How To Create a Professional Video Studio for Under $1,500

video, youtube, law firm marketing, legal marketing, larry bodineBy following these simple directions, you can create your own studio for less than $1,500. It helps if you have a do-it-yourself attitude and a thrifty for approach to life. Here's how I did it.

Start with an empty office in your firm. Then sit down in it and read the following book: YouTube for Business - Online Video Marketing for Any Business by Michael Miller - used for $10.  It will teach you about the equipment you'll need, lighting and camera techniques like shooting angles and the "rule of thirds." The book will show you how to edit your video and upload it to YouTube.

Then get an HD camcorder. Do not cheap out on the camera. Get yourself a Sony HDR-PJ10 Camcorder at Best Buy for $700. It sells online for $595. The key features are an input jack for a microphone, a high-speed USB port to transfer the video to your computer and a wireless remote. It also has neat swing-out viewer to see yourself while you're recording. Check Cnet for reviews of other camcorders. Do not get a Flip camera because it has no mike jack and they're not making these cameras anymore.

Also pick up a 72" tripod (tall enough for stand-up videos) - $40 - and a wireless lavaliere mike - get an Audio-Technica PRO88W-R35 on Amazon  for $140. Do not rely on the camera's mike which will pick up background noise. For lights, get a pair of Flashpoint SoftBox, 70 watt fluorescent lights units with a nine-foot light stand. Cost: $60 online per kit. Finally, visit a good camera store and get a muslin backdrop with a stand - $200.

There are two choices for video editing software. I recommend Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10 for $99 with "show me how" videos. The software lets you add titles, captions, transitions, trim the video and tweak it. Mac users should get Final Cut Pro.

You don't need to be George Lucas to shoot video.  I use a straightforward, non-glitzy style. Check out my initial work on YouTube. So far I have 77 subscribers without really trying. I think that videos that are overly busy with editing razzmatazz distract from the content -- which is you.

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Gerry Oginski - March 8, 2011 12:26 AM

Thanks for the mention Larry!

Lawyers who are willing to spend the time and have the desire to become a videographer, video editor and video publisher would be wise to read all that Larry has recommended.

The biggest obstacle I have found with fellow attorneys is that they have no interest in becoming the office videographer or video editor or want to learn how to upload videos to all the video sharing sites. In that instance, they need to look for an experienced video production company that handles attorney video. What better video producer than an experienced trial lawyer who helps other lawyers create video to market their law firms.

Again, thanks for the mention.

Melanie Trudeau - March 8, 2011 12:44 PM

Blue Microphone recently released their Mikey for Flip: Wondering what the first impressions are with this addition to the Flip camera's microphone capabilities.

Chris Ballard - March 8, 2011 2:44 PM

Great Post Larry. I have been reading your blog for years and find it of great interest.
Having produced all types of videos for all types of attorneys for over 35 years, I can assure you and agree with Gerry that trial attorneys do not have the time or desire to become a videographer/editor/producer. I can count on 3 hands how many lawyer offices I have visited with old video equipment all stacked up in the "old" post room, with the first question out of their mouth, "can you please help us Chris?"
Gerry even amazes me that he can try cases, tun his law practice and still do all the hard work he does with his video production business. My hat is off to both of you!

Gerry Oginski - March 13, 2011 10:07 AM

Thanks Chris!

There will always be lawyers who will try and do things on their own, but the majority of them simply want to practice law and don't want to deal with the marketing side.

I always analogize it to the person who would rather climb up on their roof to fix a hole on their own instead of calling a contractor. Or if their sink has a leak, they may pull out their plumbing tools and spend the next eight hours trying to fix something that a licensed plumber could take care of in 15 minutes. Or even better, if your wristwatch breaks, they pull out their jewelers tools and spend the next three days trying to figure out where the tiny little screw goes in order to fix their broken watch, rather than taking it into a jeweler to be fixed.

There many people online who claim to make the video process simple and easy. While it is true that you could simply get a flip camera, shoot a quick video and automatically upload to YouTube, most attorneys would agree that is not the type of video and image they want to present to the online world for their practice.

It is always a trade-off about where you want to invest your time and resources. Smart attorneys recognize that they can better leverage their time and expertise by hiring experienced video professionals to create video for them and they can make better use their time to generate more income. The really smart attorneys learn how to leverage their time with someone else's expertise to get the best fit.

Zen Time - May 8, 2011 8:17 PM

Would you mind emailing me some links to lighting options? In you blog post, you mention 1200 watt work lights. When I looked those up online, I noted they are "halogen" lights. I have read elsewhere that it is paramount to use "flourescent" lights. Unfortunately the cheap options for these lights are the long bulky kind that make it difficult to be portable. Can you recommend inexpensive, flourescent, portable lights?

Reply from Larry Bodine: I do not recommend fluorescent lights at all. They give off greenish light. Do not use them.
Halogen lights are very bright and give off white light. They are hot, yes, but you don't need to leave them on except for when you are shooting video. Plus halogen lights are cheap. You can spend a ton of money on LED and other fancy liigts, but they are not worth it.

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