Basic Equipment Needs


Make sure you have a camcorder capable of recording at full 1080p resolution, which refers to the actual pixel resolution — 1920x1080. The “p” stands for “progressive,” which means that every frame of video is shot individually, one at a time.

Beware: Many video cameras will try to be marketed and sold as “Full HD,” but they shoot interlaced (1080i) instead of progressive. This does not produce the high-quality, high-definition video that you want.


Shooting handheld video is quick, easy and convenient. Nine times out of 10, it also results in terrible footage. Using a tripod — commonly referred to as “sticks” in the film industry — automatically brings every shot you take to a new level of professionalism. The type of sticks you need may vary based on the size of your camera. However, most consumer camcorders don’t require a high load-bearing tripod.

The most important feature to look for in a tripod is a solid head. The head is the main part of the tripod that you use to pan and tilt. It is where the camera attaches to the tripod. Find a tripod with a fluid head. A fluid head allows for very smooth start/stop motions when panning and tilting, instead of jerky motions you want to avoid.

Beware: Some tripods are marketed and sold as having “fluid action” heads. This is not the same as “fluid heads.”


Most camcorders have a built-in microphone. Turn it off.

There are many different types and brands of microphone. A medium-sized shotgun mic (around 1 foot long) works well in most situations and will be the most versatile.

When shopping for mics, be aware of your camera’s audio input capabilities. The best approach is to use a camera with XLR audio inputs, which are about the same diameter as a nickel and have three prongs inside.

Some XLR mics will not require batteries, but instead rely on something called phantom power. If your camera supports phantom power, it will be able to supply a microphone with the power it needs to pickup sound. If it does not support phantom power, get a mic that takes batteries.

The next most common audio input on video cameras is a standard 1/8” plug — the same type of cable your headphones use.

Trusted brands: Rode, Sennheiser


Don’t forget to give your new equipment what it needs to survive. The camera needs a bag, extra batteries,memory cards, and maybe even a lens cleaning kit. The tripod might need a case, too, and depending on the kind of microphone you get, it could need batteries as well.