Updated: Dec 22, 2021
You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on your self-tape setup. I'll list different products at different price-points, so you can budget accordingly!
Like any business, you need to spend money in order to make money. Your home studio is a vital part of your business as an auditioning actor, and you need to spend some money on your equipment! I'm sharing with you things I wish I knew about YEARS AGO!
#1: Tripods are your best friend
Whether you're recording with your iPhone or a DLSR camera, you will experience the same frustration that I have had in the past... "Is the camera crooked?" UGH.
If you only have a little money to spend, I highly recommend spending your money on a really good tripod first. Having an easy setup for framing your camera that literally takes seconds rather than dozens of minutes adjusting will take away a lot of the anxiety actors have when working from home.
More expensive option: Benro Slim Video Kit - Aluminum: $199.99
This is the tripod I use myself, and what I LOVE about it is that it has built-in staying levels on each leg as well as the base. I am always 100% sure the frame is straight! It's also super lightweight and can be adjusted to no matter how bumpy the terrain.
Less expensive option: Amazon Basics Lightweight Camera Mount Tripod - $26.99
This tripod is similar to the first one: it has staying levels, it's lightweight and easy to adjust. The only downsides are that it's not a great tripod if you're using a DLSR camera, and it won't last as long with wear and tear like the first tripod.
#2: Lighting is important, but can be budget friendly!
Bad lighting in a self-tape can be distracting, so you have to make sure it's up to industry standards! It can be tricky when you're figuring out your shooting space, so some quick tips are:
shooting near a window: natural light looks great on camera, and it's FREE.
balancing the light on both sides of your face: this is easy to do with anything in your house. If you're standing with the window on one side, place a light source like a lamp on the opposite side until the lighting is even!
Don't have too much light: if your lighting is too bright, you will wash out your features. You can also cause dark shadows to appear on your background, which will pull the focus from your performance.
So you may have lighting that works for your self-tapes already! If you can spend more money, here are some great options:
More expensive option: Mountdog Softbox Lighting Kit - $151.99
Another product I currently use and am really happy with. Another lightweight item with easy tabs and levers to adjust to any angle or height I want. The light is very soft, so I get the benefit of the light I want without it being too harsh on my face and it doesn't cause any shadows.
Less expensive option: Neewer Super Slim LED Video Light - $65.99
I liked this light a lot! It's battery operated, SUPER light, and is adjustable. The cool part is that there are dials that adjust the strength of the light as well as the warmth of the light! A downside is that it doesn't come with it's own stand, so that will cost you a little more money heads up!
#3: Sound: not too little, not too much.
Sometimes we have to both yell AND whisper in the same scene, how do you record the sound for that??
Basically you want to be able to make your voice the loudest voice you hear on the tape. Your reader, whether they are in the room or on zoom, CANNOT be louder than you! Trust me, people have lost jobs because their readers pulled the focus on their audition tapes...
A good trick to avoiding this is by having your reader stand a few steps BEHIND the camera, rather than right beside it.
If that still doesn't work, these products are great for both DSLR cameras and iPhones!
More expensive option: RODE WIRELESS GO Compact Wireless Microphone System - $259.00
It's pretty pricey, but you get a lot of bang for your buck! The mic can clip on to your shirt or bra out of frame, and gets great sound for your auditions. Works with both DSLR cameras and iPhones.
Less expensive option: RODE VideoMic - $99.00
This mic is not as effective as the first RODE mic, but it's still great for self-taping! As long as the mic is pointed towards the actor, it will help with any background noises like your reader, traffic or loud kids/animals!
Looking at this list when you don't have any equipment yet can seem daunting, but my biggest piece of advice I want to leave you with is this: You don't have to buy it all at once. Purchase the one thing you think would make your life a million times easier FIRST. Sometimes you'll buy something and realize it's not exactly what you wanted, and you'll have to exchange or spend more on something else!
Also, if you buy a ton of equipment all together without proper research, you might find that you spent money on something you didn't need. I know it's exciting setting up your home studio, but be strategic!
If you have questions about how to self-tape, check out next week's blog post!
Looking for a coach? The Drama Class has great instructors that can coach either in-person or via zoom! Click here for info.
For more tips and tricks, check out www.TheDramaClass.com !