So you think you can video? Then this read is for you! We rip into the good, the rad, and the lovely of streaming and content creation essentials that’ll showcase your high-fidelity side.
Streaming and content creation. Tautology, right? It’s actually two similar but distinct video-centric roles. Yes, streamers create content. But their primary focus is on creating live content on digital platforms like Twitch, Mixer or Facebook.
Streamers may turn those live streams into on-demand videos on places like YouTube. But self-titled content creators don’t necessarily stream. Whether you want to specialise in one or dabble in both, there are some key gear considerations that range from a good starting point, to up-a-notch better, through to all-out best. There’s something for all kinds of entertainment streamers and content creators, so read on!
Have you ever streamed a Bourne movie on a slow Internet connection? Its choppy, pixelated, and low-fi shaky cam makes for incredibly painful viewing. That’s what it can feel like with poor-quality streaming equipment or content creation gear.
Streamers want a quality camera to capture their reactions. Quality is tricky to see if the image is too dark, which is where lighting comes in. Combo those with a sturdy and reliable tripod to keep the video still and predictable. Finally, those game-loving streamers and content creators will be tempted by high-quality gameplay capturing versatility for PC or console, alongside other supplementary kit items.
Picking the right camera means matching budget with quality. You can get away with shooting from a smartphone but, if you do that, your best bet is with something to stabilise your aim. Webcams are the next logical step, particularly for streamers. Those craving fantastic quality should have a gander at the versatility of DSLR-like mirrorless cameras for impressive video results.
Outside of video quality, audio is the other half of the equation, more so because there are audience members who prefer to listen into the audio portion of your video content. Lunacy, right? Background noise, peaking highs, static and other low-quality detractors can mean the difference between a new subscriber or a dislike. This is why mics are just as important as video.
When you’re streaming, your viewers want to see your face. Clearly. That’s how they connect with you. That’s part of the fun or the drama. So a fancy webcam or mirrorless camera will get you halfway there, but your future audience will appreciate great lighting. This helps keep your money-maker illuminated and free of shadows.
Whether camera or microphone, keeping your gear stable is a solid foundation for video and audio quality. For cameras, this might mean a tripod or video kit. For audio, this is where boom arms come in. Boom arms are particularly relevant for game streamers because they keep the microphone away from keyboard clacking (and ear-bleeding desk bumps).
PC software does a great job of letting you capture gameplay footage, but this is a drain on precious gaming hardware. Using a capture card frees up precious frames-per-second (particularly important for streamers who love shooters), and also offers ways to capture footage beyond PC gaming in superior quality.
Finally, there’s the little quality-of-life extras that aren’t essential but help you up your game. For streamers, a stream deck nixes the need for memorising complex keyboard shortcuts or continuously shifting between software. Streamers and content creators can both benefit from a green screen when streaming or recording in places where background camera-crossing, just-showered housemates or mountains of dirty undies might distract viewers.
You can start out with next to nothing for the basics of streaming. The bare minimum is a PC (or current-gen console for gamers) and, most critically, a high-speed dependable Internet connection. Upload matters here, so you want at least an nbn50 Internet plan that has up to 50Mbps of download bandwidth but, more importantly, up to 20Mbps upload.
Without deep diving into the associated jargon, this will let you stream at a resolution that your future audience will thank you for. Internet speed is less important for content creators, but remember that slower upload means a longer time to get your videos online, which may also lead to failed uploads.
Seeing is believing
Once you’re beyond the bare basics, or if you want to hit the ground running, there’s some good gear that’ll make life easier and keep your audiences engaged.
For streamers, you’re going to want a camera and microphone so your viewers can see you and hear you. Ideally, clearly for both primary senses. In a pinch, you can opt for a HD webcam like the Logitech C615, which is easy to use and allows for HD (720p) streaming and Full HD (1080p) capture. If you’re skimping, save dollars on the 720p Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000.
Content creators can also use webcams to splice themselves into videos for that important-these-days human touch.
Whether you’re a streamer or content creator, a microphone is critical to clear communication with your live or on-demand audience. Viewers will get frustrated with tinny or echoey sound, so while a mic-armed headset may help for consolidating your side-hustle arsenal, a dedicated microphone offers a noticeable edge.
The Stadium Memphis USB microphone sits on your desk with its own fold-out tripod to record your clear vocal musings. Streamers, place tripoded mics on your desk and below your chin for best sound. Game streamers will want to invest in a whisper-quiet keyboard to avoid too much clacking. Content creators have a bit more freedom because they should be recording audio separately and minimising sounds for the best output audio.
Bust a cap
PC gamers can benefit from investing in additional gear that can help up their streaming or content-creation game. For game streamers, focus more on what you’re playing and less on multitasking with the Elgato Stream Deck Mini. It takes up minimal desk real estate, which is great for on-the-go streamers on gaming laptops. Plus, six fully customisable LCD tactile keys for one-touch macro control let you program useful streaming functions.
Game streamers and content creators can both benefit from investing in a capture card, with the Elgato Game Capture HD60 S a great starting point. This game-capture device can stream and record game footage from any gaming gadget that uses HDMI, including old consoles for older-gen streams.
To keep your microphone off your desk, you’ll want to invest in something like the Stadium MICARM Microphone Boom Arm. This’ll clamp to your desk and manually adjusts to your vocal needs care of three pivot points and a 360-degree microphone holder. For the streamer or content creator on the go, a Joby GorillaPod 1K Tripod features wrappable legs for camera steadying on almost any surface. Need lighting that can travel with you? Slip a Manfrotto Lumimuse 3 LED Light into your pocket.
Maybe you’ve been streaming or content creating for a while and you’re ready for the next step. Perhaps you just want to invest in better gear to hit the ground running with quality sound and vision for your audience. Hey, they’ll thank you for it. Whatever the reason, there’s room to step up the quality of your recording essentials.
Whether you’re taking advantage of a high-resolution iPhone camera at home as a streamer or content creator, or looking to snag footage while out and about, consider starting with the Shure MV88+ Video Kit. This converts a compatible iPhone into a viable and versatile camcorder care of a stereo condenser mic for better audio capture.
For the homely home studio, record your commentary or live quips with the Stadium Hollywood USB Microphone. On the functional front, there’s studio-quality audio recording, a handy mute button to block out noisy interrupting housemates, and volume controls for on-the-fly tweaks. As for form, streamers may be tempted to keep this mic in view because of the five switchable LED lighting effects. Step up the sound quality with a Stadium USBKIT Microphone Pack, which bundles mic with boom arm.
This budgetary pricepoint is where it’s worth considering an investment in broadcast-quality video gear (or close enough). For streamers and out-and-about content creators, this means familiarising yourself with the superior image quality of DSLR cameras. But you can start with a user-friendly DSLR-style mirrorless camera.
With a compatible external camera you already own, use the Elgato Cam Link to stream or content create in up to 4K resolution.
When you’re investing in a high-quality camera, you’ll also want a dependable tripod and some lighting. The tripod keeps things steady and the lighting ensures consistency in your image quality. This is particularly important for streamers who can’t reshoot. The Joby GorillaPod 3K tripod is a great fit for cameras like the Sony Alpha A6000 Mirrorless Camera. It’s compact and sturdy with wrappable legs to record from almost any surface.
If you want something a bit more traditional, the Joby RangePod 1600 Travel Tripod is mobile, a cinch to set up, and can be used as a monopod via detachable leg.
For lighting, the Elgato Key Light is built to offer easy-to-use studio-like lighting. It’s LED powered to keep the electricity bill and your room heat down and can even be desk mounted. For mobile lighting, consider the Manfrotto Lumimuse 6 LED Light.
PC gamers streaming at this level can benefit from a more fully featured stream deck, like the aptly named Elgato Stream Deck. This does the job of the Elgato Stream Deck Mini overleaf, but this (slightly) heftier sibling offers 15 LCD keys. Customise these to launch your media, jump between scenes, social media blast your latest victory, or any number of 210 actions. For recording gameplay, nab an Elgato HD60 S+ Game Capture, which offers HDR10 recording and passthrough at up to 2160p resolution.
This is where you go all out. Start with the top gear or make an investment in your audience’s listening and viewing pleasure with the right equipment to give you that professional sheen, regardless of whether you’re streaming or content creating.
Sights ’n’ sounds
For a direct-to-PC USB mic that delivers high-quality goods, get your laughing gear near a Blue Yeti X. LED metering offers at-a-glance gain feedback (or at-a-press muting), with some fantastically versatile software-driven control for real-time tweaking of how you sound.
For even more control, use the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3 to add real-time effects atop low-latency input. Connect a studio-quality mic like the Rode NT1A and you won’t cop viewer flak for FLAC-quality audio (read: really, really crisp sound). Slip either of these mics into a Stadium MICARM Microphone Boom Arm to float them in front of your gobs.
Speaking of cheese, you’ll have to invest some cheddar for the best camera gear. In a home studio configuration, you really should step beyond a webcam if you’re looking for the best results. With the Nikon Z 50 mirrorless camera, the included Nikkor Z 16–50mm lens offers range versatility: portrait for home, and wide-angle when out and about.
The real calling card is the 4K video recording, which is great for high-detailed content creation or 4K streaming on compatible platforms. Keep things ultra-steady at home or on location with a Manfrotto 190X tripod that goes tall or small for low-level shots.
By now you know that video is only as good as its supplementary tools. Lighting is that first stop. The Elgato Key Light works in this category, too, but you can also light up mobile illumination with the Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 On-Camera LED Light. At home, you’ll want to match that lighting to an Elgato Green Screen. Opt for this version if you’re framed in tight and only need to block a small background behind you. Or nab the Elgato Green Screen MT for a wider angle and more potential background distractions (or mess) to obscure.
Hit the deck
Gun for the Elgato Stream Deck XL if you want the big daddy of streaming decks. Where the Mini and regular versions have fewer buttons, the XL gives you an epic 32 customisable LCD keys. Personalise them with still or dynamic icons and integrate this stream deck beast with all of your favourite streaming software.
If you have a 4K gaming PC or console and want to record or stream (or, heck, both simultaneously) in gorgeous 4K resolutions at a responsive 60 frames per second, invest in the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 PRO MK.2 for stunning results.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a motza to dip your toe in the streaming or content creation game to see if it’s your jam. But if you want to up your game, upgrading your gear is an investment in your audience’s eyes and ears that they’ll thank you for with Internet cred: thumbs up, shares and subscriptions.