Good tech isn’t just for Christmas.
TechSmith is proud to present the ultimate gift guide for the video creator, audio editor, or remote worker in your life.
If you want to level-up your video or audio production, or want to know what products the TechSmith team recommends to make truly great videos, then your Christmas has come early! The TechSmith team are sharing their top tech gifts, as well as their tips and ideas for communicating more successfully online.
This post reveals our top audio and video gift recommendations, including microphones, lighting, camera, headphones, and more. It also shares advice from members of the TechSmith team including Ryan Bort, Austin Norton, Dave Patton, Mike Kujansuu, Jessie O’Donnell, Rachael Parker, and Matt Pierce.
You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…
Top audio gifts
Above all else, the first thing we recommend you invest in is good audio.
Poor-quality audio is the number one reason people stop watching or listening to a piece of content, so it’s worth investing in a good microphone.
Austin Norton is a TechSmith Project Manager, and he believes that while better audio is a no-brainer for anyone creating videos or audio content, it can also improve communication.
“Having good audio quality removes one less barrier of being a clear communicator. In my role, that’s super important. It’s always easier to listen to someone speaking when they have good audio quality. I want to make it as easier for me to communicate clearly.”
So, don’t underestimate the power of a good microphone. If you want to level up your video or audio content, then investing in a microphone really is the best place to start. It’ll mean less time and money spent on audio editing tools as well as better communication between you and your team or audience.
There are a variety of different microphone options out there, from USB desk mics to shotgun mics, and even lapel mics – which can be hooked up to a digital recorder for producing audio content on the go. Depending on your wants and needs, you’ll need to consider what microphone features are essential for you.
There’s a lot to think about when choosing headphones, for example, what do you need practically? If you’re a runner, you’ll need ones that don’t easily fall out (or off). But if you use your headphones a lot, they’ll also need to be comfortable to wear for a long period.
Next, consider what you’ll be using them for. A video or audio editor will have very different headphone requirements to a casual podcast listener. With so many different types available, it’s possible to find a pair of headphones that should suit your intended needs.
Ryan Bort, TechSmith’s Brand Experience Coordinator, recommends AfterShokz bone conduction headphones. These sit outside the ear, allowing the user to still be present in their environment without compromising on sound quality. Here’s why Ryan loves them:
“If you go for a run, it’s safer to hear traffic or anything that might be going on around you. You’re aware of your environment, but I actually use them more in the office. I can hear conversations when we’re in the office, I can hear others talking and I can still jump into conversations.”
But Ryan also notes that it’s a good idea to have more than one pair if you’re using headphones a lot or have varying needs. For example, he uses a noise-cancelling pair when video editing as they help him to focus on the sound. And, while Bluetooth headphones are a popular choice, they run out of battery eventually! Avoid being caught short by having a back-up pair, that you can plug into your device if needed.
One point Ryan stresses is to be aware of ear safety when using headphones. It might be tempting to turn your favorite tune up louder but be aware of the long-lasting effects.
Audio editing software
If you’re a video or audio creator, you’ll know how time consuming the editing process can be. Mistakes happen all of the time and finding them in a large file can be like looking for a needle in a haystack – especially with audio files.
Audiate automatically transcribes audio and lets you use the transcription as a way of editing. Stuttered or said the wrong thing? Find your mistake in the transcription and delete what shouldn’t be there, just like editing a text document. Audiate then edits the audio file, based on your text changes. Matt Pierce calls it “a visual editor for audio”.
You can also remove background noise, echoes, and neaten up your audio files with ease. Austin recommends Audiate for this reason:
“It’s very, very user friendly. I don’t make a lot of videos, so for someone like me, it’s easy to edit your audio without having to like track waveforms and get into the really nitty gritty.”
You don’t need any prior audio-editing experience to make the most of Audiate so it’s perfect for any beginner.
TechSmith recommends: Audiate
Top video gifts
An easy way to upgrade your appearance on camera is to invest in lighting.
LED lights are a great way to enhance your lighting game. They come with multiple options to adjust temperature, colors, brightness, and more. They’re also smaller than traditional box lights, portable, as many come with battery packs, and don’t require the extra expense of bulbs. A proper lighting setup is highly recommended if you want to produce better quality videos.
But if you’re working from home, consider how your lighting affects how you appear on camera. Can your team see you properly? Small changes like using a desk lamp and switching off your overhead light can make a big difference, and allow your team to connect with you, rather than your shadow.
TechSmith recommends: LED lights
An obvious way to improve your video quality is to use a camera fit for your needs. Cameras are one of the most expensive investments you can make in video production, but they’re worth it.
If you’re a beginner video creator, Matt Pierce, TechSmith’s Learning and Video Ambassador, advises to use what you have first. Whether it’s a webcam or a smartphone camera, getting comfortable with your existing technology and learning some video recording basics first can pay dividends if you do eventually decide to spring for a more professional option.
For recording the TechSmith livestreams and video podcasts, Matt uses the Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera. While he believes better cameras give better results, it comes with the caveat of knowing how to work the more complex technology for those improved results. His advice for budding video creators is to:
“Focus on making good video, good content, and then up the quality of the video.”
TechSmith recommends: Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera
Screen recording and video editing software
Training videos, video job aids, and video tutorials or instructions have been increasingly popular this year. Even if you’re not a video creator, you may have found yourself recording your screen in order to show a friend, family member, or colleague how to use a piece of software, in lieu of actually being with them.
Easy-to-use screen recording and video editing software can make a real difference to how you produce these types of videos, and how well they’re received. Mike Kujansuu is a Portfolio Marketing Manager at TechSmith, and he primarily uses Camtasia for creating clear and effective tutorial videos.
“You might have family members who get some new technology, computers or devices this holiday season. Give them a true gift by making a tutorial so that they can actually use it. Because if not, they may reach out to you again and again with different questions.”
They also open up so many possibilities for being creative! Mike suggests that if you haven’t seen your family or friends much this year, a great gift could be a holiday greeting video with pictures, images, and video, showing what you’ve been up to.
People often hesitate about investing in video editing software because it can take some work to understand how the program works. However Mike’s advice for any video creator (no matter how amateur) is to just start playing around with the software and features.
Creative projects are a great way to take the pressure off and enjoy learning how to use the program. You can create tutorials, holiday videos, liven up a presentation with animations or moving images. For beginners, Mike advises to start with materials you already have, and find out how you can bring them to life through video.
TechSmith recommends: Camtasia
Top remote working gifts
How can a background affect the way you work?
You might have seen more of your colleagues’ homes this year than ever before thanks to video conferencing technology, but does it affect the way they work – or even how you respond to them?
Dave Patton, TechSmith’s Media Coordinator, learned an interesting lesson when he first decided to use a simple Ikea room divider as his background.
“One of the benefits that I wasn’t really expecting is it actually helps me focus. Every morning I go through putting up the screen, aligning the camera, and getting ready. It helps me focus on my work and I’m not concerned about anything going on behind me.”
There are many benefits to having a background, whether you’re a video creator or do a lot of video calls. They can help establish more about your personality, create a professional image, remove distractions, and hide some of those working-from-home realities, like laundry baskets!
It’s important to consider if your background is suitable for your video content. For example, if you’re on a video call with your colleagues or creating an entertaining video, decorations and props can help to showcase your personality. However, if you’re presenting an informative webinar and need your audience to focus, a less distracting background might benefit you more.
TechSmith recommends: Ikea room divider
When you feel good, you work better. Looking after yourself can be one of the best ways to improve your videos so make sure you’re looking after yourself when you’re working remotely.
Rachael Parker, TechSmith’s Brand Experience Strategy Manager, noticed many changes in her working experience when she transitioned to working from home. One of which being that she started to drink much more water.
It’s important to take care of your voice no matter how you’re talking to your colleagues. Staying hydrated will put your voice under less strain, and makes it easier to record videos or audio material without having to take a break.
Another thing Rachael noticed was that she wasn’t as active at home. Many of us spend a lot of time sat at a desk, and Rachael wanted to make this more comfortable. So she invested in a Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager.
“Sitting is really great or not great for your muscles, and it actually gives me headaches. This pillow was so very much worth it. It’s heated, so it’s pretty great. I can just sit there and relax while I’m on my meetings.”
TechSmith recommends: Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager
To recap, here are TechSmith’s top tech gifts:
- Microphone: Blue Yeti or FIFINE USB Microphone
- Headphones: AfterShokz bone conduction headphones
- Audio editing software: Audiate
- Lighting: LED lights
- Camera: Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera
- Screen recording and video editing software: Camtasia
- Background: Ikea room divider
- Wellness: Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager
Don’t forget to treat yourself too! Level up your video and audio production skills for free at the TechSmith Academy account. Sign up to get access to courses, advice, and more.