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Virtual speakers benefit from thinking beyond their stationary technology foundation and look at a mobile complement. This setup can come into play as a backup in case something goes wrong with the primary or when traveling and needing a kit that is easy to pack. This blog post takes you from something simple we all have to a full-blown VLOG-like setup.
The first option is about reusing what we already have, a smartphone with wired or wireless earbuds. Here we can join a live session with standard video communication tools like Teams or Zoom, using the front camera on your phone.
This setup can work to save an emergency. A few books create a stable foundation, using the existing light fixtures in the room where you are. The earbuds improve the sound quality to and from you. All prepared in advance so you can quickly switch over from the primary if needed.
Limit the use of this option to saving live deliveries where your primary recording or broadband option has failed.
Green – short promotions and video mails
A common request to virtual speakers is to create a short 30-second promotion video—a piece promoted on your and event organizers’ social media channels before the event. The request often comes with short notice, and quality is not critical for this small piece, but a few simple enhancements can make a difference.
At this level, you can focus on stabilizing the smartphone and improving the sound quality captured at your end. Start with a micro tripod and a lapel microphone🎤, a combo you can have in a pocket or purse.
A micro tripod can be placed on a table, directly, or on top of a few books when you sit and record. If standing, you might find a bookshelf or other piece of furniture supporting your smartphone and micro tripod at eye height. A lapel microphone is easy to attach to a shirt/blouse and connect directly to your smartphone.
This kit is a $50-100 investment, and beyond recorded promotions, it is excellent for pre-recordings of video mails. Short sequences captured after a customer meeting, at a physical event, or after an internal meeting. This setup is also a powerful tool to deliver a quick sample of what you, as a speaker, can pull off in the planning stages of the process.
Blue – back up for live events
For live deliveries, many things can go wrong. Likely enough to happen to make it worthwhile to secure a good backup environment, eliminating potential issues related to camera, microphone, and broadband performance.
The two areas to attack here are video and audio quality. Since you are already sitting or standing in a well-lit place, the job is a bit easier.
You want a stable position for your smartphone, with the potential to use the higher quality of the rear camera. Aim for a tabletop tripod for stand-by mode with your smartphone attached for rear-camera use with an external microphone attached to the smartphone.
This kit is a $75-150 investment on top of a good smartphone and is suitable as a backup with existing light. The area you want to practice is quickly getting yourself centered in the picture without seeing the screen. You will always be compromised as you will not see the screen and build your interactions with moderators and panelists based on audio-only.
Red – recorded or live events on the go
There are situations where you need a fully mobile setup without any stationary elements-a scenario where you need to engage in a recording or a live session without access to any of your static tools. A powerful smartphone with 4G/5G access is still suitable, but you need more high-quality add-ons to pull it off.
Consider the following building blocks
- Build around a Padcaster Verse, a metal frame on a tripod that additional equipment can be attached to
- A powerful smartphone
- An external microphone
- Two cube lights
- Extension arms to get the lights far enough to the side
This kit is a $400-600 investment on top of a powerful smartphone. Configuration is straightforward, and the only complexity to navigate is that you still don’t see yourself when recording or streaming. This level gives you an alternative to your stationary environment both for live and recorded sessions.
Black – recorded on the move like a pro
What remains to explore is the art of moving targets, where you as the speaker do not sit or standstill. And area mastered by great vloggers today. Blog-like stories are told with video, recorded in sequences, and added together or recorded sessions on different platforms.
Vloggers need great control of what the audience will see. Dedicated VLOG cameras are a new camera category for these purposes. An essential feature is a reversible screen to show you what the camera captures. Video captured in very high resolution, 4K, microphone and light is attached to the camera and managed with a handheld grip.
An excellent skill to master is video editing, for editing your clips after being captured with a camera. This approach represents a $1000-1500 investment. Best suited for recorded sessions, session elements, or live streaming on social media with moderate movements. The dedicated camera needs to connect via an external broadband device.
Additional equipment in this category is motion stabilizers supporting more significant movements without video quality issues.
Questions to ask yourself and your team
- Will mobile at any stage be our primary recording model?
- What are easy-to-handle additions to what I have already mastered?
- Can a video-savvy smartphone serve your mobile recording needs?
- Do you know any VLOGgers as a source of inspiration for mobile videos?
Additional reading suggestions
- 10 Best phones for vlogging in 2021 [ARTICLE] – by Ryan Hansen, Gadget Review
- Vlogging equipment setup: Best vlog gear for beginners (16 things) [BLOGPOST] – Bryan Haines, ClickLikeThis
- Best vlogging camera for 2021 [ARTICLE] – by Joshua Goldman, CNET
- Joby mobile vlogging kit review: a great deal for vloggers [BLOGPOST] – by Suzi Pratt
- How to build a mobile recording rig – it’s simpler than you think [BLOGPOST] – by Sarah Jones, Popular Science