Electronics continue to get smaller and more portable every year. Recently, a few folks have asked what the video gear of choice is these days, especially for road warriors. Here’s my current gearing strategy – and bear in mind, this is subject to change, too!
First, this is what all of the gear looks like, arranged on a desk – you can see how easily it will fit in a backpack or bag.
This is what it looks like, set up:
Most smartphones these days take good enough video. Your iPhone 5s/6/6+ or Galaxy/HTC/Nexus will do the trick in normal or good lighting. What makes or breaks video with a smartphone is stability. You don’t get stability from holding the phone in your hand.
For conferences, nothing beats a small table-top tripod. I use the Ultrapod; I’ve broken way too many Gorillapod tripods in my time to ever recommend one again. The Ultrapod is good enough, and has a velcro strap so you can always bind it to a pole or chair or something.
For moving around, the Norazza TD140 monopod is my choice. Folded up, it’s a 14-inch monopod, which means it fits inside a roller bag with ease, and even in some backpacks. Most other monopods fold to 22 inches or 24 inches, which is a problem.
Almost every monopod will need a ball head if you don’t want to risk damaging the top eventually. A good ball head will also let you walk around with the monopod dangling loosely below it, which in turn allows the weight of the monopod to act as a stabilizer.
For mounting your phone on these units, use a spring clamp. I like the Square Jellyfish, but nearly any will do as long as it doesn’t damage the case of your phone.
Because we’re using the smartphone as the recorder, you can use any mic accessories that are phone-compatible. I like this little shotgun mic from Ampridge that delivers decent sound, especially for interviews, and plugs right into the phone’s audio jack. Bonus: it’s super lightweight, so you can get decent audio without 20 pounds of mice and cables.
This right here is the bane of smartphone video: running out of battery power. Video consumes an inordinate amount of battery, so having an external battery pack is essential – and ideally more than one. A big power bank will let you record all day and only need to sync with a laptop when you have to offload data, not because you run out of juice.
I’m on a Mac, so I use iMovie.
If you’re looking for something a little more robust, you can rent Adobe Creative Cloud for $50/month and get Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition to bring some heavier horsepower to your video work.
Great video requires great audio. Use the gear above along with the leveling process I described in this post on how to get iMovie and Levitator to work together. If you’re using Adobe’s suite, you can do the same by roundtripping the audio from Premiere Pro to Audition and back.
Here’s a video I shot with this exact setup at the MarketingProfs B2B forum:
This is the Tufts Beelzebubs at the conference opener, shot from tabletop.
I hope this helps aspiring videographer road warriors streamline some of the gear you’re carrying while not sacrificing a great deal in the quality department! Unsurprisingly, all of the products mentioned here are Amazon affiliate links.
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