BEFORE YOU DIVE INTO THIS POST, remember one thing: we all start somewhere. I started out with an iPhone, iMovie and a semi decent mic. You get better the more you do! You don’t need all the things to get started. I’ll share what I think is important and all the things currently in play as I share my card projects with the crafty world. Ready? Let’s go!
In 2017, I started filming card videos for my fledgling YouTube channel starting with this clip. Since then, I’ve figured out a system that works for the space I create in (a dining room) and wanted to share an updated post for anyone who wants to create craft videos for YouTube.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the camera I film my table top with: the iPhone.
Currently using an iPhone 13 Pro, this has actually been a fantastic camera for table top video. I use two different apps to film with, depending on what I am doing (live vocals or live process vs. voice over style). I will eventually move to a dedicated video camera, but for now, the iPhone is my main table top camera. More on cameras later in this post, but first, let’s talk software.
Shoot is the app I use when I am filming live process videos, or when I go live on my YouTube channel. It allows for a clean feed through your phone and typically you would use it in conjunction with a live streaming software.
I use the Shoot app when I am live-streaming or filming live process videos in conjunction with Ecamm Live, a Mac-only live streaming software and subscription service.
Ecamm Live puts the power of a recording studio into your hands. There are many resources for learning this program over on YouTube, from Ecamm Network, Adrian Salisbury Training and Live Streaming Pros. I have learned everything I know from these channels!
I recently upgraded to the Pro level but there are different plans available that are more affordable.
A comparable program for the PC is StreamYard. A free program for both is OBS Studio. I am not versed in either, although I do use OBS Studio on my MacBook which lets me use my laptop as a monitor when I am filming on my table top. And when I do that, most often I am using the next app in the discussion.
MoviePro is the app I use when I’m filming videos that I plan to add the voice overs to during the editing process. I save all the clips on my phone, then upload them to my main work station (iMac) via a lightning cable. I never use Airdrop. I think it would take too long! This app has WAY more options than I even know what to do with, but it’s what I use when I’m not filming videos with live vocals.
When using the app, I connect my phone via a lightning cable to my computer, thereby turning my laptop screen into a monitor so I can see what I’m filming on a screen, rather than looking down at my phone.
I edit all of my videos in iMovie. As much as I’d love to graduate to Final Cut Pro (someday!), iMovie has been just fine for the type of videos I create.
Let’s move onto hardware.
This Canvas lamp mount is a newer tool for me and there are things I love about it and things I don’t love. On the love side, you can easily position your phone over your work surface. If you need lighting, it has several levels of lighting built in, however, for me, I don’t use the lights. I don’t love the reflections on the crafty tools, such as a MISTI or anything else that’s shiny. It’s a really smart design, however.
Another plus side is you can turn the lights on when shooting your finished projects to serve as either your main light, or fill lighting.
On the don’t love side, I can’t place this onto my work table or the vibrations would be off the chart. It even vibrates a bit being on a table off to the side, and I’m still trying to decide if this will be my go to mount. Once I switch to a video cam it will be moot, of course, but for now, I’m making this work.
I just moved a side table next to my main work table to see if that helps. It does, but now I need a new main work table.
I have to place a hand weight on the base to secure it even more, and yet there are still tiny perceptible vibrations if I’m ink blending or doing anything that would fall into the rigorous category (think cranking on a die cut machine, or using a paper trimmer.) Keep in mind, the table I work on is 115 years old and is shaky as the day is long! But for now, this is the iPhone mount I am using.
If you have a really sturdy work table, it might be a great fit for you. I am not an affiliate for this company, because although I do think it’s a very smart product, it’s not 100% foolproof for me. It is simply the best mount I have found at this time.
I highly recommend the Curve Laptop Stand. I LOVE this for keeping my computer up where I can easily see what’s happening on my desktop, and allowing plenty of airflow around the machine. Plus, I can keep crafty tools that I reach for often right under my laptop for easy access.
The Neewer Mini Tripod is a new addition to my set up and I LOVE it! I needed a place to mount my front facing camera for live streams, and this little tri pod came highly reviewed. Although the quick release mount is a bit fussy, the tripod is very sturdy!
Whether I mount my older iPhone* as a second camera, or add my Canon M50 Mark II, it gives me the perfect position for talking directly to the camera during a live stream. I prefer not to use the built-in laptop web cam because I wanted more control over the picture, but a built-in web cam is not a bad option in newer computers. And sometimes, I end up using the web cam on live streams because my current MacBook cannot handle the feed of such a high quality HDMI feed.
*When using my iPhone with any tripod, I need to use a Joby GripTight to hold the phone.
When I am filming my talking head intros for my videos, I use a different tripod (so old, I don’t have link for it!) but this table top tripod would also work for that, too! I just don’t like to move it!
The Stream Deck is a new addition to my set up and is simply designed to help my live streams run more smoothly. It’s essentially a keyboard plug in that you can customize to help you do certain things. I’m still learning how it works, but so far, so good!
This is a brand new tool just added to my arsenal. It’s so new, it has yet to arrive! But it’s on order I hope to see it soon. Supply chain issues keep pushing the delivery date back, but I remain hopeful!
For years, I’ve used my late 2015 MacBook Pro 13-inch as my main monitor and my live streaming computer. I realized fairly quickly that if I wanted to get serious about live streaming, I’d need a bit more power. Ecamm Live is a power hog, and it’s really putting a load on my old MacBook.
This is the configuration I will be working with, which is probably overkill just for live streaming, but if my main iMac work station ever goes down, I could use this new laptop in its place. When you’re self employed, you always need a back up plan!
I should stress that these are the pieces of hardware I am using. Keep in mind, I did not start out with this high powered laptop but as my business has migrated more and more into YouTube, it was time to step it up! Ecamm Live is a bit of a power suck on a computer, and in order to be able to use some better cameras, I knew it was needed. I will update this post after the laptop arrives and I figure out all the extra adapters I’ll probably need! Speaking of better cameras…
In 2022, I picked up my second Canon M50 (this one is the Mark II) for one main reason: I wanted a clean HDMI feed for live streaming. All that means is that none of the meters and mucky muck you see through your camera screen show up on the live video feed. The M50 is a more affordable mirrorless camera that can work great for filming intros, or other talking head type of things. Think studio tours, or anything other than straight down table filming.
I decided to add a fancy lens, too. The Sigma 16 mm 1.4 gives a gorgeously shallow depth of field (where you are in focus, but everything behind you is more blurred out, and I really wanted that for my YouTube video intros. Here, I have the f-stop set to about 3.2 but you open it all the way to 1.4 for a super blurry background. (Note: the lower the f-stop number, the blurrier the background!)
Of course, you may not be filming talking head shots for your videos, and even if you are, an iPhone will work just fine for that, too! You can even film on the newer iPhones in Cinematic mode for a similar look and feel.
To plug in this fancy camera for live streaming, I have started using a Camlink Capture Card from Elgato. It simply allows the full resolution of the camera to convert to a signal that can be used on your computer. Part of why I am upgrading my laptop is that my current one can’t really handle the signal all that well. So my recently lives streams have featured my old iPhone 11 as my talking head cam, and the even my built-in web cam.
Here’s a talking head intro using the new camera and lens. Notice the soft blur of the background? That’s what you get with a fancy lens. Here, I’m simply recording right into the camera and not passing through my computer. I have my mic plugged into the camera, and it’s clipped just below the camera frame.
To shoot stills of my finished cards, I always use my Canon 5D Mark II with my 24-70 mm Canon L Series lens. I’ve had this camera and lens for years… at least 10 or more, and have no plans to part with it, unless my camera body kicks the bucket. For close ups, I use my Canon Compass Macro Lens.
In the camera-adjacent category, my Wescott Light Reflectors have been part of my photo workflow since 2005. I use the silver side to bounce light anywhere I need it when I’m shooting stills. Or, I’ll literally hang it to block light because we have no blinds in our dining room. But that’s a story for another day.
Another key piece of hardware is your microphone and for my talking head intros, I use a very affordable lavalier-style clip on mic by Boya. Audio levels take a bit of adjusting but good audio, even from a very inexpensive clip on mic, can really help your videos have a polish.
NOTE: You may need adapters for your particular set up. I can plug the Boya mic right into my Canon M50 for recording my intros. However, when I use the same mic to go live using Ecamm Live, I need to use a USB adapter for my mic. It really depends on your set up. Unfortunately, adapters and hubs to plug in all the things are part of the discovery process of what will work for you! I will have to use all new hubs and adapters once my new M1 MacBook Pro arrives!
For my voice-over style videos, I use an old Rode Podcaster Mic with a pop filter. Pop filters are especially good if you have an issue with plosives, which I most definitely do! This mic is a bit outdated and I have my eye on a few different ones. I will most definitely update this post if new purchases are made. At this point, roughly 70% of my YouTube videos are filmed with live vocals, then edited for time. I use the aforementioned Boya mic and it’s been just fine for my audio.
I have been using the same two affordable Limo Studio lights since the beginning. Do I dream of big, fancy soft boxes? Indeed, I do. But these have been just fine for my purposes. I always keep them just off to the sides of where I am filming so the lights don’t reflect on anything shiny, and they do a great job flooding my table with even light. I also use them when I’m shooting stills of my finished projects.
It can seem overwhelming to learn all the things for creating YouTube content but for me, it has been so much fun! I remember watching my friend Jennifer McGuire’s channel and thinking, “I want to make videos, too!” The only thing I will say is you have to be interested in the tech side a little, which is sometimes a challenge for creatives like me and you! But the more you learn, the better your videos will be and hopefully, the more fun you will have creating them!
Me? I have long been a tech nerd, so spending hours watching videos on how to live stream? That sounds like a perfect Saturday afternoon to me!
All of this set up may change later in 2022, as I may be moving my entire studio and office into my daughter’s old bedroom. And if that happens, you know I’ll share the set up process again!
If you have any questions I can answer, please email me at email@example.com.
Good luck and here’s to having fun as a content creator!
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