Our Video Workshop Gear

We had our first 30 second DIY Promo workshop working through Green Eye Coop. The workshop is all about making videos using smart devices and inexpensive apps that we all might have at hand. Here is what we used.

Camera App

screenshot of dog shot through video grid
Filmic Pro is about the best video app you can get for iPhone and iPad.

Filmic Pro

This was video recording app used to film the Sundance entry Tangerine which was shot on an iPhone 6. Although expensive by most people’s app standards, it is not expensive for a camera.

One of the advantages is that audio from an external mic can be recorded right into the video. This is a big deal because having to rely on the onboard microphone makes for a horrible video.

Video Editors

There are some good editors for iOS devices. There are also many novelty editors which should be avoided for the most part, at least as an editor you’re going to rely on. More on this a little later.

iMovie iOS and iMovie 10 for Mac

iMovie user interface
Most serious video editors user interfaces look much like iMovie’s. There is a view, a browser, a playhead and a timeline.

When you buy a Mac, iMovie is free, but iMovie for iOS costs $6.99 (CAD) as of this date. But even at $6.99, it’s still a great value.

The advantage is that iMovie can do most of what you need to make a quality looking video. The disadvantage is that it is a bit inflexible compared to something like Pinnacle Studio Pro. For example, you can’t move the text placement. That’s not always bad, of course. If it’s your first video, then you’ll be less likely to have video elements all over the place if you can’t move them in the first place.

Another advantage of iOS iMovie is that it works so much like iMovie for Mac that you have a head start if you move up. For that matter, it’s also like Final Cut Pro ($399.00 CAD), Apple’s professional video editor. (There’s a free trial version. Always go for the free trial first.)

Pinnacle Studio Pro for iOS

Flexibility costs. Pinnacle Studio Pro  has more flexibility but it also costs more ($17.99 CAD). It does everything iMovie does but does it somewhat differently. There is a desktop version for around $123.00 (USD).

Android Video Editors

While editors for iOS are excellent, a lot of people don’t have Apple products so I bought a small Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 to properly research Android. Unfortunately, there is not much to choose from for good editors, which was disappointing.

user interface for videopad
The interface looks like Windows XP (the only Microsoft OS I ever liked).

VideoPad turned out to be the best of them all. There is a functional free version with in-app purchases of less than $11 total to make the full version. There is an $18 version, too, that allows plug-ins taht they also sell. I bought the latter, but I wonder if I’ll ever use plug-ins.

Windows Movie Maker (PC)

Windows Movie Maker is free but you have to install it. It used to come preinstalled with the OS, but now you have to hunt it down.

It’s free, but it’s awkward compared to other video editors. If you want to use it, then you can offset it’s limitations by being extra organized before you get to the editing stage. That means going through all your footage and trimming it and renaming the files as well as working from a good storyboard.

Prosumer Apps

There are a lot of video editors out there, many of them under $100, like Adobe Premiere Elements (I love most things Adobe), a prosumer version of its professional Premiere Pro. Do your research and find articles (here’s a link to one) that compare a number of them. In your search, be sure you specify articles published in the last year, because things change and apps come and go.

Note: if you have Adobe Photoshop, you should know that you can make videos with it.

Fun Apps

Even a cursory glance at the App Store or Google Play proves how popular video has become.  There are apps that do some pretty crazy stuff with video and you should avoid using such novelty apps for all your work. But don’t discount them.

You can make a fun, one-off video using them for less formal social media. Some of these will do all the work for you. You just have to feed it video clips. And some of the music that comes with them is pretty good. And if the app cost you five dollars, don’t think, that’s a really expensive app. Instead, think that was as cheap video, even if you only use it once. Have a look at Adobe Premiere Clip (It’s free).


Behringer Q502USB Mixer

screenshot of Behringer Q502USB mixer
This small mixer cost me about $70 CAD. It’s great when you have other gear that you want to use to input sound into your video.

After a lot of research, I bought the Behringer Q502USB mixer. This allows you to use pretty well any mic you might have. This can give you a lot of flexibility and means you don’t have to buy a device-specific mic.

lavalier mic
Here is a lavalier or a lapel mic. A wireless one would be handier, but this is a good mic to have because it is reliable. It plugs right into the device’s headset. It cost $35 from eBay.

Lavaliere or Lapel Mic

Since the workshop I also bought a lavaliere (or a lapel) mic from Gold Pro on eBay for $35 CAD, with a six metre cable that plugs right into the device’s headset jack.  The cable is long enough to get far enough back to get a standing subject into the frame and the wire  version  ensures I have one simple device that I know will work because the more working parts your system has, the more certain something will break down eventually.

Device Holders

holder for smart phone
There are many models, but you should look for something less than $20 to start. Make sure it has a way of clamping down on the whole device to minimize damage if the phone falls.

There are countless holders out there for cheap. The smart phone one pictured here was less than $20 CAD and it came with a selfie-stick.

The key feature for a holder  — besides being able to mount it on a tripod — is that it clamp your device in securely without taking off the case. This is important if your tripod falls over or you drop the phone taking it out of the clamp.

ipad holder
Tablets are great for shooting video because of the large viewer. Here is holder that holds my big iPad 4. It cost around $25 CAD.

You should also get a tripod. The better the tripod, the easier the shoot. The key feature is that it has a liquid head so that when you pan, it is a smooth motion. Having said that, you should avoid panning as it can cause weird distortions and blurs.

Tablet holders are a little tricker to get the right one because tablets vary greatly in size. Read and reread the ad until you’re sure you’re getting the right one for your tablet. The one pictured here has two sets of claws for larger and smaller tablets.

And that’s about it for gear for this first workshop.

Two other topics that will be in this series are:

  1. Lighting
  2. Video editing
  3. File handling and storage
  4. Posting