How-To Videos: Creative Setups at Home

May 5, 2020
Erin Fletcher BB '12


Bookbinding, Alumni

Above: Erin’s and Colin’s popular How To Make an Edible Book video tutorial

Making your own videos can be a challenging task. What does one need for equipment? What kind of setting and set-up are necessary? Do you have to spend a lot of money, or can your own homemade video be made on the cheap?

We asked Erin Fletcher BB ’12, an NBSS Bookbinding grad and instructor in our Middle School Book Arts program how she and fellow instructor Colin Urbina BB ’11 record their fun kids’ videos. She explains it just takes some ingenuity and imagination to create a great how-to at home, at an affordable cost and with a professional look. Read through her quick writeup below, and make sure to view our Hands-On Kids Activities page for more fun experiences.

When I was asked to record a video from home, I had to get creative about my set-up. I have no real filming equipment, no special rigs for cameras or a ring light to highlight my face and work. I simply looked around my home and commandeered a range of objects to create a make-shift filming studio.

Cheap video setup at home overhead camera

It was important to have two different camera views in the video. My laptop would be aimed at my face, and my phone would be aimed at my work surface. Positioning the laptop was simple enough: I collected a small box and stack of books to get it to the right height. To create my camera rig for the overhead shots, I took a clothing rack and extended the reach with a couple of rulers. My husband has an extensive ruler collection, which came in real handy for this task. The phone is then carefully taped to the end of the ruler. This extension ensures the clothing rack is not in the video frame. Plus the height of the rack is adjustable and on wheels. This makes it easier to move around and zoom into my work surface.

Both devices are able to connect to the same Zoom meeting, where the video can be recorded. When recording with someone else, either party has the ability to record.

To get around the issue of lighting, I make sure to record on a sunny day and set-up right in front of a window (in the sunniest room in my house). This offered decent lighting for both my face and work surface. I am also working in a room with doors, so I can shut out noise from the rest of the house and any surprise visits from my cats.

It may not be the most impressive set-up, but in a pinch it has worked to create video that is clear and bright. Making these videos has been quite a departure from my usual way of teaching. It takes some getting used to, especially if you don’t have a co-teacher along for the ride with you. But it can also be really fun to engage with your students in a new way and expand to a new audience. So start rummaging around your house for items you can repurpose into filming equipment!