In this article I will talk about YouTube webcams and their uses for making YouTube videos. In many cases, as a YouTube creator, you’ll be streaming live to the internet as well as recording “high quality” video that is then uploaded to your uploads. Streaming can eat into your upload bandwidth – therefore it’s best done on a separate PC from the one you use for uploads. However, what about recording?
In most cases, a webcam will suffice – but not always. If you’re streaming to Twitch.tv or similar services then a webcam is perfect – especially if you have a smaller upload pipe and want to minimize the impact on your live stream. For YouTube however – there’s some things you’ll need to do in order for your video to look decent during recording as well as streaming:
1) Get A Decent Webcam:
In this case “decent” means at least 1280×720 resolution with 30 frame rate per second (30fps). Some cameras can go higher than that, it all depends on price and quality of the camera itself. I suggest a Logitech C920, which is a more expensive camera but has great quality and works on both PC and Mac. If you want something cheaper, then get the Logitech HD Webcam C270 that can record at 1280×720 resolution @ 30fps maximum.
2) Install Good Recording Software:
In order to record video from your webcam you’ll need some sort of recording software – it’s typically included with your webcam if the camera itself supports recording in any way (most do). But what good is the software provided with most webcams? The quality is usually very low and compression will not give you any benefit over uploading directly off your camera with direct X11 or Open Broadcaster Software (more on this later).
The solution is a fantastic piece of free recording software called Open Broadcaster Software, which is an open source program for X11 and Windows designed mainly for live streaming. OBS can record directly from your webcam at high resolutions with low CPU usage – so even if you have an older PC it should work fine. Simply install OBS, configure it for your webcam device and run it in the background while recording gameplay footage with other software such as Bandicam, FRAPS or Dxtory (more on this later).
3) Apply Proper Lighting:
If you’re going to be reading a script then make sure that there’s a good light source behind who ever will read it. It’s best not to use overhead lighting since this will cast shadows on the face. A lamp with an incandescent bulb placed at 45 degrees behind the subject is best for evenly lighting your face.
4) Position The Webcam Properly:
Make sure that the webcam isn’t in the shot when you’re doing something important like reading a script or holding an object up in front of you to read from it. If your setup doesn’t allow this then get creative! You can put another tripod or stand behind you to hold up a piece of paper to block the webcam, or have someone sit between you and the webcam while reading/holding objects. There are plenty of ways to negate this problem if you just think creatively about it!
5) Keep Your Face Out Of It:
Put a piece of paper in front of your face if you have to read from it. This will ensure that the focus is on what’s important and not your face, which is frankly too distracting while recording gameplay footage or reading a script.
6) Don’t Leave Your Webcam On:
We all know how sometimes we forget to turn off our webcams when we’re done using them – but don’t do this when recording! I cannot stress enough just how annoying it is for viewers to see your webcam light indicate that it’s ON rather than OFF during recordings. Just hit the switch when you’re done recording, maybe say “I’ll be right back” or something like that and make sure everyone knows you’ve stopped recording (comment on the recording to let them know).
7) Don’t Switch Cameras:
If you’ve got a webcam that records video directly to your PC then don’t use it for streaming and vice versa. The quality is simply too low on most webcams to be of any benefit, plus there’s potential for lag if you’re using one device as both a webcam and camera (since they’re two separate devices). There are exceptions where this isn’t true, but 99% of the time I would advise against it.
8) Apply Proper Video Lighting:
Depending on the game you play this can make or break whether people watch your gameplay videos or not. Take Call Of Duty for example – which uses very dark colors throughout the games. If you record this in a dark room where there’s no light source behind the person playing it will look extremely grainy and low quality – even if the gameplay footage looks fine, this won’t make viewers happy. You can either apply proper lighting like we talked about earlier (using a lamp with an incandescent bulb) or you can use some kind of lighting mod that makes it look like it’s day time wherever you’re playing.
9) Don’t Sit Too Close:
It doesn’t sound like much but having your face be 100% visible on camera all the time is incredibly distracting and annoying for viewers to watch. Instead keep your face at least 25-50% off center so we only see half your face at most.
10) Have A Face:
If you’re streaming your gameplay then obviously your face is going to be in the shot all the time and viewers will want to recognize who they’re watching. Make sure you keep a “gamer tag” or something like that at the lower part of your webcam frame so people know whose stream it is when you start.
Also make sure viewers can see your face during normal conversation times (or when reading scripts) – this may mean you’ll need somebody sitting in front of the camera with a piece of paper or something like that while talking at normal volume levels. This way we’ll always know whose stream we’re watching rather than wondering if it’s still recording since we can’t see face/stream title/game title/etc.
11) Edit The Bits In Between:
If you’re going to create a “talking head” style video of just your face then you don’t need to worry about editing the footage at all – but that’s really not all that interesting for anybody. Instead I would highly recommend grabbing a video editor and editing some of the bits between action so there’s more cool stuff going on in what will be a fairly short clip anyway. There are good, free options out there like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie on Mac if you want someplace easy to start with, or something more advanced like Adobe Premiere Pro if you feel like investing in it!
12) Upload Everything In HD:
This should be the easiest piece of advice to follow, but because it’s at the end here probably means people will ignore it. Uploading your videos in HD offers several benefits: First off you’ll get a bigger viewer base since not everybody has fast enough internet to stream at high quality levels (and even if they did they probably wouldn’t watch something that was only 720p). This also means that when your viewers want to download them or re-upload them then they don’t have to scale it down which would result in poor quality anyway. The only time I’m against uploading games in standard definition are for really old titles where playing on an emulator makes everything so small anyways there’s no point doing anything other than 640×480 resolution.