It is possible to self tape to a perfectly good standard just using items that you already have at home. You can shoot your tape in front of a blank, light coloured wall, use natural light from windows, ceiling lights or lamps each side of you and use the video mode included on your mobile phone or tablet. Most newer mobile devices are capable of filming video in HD, so there is little point in going out and buying an expensive camera just for this purpose (until, of course, UHD, 4K or 8K become the minimum acceptable filming resolutions, which they will one day, but probably not for several years, when devices and cameras will be updated accordingly).
That said, you can upgrade some of the other equipment you use to self tape, to make your tape look and feel more professional. This needn’t cost a fortune and can be done item by item, as and when you feel the need, you can afford it and are being asked to self tape more, so can justify the expense. Remember, though, that any money you spend on these items – and other things which are essential in order for you to pursue your performing career (including the cost of the eBook) – is tax deductible against any profits (or losses) you may make.
We’ve focused on four different aspects for your home studio…
The optimum colour for a self tape background is grey, so think about your space and needs and decide which the best is for you.
If the space you’re planning to use is quite dark, or lacking natural light, extra lighting is a must and these options will give you plenty of choice.
While you can use a table or ladder to steady your camera or device, a tripod will ensure your shots are not only clear, but your equipment is also held safely.
While the microphone in your device will pick up your voice, it will also pick up background noise and the voice of anyone reading in with you (maybe more than your own). Using an external microphone, plugged into your device, will help your voice to be at the forefront of your recording.
I’ve created three different packages below, which vary in quality, sophistication and price, ranging from under £40.00 for the most basic to around £180.00 for professional studio quality. The prices quoted may go up or down, but if you click on each picture or link, they’ll take you to that item’s Amazon page, which will tell you more and show other alternatives. These are all well worth considering, can be mixed and matched and are great value for the price, but you can, of course, find other similar items elsewhere.
This 275cm x 275cm grey sheet, costing £7.61, can be pinned or draped to create a versatile background (and used on your bed in between times!).
Using a small selfie light, which attaches around the camera of your device and costs £6.80, will add some brightness to your tapes.
If you already have a table, this phone tripod at £10.98, will hold your device steady and add height, in a cost effective solution.
This external microphone, comes complete with stand and 2m lead, is good value at £15.99 and plugs into your device.
A basic setup for around £40.00
This collapsible background measures 2m x 1.5m, is reversible with grey and blue sides and costs £49.99. It can be hung up or used freestanding and folds away neatly for storage when not in use.
If you need more power than a selfie light, this ring light has a stand, adjustable brightness, colours and angle and is only £25.99. It’s powered by USB (though you can plug it into an electricity socket using a USB adapter plug) and is easy to store.
At just £14.58, this sturdy 50 inch tripod is great value and comes complete with a carrying bag. If you plan to shoot your tape using your phone or tablet, use it with this excellent tripod adapter (£12.49) will ensure that either device is held steadily and securely.
A microphone that’s attached to your body will pick up your voice all the better and this reasonably priced model, at £20.00, again plugs straight into your device and has an extension lead.
A more professional set up, coming in at under £125.00.
Now if you want your tapes to look really slick, this is the combination for you. The studio quality equipment is more expensive, but will last longer and is worth the investment, especially if you’re a regular taper…
If your space is large enough, you should consider a professional background. This 1.8m x 2.8m grey cloth background (£19.99) is a great choice. It can be draped or suspended using up to 4 spring clamps which are £4.99, or for a really professional look, couple it with this 2m x 2.26m studio background support system at £31.00, which is adjustable and collapsible for easy storage.
The pair of 60cm x 60cm softbox lights with stands, costing £49.99, are a fantastic buy and will light your recordings perfectly, as well as folding up small when not in use.
While there are more expensive tripods on the market, few offer much more for fairly static self taping purposes, so it may not be worth spending more money on anything more flashy. I'd therefore recommend Amazon's sturdy 50 inch tripod that I mentioned earlier, costing £14.58, together with the tripod adapter at £12.49, if you are going to use your phone or tablet for shooting your tape.
Lastly, this Rode Smartlav+ microphone is specifically designed for use with devices, clips onto your clothing and offers superior sound quality, costing £53.00.
An excellent self tape studio, and all for less than £190.00.
You may also want to invest in an extension socket that includes power surge protection, to plug all your new equipment and device or computer into, which range from about £6.00-£12.00, for 4 or 6 sockets and 1 or 3 metres of cable. If you're using the USB ring light, you might need a USB power adapter, which costs £3.99 (though you may already have been given one as a charger when you bought your phone or tablet) and if you have a newer iPhone or iPad without a 3.5mm headphone jack socket, you'll need a conversion lead to plug your microphone into the device's lightning socket, which you can buy directly from Apple for £9.00. Lastly, if you want to convert a room into a dedicated studio, or paint one or more of your walls as a background, Dulux Grey Steel 1 paint is the perfect shade and the one that’s used by many self tape and casting studios.