Along with news, features, opinions and technical reviews, video has become an increasingly important part of The Vergecontents. But to make great, with videos, you need employees with the expertise to make that video – along with the tools that let your employees soar their imagination.
Alix Diaconis is one of the directors who helps create video magic for The Verge. We talked to Alix about what she does and what tools she uses.
Alix, what are you doing for? The Verge?
What hardware and software tools are needed to produce a video for a website such as The Verge?
It really varies from video to video. For some videos we will pull out all the stops, while for others we need to do it quickly and easily. Heck, I think we’ve recorded videos with just a GoPro.
When we go to a press event, we keep it very light with a monopod, lavalier microphone and a camera we feel most comfortable with. And then I edit the event on the MacBook Pro.
But most of the time when we shoot on the spot, we bring a larger set with an HD screen, a slider (which helps you track photos), maybe a drone. And when we do the big things, like a phone review, we like to bring out everything, including a probe lens like Venus Optics Laowa to make intro shots like this.
The opening shot of this video was created using a probe lens.
Since we upload videos for our job, good internet upload speeds make life difficult a lot easier. We also have a shared server, so we have access to our terabytes and terabytes of recordings at all times.
Oh, and also teamwork. Lots and lots of teamwork.
What specific hardware tools do you use for your work?
For photography, I prefer to use the Canon EOS C200 – I think it looks very cinematic – and my preferred lens is the Canon EF 70-200mm (at least for B-roll). Sometimes I use the Sony A7S II or III, which looks extra sharp, but I’m not a big fan of Sony menus. For sound, I usually use a Sennheiser G3 lavalier or a Zoom H6 recorder. For photos I use the Canon 50D.
For post-production in The Verge offices, I would edit on a 27-inch iMac, which is due to an upgrade. At home, however, I have a more powerful editing PC that my manufacturer built for me. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-core processor, 2 TB NVMe drive, a Radeon RX 580 series video card, 32 GB RAM and an Asus 28-inch 4K screen. Of course, there are always technical issues – it’s part of editing – but the PC is the best editing machine I have personally owned. (Thanks, Phil!) I miss the beautiful iMac screen.
Since video takes up a lot of space, I sometimes use an extra SSD for projects. And when it comes to headphones, I use the Sony MDR-7506, which are the only headphones I can use comfortably all day.
And then there’s fun, casual gear: a GoPro Hero 8, an Insta360 panoramic camcorder (which we recently used for this e-bike video), a Zhiyun Crane, a DJI Mavic Pro drone … and whatever else we can get our hands on. on.
This video was created using an Insta360 panoramic video camera.
What software tools do you use for your work?
Alt Adobe alt. Premiere Pro for editing, After Effects for basic graphics and Photoshop for video thumbnails. You can do a lot in Premiere, but it has its flaws, and it’s not always optimized for Apple hardware.
What tools do you use for your own projects?
I have taught myself DaVinci Resolve in color images. I still barely understand the program, but it makes the recordings look 100 times better than coloring it in Premiere. And just for fun, I shoot 35mm film on Dad’s old Minolta camera.
What hardware and software tools would you recommend for someone who has just started?
Premiere is very common for editing. But if you want to try something for free and you have an iPhone or iPad, it’s the Splice app. It is very intuitive, but you are limited to the clips you have on your device. There is also DaVinci Resolve, which is free and as advanced as most paid editing software.
When it comes to cameras, just get one that you feel comfortable with! And for a computer, invest in a good one if you see yourself editing for a long time; iMacs and Windows PCs are both good, and the specifications will only depend on how big your projects will be. I’ve not had the chance to use Apple’s new M1 MacBook Air or Pro yet, but both seem like good choices if you prefer a laptop.