What’s up everyone? It’s Dave here from Profitable Tools and in this video I’m going to tell you all about the evolution of my YouTube break.
So I keep getting asked, what do you use to record your YouTube videos? So in this video, I’m going to give you a total rundown. We’ll go through everything including my camera SMTP, my lighting setup, my audio setup, and even show you how my desk is configured to make everything work in kind of a modular way. I work out of this room all of the time and I only do YouTube a small portion of that time. So I wanted to make sure that my setup was conducive to doing other tasks as well.
It was important to me that I didn’t walk into the room and just trip over a bunch of lighting stands and things like that. It had to still have a good working feel. Now, truth be told, I’ve made a video similar to this about 18 months ago, but almost everything has changed in that time. Now I say this because it’s important to know that your needs will grow as you get into doing video. If you’re thinking about starting a YouTube channel, you don’t need to get everything I’m about to describe.
I didn’t start off with everything I have right now. Slowly I’ve upgraded things over time as budget and need change and actually warranted spending the money. So let’s start off by talking about cameras. Now when I began YouTube, I was literally using kind of the bottom of the barrel. In fact, I think I bought it from a bin at Micro Center.
Logitech webcam. I think it was a C 920, the one that everybody has. They’re like 50 or $60 at least, pre pandemic prices. They’re very, very affordable and it was fine, it did just fine. However, I eventually wanted to record in 4K.
So I looked at that point at getting a dedicated camera like you see, a lot of streamers twitch users will have very nice dedicated cameras and I wanted one but I couldn’t really justify the price at that point. So I ended up upgrading just to the Logitech Brio 4K camera and it definitely was a huge improvement over my 920. But I was also getting into green screen at that time and I found that the Brio just really had a hard time keying out the background. It didn’t get enough detail even when I tried to light it really evenly, I just couldn’t get that brio to really make my video look nice and professional. So what I ended up doing was eventually just taking the leap and getting a nice camera body and a dedicated lens.
Now I really only did this when my YouTube ad revenue warranted actually spending the money. So the ad revenue from YouTube I just kind of allocated to paying for the camera for a few months and that was my justification for actually upgrading the camera. The one that I ended up with was the Sony A 6400 camera, one that you hear a lot of people recommend. I really like it because it has a very fast auto focus time. So if I want to hold up something to the camera, like, here’s my phone, it will focus on it and you can see everything.
The background blurs and it then goes back into focus. So that was one of the things that I really liked. I tried out some Canon cameras that did not have auto focus when I was doing like live streaming or live recording from the camera into a computer. They would have it otherwise, but for whatever reason, that HDMI output would disable the auto focus. And that was very frustrating for me because not that I’d be holding up a lot of things to the camera, but my head might move a little bit and then everything would go out of focus.
With the Sony, focus is never an issue. All right, let’s talk about lenses. Now, I should preface this by saying I am not a photography or video production expert. I’ve learned everything that I know kind of as I went as I needed to know things. And that’s actually how I recommend you learn just about everything.
Trying to just suck up all of the information in the world is generally not a good practice. But when it comes to lenses, I kind of just started off with asking my buddies, like, hey, what is a good lens to begin with? And I ended up choosing the sigma 30 millimeter f 1.4 lens to start off with. And that’s actually back to what I’m using right now. Now, let me explain my choice here with lenses a little bit, because if you’re like me, those numbers are very confusing and they don’t mean a whole heck of a lot.
So the Sigma 30 millimeter lens really doesn’t look that good unless you’re pretty far back from it. So right now, I’m probably about five 6ft away from my camera. And you can see that I’ve got a decent frame here, but it’s not like my whole body or anything, right? It’s kind of top of the head to the middle of my torso or so if you want to get away from having just like, your head and your neck, you’re going to have to have a room that has some distance so you can get that camera back away from you. When I first started, I just didn’t have that room.
So I was a little bit frustrated with the 30 millimeter lens, trying to squish it up against the wall behind me just to get a decent frame so that I didn’t look like I was on top of the camera. So eventually I switched over to getting a Sigma 16 millimeter lens, which allowed me to get a lot closer to the camera. But here I kind of had the opposite problem. I really didn’t like how the 16 millimeter kind of made my body look. Now I’m a tall, lanky guy.
I’m probably taller than you’d expect me to be from looking at me on YouTube. So as I was in the 16 millimeter frame, everything kind of got a lot more like it made my torso just look, like, really, really big, and I didn’t really care about how that looked just to be vain. I mean, it’s YouTube, that stuff matters. So I ended up switching back to my 30 millimeter and just kind of reconfiguring the room to make it work better. So right now I’ve got about 5ft in front of me, and then I also have about 5ft behind me, which is important to know because you probably want to get a little bit of that depth of field, that kind of boca look.
Right now. You can see, like, that light is a little bit out of focus. That one right there. And I’ve got these sound panels on the wall behind me. They’re not very blurry, but they definitely have a soft edge to them.
Just makes the shot a little bit easier to see. Where I want you to focus, which is currently in here on the talking head. What happens if you’re too close to the back wall is that you will not get that depth of field look. So you got to make sure you have some distance behind you. And if you’re using the 30 millimeter lens, you also have to have some distance in front of you.
So I’ve got about ten foot room here and it’s literally taking up the entire room. In order to get that look to appear on the camera, I should add in that you’ll only get that good depth of field look if you have a lower f stop on your camera. So I’m using like, that 1.4. If you have a lens that goes higher, you’re going to have a harder time getting everything in the background to blur out. All right, next let’s talk about lighting.
When I began YouTube, I was using the cheapest lights I could find on Amazon. I’d actually had them for about a decade and they were just fine, but they were huge and cheap. They did not put off a ton of light. So I had to use I think I was using like three on me and then two on the green screen behind me. So it was really kind of cumbersome.
I’d walk into the room where I’d record and it was just filled with light stands and extension cables and sandbags so the light stands didn’t fall over. The light stands themselves were super cheap and it just wasn’t the most kind of ergonomic set up. Now, I recently moved into a new building right here where I’m recording right now. And at that point I decided I was going to get rid of those lights. I did not want to try to stuff all of those lights into the room that I’m in now, which is actually smaller than I was in before.
So what I ended up doing was selling all of those lights and I ended up getting one of the new Aperture 100 D lights. Now this light is a single light that ended up replacing three or four other lights because I kind of abandoned green screen along the way as well. So the single light really does a pretty good job of casting off some even nice soft lighting on me with one caveat that is that I’m using a 42 inch softbox. This is pretty huge. It kind of floats right over my desk all of the time.
I mentioned that I work in here all of the time. It’s only a fraction of the time that I’m working that I’m actually recording YouTube videos. So having this softbox over my head definitely it took a little bit of getting used to. It was just kind of like, whoa, I’m in some kind of spaceship but I don’t even think about it anymore. It doesn’t really bother me.
I’ve got a diffuser on it so it’s kind of this black grid type of look and it really kind of just kind of fades into oblivion when I’m not recording YouTube videos. Of course it’s a talking point. When someone comes into my office, they’re like, hey, what is that giant thing? And I can explain to them, oh, I do YouTube videos but I really recommend the Aperture 100 D light. It’s a relatively new light for Aperture.
It’s about $200 and most of the other Aperture lights are closer to $1,000. So this is definitely a lower price product for them. And that one single light kind of took care of all of my lighting needs. Everything you see in here is just that one light. I have everything else off except for this, which is just a hue light over my corner and it’s set to 10% strength so it’s really pretty dim.
So I mentioned that before I got the new light that I’m using right now, I had a set of really cheap lights and they actually came with their own stands. Those stands were pretty junkie. So when I wanted to upgrade my light, I decided to get a new light stand as well. And let me tell you, I wish I had done that a lot sooner. I didn’t get anything fancy.
I just got like a 40 I think it was like $43 light stand from newer but it was heavy duty. It was like really nice and solid metal. And the light is not going to fall over in the same way that I worried about the other lights falling over. I still use sandbags on it just to make sure that it doesn’t slide around at all and I just have, you know, a nice solid footing on the ground. But I highly recommend just spending a little bit more money, you know, not getting the absolute cheapest light stand.
Like I said, $40 definitely money well spent. Same thing goes for tripod. When I started off with my camera, I thought, I’m just going to get the cheapest tripod I can find because I don’t want to spend a ton of money on this. I’m not moving it around. What does it really matter?
Boy, was I wrong. When it comes to tripods, tripods are extremely fickle. If you’re not a video person or a photo person, you probably would think like me and say, I don’t want to spend a $100 tripod. It just sits there. It doesn’t do anything, but it’s keeping your camera safe from falling over.
And almost more importantly, to me, it’s staying stable, right? So I had a very cheap tripod, and the front would always kind of just tilt forward a little bit, and so it would end up happening throughout the course. The videos, I’m starting to need to sink down a little bit to stay in frame. The things you don’t think about when you’re watching videos, but when you’re making them, you’re like, oh, my goodness, the camera is moving. You either have to stop what you’re doing and get up, try to adjust things, and when you do, inevitably the camera swerves a little bit.
It just becomes a total joke. You’re trying to do this kind of professional presentation, and everything around you is collapsing or moving, and it’s just ridiculous. So when I finally invested in a decent tripod, I got one from a company. They’re called Coleman. I’ve never heard of them before.
It’s not a super high end tripod. It was about $100. And boy, I got to tell you, it really changed things to have something so solid and locked down. I never worry about my camera accidentally moving or having to reset up the shot because someone accidentally touches the stand the wrong way or something. It’s definitely not going anywhere.
So those are two spots where when I began, I cheaped out on, and I really wish I wouldn’t have I wish I had saved up a little bit longer and got some nice stands. So I highly recommend doing that. I also have a teleprompter. You might not expect that because right now I’m just talking off of the top of my head. These are not scripted videos for the most part.
I’ve done a few scripted videos over the years, but I could probably count them on one hand compared to several hundred other videos that I’ve made. So why do I have a teleprompter? Well, it serves three purposes, really. First of all, I’ll often make notes, bullet points, things I want to say in the video. Having a teleprompter allows me to connect an external monitor and just stick it right there in front of the camera so I can look at the camera, be talking to the camera, and still see my notes.
Very, very beneficial. I’m not reading from a teleprompter, but I can kind of have oh, yeah, I was going to make sure I covered that. I can have those memos in front of me to know what to say next. The next reason I use it is for monitoring the output. Let’s say I’m doing a live stream, or I want to be able to see what you’re going to see on the video.
Well, the software that I’m using has a dedicated output. I can go ahead and just send out the record feed to this monitor. So as I’m talking into the screen, I can see what you’re seeing. And that is really beneficial to make sure I’ve got maybe my screen showing what I want it to be, or I have my camera showing when I want that to show up. And the third reason isn’t really related to YouTube at all, but I can use it for things like zoom calls where I’m going to look into the camera, see someone face to face, and still be able to interact with them and see what they’re showing me.
So that is really beneficial. Kind of an extra perk of having a teleprompter with an external monitor attached. So to get specific here, I’m using the Glide gear prompter. I tried a couple of them. This was the best one.
So I’m really happy with it. And then I’m using a lily putt external monitor, just connected via HDMI to my computer. All right, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the visuals. Let’s handle the audio because I think this is honestly one of the most important things to get right from the beginning. If you’re a brand new YouTuber, you’ve really got to nail the audio because no one wants to watch a video with terrible audio.
So let’s start from the beginning. I began with this microphone, and I’m back to using it. I’ve tried several things throughout the years. This microphone is a sure SM seven B. I’ve owned this for darn near 20 years because I have a background in music and I ran recording studios.
I did music production to begin with. So when I talk about audio, I can do it with a fair degree of confidence. I might not be the greatest in the world, but I certainly know that more than the average YouTuber. So let’s begin with the microphone and kind of the evolution there. Now, I’ve tried lavalier microphones, both really cheap ones, to kind of ease my way into it, as well as just going for it and buying a really expensive sennheiser or something like that.
And in the end, it just comes down to physics. I don’t like how my voice sounds when the microphone is this far away from my throat. I like it a lot better when I’m just a few inches away like I am with this microphone. And the reason for that is that the low end fades away as the microphone gets farther and farther away from your mouth. Now, this is my voice we’re talking about.
So your voice might differ. You might really like the sound of your voice with a lavalier mic. There are some other considerations like it’ll be in the shot, which obviously this is in the shot, so that’s not really a big deal. But then you kind of got to sometimes you’ll tuck it into your clothes and you just feel tied down to your desk. I like the fact that I can get up and run and do something else and come back and my microphone is right here.
So it’s just more of a convenience factor, I guess, on that front. The other type of microphone that I’ve played around with is called a shotgun microphone. And these are kind of the longer pencil looking microphones. They’ll be over your head, pointing down out of the shot. This is obviously really appealing because then you don’t have a mic in the shot at all.
It looks really nice and clean and professional. You’ll see YouTubers like MKBHD using shotgun mics and they have great results with that. However, for my particular room and my taste, I could never really get a great result from a shotgun mic. One of the reasons is that I move around while I’m recording a video, so I might be looking directly into the camera and then I might turn and I have to kind of hover over my microphone here. I might turn and look at the screen while I’m doing a screen recording.
So what that means is the shotgun mic that is maybe sounding pretty good when it’s right here as I turn my mouth, it’s no longer going to sound all that good as I turn away from the mic. The way they get around this in movies, because that’s what they use in movies, is they have a shotgun mic operator. They have someone who operates the mic, it’s on a big boom and they follow the actor around and position the microphone to catch everything. And whatever they don’t catch, they overdub later on through a process called ADR. So I’m not going to be doing any of that and I don’t have someone here to run a mic boom for me while I’m recording YouTube videos.
It ends up being just that. The kind of broadcast radio style microphone works best for the type of videos that I do. But the signal chain does not end there. After the microphone, it goes out into something called a cloud lifter. Now, a cloud lifter is essentially a gain boost for the microphone.
It just makes it louder because this microphone in particular is infamous for being very, very quiet. So typically, if you’re using this in a recording studio, it will be plugged into a very high end microphone preamplifier that might cost many thousands of dollars and it has a lot of gain in it that you can turn up without sacrificing the quality of the signal. It’s not going to add a lot of noise by turning up the microphone preamplifier if you have a really nice high end one. However, I don’t have a really nice high end one. I’m just using kind of a run of the mill focus right scarlet interface here.
So if I turn that all the way up, it doesn’t sound all that great. So the cloud lifter just gives me a nice bridge between the microphone and into the interface so that it sounds really good. Now you could stop right here. That’s already a pretty elaborate audio setup. However, I wanted to make things even better because typically what will happen is you record the audio and then you might bring it into a digital audio workstation like Logic.
Or if you’re editing video, you might be doing something in like Final Cut or Premiere, and then you’ll start to affect the sound of the microphone by adding things like EQ compression, maybe a DSR, a limiter, a noise gate. All of those things could be added to a broadcast type of production in order to make it sound really good. Now, the issue that I have there is not that I don’t want to add those plugins or I’m incapable of doing that. It’s just that I make a lot of videos and I want to streamline things to be as efficient as possible. So I ended up getting a DBX 286s channel strip.
Now, this is it might sound kind of fancy, but from the background that I come from, a recording background, it’s actually kind of a utility piece. It’s very affordable considering everything that it does. It’s just a few hundred dollars and it has all of those components built into it. It has EQ compression, a limiter, a DSR, and a noise gate all built in so that I’m able to take the sound of my voice into the microphone, through the DBX and then into the focus right before it actually hits my computer. And then it’s done.
I don’t ever even turn up the volume or turn down the volume on the mic. What I’m recording right now is what ends up on YouTube. And that’s really, really nice, especially when I’m not doing anything else. No one else is speaking into this microphone. It’s always set this way.
It literally never changes. Now, let’s talk about the computer that I use, as well as the software and some other accessories that are essential to making my life easy when I sit down to make YouTube videos. So the output of my Sony A 6400 goes into an Elgato Camlink 4K. This is basically a converter to take the video output from HDMI into USB so that it can be captured inside of your computer. Now, the computer I’m using is an M One Mac mini from 2020.
When they first came out, I grabbed one right away, and it’s been a really good video production machine for me. I probably will upgrade to a newer Mac Mini if they make them available with the new M One Ultra chips. I definitely would want to check that out. Now I’ve got just one monitor connected for doing actual video production. The LG Ultrafine Five k monitor is attached via thunderbolt.
And then of course, I already mentioned I have the Lily put seven inch monitor connected via HDMI. So that is the two outputs that I have on my Mac Mini four video output. I can’t connect any more monitors without getting into a little bit of a dongle town where I have to split things and use kind of other third party accessories. If you’re curious, I’m just using an older Apple wired keyboard. I don’t like using wireless keyboards because they always seem to die on me at inopportune times.
And then I have a Logitech Mix Master mouse, which is wireless, but I can plug it in and use it while it’s charging, so I don’t mind that so much. The real heart of the recording studio is actually software called ECAM Live. I use it to record all of my videos. I set it to frames per second for screen capture. It’s my favorite screen recording app that I’ve ever used, but it also happens to be a full blown TV studio.
I can make a dedicated video on ECAM. Let me know if you want to see that down in the comments. I’d be happy to do that, but I should warn you, it is Mac OS only. So sorry, Bill Gates fans. Like many of your favorite Twitch streamers, I’m also using a stream deck to control ECAM.
I find it very valuable switching between whether I’m doing screen recording and video capture, or even just using it inside of certain apps to access specific commands inside of the apps that would normally use shortcuts. For now, when I’m done recording my Raw footage in ECAM, it outputs a video file that I just throw into a Dropbox, and that Dropbox file gets picked up by my video editor, Judd, who has been with me for a very long time now, probably since I made the last video. He was there then, so going on probably two years. And Judd is awesome. He takes my Raw footage and goes through it and chops it up and makes it into something that is a lot more enjoyable to watch.
From there, he will put it back into Dropbox so that I only have to do kind of the final finishing touches, maybe move some edits around, add a few titles in here or there, and then the video is pretty much done. So JuD really does a lot of the hard work for me. It allows me to produce videos at a more consistent rate rather than having to write them, record them, edit them, and then also publish them. You might be wondering, how can I get a JuD? And what I’d recommend doing is hopping on online jobs, which is an online job board for people who live in the Philippines.
Judd lives in the Philippines. He’s been super reliable for me. We connected over online jobs and just basically been able to continue working with each other steadily since then. Like I said, he’s been super reliable and I couldn’t be happier to be working with him. I’ve actually hired a lot of people through online jobs, and for the most part, people have been really reliable and it’s not that hard to find an outstanding VA if you’re looking for one.
So definitely check out onlinejobs. PH. Finally, let’s talk about my desk setup. Now I’m using a husky desk that I got from Home Depot. It’s basically a workbench.
It’s about $200. It’s height adjustable, so I can set it to be a standing desk or a sitting desk, depending on my mood. I got the idea from DSLR Shooter, which is a channel over on YouTube, that he has a great video on. Kind of the ultimate YouTube setup. Now, I didn’t follow his video exactly.
He’s got a lot of monitors and just a lot more elaborate set up with multiple cameras and things like that. He’s using a video switcher. But I took the idea for the desk and kind of ran with it because it was nice and simple and clean. What I’ve actually done is mounted my M one Mac mini underneath the desk so that it’s far away and kind of everything’s in place. It’s not going to get bumped or accidentally turned off or anything like that.
And then I’ve got these rack spaces. They’re two units wide, so they say to you, and I’ve got a power supply in here as well as that DBX processor that I was talking about before. Now the cables are all kind of just run underneath the desk. I’ve got my Focus Right interface literally taped to the top of the desk with three M straps. And that just sits right over to my right here so that I can easily adjust the volume of the headphone amplifier on the focus right as needed, and then everything’s kind of nice and tucked away.
I’ve got my camera on the tripod right behind the desk, and it’s actually on some rolling wheels so that I can even get the tripod to stand a little bit more upright and further back against the wall. As I already mentioned, I don’t have that much room in here, so I really had to squeeze it back as far as I could. So those wheels were necessary for that to happen. The last thing I should talk about are these acoustic panels that you see behind me. This room is otherwise very, very reflective.
It’s just kind of a cube of reflective walls, nothing on them. So before I put up the sound panels, echo is really a. Huge problem, especially when I was trying to use a shotgun mic in here. It just was not happening. So what I did is I grabbed these prime acoustic panels from Amazon.
They work really well. They’ve got mounting hardware that comes with them so you can either, you know, just stick them out, screw the mounting hardware into your wall or what I did on some of them was actually use some more of those three M stickies and then just attached them that way. I did that for the smaller panels and then the larger ones are done with the mounting brackets. Everything is held up really nicely and it definitely has improved the quality of the sound considerably. And when I ordered them, I got them in a couple of days which was important to me because some other companies will take literally months to produce and ship your panels.
So if you’re looking for something in a pinch that still looks pretty good, definitely check out the Prime Acoustic panels. So that is it. That is the evolution of my YouTube setup to date. I’m sure it will continue to grow in time as well. So I’ll be sure to update this video every once in a while when things change enough that warrants it.
If you have any questions about gear, leave me a question down below. I feel especially confident answering music questions or audio related questions. Some of the video stuff, it’s over my head pretty quick. So I’ll do my best. And just be honest with you, when I don’t really know what I’m talking about, that’s going to do it for this video.
If you want to connect with me, you can find links to our Facebook group down below. Or you can sign up for the weekly newsletter that goes out every week completely for free. Other than that, make sure you watch one of the videos up in the corner and I hope you stay profitable. We’ll see you in the next video.