Making good quality Internet videos on a budget
January 19, 2011 9:05 AM   Subscribe

How can I make decent quality cookery videos for uploading on YouTube-like sites without spending a lot of money?

Hello folks. As part of a new business venture, I need to upload cooking videos (5-6 minutes each) every week to either YouTube or similar sites. (Yes, I know, I'm only guy #2631775 to do that.)

Since it's a professional gig, it can't look very cheap, but we don't have a lot of money too spend on fancy video equipment. I will essentially need two views in most videos: an angle focussing on me talking about the principles and techniques involved, and another one with close-ups on the actual cooking process.

One of my friends told me I could do this with just a decent quality webcam or a video camera built into a modern digicam. Is this true?

Any advice would be appreciated, since this is completely outside my skillset.
posted by madman to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can. But. What's hardest is the audio, then the lighting.

So much stuff recorded with a digicam or what have you picks up the acoustic noise of the room, rendering it echoey or distant instead of crisp and distinct.

One way to cheat on this is to record all the talking later, even with just someone speaking into their Mac's microphone, as narration, blended with the kitchen sounds. I know that's not your plan for show presentation, but it helps. Quite a bit.

Otherwise, you'll basically need a microphone.

After that, the lighting! Well, it's hard to get something bright but not hot and spotty. It's going to depend a lot on what kind of kitchen you're shooting in.

Finally, Vimeo actually gives you a better look and resolution over YouTube.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:22 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

It is possible to do this with a couple of modern digicams (the point and shoot primarily still cameras), but there are a few drawbacks to this method as well. The primary drawback being that most modern digicams are designed to record short video-clips, not long shots. Recording quality video takes up a lot of space, and digicams use cheap SD cards that can't write that quickly. This problem is "solved" either by limiting the length of the video clip, or by reducing the quality (resolution) of the video. Both of which limit your options in editing the video. If you use digicams, you'll need to organize your shooting around short takes, and do a lot more maintenance.

Using a high quality webcam is a better option, because it records directly to a computer hard-drive, so you can record (for example) uncompressed video in real time without length limitations. The problem with this is that for two angles, you'll pretty much need two computers. If you don't have two computers, this will be much more expensive than the digi-cam option.

Consider getting a hand-held video camera instead (or two). Most of these can plug directly into a computer, shoot much better quality video than the above options, and the low-end ones are not much more expensive than a still-cam or web cam. If you have to buy equipment anyway. a cheap handheld video digicam from like target or something is an inexpensive option that gives you much higher quality.

In any case, if you plan on doing a lot of these videos, storage will be a problem. Plan on plunking down a couple hundred dollars on hard drives. You'll need to store the uncompressed video while editing, and it's good to keep it around so that you can make changes later or use it for stock footage in future episodes.

You should also ask about video editing software on a budget. I'm not the person to answer that, though.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:22 AM on January 19, 2011

post-preview, I agree that the audio is the hardest part.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:23 AM on January 19, 2011

(Partially deaf cooking fan here): For the audio: no background music and provide captioning on all videos. You'll instantly stand heads and shoulders above 99% of the other 2631774 guys doing this!
posted by ceri richard at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2011

I do cooking videos for a website, and I use my regular camera (a DSLR that shoots HD video) to do the video shooting. The video quality is great, but the audio is the weak link. My camera (Canon Rebel T1i) doesn't have a mic input option so I use the camera mic for intros/outros. The rest of the video, I use a stand mic and record voice-over during the editing process. It's not a perfect process, but it's not bad and doing voiceover is actually easier in some ways than recording the audio while you're cooking.

For lights, I use Lowel Ego lights on tripods and really, really like them. They give great daylight-type light and are small enough to store pretty easily.

For video editing, I use PowerDirector by Cyberlink. It's a pretty cheap option ($100ish) and I found it had a pretty smooth learning curve, unlike Adobe Premiere which is a) bulky and unwieldy as all get-out b) not intuitive at all and c) kept crashing my computer.

posted by Bella Sebastian at 12:51 PM on January 19, 2011

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