BUILD A VIDEO MAKING MACHINE UNDER $1000


From time to time, clients will ask about video production gear to beef up their video-making efforts. I’m going to give you a simple guide to purchasing a really solid cache of gear to spruce up your video library for under $1000.
 
You may be surprised that I approve of your in-house efforts to create video content. I actually think it's a great idea. Most importantly, you increase the success of your paid, professionally-made videos by already having the infrastructure to disseminate video content, track viewership, and drive traffic to your desired location. Additionally, you'll eventually have a mean library of b-roll footage that will highlight your work. And finally, you'll be an informed client of video services, which is the base reason I'm writing these emails.
 
Our working budget of under $1000 will place us one full step above shaky smartphone videos and just a couple of steps under professional grade videos. No art-making experience is needed, but if you have flexed your creative muscles in the past, you may excel at video-making.  
 
First off, you need a workhorse camera. Purchasing a large sensor camera with some professional options is now very possible.  Both Nikon and Canon make DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras well under $1000. My preferred manufacturer is Canon. So I’m going to point you to the Canon EOS Rebel t5i with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm Lens for $599. This bundle also comes with a 16GB SanDisk SD card, which should suffice for most of your purposes. That said, you should buy a second card for $13 pretty much anywhere. Check out the bundle here and also enjoy the included overview video.
 
Next on the list is audio. I am sure you have tried to discern the cacophony affecting many "homemade" nonprofit YouTube videos. That is not acceptable for your organization’s videos. You will need a portable audio recorder with a lavaliere microphone to have crispy audio to go along your fancy camerawork. You can have it for just $169.95. To upgrade your audio game check it out here. And this is a decent video that will give you ideas about how to use the Zoom H1 Audio Recorder.
 
Camera support is incredibly important to video making. Sturdy tripod legs with a professional fluid tripod head is a necessity. I am going to refer you to what I think is the best, affordable camera support manufacturer. Priced at $167.34, check out the Manfrotto 290 Xtra Aluminum Tripod w/128RC Micro Fluid Video Head.
 
As far as software, there are lots of free editing software out there. If you’re on a Mac, iMovie should be an automatic consideration. If you’re on Windows, you will automatically consider Windows Movie Maker. Again, the cost here is $0.
 
Finally, you will need a card reader to transfer your delightful new footage onto your computer. If you don’t already have one, I think you should spend $15 on a decent multi-card reader.
 
So, how did we do with our budget? Our final number is $964.29 before taxes. I think we did well. And you should be able to go out and cover your organization’s events, conduct short interviews with interesting stakeholders, and other touch points you have with the community through your services. Most importantly, you will make a tremendous investment in your marketing efforts for the whole year. I am looking forward to sifting through your footage as B-roll for your promos. And don’t worry if you’re not the best camera operator right away. Practice makes perfect!