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FREELessons: 14Length: 1.4 hours

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1.2 What You Need

Every instructional will be a little different, but there are some basic elements that you will need to get started. In this lesson you will learn where to start. First, let's start with the essentials, camera, tripod, lights, microphone. Many types of camera can work for an instructional video depending on your needs, especially if you light it properly. For lower or no budget projects, shoot with what you have and make it look as good as you can. If you do have a bit of a budget, you may want to rent a camera that has a better picture quality. Having a lens with a bit of focal length is also very handy for composing your shots. It's often useful to be able to back the camera up and use a higher focal length to compress the background. The less background you see in your shot, the less you have to light and worry about. Any camera system you use is going to need a tripod. I would suggest you use a tripod that has a basic, functional, pan-tilt head. By functional, I mean that it is capable of performing pans and tilts without bumps and jitters. For most basic instructional videos, you'll be doing a lot of camera movement. But for B-roll and cutaways, it's nice to have buttery smooth pans and tilts at your disposal. A decent tripod with a smooth pan tilt head will get you through most of what you need to do. A camera slider is nice to have as well, but it's not essential. You see them used a lot in productions these days, but unless you have a slider that can perform very, very smooth shots, it can be an area that you can waste a lot of time in. The way I think about it is like this. There is content that has to be delivered to camera about how to do x,y and z. There's also going to be specific shots you will need to illustrate what is being explained. Once you get all the essential footage recorded, then you can think about doing some pretty slider shots. In my view, slider shots are nice but not essential for an instructional video. I think it's better to focus on a good performance and clear delivery of the material rather than rushing through just to add a bit of glitter to the final video. If you do attempt to use a slider, it's critical that the movements look super smooth. For this reason, I use a motorized slider to take all the jitter and bumps out of the equation. No matter what camera and support system you go with, lighting is going to be the most important part of how the shot ultimately looks. You need to light your talent, the products, and the set so you can get a decent exposure. And, so you can make them look their best. Lots of folks will tell you to start out with an incandescent or tungsten kit because it has pretty high output in great color. While this is true, it only works well if you're in a completely light-controlled environment. If you are shooting anywhere near windows and you can't block them out, the color is going to be all wrong. Sure, you can use gels to get incandescent to daylight color temperature, but a full CTB or color temperature blue gel cuts out 64% of the light. That's seriously reduces the effectiveness of any lighting instrument. I think its a better option to go with one or two daylight color, high output, fluorescent lights. The advantage of daylight fluorescent is that you can closely match the outside lighting color and be able to use all of the output that that light has to offer. When windows are involved, high output lights can help normalize the intensity inbalance between your interior lightning and the sun. If you are looking to buy something I would look at a couple of medium sized soft boxes or panel style fluorescent lights. The key with any fluorescent lighting unit is the quality of the lamps. Although they are getting better, fluorescent lamps still have some nasty spikes in the color spectrum. The nice thing about panel style lights is that it's very easy to correct for this with a gel or filter. You can also look at upgrading your lamps to something with a better color quality. And don't be fooled by marketing nonsense with flourescent lights. They are never as bright as they claim, especially when that lamp is in a soft box, which will cut down the light output by as much as half. Keep in mind that you don't have to buy lights, you may be able to rent them from your local rental house. If you do, you're probably going to be getting Kino Flo lights which are the best that you can get. A few small LED lights are very handy to have for accent lighting. LED has also gotten a lot better in recent years, but be prepared to add some minus green, and possibly one-eighth color temperature blue to get them to match the other lights. I have found that inexpensive LEDs tend to be a bit warmer in terms of color compared to what the specs say. You will need stands to go with all your lights and modifiers too. The nice thing about fluorescent lights, is that they can be lightweight. So you can use lighter duty stands. That doesn't mean that you can use the super cheap $20 stands, it means that you don't necessarily have to use C stands for all your lights. You can use a basic eight foot or ten foot light stand, that should only set you back around $50 each. Light modifiers are always handy to have on any video project. A few five in one reflectors are great for bouncing, diffusing and flagging the light. You may also want some black fabric on hand for knocking down the light from windows to better control the light in the space. For audio, you're going to want to go with a shotgun mic on a boom pole, a lav microphone, or both. I like the sound of a shotgun microphone, but it doesn't always work if you don't have someone operating the boom pole. A lav mic can be a great alternative to a shotgun microphone. And, I'm gonna cover both of these in more detail later in the course. There's always more kit that is helpful to have for video production. But you have to have your camera, tripod, lighting and audio nailed down first. Later in this course, you're going to see how I plan for the lighting, camera and audio for an instructional baking video. And you're gonna see how it all comes together. For now you're ready to move on to the planning stage which is coming up next.

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