YouTube might be an excellent medium for expressing your creative side, educating people, and even just making money.
Still, it is not exactly a low footprint medium when it comes to creating those videos. At least, not all of the time. We’ll get into that.
Finding a space to make your YouTube videos can be tricky, especially if you live with other people, or have a small home. Or both! Fear not, however, there are always options. They’re not always free options, but there are options.
In this post, we’re going to go into detail on how to choose and prep a place for recording your videos. What makes a great space—and what you need to do to prepare it—will vary greatly depending on the kind of video you make. Before we talk about the types of video, let’s go over some of the attributes that make good places to record videos in your home.
What to Look For
If you are lucky enough to be in a position where you have a large room to yourself, a spare room you can make use of, or even the ability to build something new, then you’re already most of the way there. For the vast majority of us, however, we have to make do with what we got.
The first thing to consider when looking for a place to record your videos is permanency. That is, somewhere you can set up recording equipment and leave it in place.
Granted, this might not be an option, but if it is, it should be a strongly considered option. A space that may seem far more appropriate for recording videos isn’t necessarily the best choice if you have another area that you could set up permanently.
For one thing, it makes the time required for recording a new video considerably shorter, because you don’t have to worry about setting up or tearing down your equipment.
An example of this would be a large room with nice acoustics and natural lighting that you could use, but couldn’t leave your equipment in versus a tiny room—even a closet—that you could claim for the long haul.
The larger room would undoubtedly be better, but you could make the small room work. As with many things in life, it is a matter of deciding what best suits your situation.
The next thing we would recommend you consider before moving your gear into a particular area is how much control you have over that area. Similar to the previous example, a space that you can modify may prove to be better for you than a space that you can’t, even if it doesn’t look that way, to begin with.
After that, the main things to consider are environmental. For example, areas that are subjected to a lot of noise, perhaps from traffic. There are things you can do to mitigate that, but if you have other options, maybe consider something with less noise.
Not all YouTubers need a big, adequately lit set up. If you make software tutorials where you’re not on camera, such as list videos that consist of clips and still images, or any other type of video where you are not actually filming yourself, you have a higher degree of flexibility in terms of the areas you can record in.
As your primary concern will be the quality of your voice over recording, it will actually benefit you to record in a smaller space, such as the closet we mentioned before.
Your main goal for the recording space should be to cut down on acoustic reflection and in a smaller room. This is much a much easier prospect. For one thing, you can always coat the entire space in acoustic foam tiles, which will all but eliminate reverb and echo.
If you do not have such a space—a common situation for YouTubers is recording in their bedrooms—then you will need to be smarter with your preparation. Thick packing blankets can act as excellent acoustic insulation and can be draped over any number of household objects to create a capable acoustic screen around your recording area.
Now, assuming you are on camera but you don’t have anywhere you can claim in the name of YouTube, what are your options? Firstly, if you are going to have to pack up your gear when you’re not using it anyway, you may as well opt for the best spot you can find.
This may mean recording at inconvenient times so as not to irritate family members or roommates. Not to mention avoiding having people walking through your shot in their dressing robe!
You will be a bit limited in terms of your “set”, as the people you share a the space with won’t necessarily be happy about you putting up acoustic treatment and set dressing while they’re trying to watch Netflix!
One thing you can do in these cases is to use the room as your set. It might require doing a bit of tidying up, but most people wouldn’t complain about that. Even a drab looking space can be a serviceable YouTube set with the right focus and a bit of lighting.
Dual Purpose Spaces
This is the kind of situation most YouTubers find themselves in; you have somewhere to yourself, but you can’t dedicate it to your YouTube exploits.
The most common instance of this being a bedroom. Sure, you have the bedroom to yourself, but you do have to sleep in there. The good news is it’s your space, and you can do as much to it as you can endure.
You’re probably not going to want to hang set dressing over your bed, forcing you to take it down anytime you want to go to sleep. But you can certainly put things on the walls, arrange lighting in a way that suits the video, and move furniture around.
…or loft, depending on what you call it. Unless we’re talking about a converted attic, the chances are you’re going to need to do a lot of work to get things going up there. You will need lighting, acoustic treatment, and you will probably be sharing your recording space with decades of accumulated boxes.
The good news is, if you can get all of that sorted, you have a secluded space all to yourself. Just bear in mind that you will have to climb in and out of the attic any time you need to record, which isn’t always the easiest prospect depending on how the is laid out property.
Of course, if we are talking about a converted attic, there is no reason to treat it differently to any other room in the property.
Garages and Sheds
Let’s face it; nobody uses garages for cars anymore. And garden sheds are being converted into secluded getaways all the time. If you have access to such a thing, it can make a great recording space. But there are things to consider that you wouldn’t have to think about in a regular house or apartment.
Firstly, in the case of a typical garden shed, it is considerably easier to break into. If you leave a bunch of expensive recording equipment in there, you will have to weigh up the risk of it being stolen.
You can add security to the shed, remove the equipment when you’re not recording, or just hope that you never face that problem.
Another concern to think about with garden sheds (and, to a lesser extent, garages) is things like damp. These structures are not designed for use in the same way a typical home is, and they are prone to things like condensation and leaking. As you can imagine, this isn’t ideal when you have a potentially expensive computer, and a bunch of recording equipment sat there.
The other problem you will face is acoustics and set dressing. Having your own dedicated little space is great, of course, but your typical garage or garden shed is terrible from an acoustic point of view, and not exactly pretty to look at. Be sure to factor all of this in before moving your gear in.
Think Outside the Box
While not strictly in your home, gardens can provide an excellent backdrop for a video (depending on the video, of course).
You will need to do a little research into your gear if you want to record outdoors, as getting the best video and audio in the midst of Mother Nature is not quite the same as getting it in your bedroom.
The weather may also be a factor. If you live in a particularly wet region, the garden might not be very practical when you have to wait for the one dry day a month to shoot a video!
And The Rest…
It is also essential to put some thought into the rest of the video-making process, as you will need somewhere to do this as well. If you have set up a nice little audio recording booth in a closet somewhere in your house, it may not be the best location for slaving over endless hours of editing. Assuming, of course, you edit your own videos, but things like scriptwriting can go down in this category as well.
If you can split the various aspects of YouTubing across multiple machines, it might be worth having a dedicated device for the recording that can be left in place. If not, portable devices such as laptops are always great for those times when it’s not possible or feasible to edit and record in the same place.
Of course, if your set up is a big, roomy desk with a nice, comfortable chair, there’s no reason not to use that same location for your off-camera work.
Any space you choose can be made into a serviceable YouTube recording space with a few essential tools.
Firstly; lighting. The amount of difference lighting makes to a video cannot be overstated. It is often the case that a cheap camera with good lighting can do a far better job than an expensive one with poor lighting. Lighting doesn’t need to be expensive, and it can come in very portable form factors, and with the right placement, it can be used to effectively remove the background entirely. Perfect if you are recording somewhere with a less than ideal look for your videos.
Acoustic treatment is also essential, though a little trickier to make portable. If you have a dedicated space, consider getting some acoustic foam tiles on your walls and ceiling, and perhaps a thick rug for your floor.
If you need more help in soundproofing your newly discovered record set I have a deep dive in my blog on soundproofing tips for youtubers – this should get you started and can be amazingly cheap!
If your setup needs to be portable, thick packing blankets are always a good option. Draping them over something around your recording space will make a massive difference to the acoustics, and you will be able to easily take them down afterwards.
Finally, for those times when the space is just not fit for screen time—or just because you want to—there is a green screen. Green screens can be picked up relatively cheaply on Amazon, or sites like Wish, and there are free options for implementing Chroma Key (the name of the green screen effect) either live or in editing.
Don’t Be Discouraged
It is essential to remember that, ultimately, it is the content you produce that will make or break your YouTube career, not the space you are recording in. If you can’t make a great looking set to record in, do not let that stop you from making videos.
Just do the best that you can do with what you have and then set about creating great content. Always be on the lookout for ways you can improve your recording space, of course, but don’t wait until it is ready, because it may very well never be ready. Especially if you are a bit of a perfectionist.
Viewers will forgive you for less than perfect backdrops, or subpar video quality. And as you progress, if your content is good enough, you may well find that is financially practical to upgrade.