The essential video podcast setup guide: Tips from the pros (2023)

Shopping cart with camera, computer monitor, and microphone

The barriers to starting a video podcast, whether you’re already making an audio podcast or hoping to launch a new podcast with audio and video all at once, can be super annoying. On top of the podcast equipment you need to make an audio show, now you need cameras and lights, and you have to think about things like brushing your hair before you record. 

Even more annoying is figuring out what gear you actually do need, and what you can get by without. Good luck searching on Google, Reddit, and YouTube. In my experience, the “starter kits” are all over the place — one article will say all you need is your laptop camera, the next will insist you need a DSLR — and there’s no way to know who’s right.

In hopes of sparing you that frustrating digital scavenger hunt, here’s what I’ve learned since launching a video podcast — plus some expert advice from my colleague Tiffani Bauer, a former video producer at Descript.

Record or import audio, make edits, add fades, music, and sound effects, then publish online, export the audio in the format of your choice or send it directly to your hosting service.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

Your needs for video podcast equipment will depend quite a bit on the type of show you’re making, so we’ve broken this up accordingly, with sections on remote and in-person recording, and guidance on the best podcast equipment based on the level of effort and money you want to spend on video equipment.

Video podcast setup for remote recordings:

Video podcast setup for in-person recordings:

Before we get into all that, one piece of universal advice: Whatever your bandwidth or budget, don’t let access to gear keep you from bringing your creative vision to life. You can probably make a quality video podcast without spending a nickel on hardware. To get started, Tiff says, “The best tools to use are the tools you have.” 

TIFF TIP: As our resident video expert would say, “The best tools to use are the tools you have.” Don’t feel like you need to break the bank to produce a quality video podcast, and don’t let access to professional gear keep you from bringing your creative vision to life.

Video podcast setup for remote recording

Low effort, minimal cost 

Camera and video recording software

The bare minimum you need to start a video podcast is a device with a built-in camera — a laptop, tablet, or smartphone — and an internet connection. Got an interview podcast? Set up a Zoom meeting and record it. That’s it. You just filmed a video podcast.


Zoom does a decent enough job picking up your audio; just make sure you have a reliable internet connection. If audio is choppy during the call, it’ll be even worse in the recording. 

When people go to listen to a clip on social media or tune into your YouTube videos and can’t hear you, they won’t come back for future video content.

If you experience repeated issues, look into ethernet cable connections. 


As a content creator, if you’re only going to buy one piece of equipment, make it headphones, which are key for your audio pod as well. For video, you can use what you've got — but not wireless headphones, and especially not AirPods. 

Bluetooth has come a long way since the ‘90s, but you’ll still lose a ton of audio quality in recording. 


There’s no point in doing a recorded video podcast if nobody can see you. Try to avoid sitting with your back to a window — facing one is good, though. If you don’t want to or can’t buy lights, just put your camera between you and a window. To replace or enhance natural light, grab a couple of lamps and position them where they light your face. 


The quietest room you have in your home will be fine. Since you’re on video, clean your room before you get recording. If you’re really worried about background distractions, consider purchasing a simple room divider or try a green screen.

Medium effort, moderate cost 

TIFF TIP: If you’re going to invest in video podcast recording equipment, start with audio. As counterintuitive as it may sound, audio is far more important than video, even for a video podcast. Nothing distracts listeners or viewers like a drastic volume spike between speakers or a constant hum while the host is monologuing.


You probably already have a high-quality video production studio in your pocket. Smartphone cameras like the one on the iPhone are way better than laptop cameras, and better than all but the most expensive webcams. 

You’ll need to mount it somehow; you could get a portable tripod, and most ring lights (see below) have phone mounts, so that’s a two-birds, one-stone purchase. And you’ll have to connect it to your laptop to record; the inexpensive mobile app Camo, which turns your phone into a webcam, is a great option. 

Source: Camo

Recording software

You can achieve much higher video quality for not much higher cost with podcast platforms like Riverside or SquadCast

Source: SquadCast

They let you record separate audio and video tracks for every guest, which means a lot more control in post-production — but also more work (editing multi-track recordings is harder). Plus, they record locally, so your recordings shouldn’t be too affected by anybody’s internet connection. 

As a bonus, you can export your recordings to Descript with the click of a button, so you can jump right into video editing without sitting around waiting for files to download and upload. 


Per Tiff’s advice on audio above, an external microphone is a good place to spend a modest budget. We recommend a directional mic, like the Blue Yeti, but you could also try something like a lav, which clips onto your clothing. Again, don’t touch anything wireless — Bluetooth will butcher your sound quality. 

Source: Amazon


Now that you’re using something other than Zoom, headphones become more important especially if you’re live streaming. You want to use wired headphones to cut out any interference from your other podcasters talking. They’ll be especially valuable when you’re editing.

Here are some podcasting headphones for under $100:


If you want to brighten things up a bit, try a ring light. You can find pretty affordable clip-on ring lights that don’t need a stand or a fancy rig. 

Ideally, all of your co-hosts and guests would use the same one, so you can all have a similar amount of light across the board. Plus, as noted above, most ring lights have a phone mount.


There’s no reason you can’t shoot at home. Here are a few easy upgrades: Try to put the camera just above eye-level, so it’s looking down on you. It’s a more flattering angle and will help avoid shadows on your face. And try to position yourself with a corner behind you — the lines make things more interesting without creating too much distraction. 

High effort, high cost


If you’re recording remotely, there’s really only so much you can do to increase your camera quality. Your best bet is to use your smartphone and encourage your guests to do the same. 


If you and your cohosts or guests don’t all have wired directional microphones, get them. They’ll create a much richer, more focused soundscape that will elevate your own podcast across the board. You can also add a pop filter to help cut down on harsh sounds or syllables.


Invest in an over-the-ear headphone that covers your entire ear. This will help block ambient noise, but skip anything that’s noise-canceling. And, for recording, make sure you wear closed-back headphones so unwanted sounds don’t bleed into your mic. 


You could block out windows so the lighting won’t change based on weather or time of day. And, if you don’t already have a clip-on ring light, check out some of the higher-end ones with stands and various lighting presets. 

High end ring light from Lumecube at B&H


So you cleaned your room and elevated your camera. Maybe add a plant or some relevant, non-distracting decorations, but try to get decor standard between all talking heads. Ultimately, it’s all subjective, so trust your gut.


Video podcast setup for in-person filming

TIFF TIP: Filming in person is going to be a lot more time- and labor-intensive than remote recording. It just is. This isn’t to dissuade you from trying, but it might be worth doing a few episodes on Zoom before investing in the equipment you’ll need to create something good in person.

Low effort, minimal cost 


You’ll be hard-pressed to find an easier, more affordable option than your iOS or Android camera — all you need is a phone tripod or some other kind of mount. If you’re moving around, you can use selfie mode to ensure you stay in frame, but if you’re standing still, try setting up your phone on a tripod and using the front-facing camera, which is usually much higher quality.


Your phone may make for a good camera, but when you’re filming, the microphone is too far away to be useful. Look into directional podcast microphones like the Blue Yeti. 


You’ll be using this to check levels and signals only. Since you won’t need to wear these during the podcast, a simple pair of wired headphones will do the trick. This will help with removing the worry of remembering to charge your Apple Airpods. But they work just fine too for checking signals and input levels if that’s what you’ve got.

Audio recorder

If it’s just you on your own pod, you can plug a USB microphone into your computer and go. If you have more than just yourself on camera, you’ll have to plug in multiple microphones. 

That’s where the recorder comes in. For a budget project, you can just use your computer and recording software like Descript that can record multiple tracks at once. But you can’t just plug multiple mics into your computer — instead, you’ll need a digital audio interface that can handle multiple inputs, like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

Source: B&H


Lighting is easily the most important part of video. At this level, you can get away with everyone using a small clip-on ring light; just make sure there’s a light source for everyone. And, most importantly, make sure everyone is lit the same. 


For the lowest amount of effort, use a single camera for everyone on the pod. You can use zoom cuts to punch in on individual speakers in editing. Or, put everyone on separate cameras (their phones), and put an array on screen — like on a Zoom call — to show everyone at once. 

Also, do yourself a favor and avoid filming outside.

Medium effort, moderate cost 

Note: costs can add up fast here. If you’re trying to limit your investment, we’d recommend starting with a mic and recorder. Then, lights.


If you want to step up from a smartphone camera but you’re not ready to dive into the world of DSLRs, the total underdog of the filming world is a GoPro. They’re high quality and a lot more affordable (and versatile) than any other digital camera. 


For higher quality, skip the USB mics and start focusing your search on XLR microphones; we like the RodePodMic. XLR microphones tend to emit less internal noise (aka you’ll get a more “pure” audio) and they usually have replaceable parts. You’ll want a directional or lav podcast microphone. 

Audio recorder

Now that you’re working with XLR mics, you’ll need either a digital interface to record on your computer or a physical recorder. An industry standard is going to be a Zoom recorder (not to be confused with Zoom video-call software), but it can get complicated when you plug in a lot of people. If you plan on regularly having more than four microphones, you may need to look into an audio mixer. Regardless of which one you go with, don’t forget the SD card. 


Just as with the low-budget setup, you’ll be using headphones just to check everyone’s levels, so a simple pair of wired headphones will do just fine.


Now’s the time to step up from ring lights. Invest in some tall standing lights with adjustable temperature. Bonus points if they have diffusers to evenly distribute the light. It’s a good idea to have one light per person to make sure everyone can bask in their own glow. 

Source: B&H


If you have a space that can easily accommodate all participants and equipment, you can start thinking about interesting ways to bring the room to life. Plants, subtle art, relevant decor, and even visual easter eggs are a great way to keep viewers engaged. 


High effort, high cost

AUTHOR'S NOTE: We’re talking about the dream video podcast setup — and potentially thousands of dollars in gear. Please don’t buy all this gear if you’re just starting out. Test out your podcast with some of the simpler methods first, work out the kinks, see if your show finds an audience, make sure it’s sustainable for you, and only then — when you feel ready to invest — circle back to this list.


Shooting with a DSLR will give you the best quality. But, if one of your cameras is a DSLR, they better all be DLSRs. The quality difference is super noticeable, so if you have a GoPro for one guest and a Sony for another, you’ll see a really jarring visual shift when you edit. 

You’ll also need a tripod for each camera, ideally one with a bubble level or some other way to make sure everything is straight. 


For the highest possible sound quality, you’ll want directional XLR microphones with pop filters. The Shure SM7B is a pricey, but safe bet. 

Source: Sweetwater

If your space can accommodate it, think about getting adjustable microphone stands as well. This gives you much more control over how and where each mic is positioned. 


Assuming your video podcast is stationary, a mixer with a built-in audio interface is going to be your best option by far. Make sure the one you have offers full multichannel audio recording, though. 

You’ll want each track to record individually, not as a single stereo mix. It would be a bonus, but not necessary, to have an external memory card or drive to backup your audio files for those just-in-case scenarios.


Again, make sure you have one pair of headphones to plug into your recorder and check levels. 


Get yourself a full LED studio lighting kit. You’ll want at least two wide lights for front lighting and one spotlight for overhead lighting. These kits are usually slim, compact, and durable. Plus, LEDs stay much cooler than other lights, are completely silent, and use less energy overall. 

Try to get a kit with a remote control so you don’t constantly have to get up and adjust things manually. 


Let’s be real, no one has a spare room they can use for their 5-person video podcast. Think about renting out a dedicated studio space. You could always check out local podcast studio spaces, available rooms or apartments on a site like Peerspace, or get your own lease on an art studio that you can decorate and set up however you want.

Video podcast setup FAQ

What do I need to set up a video podcast?

A video podcast setup needs at least these six requirements:

  1. Camera
  2. Video recording and editing software
  3. Microphone
  4. Headphones
  5. Lighting equipment
  6. Recording space

How to do podcasts with video?

A video podcast can be done with any video recording software, even software as simple as Zoom. The most important part of a video podcast is the quality of the audio recordings from all podcast hosts and guests. Video can be captured on a smartphone, GoPro, or DSLR camera.

How do I set up a camera for my podcast?

To set up a camera for your podcast, first ensure you have a clean uncluttered room. You’ll need a boom stand to hold your device, whether that’s a smartphone, GoPro, or DSLR camera. You need quality lighting too — a room with natural bright light, at minimum, or you could black out windows and use ring lights.

How do I set up a video podcast studio?

First, you need the basic video equipment set up such as a camera, video recording software, a microphone, headphones, and lighting equipment. Next, you need to find a dedicated recording space that can act as a studio and add sound treatment such as acoustic panels, bass traps, or diffuser panels.

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