Cheap recordings for YouTube BOM

Sometimes you want to record a meetup or presentation - just because no one else will. I'll tell you a few cheap things I picked up that have helped me produce some amateur videos with little hassle in case you want to do this. I had posted some of these when I had just bought them, but I picked up a few more items since then. Also, please note that all links have my amazon affiliate code in case you end up buying something :)


In 2016 most flagship cell phones have really good cameras. Now, if you can get a real video recorder, those have better and bigger sensors, but my case is that recent cell phones produce good enough results. I know , for example, my LG v10 can record 4k video; and more than raw sensor numbers, advancements like laser auto-focus and optical image stabilization have made smartphones a "good enough" video recorder.


Most meetups and presentations take a while - and if you are going to put a video in YouTube, you don't want it to be a wobbly mess. No matter how good you think you can hold a cell phone, please get a tripod. You can get tripods with attachments that will hold any size cell phone. I have two, a really small one to record on top of a table, and a versatile one that can be expanded and used standalone. You want functional and light so that it's easy to carry around.


Sound I think is the most crucial component in recording meetups or interviews - relying on the phone microphone will produce bad results, and if you can't hear the person, the video is worthless. I find that lavaliere microphones work the best and you can find several types and qualities. I particularly like a double headed microphone I found that works well for interviews, even in noisy environments. The other thing you must be careful about is having a long enough cable so you can get close to the speaker, which helps a lot to give the speaker room to move, or even if the person can not wear it for X or Y reason, so you can put it where audio can be picked up best.

Recording software

I tried several softwares in my android-based phone and the one that worked the best was OpenCamera. Really like how you can setup the options and then just rely on it, while telling you statistics like battery and free space available. This also creates a sub-folder inside DCIM so my personal recordings are kept separate from my session recordings. When you are recording, you can click on a particular thing so that the phone forces focus to it, or you can let it auto-focus in the settings.


You want to have enough free space. When recording at 1080P (mp4) I find 5GB will give me around 45 minutes of recording time. You can change this to match your needs, but this format uploads very well to YouTube and gives me the 1080 HD option when playing back.

Video Editing

You want to be able to add in images for when a powerpoint presentation is not legible, or to simply add a banner before the video or text, etc. This one is probably the one where I'm still looking for an open source (and thus free), yet simple and effective solution. NCH's VideoPad Video Editor is very easy to use and there is a free version for home use, but that means YouTube wouldn't be allowed. I'm now going to test with OpenShot on Ubuntu and Windows - so stay tuned.

Bill of Materials:

Any modern smartphone with a good camera - your mileage will vary. The LG v10 has "Camera (Main): 16 MP, 5312 x 2988 pixels, laser autofocus, optical image stabilization" and there's already a LG v20 out.

Lavalier Microphone for smartphone audio jack - this microphone has served me well so far in all situations. When only recording one source, don't use the smaller microphone, since it records at a lower volume than the main one if not used with the adapter.

Extension TRRS cable - this cable has served me well while being easy to take with me - no complaints at all. 

Small desk tripod - this really small tripod is useful when you are recording from a conference table - it doesn't interfere with other's line of sight. The phone adapter is removable.

Larger expandable tripod - this larger tripod is still small enough to put in a normal backpack, but can expand to 50" with a nice tiltable head. Again, the phone holder adapter is removable so it can be used with other adapters, and interchanged with the other tripod's. I found the Bluetooth clicker to be unreliable (would click by itself or not work at times) and stopped using it.

Best of luck, and if you find a better component at the same price (or less), I'd love to hear about it :)