Way back in the day, far into the last century, I had the pleasure and learning experience building a video and audio production studio to create television commercials for a growing advertising agency. The grand total for hardware alone was around $250,000. That list included digital video effects, Chyron for onscreen text, a plubmicon tube camera, a Sony switcher and editing system, three Sony video recorders for A/B roll and master, a mobile video recorder, a few multi-track audio recorders, a variety of broadcast quality microphones, and a mobile lighting system.
Today, a Mac, an iPhone, and a microphone can produce higher quality digital video for about 1-percent of the price tag I paid a few decades ago.
Yes. The iPhone shoots video in 4K. A $200 dynamic microphone rivals standard broadcast fare. And the Mac comes with all the built-in applications you need to produce 1080p video productions to rival that of most television stations.
Here’s a recommended setup.
MacBook – $1,299: More power is always a plus, but even a lowly MacBook runs iMovie and Garageband with ease.
iPhone – $769: I would go for the entry-level iPhone 7 Plus, just because of the camera.
Microphone – $199: I own many microphones; the Raspberry dynamic mic is hard to beat for the price. If you prefer a good, compact, condenser mic, try the Apogee MiC96. The advantage of both is USB and Lightning connectors, so they can be used with the iPhone.
iMovie – say what you will about iMovie, but it’s all digital and makes editing video quick and painless.
Garageband – this is an amazing value and it comes with every Mac and iPhone; perfect for sweetening audio before or after editing video.
Grand Total: $2,267, sans tax. If you’re brave at heart and don’t mind a smaller screen, ditch the Mac and go with iMovie and Garageband on the iPhone. For me, the screen real estate is worth the price of the Mac.
Are there less expensive video cameras? Yes. Are there less expensive microphones? Yes. Could you do something similar on a less expensive Windows 10 PC? Yes. Are there other hardware components and apps that would help produce even better commercials, podcasts, or video productions? Yes.
But there’s a certain level of quality and usability that I prefer, and as anyone in the video production business will tell you, quality and usability are very important. The question to ask is, “Do I need anything else?” The answer is no. An iPhone and a good mic will do the job. The Mac is just icing on the cake, and if additional screen real estate is all you need, and you want a backup to the iPhone, get an iPad Pro and save a few hundred dollars.
Yes, you’ll still need more than a basic understanding of video and audio recording and editing techniques; writing and lighting are your friends– and some voice or onscreen talent can go a long way– but the point I’m making should be obvious.
High quality video and audio production that exceeds broadcast levels are possible with the barest of digital products these days. A Mac, an iPhone, and a mic produce higher quality productions than a studio packed full of state-of-the-art equipment priced at a minimum of $250,000 just a few decades ago.