How I Film & Record YouTube Videos: Basic Setup

Sarah Petruno

In this post, I wanted to share with you a bit about what I use to film my YouTube videos, with the hopes of taking a bit of the overwhelm out of starting or growing a channel.

At the time of this writing, my channel has been in existence for about 8 months and I have just over 1600 subscribers.

Now, I didn’t grow that entirely from scratch. I did benefit from having a fairly large readership on the blog (thanks, guys!!), and a good size facebook following as well.

If you’re not already subscribed to my channel, know that my videos nothing super fancy and my niche is spiritual, emotional, and whole body healing and growth through shamanism. I share messages from Spirit on a variety of healing-related topics, insights on spiritual, energetic, and emotional healing, meditations and visualization exercises, my own experiences in healing, card readings, and the like.

I say all of this to clarify that I am not a beauty channel – I share spiritual stuff.

If you’re an intuitive, spiritual, or other practitioner looking to start a channel and not sure where to start, my intention is to shed a little light on what I do and how I do it. 

When I was first starting a channel and convincing myself to walk through the fear of filming myself talk about vulnerable, often controversial topics, half the battle was figuring out how to even film the videos.

What equipment do I use? What software? How do I edit and upload? How do I get those videos to appear in HD? How do I add the little comment and info boxes on the screen? What about the logo in the corner? 


I had SO many questions and now, I’ve gotten them all ironed out.

So, let’s get started.

How I Film & Record YouTube Videos


1. Hardware

At present, I use a MacBook Pro for my computer. When I started my channel, I used a windows based laptop – an old HP Probook. It worked fine, but I found that the sound quality with external mics was bad and after some digging, discovered it was a latent windows problem that was unfixable. So, when I upgraded my computer, I went with a Mac. But I digress, For my webcam, I use a Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 (window compatible)  that I mount on this tripod, both of which stand on my desk. At present, I do not use an external microphone for my videos. I use the built-in Mac microphone and adjust the sound in the sound panel.

If I’m recording a meditation or a lecture that I plan to use as a voiceover to an image or a presentation, I use this headset (windows compatible) to record it and record the sound via Quicktime audio recording.

2. Lighting

This was tricky to get right. I have positioned by webcam/tripod on my desk in front of a window, so that when I record videos, the light from the window is shining on my face. I close all other windows in the room to avoid shadows, but depending on the daylight scenario, this doesn’t always work. I have found that mornings and early afternoons before about 1pm tend to provide the best light.

I also use supplemental lighting that I place behind the tripod and directed to illuminate my face. My lighting choices are the TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp, which has a positionable arm, a dimmer, and light filters, and a two tower selenite lamp for a soft glow (you have to buy the bulb and cord separately).

I use the additional lighting whenever the daylight doesn’t do what I want it to do, but sometimes, light fluctuates and I don’t allow myself to get upset about it.


Camera and Lighting for YouTube filming. Cards pictured are from the I Am Power Deck by Love Light and Legacy. Use code IAMFREE for free US and international shipping! 

Camera and Lighting for YouTube filming. Cards pictured are from the I Am Power Deck by Love Light and Legacy. Use code IAMFREE for free US and international shipping! 

3. Recording

For a Mac, I found that the Webcam Settings App in the App store is KEY. It allows you to adjust a million features with you webcam that you wouldn’t even know you could exist from the webcam software alone. Most external webcams are also geared towards PC, with no Mac software prebuilt. Webcam Settings is your software and is WORTH THE MONEY. I created a default mode that I like and saved it as my “YouTube video” setting so I don’t have to mess with it.

How I Film & Record YouTube Videos - Webcam Settings

I record my videos in Quicktime Player. With Quicktime Player open, I open the video recording panel, adjust  my webcam settings to my liking, and then I make sure to select the webcam, microphone, and quality setting that I prefer (High, which is 720HD. You can use maximum, but I find it creates gigantic files and that level of HD isn’t totally necessary for what I’m doing).

Once you’ve recorded it, you’re ready to edit!

How I Film & Record YouTube Videos - Recording & Filming


1. Editing

I do all of my video editing within iMovie, the free one that comes with a Mac. I do not remember what I used when I had a PC (sorry!). You can adjust the sound to filter out background noise, increase/decrease the volume to your liking.

If the video has a sound file, like a meditation, I edit the sound portion FIRST, then import it into iMovie to mix it with the images I want to play during the sound. I use the paid version of Wavepad for sound editing (windows/mac compatible).

Sound editing in iMovie for YouTube videos - you must select the clip to be able to edit the sound. Mug is from THIS etsy shop. 

Sound editing in iMovie for YouTube videos – you must select the clip to be able to edit the sound. Mug is from THIS etsy shop. 

2. Saving & Uploading

Make sure you save your videos in 16:9 aspect ratio, otherwise, they will be oddly cropped. Quicktime records as this, and when you select “Cropping -> Fit,” in iMovie, this is how it saves. NOT SO if you’re using a windows device, so just keep an eye out for that.

If you’re going to creating more than a few videos, you’ll want an external hard drive to save those huge files. Otherwise, they will eat up your space very quickly. I use a WD hard drive and store it in a case.

How I Film & Record YouTube Videos - Editing and Uploading

YouTube Stuff

1. Getting Your Video to Play in HD

This was the biggest headache for me! Allow me to save you the trouble. When your video first uploads, even if it was recorded in HD, it will immediately appear low quality. It takes a few minutes for it to play in HD on YouTube. Give it time. To ensure that it DOES show in HD, add the tag, “yt:quality=high,” to ensure your videos default to play in high quality. 

2. Annotations and Info Cards

These are both added after the video is uploaded and ready to go live.

Annotations are the pop-ups that appear on the screen while the video is playing. You can link them to your website or to your own channel. I use a note annotation in my videos encouraging viewers to subscribe to my channel.

Cards are what can be displayed in the info circle in the top right corner of the video. Again, links to your website or videos on your channel. Used to provide and suggest additional resources or videos.

Both of these are optional, but I have found that taking the small step to add them increases subscribes to the channel.

How I Film & Record YouTube Videos - YouTube Settings

3. Logo in the Corner

The little logo or image in the bottom right corner is your “branding.” To add one to your videos, go to Creator Studio -> Channel -> Branding.


And that’s it!

Figuring out these keys points were some of the biggest sticking points, hurdles, and frustrations I had when I was first creating my channel. I hope that helped to clear up some confusion.

To see it all in action, go check out (and subscribe!) to my channel.

Before I sign off, one final note:

I know you might be wondering how I feel about YouTube heroes, a program that allows volunteers to flag inappropriate videos as they see fit – I’m not too worried about it at this time. Sure, my videos can be flagged in some sort of modern day witch hunt. If that happens, I might switch to Vimeo or some other platform for sharing, but right now, I’m not letting myself get fussed up about the fear of a potential witch hunt.

YouTube videos are just one method I use to expand my reach, connect with my audience, and grow my spiritual business. I share tons of details on how I monetize my business in my 45-minute video class on the topic, which you can find here.



Disclosure: Affiliate links appear in this post. When you purchase through an affiliate link, you help support this site. 

Last Updated: October 25, 2016