Internet Explorer doesn’t work well with our website. We recommend using a different browser like Google Chrome.

If you’re looking for tips on how to create your first home video recording studio, you’re probably looking to take your content production up a notch. 

Setting up a studio to record high-quality videos from home may seem daunting, requiring skills you may not have or equipment you can’t afford, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this article, we’ll walk you through seven easy steps to setting up your at-home video studio. Starting with the three most common setups, we’ll cover audio, video, lighting, your backdrop, and post-production for all budget sizes. 

If you prefer to sit back and learn, check out this video on how to set up an easy DIY home video studio setup:

Skip ahead:

7 steps to set up your home video recording studio

  1. Plan your home video studio setup

Of YouTube’s 51 million channels, the average home video studio setup will fit into one of three main categories. These categories are: 

  1. Talking head videos
  2. Full body videos
  3. Top-down videos

The setup you use will likely depend on the content you want to share with your audience. So, let’s take a closer look at each category, exploring scenarios where each one will be most useful. 

  1. The talking head setup

Humans are social animals, so it’s no surprise that the talking head setup is one of the most popular video studio setups. 

In this setup, the creator is only visible from the waist up. Here’s an example of what that looks like from our very own Aaron Morin: 

Some creators will opt for a head-on angle, shooting from directly in front of the speaker. Others will choose to record at an angle, like Aaron. Ultimately, the choice is yours, so feel free to get creative and experiment with what works best for you, your content, and your viewers. 

The talking head setup has two main advantages.

  1. It allows you to make eye contact with the camera, helping you create a feeling of connection with your audience. Like we said, people are social beings, and viewers respond better when a human face is on screen. 
  2. The setup works, regardless of how much space you have to film. Talking head setups place the focus on you, so your background can be as expansive as Unbox Therapy’s or as close as 3 feet behind you. 

Please note that his setup is most useful when you don’t have to physically demonstrate a full-body process, like building a treehouse or learning a new skating skill. 

While you’re free to record and edit however you want, switching between floating headshots and B-roll of full-body activities can make your content feel disconnected. Viewers want to feel like they’re in the moment with you, so stick to one setup in each video when you can. 

Here’s an overhead view of what a talking-head video recording setup looks like using a softbox light source:

  1. The full-body setup

Similar to the talking head setup, the full-body setup still allows viewers to put a face to the brand, but now, they can view your entire body.

This setup is less common than the talking head setup because it’s typically used for full-body activities, something not every creator needs to capture on film. Examples of creators requiring this kind of setup are yoga instructors, online fitness coaches, and fashion influencers. 

 Here’s an example of what this setup looks like from Thinkific creator Phil Hynes

Phil clearly needs the full-body setup to demonstrate his workouts effectively. Unfortunately, you’ll need a little more room for this kind of setup because your camera must be positioned far away enough to fit your whole body in the frame. 

Here’s how you’d set up your recording studio for a full body shot: 

  1. The top-down setup

The top-down setup is the preferred video studio setup for creators looking to avoid on-screen appearances or capture hands-on activities at a table. Examples of creators who will enjoy this setup most include chefs, illustrators, tech reviewers, and crafters. 

Here’s an example of what the top-down setup looks like for Evelyn Wood, a Thinkific creator in the sewing niche. 

For a top-down set-up, you can use a desk-mounted adjustable arm to position your camera exactly where you want it:

Once you’ve decided on your setup, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll record audio. 

  1. Audio setup and quality

It’s important to have the best equipment and software to record audio and video, so let’s tackle audio setup and quality first. We’ll discuss video later. 

  1. Microphone

You can have the best content on the market, but if your audio quality is subpar, your viewers won’t stick around to find out what you have to say. That’s why our advice is to use the best recording equipment your budget will allow. 

If you’re just starting out, you may not need to purchase equipment just for collecting audio. In these cases, we recommend using your mobile phone or video camera to collect audio with your video. In many cases, this will even make your content feel more authentic. 

On the low end, we recommend the Snowball Microphone. The Snowball is a good mic if you plan on doing voiceover layered over your footage. This type of microphone is for stationary, close-range use only.

On the higher end, we recommend the Shure SM57. This microphone is considered one of the best for home studios and will capture crisp, clear audio for your content.

  1. Soundproofing

 Part of delivering excellent quality for listeners is ensuring that background or ambient noise doesn’t ruin your recording. 

As a general rule of thumb, avoid spaces with lots of hard surfaces, like a bathroom. These spaces will create reverb and echoing, which can lower the quality of your recording. 

To help reduce ambient noise and echo, invest in some cost-effective solutions like foam acoustic panels. Alternatively, consider recording in rooms with carpet, hanging up blankets out of frame, or even recording in your closet. Fabric is great at absorbing sound, keeping it from echoing off the hard surfaces in your environment. 

  1. Optimize for quality lighting

Proper lighting can really make a difference in the quality of the video you’re creating, so think about how you’re going to light your setup.

In our setup diagrams, we’ve listed softboxes as the light source. Softboxes are effectively specialized lamps that bounce light in one direction while simultaneously diffusing the light over the space they are pointed toward. 

The point of a softbox is to give the creator control over lighting intensity and direction. You can’t tell the sun where to shine, but you can move a lightbox. 

You can find softboxes on Amazon ranging from $20 to hundreds of dollars. However, natural light is an entirely free alternative if you’d rather not spend money on lighting. 

To use natural lighting in your home studio, arrange your setup in front of a window or large door. Make sure there’s not too much light behind you (unless you’re going for the dark silhouette look). If you have no choice but to have the window behind you, a good tip is to drape the window source with an opaque white curtain to soften or diffuse the light coming in. 

Here’s an example of a natural lighting setup from XayLi Barclay’s home studio.

And while it may sound obvious, using natural light means you can’t record at night. So you’ll be confined to late morning, midday, and early afternoon hours. Additionally, recording over a long period of time may mean your lighting changes throughout the video—something to keep in mind if you’re going for consistency. . 

  1. Video recording

Nowadays, most modern smartphones can record high-quality video, giving creators the option to record from their phones without having to invest in expensive cameras. 

If you choose this route, we recommend making sure your phone can capture at a minimum of 1080p resolution. However, once you get to post-production, any crop or zoom will reduce the resolution of your footage. More is better in this case, so the higher the resolution, the better off you’ll be—ideally, try to shoot in 4K. 

If you’d like to invest in a professional camera, here are a few recommendations: 

  1. Camera mounts

Whether you choose to film with your phone or a dedicated camera, you’ll need something to put it on while you film. Here are our recommendations for camera mounts. 

  1. Smartphone Tripod

Coming in at less than $20, the Ubeesize tripod stands tall at 60” and is reviewed by more than 80,000 people. This tripod is an excellent choice for creators with a tight budget.  

  1. Dual Purpose Tripod

The Manfrotto compact tripod is a more expensive alternative at $180. But unlike tripods dedicated to mobile phones, this tripod offers attachments for both phones and professional cameras, giving you the ability to upgrade or switch devices. 

As an added bonus, the Manfrotto brand comes with its own ecosystem of accessories. The mini tripod is a creator favorite and works great for handheld recording and on-the-go environments. 

The universal clamp, Manfrotto’s phone-compatible attachment, is sold separately and works with a variety of tripods. 

  1. Desk Clamp

For creators using the top-down setup, we recommend this Webcam Stand Camera Mount. It’s compatible with phones, ring lights, and DSLR cameras. 

  1. Design your backdrop

Rounding out the materials you’ll need in a video recording studio setup is your background. You don’t want to record a whole series of videos with an ugly backdrop, so you’ll need to plan what’s happening behind you.

Here’s XayLi showing off her backdrop in a video about recording tips.

When designing and arranging your backdrop, here are some things to consider: 

  • Keep it simple – A cluttered, busy background will distract your viewers from what matters most: you. 
  • Consider your colors – Aim to create contrast without overwhelming viewers. For example, don’t wear all black if your background is already pretty dark. Instead, try a soft neutral. 
  • Create depth – If possible, put some distance between you and the objects in your background. Creating depth between you and the background will add a professional polish to your edited content. 
  • Don’t forget background lighting – Box Lighting and windows will illuminate you, but they may not reach your background. If your background is too dark, consider adding background lighting. As a bonus, you can use these lights to add contrast as well.
  • Personalize thoughtfully – You don’t need to rush to the store to buy all new props for your video background. In most cases, you can use things you already own, just make sure your repurposed props also align with your content. For example, it would make sense for Evelyn Wood to have a mannequin, sewing machine, and fabric rolls in the background. 

And finally, don’t forget to experiment and adjust. Swap out props, try new colors, and experiment with depth. Over time, you’ll find what you and your viewers like best. 

  1. Post-Production

After filming, you’ll need a way to edit your videos. Here are some of the best video editing software and apps for creators. 

  1. iMovie

iMovie is an application that comes free with most Apple devices. It’s a comprehensive tool that’s easy to use and great for beginners. iMovie allows up to two video tracks and is supported on mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, so you can create on the go even when you don’t have a laptop or desktop with you. 

  1. Final Cut Pro

Like iMovie, Final Cut Pro is another Apple Exclusive. At $299.99, this video editing tool is designed for professionals and is best suited for the experienced content creator. The tool supports up to 4K resolution, advanced video editing tools, 360-degree video editing, and more. Notably, it does not support mobile editing, so you won’t be able to edit from your phone. 

  1. Adobe Premiere Rush

Adobe Premiere Rush is a tool that comes from the industry-leading Adobe suite of editing tools. The free version, Premiere Rush Starter, gives you access to basic editing tools, unlimited exports, and Adobe’s free soundtrack library. For a little more, at $9.99/month, you can access premium features like 4K exporting, advanced sharing, auto reframing, and more. This tool is designed to appeal to digital content creators, making it an excellent choice for content editing. 

  1. Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is to Premiere Rush as Final Cut Pro is to iMovie: it’s the more complex, more expensive version. Coming in at $22.99/month, Adobe Premiere Pro is aimed at professionals with at least a little editing experience. While not impossible to learn, there is much more of a learning curve to it than with Premiere Rush. Premiere Pro will be most enjoyed by creators who have an established editing workflow and specifically need the tool’s unique features and integrations. 

  1. Maintain and upgrade your studio

In this post, we’ve emphasized the importance of selecting tools and equipment that support your growth, from tripods to editing software. Strategic planning for growth ensures a smooth and effortless scaling process as you expand your audience and scale your online course business, YouTube channel, podcast, or other endeavor.

So how can you plan for growth and maintain and upgrade your video studio setup regularly? 

  1. Reassess your business regularly: Creating content can feel like a carousel that never stops turning. So, plan to take breaks and evaluate the quality of your content, your workflow efficiency, and equipment every once in a while. 
  2. Invest in quality: Quality equipment is a smart investment that prevents the accumulation of “small” expenses. For example, replacing an inexpensive tripod multiple times could end up being more costly than investing in a slightly higher-priced, more durable model from the start. Money saved here is funds you can allocate elsewhere.
  3. Adapt to changes in technology: Technology is always changing. While you don’t need to buy every new iteration of your camera, staying informed about technological advancements and considering timely upgrades can improve your workflow or content quality. 
  4. Invest in yourself: As the mastermind behind your operation, your own knowledge is invaluable. While there are an infinite number of free resources for learning skills like photography, writing, or editing, it may be worth it to occasionally invest in paid courses or coaching sessions with established professionals. 
  5. Reinvest in your business: It can take months, or even years, to earn a profit from an online business. So, it’s tempting to blow your first “paycheck” when it finally arrives—we get it. While we’re big fans of rewarding yourself for all your hard work, it’s also important to take that hard earned cash and put it to work. Your money can be spent to upgrade equipment, pay for a course on a critical skill, or add a new tool to your toolbox. 

There you have it! 

Content creation is a continuous cycle of production, self-evaluation, and improvement—and it all begins with how you choose to establish, maintain, and eventually upgrade your home video studio setup.

Follow these 7 steps to set up your home video recording studio and you’ll be off to a great start. 

Want to learn more about video production? Check out one of these related guides:

  1. The 11 Best Video Editing Software and Apps
  2. The Success Formula for Building Your Personal Brand With Video
  3. Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses
  4. How to Create Training Videos (Step By Step Guide + Examples)
  5. How to Repurpose Video Content in 6 Simple Steps

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Do I need expensive equipment for a home video studio?

Creators don’t need expensive equipment for a home video studio. You can start a professional home studio using equipment you already have, like a modern smartphone, free editing software, and props you have around the house. And for those with small budgets, there are a range of studio tools and software you can use without breaking the bank. 

  1. Can I use natural light for video recording?

You can use natural light for video recording. In fact, in many cases, natural light is the best light. But it doesn’t come without its challenges. You’ll need to take extra steps to ensure the lighting isn’t too harsh, changing too much throughout a shot, or casting harsh shadows. 

This blog was originally published in May 2020, it’s since been updated in March 2024.