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Tools and setting up

Common tools for recording

You probably won't need to purchase any equipment to make a decent video.  It might not win an award, but you can get the job done with technology that most people now have at their disposal.


iPads can be used as an effective tool for filming, and editing, footage.

Smart phones and iPhones

Taking footage with your "Smart Phone" is essentially as simple as pointing the phone's camera in the right direction and pressing record.  However, there are a range of tips you could use to improve the quality of the footage you collect.  

If you have access to them, good directional lighting, a tripod and a microphone that connects to your phone might make the difference between a dark, shaky, wind muffled video or a clear and bright one.

Web cam and head set

Using a webcam and headset has pros and cons.  It is one of the easiest ways to record footage, but it has some limitations.  It is best suited to recording a single person's talking head, and the film quality can be poor.  

There are a plethora of free products available that you can use to record from your webcam.  Some examples include:

Product Advantages Disadvantages Download size
ManyCam Mac version available Pay to remove watermark 60mb
Debut Webcam and screen capture No frills 1.5mb
Skype for Business Supported by Deakin University Not designed to record webcam 300+ mb

Screen recording

You can record whatever is on your screen, and audio from a microphone, using screen recording software.  This can be an easy way to record footage, and can be effective if used well.  However, it is limited to recording your voice and computer screen.

Product Advantages Disadvantages Download
Jing Free, high quality screen recording, easy to use Videos are recorded in Flash, which makes them difficult to integrate with other footage during editing. 6.4mb
Debut Webcam and screen capture No frills 1.5mb
Skype for Business Supported by Deakin University Lower quality recording 300+ mb

Zoom cameras

Zoom cameras are good quality, high definition camcorders.  They come with equipped with a tripod.

A limited number of zoom cameras are available for three day loans at the Burwood, Waurn Ponds and Warrnambool Libraries.  Please note that these cameras can not be booked in advance.

Setting up

Using a tripod, microphone and lighting well can make the difference between a clear picture, or a dark, shaky, noisy one.


Using a tripod for your recording device will help to keep your picture stable, even if you plan to move your camera during the scene.

You can purchase a tripod for a phone or tablet online for around $10-$20, or there are a number of DIY YouTube tutorials.

Using a tripod to capture footage is common sense if you don't plan to move the camera- set it up in the place you intend to film from, and adjust it to the right height.

Are you are going to move the camera, you might like to view this short tutorial from the ABC.

Artificial lighting

Using artificial light while indoors is an important way to draw viewer’s attention to your subject’s face.  This video tutorial shows you how to set up and use artificial lights.  It begins with a visit to a store to buy US$100 worth of equipment, but you could get away with well placed desk lamps.  You can use baking paper to diffuse the lights if they are too bright.

Natural lighting

Natural light is free and can be used both in and outdoors.  I spoke to an experienced photographer who specialises in the use of natural light.  While he said it comes down to personal preference, he would give film makers this advice:

    Avoid using direct sunlight, because it can be harsh and unforgiving.
    If you can, use light from the south.
    Lighting your subjects from the side (e.g., side on to a window) can give a three dimensional, portraiture quality.
    Using a reflector (a piece of white cardboard would do) can help to fill in dark spots.

This video tutorial shows you how to use natural light inside, and this one shows you how to do it outside.

Using a microphone (rather than the microphone on your phone or camera) is essentail, but you don't need to buy one.  You can easily use a smart phone placed close to the source of the sound for recording much higher quality audio.  A clap of the hands on camera will help you to sync your audio and video during editing.  

Using an iPhone to record high quality audio for your video is a very helpful tutorial, which can be applied to all smart phones.

Amateur video makers can still use blue screens or green screens. This will allow you to ‘cut out’ your subject and place them over another video clip, like a moving background.

You can make your own green screen by taping a sheet of fabric flat against a wall. The fabric should be a bright lime green colour. There are a lot of DIY videos on Youtube.

When you are filming in front of the screen, try to keep it evenly lit and avoid shadows and wrinkles in the fabric. Be aware that anything coloured green during filming will be ‘see through,’ so avoid having anything green (like clothing) in the shot.

Editing Platforms

Lightworks is advanced video editing software.  It is compatible with Windows, Apple Mac OS X and Linux.

A free version with full editing capacity is available, which will export only to YouTube or Vimeo.  

Lightworks provide a range of video tutorials to help you get started with the product.

The download is approximately 70mb.

iMovie is a popular video editing tool that can be used with Apple products.  It needs to be purchased. 

Product Platform Cost Support Download Download Size
iMovie for Mac Mac $23 Support Guide Mac App Store 2.02 gb
iMovie for iOS iPhone and iPad $8 Support Guide App Store 657 mb

Editing with Green Screens

If you have used a greenscreen during filming, you can use iMovie or LightWorks to replace the green section with another background.

Product Video Support Tech Support
iMovie How to do green screen in iMovie Apple Support
LightWorks LightWorks ChromaKey Tutorial -

Subjects: All guides, Education, General, Multi-disciplinary resources, Teaching & learning support for academics