operation. A small or beginner team should start with minimal equipment that’s easy to use.

What formats are you planning to use?

Something like a movie or music video might need advanced tools for capturing different angles, shooting multiple scenes, and adding effects. Your equipment kit for this project should look a lot more complicated than for a webinar or video podcast equipment where every participant is sitting in one place for the whole video.

Video production equipment and gear essentials

In this section, we’ll walk you through what (in our opinion) is essential for most video production projects. But keep in mind that every production team is different, and every project has unique needs.

We’ll give you a few recommendations for each category, but it’s important to do your own research before buying anything. Read reviews and watch video demonstrations for any tool you buy, especially if it’s a big investment like a tricked-out video camera or professional microphone. There are many options out there, so it’s possible there’s a better fit on the market for your situation.

Cameras

First, if you’re recording video, you need a video camera. 

There are many options available for video creators, ranging from your smartphone to dedicated high-speed video cameras. Many video creators get by using their smartphone or an external webcam, while others use still cameras like a DSLR, mirrorless, or point-and-shoot camera. And then there are dedicated video cameras or camcorders, which provide the best video quality.

Canon

 The right camera for you depends on your needs. For instance:

  • If you have a limited budget, you may want to stick with more affordable options like your smartphone or an external webcam. For tips on making this setup work for you, check out our article: ​​How to Use Phone as a Webcam.
  • If you’re looking for the best video quality, you should opt for a still camera or, even better, a video camcorder along with a capture card.
  • If you’re recording multiple people/angles, you may want to use multiple cameras or pair your smartphone with your main camera/camcorder.
  • If you’re recording a webinar or video podcast, you may be able to get away with using an external webcam, which is usually more affordable than a camera. 

For a guide to webcams and podcast cameras, with the best video quality, see our articles:

Our current favorite cameras for video production are the Canon VIXIA HF R800 Camcorder and the Panasonic HC V 770. Whatever you choose, look for a camera that records in at least a resolution of 1920x1080 (1080p) and a frame rate of 24fps or 30fps. 

Microphones and boom poles

Many cameras and video recorders come with onboard microphones—so why invest in an external device to capture sound?

Simply put, phones and cameras aren’t designed to capture high-quality audio. An external microphone will drastically improve the quality of your recordings. Especially if you plan to record speech, you’ll need a good mic to pick up crystal-clear sound. 

The most common mic types include:

  • Handheld mics: traditional microphones
  • Lavalier microphones (“lav mics”): discrete devices that clip to the speaker’s collar
  • Shotgun microphones: attach directly to your camera or a boom pole

The type of microphone you choose depends on your budget and how you plan to use it. For instance, if you plan to mount the mic in your studio, you might want a shotgun microphone, which attaches to your camera or a boom pole. If you plan to record interviews on-site, you may prefer a handheld mic or a lavalier mic (“lav mic”).

video production microphone equipment
Rode

Our current favorite microphones are the Rode PodMic Dynamic Podcasting Mic and the Sennheiser MD 441 U

For an in-depth guide to the best microphones for content creators, check out these articles: 

Tripod and gimbal

The more high-quality your camera (especially if it’s a DSLR camera with a zoom lens), the more visible even the smallest shakes will be. And even a basic camera gets an upgrade when you invest in stabilization tools like tripods and gimbals. 

These video production tools improve your picture quality by reducing and eliminating shakiness from any camera.

The availability and price of tripods on the market range from basic to very high. Many beginners find the simplest options like the MeFOTO and Switchpod meet their needs adequately.

MeFOTO tripod for a video production equipment kit
MeFOTO

Gimbals are another stabilization device for your camera. These devices use pivots and weights to stabilize your shot, even when you’re in handheld mode and following your subject around.

Gimbal for video production
Ronin

There is a range of sizes available for anything from your smartphone to a professional camera. When choosing a gimbal, keep in mind your camera's weight and ensure the gimbal you choose is rated to support that weight.

For instance, if you’re using a smartphone, we recommend the Zhiyun Smooth 4. But if you’re looking for a gimbal for your mirrorless camera, a DJI Ronin-SC might be a better fit.

Lighting 

As we learned from key episodes of Game of Thrones, your audience wants to watch well-lit videos.

Your lighting can make or break the quality of your video. But good lighting equipment can add up fast—so it’s important to know the best techniques to take advantage of the right combination of tools.

If you’re on a budget or just getting started in video production, you can take advantage of ambient light by using a reflector. Have a team member hold it at the right angle (or use a reflector holder) to redirect light onto your subjects.

We recommend purchasing a 5-in-1 reflector with silver, gold, white, and black surfaces.

lighting reflectors for video production
Neewer

If you can only buy one light, we suggest investing in a quality ring light and placing it directly behind your camera. If you want to purchase a kit for three-point lighting, here’s what we recommend for each budget level:

lighting video production equipment
GVM

Memory Cards

Especially if you’re shooting longer videos, a memory card can give you peace of mind that you won’t run out of space. Look for a high-quality SD card with high read and write speeds and at least 64GB or more of storage.

memory card for video production equipment
SanDisk

We recommend the SanDisk Extreme Pro and Sony Professional XQD G Series memory cards. If you’re on a budget, opt for cards with lower storage; it’s easy to find 64GB cards under $50, while cards with 1TB storage can run over $250.

Dummy Battery

Most video cameras run off of batteries, which means many videographers experience the nightmare of their camera overheating or powering off mid-shoot. Without a dummy battery, you’ll find yourself needing to swap batteries at the most inconvenient times.

A dummy battery is a battery with a power adapter. It fits into your camera’s battery slot, but it has an attached cord that you can plug directly into a power outlet, USB outlet, or power strip.

dummy battery for video production equipment
Gonine

With this essential video production tool, you’ll be drawing on electrical power from a nearby outlet instead of a battery, which means you won’t have to worry about your camera overheating or running out of juice. Investing in a dummy battery gives you nearly unlimited recording time.

The type of dummy battery you buy depends on your camera. Check your camera’s manufacturer for a dummy battery designed to fit your device. Otherwise, we recommend:

Video production software essentials

No video production setup would be complete without software to complement all that fancy hardware. Video production software lets you record and edit video footage.

The right video recording software speeds up your workflow, captures high-quality audio and video content, and lets you record multiple sources at once. Be sure to look for software that offers:

  • Ease of use
  • Recording resolution of at least 720p HD (but 1080p Full HD or higher is preferred)
  • Multi-track recording (i.e., capturing separate tracks for each participant)
  • Local recording to each participant’s device
  • Bonus features like video transcription, live streaming, screen recording, and editing tools

Our favorite video recording software tools include Riverside, QuickTime (for macOS users), and OBS Studio.

As for video editing software, the right tool makes it easy to turn your raw footage into a well-produced final product that your audience will enjoy watching. We recommend looking for all-in-one recording and editing tools (like Riverside)—but if you want a robust editing suite to complement your recording software, you might want to check out Final Cut Pro X (macOS only) or Adobe Premiere Pro

Software for remote video production 

What if you’re recording remote videos like an interview, podcast, or webinar with remote participants? While your first thought might be to rely on virtual conference tools like Zoom or Skype, these options might not be the best choice for a high-quality video recording.

Zoom and Skype prioritize speed over video quality. They compress audio and video files for quick transmission—and they rely on your internet connection to keep the picture clear. If your connection drops or lags, your final product will suffer.

For the best remote video production, choose software designed to record remote interviews. Riverside records high-quality, uncompressed audio and video locally to each participant’s device (so you don’t have to worry about interruptions in your internet connection).

Riverside video production software

Learn more about what benefits Riverside offers. Or, give it a go and sign up for a seamless recording experience!

Start recording with Riverside
Easily record high-quality podcasts & videos remotely
Get Started

How to get started with video production

The video production process involves three main stages: pre-production, production, and post-production. In pre-production, you’ll develop your video strategy, plan your content, and gather all the necessary equipment to complete your shoot.

The production process involves capturing your video, while post-production tasks include editing and distributing the final product. 

Getting started in video production is easier than it may seem. Like many art forms, sometimes you just have to learn by doing—and thankfully in 2022, the barrier to entry is lower than ever. 

You can start with simple tools like your phone, an affordable mic, a reflector for lighting, and combination recording and editing software. Or if you want to build your video production equipment setup, start with the items listed above to create high-quality videos for your audience.

For an in-depth guide: Video Production Process: 9 Easy Steps
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What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

  1. link
  2. list
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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Online podcast & video studio
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