My $10,000 4K DIY YouTube Video Studio!

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.

For mounting, you may want to consider mounting them up in the ceiling if your space is limited, I used this flashmount and also ceiling mount.

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
more professional.

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!

 

 

 

Tour of My 4K Camera Gear!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9moYSueTJUQ
Here’s an update on what I am using for my 4K YouTube videos. If you want to get high quality videos, you may want to consider using a camera/camcorder with interchangeable lens capability.

Why?

So you can get a nice depth-of-field (blurred out background) in your shots and make your subject look super clear and crisp. Whether you are shooting outdoors or just gadgets indoors like me, you can all benefit from having the right camera gear.

My current 4K setup:

Panasonic GH4 – This is probably one of the best 4K cameras out there right now, especially considering you can use your old Canon/Nikon lenses with an adapter or Metabones Speedbooster.

Metabones Speedbooster for Canon – This allows me to use my old Canon EOS lenses on my GH4 and also bring down the F-stop/aperture by one full stop. It’s an awesome piece of hardware you must absolutely get if you have older DSLR lenses.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 lens – This is the most versatile lens ever as you have nice range from 18-35mm at F1.8. Also you can focus on subjects up to 2-inches close, meaning you can get some real close-up shots without having a zoom lens.

My recommended setup for those of you just starting out with YouTube:

If you don’t want to spend more than $800 on equipment to get started out with YouTube but still make excellent 1080P videos, this is my recommendation:

Canon T3i – You can buy the least expensive Canon body as the video on T3i, 60D, and 7D are practically identical.  Don’t get it with the kit lens, they are worthless, buy the Canon 50mm F1.8 and Canon 24mm F2.8, those are the only two lenses you need to start out.  I recommend T3i since it’s come with a swivel LCD while the older T2i doesn’t.  You can also grab these much cheaper on eBay.  For videos, you don’t need a brand, new camera.

You can also get Nikon cameras if you like Nikon brand or Sony or Samsung but I really like Canons because you can install aftermarket firmware like Magic Lantern to add new features like intervalometer, RAW videos, and much much more.

Current Microphone:

Sennheiser G3 Wireless Microphones – These are the most advanced microphones that are wireless and also allow you to eliminate any camera noise as it has sound decibel controls for both receiver and transmitter.

Other Camera stuff:

 Manfrotto Tripod – I love Manfrotto tripods, they are sturdy and will get the job done.

Manfrotto Fluid head – You definitely need a fluid head as it will make your moving shots super fluid.

Softbox Lighting Kit – You need some good lighting for indoors, this is what I am using right now.   Also grab LED bulbs as you will save 4 times more in electricity, I am using these at the moment.

Seoul, Korea Timelapse in 4K! [2015]

seoul-timelapse-4k-2015

Before my vacation, I knew nothing about making timelapse videos.   Well, I just got back from my vacation and now I know how to take RAW photos from my Canon 6D and Panasonic GH4 then use Photomatix to convert into HDR then finally convert it into timelapse video using Adobe After Effects.

Indeed, this process is very time consuming but since I was on vacation and had a lot of free time, I figured it would be a great time to do all that.   For my last timelapse video, I tried my best to maximized everything I’ve learned along the way, adding a few HDR timelapses into the video.  I also found HDR didn’t work so well at night, it was better to just take RAW photos and post process the images.

This is probably my last timelapse video for awhile since it takes such a long time to make one.  I used my Canon 6D and Panasonic GH4 to shoot 18,249 RAW photos (total of 358GB) over course of 7 days.  Of course, rendering these RAW files into timelapse video took awhile too, roughly around one full day of work then also another day to edit them into a video in Premiere CC.

Overall, I am satisfied with my timelapse skills that I’ve learned in the last 4 weeks.  I know I made a lot of mistakes (some of the footage have some exposure problems) but I think it will definitely improve over time.  And yes, my future Android videos should have lots of timelapse, if you have some good ideas for that, don’t forget to let me know, thx!

 

Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand Timelapse in 4K!

phuket-bangkok-thailand-timelapse-4k-GH4-canon6D

Wow, it’s amazing what you can learn while traveling.  Over my month long vacation in Asia (I have another week left), I have learned how to capture timelapse and hyperlapse videos using my Panasonic GH4.  Well, during the trip I realized a full-frame camera would be best for low-light timelapse videos so I picked up a Canon 6D and even learned to use Adobe After Effects.

Over the trip, I realized that most timelapse professionals were using Adobe After Effects to post process their photos and also add in virtual panning/zooming effects.   I have just mastered those skills (you will see some of the zooming/panning in the latter part of the video) and boy, it’s refreshing to touch on my editing skills and I really believe taking some time off Android videos have allowed me to actually get better at making videos.

Of course, my new Android videos will feature a ton of timelapse when I get back as I have new ideas for refreshing, unique videos.  I just need to find a new way to review gadgets and I think I may have just found it.   So stay tuned while I finish the rest of my vacation in South Korea next week and I will be back with more cool videos.

FYI, I used my Panasonic GH4 mostly in Phuket and picked up a new Canon 6D in Bangkok, some of the Bangkok shots were taken with Canon 6D.  I am now playing around making timelapse videos using the LG G4’s raw image mode, that should give you some excellent footage by working with raw images, I should have an update on that soon over at HighOnAndroid.com.

Asiatique in Bangkok, Thailand! [Long Exposure Photo][Canon 6D]

 

asiatique-bangkok-thailand

 

I did get to visit Bangkok for my second time couple days ago. Bangkok is definitely one of my favorite cities in Thailand as there’s plenty of city life.

One of the places you should absolutely visit if you plan on going to Bangkok is this place called Asiatique Riverfront. It’s basically a riverfront hangout area with a bunch of restaurants and shops by the river.  Last time I was in Bangkok, this place didn’t exist but I guess they’ve built it just over a year ago.

You can find plenty of wind here at Asiatique to cool off your built-up Bangkok heat during your day travels.  Also, there seems to be a river cruise you can go on which I didn’t have time for this trip but next time will definitely check it out.

I also picked up a Canon 6D at MBK shopping center for about $1200.  Due to the currency, I actually saved almost 20% over buying on Amazon at home in the U.S. That was rather surprising so if the currency exchange is right, you may actually save buying gadgets overseas.

One of the new reasons I bought a new Canon 6D is because I wanted to take better low-light photos.  My Panasonic GH4 is great for most things video but its smaller sensor size doesn’t do as well in low-light situations, especially for photos that I really wanted to take.  Also, I was thinking of getting the Canon 5D Mark III but the Canon 6D does offer the exact same sensor and according to some, even better low-light performance.  Regardless, I didn’t want to spend the extra $1000 on 5D Mark III and also the 6D offers GPS/WiFi capability which I absolutely need for posting photos on the go without my laptop.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the Canon 6D, and below are some of the long exposure photos I took at Asiatique in Bangkok, Thailand. (click to enlarge photos!)

asiatique-bangkok-thailand-2

asiatique-bangkok-thailand-1

I have also used the 6D on my timelapse videos (which I am still editing) and I have started using Adobe After Effects to make timelapse videos using RAW images. The result is definitely much better than my previous GH4 setup since I can really play with the images before making timelapse videos.

This vacation has really given me time to re-energize and work on my photo/video skills, especially now I have a new full-frame camera and learned how to use Adobe After Effects. So, don’t worry if I don’t post enough Android videos as when I get back, this will all translate into better/more interesting videos.

Tomorrow I am headed back to South Korea for another week, I will try to get some more interesting photos/videos.  In the meanwhile, let me know what you think of my long exposure photos with the Canon 6D.

 

 

 

 

Phi Phi Island Boat Tour Timelapse in 4K!

phiphi-island-boat-tour-timelapse-4k

I am now in Phuket, Thailand now and yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the famous Phi Phi Island, which is about an hour boat ride from Phuket.  Ever since I saw a giant photo of it in my friend’s house, I’ve always wanted to go there.  And Phi Phi Island is actually pronunced like “pee pee” island, kind of left a fun impression in my memory.  Of course, I am glad I had brought my Panasonic GH4 along with my trusty Sirui T-025X tripod, which I used all day long.

Trying to take timelapse on the speedboat was a real challenge as I had to hold down the tripod for more than 10,000 shots with the speedboat riding over some waves.  But don’t worry, I enjoy making these videos even if I am on vacation.

As far as the boat tour went, I didn’t expect any snorkeling involved but luckily I had brought my Galaxy S5 with me which is water resistant up to 30 minutes.  My S5 held up very well actually in warm salt water and I was able to easily capture 4K videos underwater.  It was the most stable video but still it was better than nothing.  One British guy was surprised that I was using last year’s Samsung phone to take videos underwater.  Yup, you can take it underwater just fine as I’ve tested these things in water for over 30 minutes before.

Overall, I didn’t really have enough time to capture all the timelapse videos I wanted but did get to see most of Phi Phi islands (I guess it’s actually made up of many different islands).  The result is just what I could do in 9 hours of the boat tour, I definitely wish I had more time to make a better video though.  Next year, I will definitely bring more camera gear and try to capture/make better vids but in the meanwhile, please enjoy my vacation in 4K, I tried my best in my spare time here.

Seoul, Korea Timelapse in 4K! [GH4]

seoulkorea-timelapse-4k

Over my vacation to Asia, I have really fell deep into timelapse videos, especially how easy it is to do with a camera like the Panasonic GH4, which has a timelapse/stop-motion built-in.  You can actually make a 4K video right from the camera.

Of course, post editing with After Effect should improve the timelapse videos greatly but since I did not have the time to really post process anything (as I am on vacation) I had to do everything on the camera.   For future, I am definitely thinking of doing some HDR timelapse videos and perhaps invest in new camera equipment like a new Canon 6D or 5D Mark III.

Although my Panasonic GH4 does quite well, I feel like I do need a full-frame DSLR for the best timelapse videos.  I will definitely work on that when I get back from my vacation next month but in the meanwhile, please do enjoy some of my favorite locations from South Korea in fast-moving timelapse action.  These were taken in various places in Korea, mostly in Seoul including including  Gangnam(강남), CheongGyeCheon(청계천), Hong Dae(홍대), Itaewon(이태원), Maebong(매봉역), and Chun Cheon(춘천).

Gangnam Seoul Timelapse! – Safe from MERS?

gangnam-seoul-timelapse-safe-from-mers

I almost canceled my trip to South Korea this year due to MERS virus but I am glad I didn’t.   For those of you wondering, I would say South Korea is actually pretty safe to travel this summer as most of the MERS infections occurred in hospitals.  So, just stay away from hospitals, clean your hands well with hand sanitizer and you should be good to go.

The media has really blown MERS out of proportion, really frightening the public.  But as of this week, more people are actually going out and I barely see anyone wearing a mask as you can see in my video.  (Can you count how many people are wearing masks?)

For those of you who don’t know, my home town is actually the Gangnam district in Seoul, Korea.  My family moved there when I was around 3 years old, lived there until I immigrated to America when I was 9.  I could safely say I know Gangnam better than most people.  I still get asked directions from Koreans when I am in Korea and I don’t even live here anymore.

Anyways, I always wanted to find a cool way to show you what the real Gangnam is like.  I know y’all know Gangnam through Psy’s Gangnam Style music but what is it like to visit Gangnam in Korea?  Well, I figured a timelapse 4K video would be perfect for that so for the last two days I shot timelapse video in many places where I hang out in the Gangnam district, which I would say is the most popular destination in all of Gangnam.  What you are seeing is pretty much the center of Gangnam district, this is where everyone meets up and there’s a ton of clubs also for those of you party goers.

I used my Panasonic GH4 with my Tokina 11-16mm mostly with a bit of Canon 24mm F2.8 and 18mm F1.8.  This is actually my first try at timelapse video in a city location but Gangnam worked out to be perfect place to practice since there’s millions of people and cars, all moving constantly.

FYI, Seoul is the second largest populated city in the world with population of 25.6 million, this is definitely a place to visit.  Think of it like New York but with lots of Korean food, Korean women/men, and a subway system that’s light years ahead of New York.   (Sorry New Yorkers, but your subway is one of the dirtiest/filthiest public transportation system I have ever seen.)

I should try to incorporate some of my new learnings with timelapse into my future High On Android videos so stay tuned!  And please do let me know if there’s any suggestions to make my timelapse better for those of you professional photographers out there as I am learning everything on the go, thanks!

World’s Smallest & Lightest Tripod! – Sirui T-025X!

worlds-smallest-lightest-tripod-sirui-t025x

Before my trip to Thailand and South Korea this summer, I wanted to bring my tripod for photos and videos.  I do own a trusty Manfrotto BeFree Travel tripod, which I love by the way.  But that one isn’t exactly the most portable tripod in the world and also is very heavy.

After days of research, I found the smallest and lightest tripod you can buy in the world, the Sirui T-025X.   This tripod consists of carbon fiber for the main material, resulting in just 1.7 pounds of weight!  Not only is this tripod the lightest in the world, it’s also the shortest tripod in the world measuring at just 11.8 inches when folded.

Having a tripod less than a foot means it will fit in most backpacks.  Whenever I carry it around, it adds just little bit less than 2 pounds.  For days when I have to walk all day long, the weight savings and the ability to pack it in my backpack beats any other travel tripod out there.

worlds-smallest-lightest-tripod-sirui-t025x-2

The Sirui T-025X tripod extends to 52″ full using knobs that can quickly extend with half a turn.   For a guy like me at 5′ 9″, this is actually the perfect height since that’s usually my shooting height.  Also add a few inches for the Manfrotto LP128 Fluid Head I use with it.  The tripod does come with a tiny fluid head that’s good for horizontal motion but I don’t recommend that unless you don’t need vertical motion and fluid motion of a Manfrotto.  (My usual fluid head is Manfrotto MVH500AH but I got the LP128 since it’s a little bit smaller and lighter.)

worlds-smallest-lightest-tripod-sirui-t025x-3

Sirui T-025X also can be adjusted to three different angles for the legs, lots of room for many different angles.

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As this tripod isn’t super stable due to its lightweight design, you may find it a bit wobbly for motion shots where you need to move the camera.  But it is rated up to 8.8 pounds of equipment and I have put on my Canon 7D and Sigma 18-35mm lens on just find but you should be able to put bigger zoom lenses if needed fine.

For additional stability, the tripod comes with a little hook where you can hook up additional weight.  I just put some water bottles in a plastic bag to get more stability when needed but I usually use my Canon 24mm F2.8 pancake lens, which is light enough to use without.

Overall, this is a fantastic tripod for those of you with a camera bigger than a smartphone or compact DSLR and you want to have stability of a tripod.  I do also own Manfrotto monopod but I hate the fact that monopods don’t fit in my backpack and you always need a dedicated hand for it even when not using it. (But it is great for small spaces where you cannot put the legs of tripod down.)

I’ve actually tested this tripod for my last 4 or 5 videos on my YouTube channel, and the tripod has held up pretty good.  If you need the lightest, most portable tripod in the world for travel, I would definitely go with this.  Sirui also sells metal version of this tripod for $100 cheaper and it weighs just a tad more, shouldn’t be bad either.

Get the Sirui T-025X tripod here – Link

Get the Sirui T-005KX tripod here – Link (The cheaper metal version)

Ice Cream in Thailand! [in 4K]

nightbazaar-changklanrd-chiangmai-4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abu-FPiR-U4
You would probably imagine having ice cream on the streets of Thailand doesn’t involve actually making it as it is one of the hottest countries in the world.  In fact, the ice cream would probably melt in the process.

The other night at Night Bazaar I noticed a big sign with YouTube and 2.6 million views (see original video here).  This is the YouTube’s most famous ice cream in Thailand.  Well, since I brought my Panasonic GH4 with me, I figured I would make a quick 4K video for y’all.  Now, if I can just get Peony to share me some of the ice cream…