Five tips for making YouTube videos on the cheap

An expensive camera, a professional microphone and a costly green screen – making YouTube video’s can be as expensive as you make it out to be. But if you are willing to get creative, there are many possibilities to start your YouTube adventure on the cheap. To inspire you, here are some of the ways you might not have guessed that Doctor Video is a real cheapskate!

 Written by: Marianne Eggink – Doctor Video’s sidekick

1. A colorful sheet as green screen

To make thumbnails, Doctor Video sometimes gets to model in a photoshoot. A green screen would certainly help there, since it makes for easy background remmoval afterwards in the graphic editing program. But green screens are not cheap! Rummaging through our closets we found a sheet that managed to do the job as well! If you want to try this, your best pick is:

  • An evenly bright colored sheet
  • Use a color that you’re not wearing (that’s why they often pick bright green). Your graphic program will try to edit out the color of the sheet. So if your shirt happens to be the same color, the program will leave an empty hole where your shirt is 😉
  • Iron the sheet before using it so that you don’t have to do extra editing on all the folds and their shadows

The original photo with the sheet in the background

The thumbnail for the Iron Man Review

Want more tips on making thumbnails? Keep your eyes peeled for a tutorial on the art of thumbnails!


2. Blankets everywhere!

In our first videos we noticed that the sound was a bit hollow and there was an echo, some people even complained they had difficulty hearing Doctor Video. Your first instinct might be to buy an advanced microphone, but even that can ad a whole range of new obstacles we found. Like: what the hell is that white noise in the background? Is it the wifi, the computer, the phone?

The cheapest solution was to simply use the smartphone microphone and enhance the sound in the editing program after. And putting blankets on hard surfaces, like wooden floors and bare walls. This reduces the hollow sound and echo!


3. Anything with wheels will do


What’s this sorcery hooman?

For our video on swearing in movies we wanted to make a cheesy skit of Doctor Video stepping onto a dreaded lego and having to swallow his furious swearing. We instantly had the idea of the camera following his footsteps in the hallway. Up close and down below. But how to steadily follow his steps in the narrow hall? We found that anything with wheels  that rolls smoothly will do!

First we tried one of his toy cars, but couldn’t attach the camera to it. Then we found a plant platform on wheels. We put the smartphone on it and attached a string  so it could be pulled. Doctor Video slowly walked across the hallway while the little platform rolled along beside him, pulled forward from the other side of the hallway.



4. Thinking outside… no inside the box!

It looks cheap cause it is cheap, but you wouldn’t know from watching the actual videos.

Placing your camera somewhere steady and with a good angle can be quite tricky if you don’t own a tripod or camerastandard. Your house happens to be a good source of items you can use for this.

Our current standard consists of a carton box, ducttape and an old phone case. It works well cause the screen of the phone is still vissible from the other side and makes for easier set up of the scene, as well as pushing the buttons to start recording.


5. That phone really is smart

As a starting YouTuber you surely need an expensive camera right?! WRONG! Smartphone camera’s have become super advanced in the past years. We started out using a professional one that we borrowed from a family member, but when it had to be sent back for maintenance we were forced to start filming with a smarphone. And guess what? That was fine too! Of course there is a difference in image quality – but I will tell you next why that is not the most important factor.


bonus tip: remember what it’s all about and the rest will come later

No professional camera or microphone? You might be shaking your head at that – all professionals use expensive gear right? Maybe they do, but they also started somewhere, some day as a small youtuber with only a few subscribers and maybe no money. And I don’t think it is the gear that got them their fans. Think about your favourite youtubers. Who are they? What kind of video’s do they make and what do you remember them by most?

Did their silly tagline just come to mind? Maybe their over the top screaming rants? Or that one time they messed up but just laughed it off? All of that is not their gear, it’s their personality, passion and authenticity! Of course professional gear made their videos look better, but that is secondary and it will come later. I will get into detail about why personality matters most in my next blogpost!

In the meantime I’m staying a cheapskate! What are your tips on making YouTube video on the cheap? Share them on Twitter and join the discussion!