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  • Writer's pictureDrake Donovan


TV on a Radio Budget

I added video production to my repertoire as a radio creative services director. Over time time, I graduated from manipulating still images and animated text to filming HD video and using chroma key (blue & green screens). Since I saw a need for it before my company did, I couldn't get management to foot the bill for the equipment I needed. So I took on the burden of purchasing the necessary equipment to take my videos to the next level. In the next few paragraphs, I'll share with you what equipment I've used to create station videos for the web and social media. This should help make your case to management on what you need to make awesome web videos.

Joby Griptight

First, you'll need a camera. In the years since I originally wrote this piece, I've utilized several cameras, from Flip Video, to Go Pro, to my Samsung Galaxy. I've found that the easiest thing to do is to use your smartphone. Android, Windows Phones, & iPhones all shoot great video in high definition. My new Samsung Galaxy S7 is great for lowlight situations as well, and has expandable memory. This way you won't have to delete precious photos to make room for video you're shooting at a station event. You'll definitely need to keep your camera still. I use the Joby Grip-tight cellphone mount for my tripod. It has expandable jaws that hold your phone and a hole to screw into any camera tripod. It retails for about $15 on Amazon and comes with a mini tripod to use for Facebook Live or Instragram videos right in the studio. If you don't have a full size tripod, you'll wanna pick one of those up too for about $30-40 bucks.

Sony Recorder

The only drawback in using your phone is that you might not be able to use an integrated microphone to capture audio from a distance. To overcome this, I employ the one piece of equipment my company did purchase for me, a Sony ICD-UX70 MP3 recorder (the latest version is the ICD-UX530 retailing at $99.99). This 2GB capacity recorder has an external mic input and fits in one's pocket. Used with a $30 lavalier microphone I purchased on eBay, I can mic my talent and get longer shots without sacrificing audio quality. It has a built in USB and transfers just as easily to my PC as the Samsung Galaxy does. From there I just match up the wave forms and mute the camera audio.

Vegas Movie Studio

Now that I have audio and video, I need to cut it up. Enter Magix Software's Vegas Pro 13. Vegas has been my primary editing software for audio since I switched from the Orban Audicy in 2004. The budget version is Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum, which retails for about $79 and limits you to only 20 tracks of audio and 20 tracks of video, but it should be plenty sufficient. My two favorite features of this software are the "Explorer Window" and "Render As". The "Explorer Window" of Vegas allows you to navigate the files of your hard drive, preview audio & video, and drag items into the editing timeline all within Vegas. No need to import here! The "Render As" function allows you to render separate tracks down without "bouncing" them in real time. A big advantage, especially with audio rendering.

So far, we have $0 for a HD camera if you're using your cellphone, $99.99 for an MP3 recorder, $30 for a lavalier microphone, and $99 for editing software. That's just under $500 for just the basics. The next few items really will take your videos to the next level.

Lighting. If you can't see it, it ain't worth watching now is it? A decent pair of lights will really make your subjects pop, especially if you want to shoot green/blue screen. I got a hold of a pair of compact fluorescent soft box lights for under $200. They break down very easily and are portable for location work. I also have a framed green/blue

screen from Digital Juice called a Chroma-Pop.

Green Screen

It basically works like a sunshade for your car, going from a 2' diameter circle to a 5' x 7' background that's green on one side and blue on the other. The attached velcro straps make it easy to secure to the frame of my drop-tile ceiling in my studio. The Chroma-Pop is available at for $199.

Here is the final tally:

Cellphone Tripod: $15

Tripod: $29.99

MP3 Recorder: $99.99

Lavalier mic: $30

Editing Software: $99

Lighting Kit: $197.99

Chroma-Pop: $199


So for under $700, you can have a pretty well equipped TV studio in your radio station for creating quality web video content for your station's websites and social media pages. Plus that thousand bucks could be easily recouped by doing a view video shoots for sales to create streaming pre-rolls for clients or other specialty video.

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