This is my 9th year making YouTube videos and over the years I have upgraded my video recording equipment countless times. Earlier this year, I wanted to make a dedicated studio in my house for doing green screen videos. Well, what started as a small project ended up into my regular 4K YouTube studio, which I feel is essential to YouTubers who want to get serious making videos on a consistent basis.
Before this, I would spend hours just setting up the camera, setting up my tripod, and having camera equipment all over my office, which I still do sometimes but makes everything time-consuming and inefficient. Having no studio for your YouTube is like being homeless and setting up your shopping cart in a different parking lot every night.
Anyways, for those of you who want to make your own YouTube studio (whether in 1080P or 4K), here’s my suggestions.
First, you will obviously need a room or space that’s dedicated to all your camera equipment. I used my small guest bedroom and was able to make a full 4K studio out of just half the bedroom, which also has a full bunk bed with a futon. If you have a small bedroom/guest room, definitely consider using it.
Second, you may or may not need a green screen but I feel like it’s a great way to put anything you want in the background or even just make it look super clean with white or black background. I actually use a blue screen since I usually wear a green shirt but you can grab green screen on Amazon for around $20. Don’t get the pop up ones as they are not big enough, but grab the bigger cotton ones.
Third, you will need good lighting whether you use green screen or not. I highly recommend grabbing some soft boxes on Amazon for about $25 each. (or $40 each w/ legs) Also, get the 5500K LED light bulbs as you will save 10 times more energy than using fluorescent light bulbs. Trust me, having soft boxes on cost a LOT of money in electricity, use LED bulbs and you will be able to use them 24/7.
Lighting is probably one of the most important aspects of your video so have enough lights.
Fourth, you will obviously need a camera. If you don’t need 4K, I do highly recommend going with an entry-level Canon cameras (such as Canon T5i) as they do great 1080P videos and also you can re-use the lenses you buy later on and strap them on Panasonic GH4 (which I did) or even Sony cameras with an adapter. Try going with a camera with interchangeable lens as that will allow you to have flexibility (such as wide-angle lens for small room or macro-lens for super close-ups) and also you will be able to re-use them when you upgrade to a 4K camera. Or you can also go with an entry-level 4K camera like the FZ1000, which is a great 4K camera I use as my 3rd camera.
If you want to go all-out with 4K and multiple cameras, I highly recommend the Panasonic GH4, which is awesome 4K camera and you can setup multiple cameras without going over $5000. You will also need some lenses too and if you already own Canon or Nikon lenses, you can grab Metabones Speedbooster.
Here’s my current setup I showed in the video:
2 Panasonic GH4 Body Only – $1500 each – $3000 – I paid $1500 when I bought it but the prices are dropping and you can grab these for like $1000 each. These are simply the best 4K cameras if you are on a budget and if you need multiple 4K cameras, these may be the best in the business.
Panasonic FZ1000 – $700 – I wanted to add a 3rd camera without breaking my bank so I bought this as a 3rd camera. It isn’t the best quality 4K but with good lighting, this can do just as well as more expensive cameras. Since my studio is indoors and I have good lighting, I got this to get the 3rd angle but I will eventually get another GH4 as the FZ1000 doesn’t support HDMI monitoring simultaneously while recording.
Sigma 10-20mm – $450, this is a great wide-angle lense. This isn’t the best lens out there but for using as my main wide-angle view from a very short-distance setup, this works out to be perfect.
Sigma 18-35mm – $799, almost every serious YouTuber has this lens, you can put it on a Sony camera, Red, GH4 using an adapter,
this is what I primarily use for shots from the top. You can get super, clear and crisp videos.
Speedbooster – $599, this is an adapter that reduces your focal stop by one for the GH4. This will give you much wider angle from the same lenses used. They also have it for many other different cameras.
Manfrotto Tripod – $160 – Any decent tripod will do, I am just using an old video tripod I am not using anymore but grab any Manfrotto tripod for the job.
2 Manfrotto Magic Arms – $128 each – $256 – Magic Arms are great way to attach your cameras anywhere and set them to any angle you want. I initially used two magic arms instead of tripods for all my videos few years back and I still use them now! One of them is being used for my top-mount camera and the other one mounts my FZ1000 to my light stand for the 3rd angle.
Studio FX Camera Slider $110 – These cheap camera sliders are not recommended as sliders but I recycled them and mounted it on my ceiling so my top mount camera can be slided.
Pad Prompter (Teleprompter) – $399 – I don’t always use the teleprompter. For example for unboxing videos I don’t need to script anything but for things like news, reviews, or anything that I write a script beforehand, the teleprompter comes in handy as you will be able to make those 5 takes into just one. Also, if you are not good in front of the camera, a teleprompter will help you look
Zoom H4N – $199 – Having a dedicated audio is definitely something you should consider and also this one allows you to use Phantom-powered shotgun microphones. I use this in-between my camera and my Audio Technica shotgun microphone so I can monitor my audio while recording, make a separate audio recording backup just in case things go wrong. Also, I do a lot of voice overs and having a dedicated audio recorder makes it easy to do that.
If you want to also feed your camera with the audio, don’t forget to grab the Sescom cable as otherwise it will mess up the audio in your camera.
Audio Technica AT875R – $169 – This is a pretty good shotgun microphone.
Elgato Game Capture HD60 – $174 – If you want to do live streaming through YouTube in 1080P and use any camera that has HDMI output, you can use the Elgato Game Capture HD60, which does up to 1080P 60fps.
AverMedia ExtremeCap U3 – $169 – If you want to have TWO cameras for live YouTube, you will need another capture device. Since you cannot use two Elgato game capture at the same time (yes, I’ve tried it), I got the AverMedia for my 2nd camera so I can have two cameras working simultaneously on my live YouTube videos. (You can see an example of my live YouTube video here.)
I use XSplit broadcaster for my live YouTube videos, highly recommended!
2 22-inch 1080P monitors – $100 each = $200 – If you want to monitor your video while recording (and you have a camera that supports HDMI monitoring WHILE recording such as the GH4), definitely grab some cheap 1080P monitors instead of buying high-priced field monitors. I initially used one of those cheap field monitors but a simple 22-inch monitor gives you much better results at even lower cost.
MSI 4K Laptop $3000 – If you want to do YouTube live streaming or want to include screen recording in 4K in your videos, make sure you have a powerful laptop/computer to process/encode your videos in real time to YouTube. I paid $3000 for mine but you can grab for much less around $2000 or even just build your own powerful PC rig for less.
Total Cost for 3 cameras and various camera equipment: $10375
Total Cost for everything: Probably around $12000 including miscellaneous camera parts not mentioned here.
Now, this particular setup is really just intended as a reference. If you absolutely need 3 4K multi-camera setup with 1080P YouTube Live features, this is probably a really good setup I think for around $10K.
However, if you are just starting out, you should be able to setup some soft boxes, skip the green screen, get a decent 1080P camera and a tripod. And maybe you can shop around for some used equipment on eBay and pay fractions of the price. I think you should be able to do most of it for a few hundred bucks with some creativity.
As a final note, there isn’t a magical solution to your YouTube studio, it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish and how much you are able to spend. But, I think it’s a great idea to invest at least a few thousand bucks on getting the right equipment if you are serious about making a living on YouTube. (And for those asking, yes I pay my mortgage with my YouTube earnings.)
For me, it was about accomplishing things like multiple camera angles, 4K video recording, green screen, decent audio with monitoring/voice overs. I initially started with a desk and a cheap pop-up green screens but over the months, I added more and more equipment. This is still a work in progress but for those of you who need something similar for your YouTube, I hope it helps!