How to Set up a Home Video Studio 2021 : Mac

Back-ground

As with other reviews and guides on this webpage, someone asked me how to set up a home video studio for Mac in 2021 and here is my answer. These are all my opinions based on being a life long tech expert and a bit OCD, my goal is to provide the most bang for the buck on any given project.

This time around it is how to set up a home video studio for Mac. I got started with home video production because I just love learning new things and I already had a nice camera for photography and some decent audio equipment from years of leading people in video games. A fantastic artist mentioned that they got into streaming art mostly to create a more dedicated schedule for themselves to work on the craft, so I followed suit.

Next came about a month of me poring over the various options, weighing the amount of function and value of many different products to try to come up with a professional solution that won't break the bank. That point where you are getting everything that you want, but aren't paying for anything extra.

Questions arose. For instance, do you need an 8k camera? Hell no you don't. The masses don't have 8k screens. Hell you can buy a 12k resolution camera if you want... but when I was doing my research 12k monitors didn't even exist.

Do you need to record in 4K? Nope, because barely anyone has a 4k monitor for viewing streamed videos or youtube, most people are watching on a phone or 1080p screens, so there is no reason to go nuts (many cameras do record 4k now baseline, so its not really a problem if you do)

So here are the components you will need, with links to the hardware that I have found pleasant. This is a huge subject and there is a great deal of choice and expansion beyond what I lay out here, but this is a great starting point.

What do I need for a Home Video Studio in 2021?

So here is the most basic outline of what you need to make a home video studio.

  1. Computer

  2. Camera

  3. Lights

  4. Microphone

  5. Software to record the video

  6. Software to render the video

This might sound straight forward, but there are so many options, with so many opinions and so many companies claiming to be the best that it takes a huge amount of comparison to begin guessing what works. But it is in connecting all these parts together that things can get even more complicated, and why I am making this guide. I can't solve all of your problems with this process and there are a lot of videos out there to help out with specific problems or products, but I can give a quick outline of what I am using and what I believe other people can use to get started quickly.

Which Mac Computer to buy in 2021

We are talking Mac in this article.

Why Mac?

It's what I was asked to talk about, OK? Not everyone is multi OS lingual or willing to learn a new OS. And honestly Mac is doing a damn good job right now when it comes down to it. You have to reassess this stuff constantly to stay on top of what is currently the best system.

So if you are buying a new computer for video editing in a home studio it seems like a pretty straight forward answer right now. The new M1 Macs are ridiculously powerful especially for video editing and rendering. The only downside is the lack of ports, but that is fixed with any adapter since the ports on these computer are 2 USB4 that can be used for just about anything.

My choice: MacBook Air M1 buy here: https://amzn.to/36QAU06

So after watching waaaaaay too many videos about bench-marking and testing out the new Mac M1 series computers, I have to say that this one seems to be the best choice with a couple of possible exceptions that I will highlight below in the descriptions for the other two computers.

The only important considerations in buying this model is if you should get 8gb or 16gb of ram and the size of the hard drive. From testing it seems like there is almost no difference between the ram setups, so save the money and just get 8gb, or burn some and get 16, you will be fine either way. I tend to favor a larger hard drive myself, so the 512gb option is what I would choose.

This is what I am currently thinking of getting once I have to travel around more often. I just remind myself that I tend to work at a desk right now and resist the purchase. If you are a mobile worker this laptop is pretty much perfect.

Do you like the touch bar? MacBook Pro M1 buy here: https://amzn.to/33UcvVL

So like the title here hints, get this model if you like the touch bar.

I used the touch bar on my last laptop and its pretty neat, especially for video editing and scrubbing along timelines. But because I so often use a full keyboard at my desk with the laptop hooked into a work station I never got into using the touch bar naturally. Perhaps if you always use it as a laptop and focus on using the bar it would be beneficial.

It is also actively cooled, however similar to the ram choice from the Air, it doesn't seem to really make a difference. Benchmarks and reviews seem to indicate that the cooling might only provide around 10% improvement in situations when the cpu is under extended load.

Want a Desktop? Mac Mini M1 buy here: https://amzn.to/2LgGvVj

And here is the third option for the new M1 chips, for if you want a desktop computer and already have peripherals.

All 3 of these computers are running the same CPU and all perform in the same way. It really comes down to if you want a laptop, desktop, or touch bar.

It is kind of weird to have such a straight forward decision between surprisingly high performance computers.

Want more information or want to pour over tons of numbers?

I highly recommend visiting Linus Tech Tips on YouTube for some intelligent and somewhat silly reviews of the computers.

And if you want a LOT more benchmarks of various artificial and real world applications, check out Max Tech on YouTube. They do a ton of comparisons and area a great resource, if you have the time and the interest in the subject matter.

There are a ton of review sites out there, but really those two are my favorite.

What Camera to buy in 2021?

Alright, this one is MUCH more complicated than the computer question, and there are a ton of answers. But the most important point that everyone needs to understand is that the little webcam on any laptop is not a good idea. While it is a camera aimed at your face, say if you just want to put your face down in the corner of a game screen, its still really bad. And if you are planning on taking video of a project you are working on, it just wont do at all.

There are MANY options in this field, these are just two that I like. There are so many options out there that you can spend months looking for a choice. I like these, and I bet most other people will like them too.

Sony a7III: Very nice, on the pricey side buy here: https://amzn.to/2VWhRLv

So you probably need a camera, and there are so many different options at so many different price points. I am personally using a Sony a7III with a Tamron 28-75mm lens, I am using those because I already had the camera for photography.

It's a really nice setup, I won't lie.

However, it's also not what I would recommend unless you have money to burn or plan on really using it a ton and really want the options that come with interchangeable lens systems.

If you do go this route, you also need to buy a capture card and mini to regular hdmi cable, and a usb c charging cable, the price really does stack up. But there are the links if you want them.

Its also really fun to get into camera tech, be warned. If you really get into cameras there is always new enticing gear.

GoPro Hero 8 or 9 Black: Much cheaper option that I rather like. buy here: Hero 8Black or Hero 9 Black

So the goPro cameras are really cool, and very cheap for what they are. The main reason that I am recommending them is that they connect to a mac very easily (it has to be the 8 or 9 black, the other models do not use the software yet) just using a USB cable and they produce a very nice image in 4k resolution (that you can scale down or just use). A link to the webpage for the connection software and how to run it is right here.

This is a MUCH cheaper option compared to an interchangeable lens systme, and the software lets you apply lens filters that change the lens from wide to normal or take away the fish eye effect. Its a very handy system that you can beat up without worry.

The 9 has a little color screen on the front that is neat because it lets you see if you are in frame while the camera is pointed at you. Just something nice to consider if you are recording yourself alone.

What Microphone to get?

Shure SM58 buy here: https://amzn.to/2VWf4lv

Again, there are a ton of options here and the subject field has a massive amount of information. But I can say with confidence after testing and listening to many options that the Shure SM58 is a fantastic, affordable and durable option that will provide great sound.

These mics are true beaters, they have been used at concerts for ages, and the advertising for them includes pounding in nails and dropping it in beer. But the important part is that they provide a very clear sound and filter out a ton of background noise baseline, leaving you with only simple audio editing in post.

It is important to note, you need to have cables and an audio interface to plug this mic in, it is not a USB mic. If you do not have any XLR cables, make sure to pick the mic in the link that includes the cables, or the performance kit that has the cables and a mic stand, they are both good value options at the time I wrote this.

So the next thing you need is an audio interface to get that nice audio signal processed and onto your computer.


Focusrite Scarlet Solo buy here: https://amzn.to/3mUYGhc

This is a very popular and simple audio interface that is pretty much plug and play, plug the interface into a usb port on the computer and plug your xlr cable into that port on the front, turn up the gain until the ring is mostly green when you are talking.

Very pleasant interface, there might be better or cheaper options, but I am fond of this one and recommend it to other people. If you plan on having more than one xlr input while you record pick one of the options that has more ports, like the 2i2 in the same link.

Other Important Items to Setup a Home Video Studio in 2021

LIGHTS!!!!

This one is SUPER important! All the exclamation points and Capitalization should convey that message.

The most important part of getting video to look good is to make sure that it is properly lit. And while it is possible to do this on the cheap with parts from Home Depot (click that link for a great video on it), there are some pretty cheap options straight from amazon that will save you time and are just a bit more expensive, if not about the same price. Watch the video above and learn what makes a good scene, you will have to setup lighting for your shots if you are going to make things look their best.

Soft Box Kit buy here: https://amzn.to/3m0GEJi

This kit is great, it should cost right around 60$ or less for the pair, and they provide a ton of nice soft directed light using LED bulbs. The stands are light, and they come with a handy little bag to transport them.

Can't recommend this set much more than that for the low price point. If you see it much higher than 60$ you should consider looking elsewhere.

Software for a Home Video Studio in 2021

There are again a ton of different options to choose from here, with arguments to be made for all of them. But let me give you my suggestion, and I think you should take it.

Why? Because both of these programs are Professional and completely free.

Why are they free? Honestly I am not 100% sure, but they are great.

This is the video editor, its powerful and wonderful. But you do have to learn how to use it, or pay someone to do it that knows how. Its the same with every video editor, but this one really is professional and has been used on many a Hollywood film. Again, its free... so yeah just get it and learn.

This is a broadcasting and video recording software that can take all of the various inputs you have and lay them out nicely on the screen for live recording or broadcasting. It is massively powerful and very helpful. Again there is a great deal of learning to be done, but you will have to learn some form of software, so why not go with the Free and industry standard option?

Conclusion

So that is all that I have right now.

Like I said at the beginning, this is a massive field with many options and many roads to get to the same location. What I have provided here is the gear that I have narrowed down. I have not included stands, reflectors, extra lights, light boxes, back drops, or anything else that you might want to design a recording area, that is all down to your own personal desires and design. If you aren't up to doing it yourself you will have to look around and hire someone to do it.

Recording and broadcasting is fun, and tech has really brought it up to a powerful, cheap and modular place compared with previous years, so good luck!