Video blogs, also known as “vlogs,” have become very popular in the last few years. What are they? They are regularly scheduled personal or professional video releases that share a common theme. To get an idea of what vlogging looks like go to YouTube video hosting service, where many vloggers post their work. Most are looking for some sort of response from those viewing it, and hopefully they’ll get people looking back week after week, to see what the next vlog in the series is. The best vlogs are those where it is clear that the vlogger has a deep interest in a particular subject, and usually some degree of insight, skill, knowledge or experience. From fixing leaking pipes, to learning to play an instrument, to reviewing films- all you need is some passion and a commitment to regularly post new vlogs on the same subject. In fact now is the perfect time to be a vlogger. With lots of social media websites and multimedia facilitators like YouTube and MySpace, there are lots of places to place your vlogs… and a whole new generation of camcorders have emerged that is geared toward Vloggers.
While you can post a vlog using just a webcam, the trend towards better quality and pseudo-professional vlogs means that you should be looking for an HD video camera/Panasonic camcorder. While you can go for a top-of-the-range camcorder with all the trimmings, you can produce perfectly good vlogs from the latest mini camcorders. These have the advantage of being both simple to use, and small enough to carry around with you. Start off with one of these and get used to vlogging. You may well find that a mini camcorder will be totally adequate for all your vlogs. However if you find that you need something more sophisticated, then you can explore the range of more feature-full camcorders.
As an example, here’s the Toshiba S40. For just over £100 you can get Film Full HD 1080p footage through a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor. It has an electronic stabiliser and 5x digital zoom in HD mode and 10x digital zoom in VGA mode. It will capture film footage for your vlogs and 16-megapixel still images using the 3″ touch screen and then save them to a memory card. It has a mini HDMI output for optimum connectivity.
You’ll also need some editing software to home your vlog into something sweet; Windows Movie-Maker is popular, as is Adobe’s Vlog It! And iMovie. If you want something sophisticated then take a look at Adobe’s flagship editing suite: Premiere Elements.
You should make sure your camcorder has zoom, wide-angle, and can shoot in low-lighting conditions. You will also need to have one that fits comfortable in your grip. There’s nothing more irritating than a YouTube vlog that makes you sea-sick because of camera shake! At the end of the day it’s about your budget and the extent of your desire to create professional-looking vlogs that will hook people into returning to see what your latest episode is. Have a look at other people’s vlogs and if you see some you like, respond, and while you’re responding, ask them what equipment they used. Most vloggers are only too happy to impart details of the tools of their trade!