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If someone on your holiday shopping list is hoping to kickstart a YouTube career in 2015, buying them presents that will contribute to their production values is a sound investment.
People may be making money off YouTube nowadays, but it takes money to make money. Sure, you can shoot on your smartphone and upload directly to the platform and perhaps have a viral hit, but for sustained viewership, you’ll need to put a little more effort into your channel. The stars of digital video are using some advanced tools and tricks to get those almost-professional-quality shots, and with the right products, anyone can be in line with the Tyler Oakleys or Smoshes of the Web. If you’ve got a would-be YouTuber on your Christmas shopping list, here’s the starter-kit of items to get them on their way.
1) A computer and a digital camera or smartphone
We’re going to assume they’ve already got these key essentials, but any laptop that can run video-editing software and any smartphone or digital video camera will do to start.
2) A higher-end video camera
Canon Vixia Mini
The type of camera you invest in depends on what kind of YouTube content you’re looking to make. For action and adventuring, a GoPro is the standard. They come in a variety of finishes and styles, but if you’re buying now, you might as well invest in the future with the 4K version for $499.
For more straightforward shooting, there’s a massive range. A good starting point would be the Canon 60D, which for $999 will capture a more cinematic production. If the YouTuber has vlog-only aspirations, you can keep it simple. Outside of just a smartphone camera, you could upgrade them to something small and suited for personal shooting, like the Canon Vixia Mini, at only $399.
If the YouTuber wants to shoot vlogs of themselves, they’re going to need a set up that allows them to play cameraperson and key talent all at once. A tripod is essential. If they’re shooting off a GoPro or smartphone, a Gorillapod tripod with super flexible feet will be enough, and it runs only $29.99. If they’re using larger equipment, the tripod needs to increase in size as well. The best bet would to get the brand matching whatever camera you purchase, with a price range from $39.99 to $299.
Sure, video cameras come with built-in microphones, but the sound quality will increase if you spring for a high-end attachment. Rode offers a variety of versions, but a on-camera, directional mic will likely fit the bill at $149.
5) Video-editing software
There’s an assortment of video-editing software you can use. If your aspiring vlogger has an Apple laptop, they probably already have iMovie, which is a good starting point. If they’re looking to up their game, either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere are the best choices. Premiere has a monthly fee of $19.99, while Final Cut will run you $299 up front. We’d recommend Premiere simply because you can always get more updated software, and the product is more beloved than Final Cut’s latest version. You can also spring for online training courses so those programs don’t feel like hieroglyphics to the recipient. Lynda.com is running a holiday special for three months of access for only $59.
6) Selfie stick
Noot selfie stick
You may make fun of tourists pulling these out to get the perfect self shot, but for a vlogger on the go, they’re extremely helpful. Your arm can only reach so far. We recommend getting a Noot, which has enough bells and whistles and color choices, while only clocking in at $14.99. This is definitely essential for vlogging from conferences and events, and don’t worry about looking out of place. Everyone’s got one.
7) Lights and backdrop
Square Perfect Video Studio
Your bedroom wall and a table lamp might be fine for a first foray, but lighting and setting are key to YouTube success. Luckily you can get a starter kit with two lights and a green-screen backdrop for just $289 from Square Perfect. Think of it as square one, and you can add on with different lights, backdrops and accessories as your budding YouTuber defines his or her show.
8) A shopping spree at the Dollar Tree
Finally, you’re going to need props. You can only tell so much; sometimes you have to show. The needs and wants of an aspiring YouTuber are endless, so a gift card to the Dollar Tree can let their imagination run free. There’s a lot of ridiculous challenges out there, so you could proactively stock up on marshmallows, tie-dye supplies and, of course, sour cream to kickstart their first vlogs.
Photo via Ronaldo Ferreira/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
A former YouTube reporter for the Daily Dot, Rae Votta has more than a decade of experience in the digital and entertainment industries. Her work has appeared on AOL, Huffington Post, Out Magazine, Logo, VH1, Current TV, Billboard, and NYMag. She joined Netflix in 2016.