I got this question from my internet/one trip I took to San Francisco nerd friend Jesse:

I am hoping to do some video tutorials soon. Programming and Unix stuff. I’d like them to be nice. Probably camera on my face in the corner and my screen occupying most of the space.

Any uh tips for a newbie to this? I was just going to use my MacBook camera and mic to start, and if the mic sucks buy a good one.

Jesse Atkinson / @jsatik

What’s Screencasting?

Screencasting is basically a catch all term for what I generally do on many of my videos on YouTube is record the computer screen along with some commentary for demonstration or instructional purposes.

For example:

This is a screencast recording of me editing a podcast.

So What Did You Tell Jesse?

What I told Jesse is:

  • The MacBook mic does suck.
  • The MacBook webcam sucks as well.
  • …not that you shouldn’t try it with those first.

If you’re the kind of person who follows through on ideas no matter what, then buy some of the gear I’m going to mention below.

If you’re more of a “I’ll see if I like doing it and maybe I’ll stop the first time I have to spend more than 5 minutes editing video or audio of myself“, then go with the built-in gear and wait until you’re sure you want to do this more than once before buying anything.

Ok. I Want the Gear. Stop With the Philosophical Questions.

(There are affiliate links ahead. I make a couple bucks if you buy something from the Amazon links below.)

Microphone

Just like I mentioned in my Gift Guide for Someone Who Wants to Get into Podcasting blog post, the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone is a great mic to start off any audio adventure with. And while you can certainly get away with using your built-in Mac mic, your viewers will thank you for having a voice that’s much easier to understand and hear when explaining whatever a “UNIX” is.

Available to buy from:

Logitech C922x webcam

Camera

The Logitech C920 series is a great webcam to get. The current model in early 2019 is the C922x. It should be around $70USD / $100CAD and will work great for screencast recordings as well as any live-streaming, Skype or Google Hangouts, or FaceTime calls you do on your Mac.

Available to buy from:

Screenflow for macOs

Software

You can use macOS’ built-in ability to record the screen with QuickTime – Apple has a support doc detailing how here – but that doesn’t give you many options to edit your video once you hit stop.

Screenflow, $129USD from Telestream, is what I use to record and edit all the screencasts I publish to my YouTube channel and it makes recording screencasts so much easier.

Besides being a pretty powerful video editor, the coolest feature of Screenflow is that it records your webcam, computer screen, and even your iPhone/iPad all on separate video tracks. So unlike using QuickTime to record, you can move your webcam video around on the screen during your recording. Or make the computer screen half size while you’re demoing something on your iPhone.

For example, in my Instagram 101 series I have my webcam, desktop screen, and iPhone all on the video at times showing what I’m doing on my iPhone while you can still see and hear me talking about what I’m doing. If you tried editing that all together inside of iMovie or even Final Cut Pro, you’d get a headache pretty quickly.

Screenflow is worth every dime if you’re doing any amount of screencasting on the Mac. (Plus, I know folks like Justin Jackson use it as a video editor for video they didn’t even record inside of Screenflow.)

Boom Arm

The ATR-2100 comes with a mini tripod that works well enough. But depending on how your desk is configured, a boom arm can help you stop bumping the mic / desk and creating extra noise on your recordings.

This boom from Neewer isn’t going to win many awards – but at $14USD, it’s not going to break the bank either.

Available from:

Publishing Your Screencasts

Once you’ve got a video recorded, you need to show it to the world. There’s plenty of options for where you can publish it, but I’d recommend one of the following:

  • YouTube for free + a huge potential audience. But your videos can get lost in the ocean of content available to viewers.
  • Vimeo is good for a bit of control over how your player looks, who can embed it where, and avoiding giving more analytics to Google/YouTube.
  • Wistia would be my recommendation if you’re wanting to host the videos yourself and get analytics + a beautiful looking player. It’s a big jump from their $0 to the $99/month plan, but if you need to be able to show return on your video dollar/time investment, the analytics and marketing details from Wistia will be much easier to justify to your boss or bank account.

What Else?

As with any projects involving video and/or audio, the sky is the limit (of your bank account). There’s always more you can do to improve your studio / recording space including:

Got an idea for something I didn’t cover? Leave a comment below or tweet at me!

Want More Tutorials Like This?

There’s a couple ways:

Leave a comment below if you’ve got a suggestion for the next video tutorial I should make!

Santa came a little early this year and brought me a Elgato Gaming Green Screen so I thought I’d record an unboxing, set up, and quick review video of how well it works alongside OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) for streaming.

There are plenty of cheap DIY ways to get a green screen for video/photography work but I’m not very good at DIY stuff because it stresses me out to the point that I don’t ever actually DO the D part of DIY. So I thought if Santa wants to bring me one, that’ll save me a lot of DIY’ing stress.

Anyway – on to the video review of the Elgato Gaming Green Screen:

Direct link to the video

You can pick up the Elgato Gaming Green Screen at Amazon or check out Elgato Gaming’s website for more details.

My Review of Elgato’s Green Screen

As I mention in the video, there’s obviously a lot of cheap ways to build yourself a green screen. What I loved about Elgato’s Green Screen is that it’s built really well and feels like I can set it up and roll it back down over and over without worrying about it breaking or falling part on me. The screen is a high quality material that, as long as I can keep my kid’s sticky hands off of, I’m sure will last a long time. I can definitely see myself bringing it on location for photo / video shoots I do for clients – as well as using it on livestreams on our Goodstuff Twitch channel.

If you’re less DIY and more BUY, then this is the green screen to get.

Want More Tutorials Like This?

There’s a couple ways:

Leave a comment below if you’ve got a suggestion for the next video tutorial I should make!

As I’ve been watching Instagram Stories and the occasional Instagram TV (IGTV?) video, I see a lot of videos that could be improved and made more watchable and enjoyable with better audio. So I thought I’d record a video showing some options for upping your audio game for social media without breaking the bank.

Before You Buy Anything

One of the benefits of Instagram Stories is that you can do it quickly and without having a lot of production or planning involved. Which is great and you should definitely keep doing off-the-cuff, behind the scenes kinds of videos for social media. What I’m proposing is that for videos where you have the time to do a bit of planning and prep, take along a bit of gear to help make sure it all looks and sounds as good as possible. People will watch something with lower video quality – but if the audio is frustrating to hear, they’ll swipe away pretty quickly.

Video: How to Improve Your Instagram Story or IGTV Audio

Direct link to video

Gear in the Video

Here’s a list of the items I mention in the video which you can buy at Amazon or a local music gear shop should also be able to order them in if you can’t find them locally. A lot of these items are also included in my Gift Guide for Someone Who Wants to Get Into Podcasting blog post as well.

ATR2100 USB / XLR Handheld Mic

Rode smartLav+

Apple Lightning to USB3 Camera Adapter

In Summary

I think adding the ATR2100 mic to your Instagram Stories alone would improve a lot of the videos. I didn’t show it in the video, but it also comes with a little tripod that’s handy to use for recording handsfree with it. On that note, the Rode smartLav+ is handy for having your hands free to hold your phone or whatever else you might be needing to do while you’re filming.

Whichever route you go, they’ll both help improve the audio you record with your phone for under $100. Pretty good investment to win over potential customers on social media I’d say.

Here’s my 2018 holiday gift guide for podcasters or folks who hope Santa will help them become a podcasters.

So feel free to print this out, circle the toys you want, and leave it somewhere for Santa to find.

I’ll give you different price ranges for the podcaster gift ideas so it’ll be easy for you to figure out how much you really like that podcaster friend.

(Note: Wherever possible, I’ll include affiliate links so I can get a bit of that Amazon money if you decide to buy something.)

$100 or Less

App Store & iTunes Gift Card

  • Watch Costco for discounted packages. i.e.

If your podcaster is also an Apple nerd, an App Store gift card will never go out of style. I’ll be including apps at various levels for Mac podcasters to consider picking up, so an App Store gift card makes it all that much easier to do.

Music for Their Podcast’s Soundtrack

Almost as important as what a podcaster says on their show is the music they use to draw you in. There are a ton of places to get music online, but I love hitting up Chris at Sounds Like An Earful Music Supply because (a) he’s got a cool name, (b) he’s a fellow indie creator, and (c) the music he creates has an earthy tone, despite having lots of electronic sounds.

I’ve used songs from SoundsLikeAnEarful for Goodstuff projects as well as clients I edit podcasts for.

Acoustic Foam Panels

Foam panels like these are a significant upgrade from egg carton packaging – or nothing at all. It’s important to note that these won’t keep sound out of your recording space. But they will help prevent sound from bouncing around your recording space. Less echo, less reverb. If the recording space you’re in has a lot of flat, hard walls, floors, or ceiling – then getting some of these foam panels can help deaden the sound in your space.

Ferrite Recording Studio for iOS

  • App Store Free with in-app purchase of $39.99USD to unlock everything

On iOS, Ferrite is one of the best audio editing apps. There are a lot of podcasters making use of it to edit on their iPad on the go. Earlier this year I tried picking up an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil but couldn’t find a good workflow that was better than sitting in front of a Mac with a keyboard and mouse.

Logitech c922x Webcam

Podcasting doesn’t necessarily mean live streaming or video, but even on a Skype call it’s nice to have a clear webcam. And just about every podcaster I’ve watched come along is tempted to try live streaming in some form, even if for a short time.

25” Flexible Desktop Tabletop Clamp

If you’ve got your new webcam, rather than just mounting it on top of your computer screen why not put it at an interesting angle so you can show what you’re doing on your keyboard or with your camera or whatever your YouTube channel is showing off?

This little clamp is handy for putting a camera or a mic in a weird, out of the way spot. You won’t need it until you absolutely do.

Ecamm Live

Ecamm Live

If you’re getting them a Logitech C992x webcam, convince someone else to get them the essential piece of software for live streaming on a Mac: Ecamm Live.

I’ve blogged / recorded videos about Ecamm Live a fair bit here so I won’t go into it further here – but it makes live streaming so easy it makes 2013 me cry at all the hoops I had to jump through just to get audio out to the internet, never mind 1080p video!

ATR2100 USB / XLR mic

This is one of the best deals for anyone looking to get into podcasting OR wanting to add a second mic to their gear collection. It has both a USB connection for quickly plugging into any computer and a XLR connection to allow it to be used with a fancier mixer/pre-amp.

I keep one in my laptop bag at all times just in case a random podcast breaks out wherever I happen to be. IT HAPPENS.

An Hour of Consulting with Me

While you can’t wrap me up and put me under the tree, getting an hour to pick my brain might help you or your podcaster friend get unstuck on their podcasting journey.

Book a consulting call with me here and we’ll arrange a time that works best for you (or your podcasting friend).

A Month (or more) of Podcast Hosting

Back when I first got into podcasting, the thing that held me back from just trying it out was the monthly hosting costs. I honestly stressed so much about signing up for something that was going to add more fees to our bank account every month.

Transistorfm

Give someone the gift of a few months of runway to try their podcasting adventure without having to worry about whether they’re throwing money away if it doesn’t work out. The great part about Transistor’s pricing is that it allows you to have as many podcasts as you want while you experiment and try things out. Many podcast hosts charge per show – Transistor.fm’s plans are based on download numbers. And when you’re just starting out, you may obsess over download numbers but chances are they won’t be high enough to go over the base plan with Transistor.

I use Transistor for all the podcasts we host on Goodstuff and have loved it.

$100 – $200

Triton Fethead Preamp

If the mic you’re using (like the Shure SM7B or Heil PR40 for example) is a quiet and you find you have to constantly crank the gain/volume knob to hear anything, you may need a preamp. The Fethead just plugs into your existing XLR cable chain from your mic and adds 22dB of clean boost.

Hidenburg Journalist

@Clew_less responded on Twitter recommending Hidenburg, a digital editing software solution built for podcasters and news journalists. It’s a step up from the free software like Audacity but not as expensive as Logic Pro X or Adobe Audition. Worth trying out.

Zoom H1N Portable Recorder

Zoom H1n

The Zoom H1N portable recorder is great as a field recorder when you need to record somewhere besides your home studio. But it also functions as a great back up recorder for a computer recording set up. Send a line out from your USB mixer or computer to the H1N and have an always there backup of the audio in case your recording software decides to randomly stop on you.

Which never happens. Ever. Right?

Headphone Upgrade w/Audio Technica ATH-M50X

I recently picked up a pair of these after my previous headphones fell apart. I love the look and feel of the ATH-M50’s. I’ve got a larger head and these fit me just fine. I do get a bit of what I call “headphone headache” after a full day of editing or recording with them on, but I think that’s the nature of the business.

If you’ve been recording and editing with your iPhone earbuds up to this point, get Santa to give you some love for your ears this Xmas.

📺 You can check out my unboxing video on my YouTube channel if you’re curious how they look/feel.

Elgato Green Screen

This is for the podcaster who also wants to do some video and be cool like those Twitch kids with their green screen background. Frivolous, perhaps. But still tons of fun and would be a nice surprise under the tree for your podcasting friend.

$200 +

DBX 286s Microphone Preamp Processor

This has been the go to preamp for hobby and pro podcasters for a long time and it continues to be the recommended preamp for folks who don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in their audio gear. I’m still waiting for it to be available for a decent price here in Canada otherwise I’d have one sitting on my desk already.

Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X

I like Apple’s Logic Pro X for editing podcasts. Other folks like Adobe Audition. Still others like Audacity. But Logic Pro X is the one that works well for me. Plus, having bought it 5+ years ago I’ve gotten free updates for it ever since.

Zoom H6

Zoom H6

This is the big brother to the Zoom H1N mentioned earlier and functions as a great multi-input field recorder OR a great multi-input USB preamp for your computer. Or both. With lots of accessories and mic options, the Zoom H6 is an awesome device to have in your portable podcaster backpack… say it with me… just in case a random podcast breaks out wherever you happen to be.

RX7 Standard

Izotope RX7

This is the secret sauce for cleaning up bad audio for podcasters, videographers, or anyone who works with audio. You don’t know you need it until suddenly you do, and then Izotope’s RX suite saves you hours of headache.


What Did I Miss?

What’s on your podcaster wish list that I missed? I keep an Amazon wishlist of anything I come across that I think I might want someday for my own podcasting gear – whether I really need it or not.

Leave a comment below if you’ve got something on your wish list that I missed. Even better – record an episode talking about your gear and your gear wish list and leave a link to your episode in the comments! I’d love to hear it in your words and voice.