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Essential gear for a wannabe YouTuber

Starting your own YouTube channel? Want to take up game streaming seriously? Agent001 has some thoughts on what mic, webcam, and other gear you should pickup.

Although my very opinionated colleagues over at SKOAR may think otherwise, eSports is growing quite a bit in India. I’ve been following a few teams and streamers for quite some time. And of late, some of my friends have fallen prey to the eSports bug. Even if they don’t play a particular game, they’ll still watch the stream because they like the person who’s streaming. While I’m not a fan of PewDiePie but I do follow a few streamers like QuickyBaby, The Mighty Jingles and 2mgovercsquared and I get the appeal. I understand why gamers are drawn towards such streams and I’ve contemplated streaming a few games myself. Alas, doing that might disclose a secret that has been guarded for ages – my identity.  😆

So earlier last month, I was chilling with a couple of friends when I got a Twitch Notification indicating that Jingles had gone live. I promptly fire up my machine and started watching the stream. Soon enough one of my mates decided that watching other people play games was juvenile and started taking my case. Yes, even I’m prone to getting my leg pulled once in awhile. I ignored the ribbing till he realised he wasn’t going to get a rise out of me and then sat down to watch the stream along with me. Fortunately, he too played World of Tanks and was soon taken in by the stream. Watching a really good player take out half the enemy squad even when the odds are stacked against them does make for an exciting game to watch. Exciting enough to have someone completely new to livestreaming remain glued to the screen. But that didn’t stop him from spewing snarky comments. Even though the players on the stream were significantly better skilled, my friend would find some fault or the other, after all, you can just do a complete turnaround from being a jerk to an ardent fan in under an hour.

A week down the line I saw that very friend share a Facebook post of a game stream and soon enough, he too caught the live streaming bug. In fact, I’d get a WhatsApp message soon after a stream got over and he’d by dying to discuss some of the best moves or the stupidest moments from the stream. The addiction soon got the better of him and his conversation soon moved to how he’d do it if he were to stream. Yeah, everyone’s a backseat driver. So I called him out with the age-old dialogue, “Kar ke dikha!”. And to my surprise, he took it upon himself to start his own YouTube channel. Pulling off a live stream is not an easy task so the first step was to get comfortable with doing videos and getting them out in a timely manner, hence, YouTube. And so began his hunt for equipment.

Youtube gear
Blue Yeti

Making videos for YouTube is easy, you have numerous free screen capture software and video editing software to help make quality videos. All that’s left is to record a voice over and then upload to YouTube. He already had a pretty decent PC so all that was left was the microphone and webcam. He tried using the embedded microphone on the SoundMagic E10M but didn’t find the audio quality up to mark. It made him sound completely weird so he went and got the Blue Yeti USB microphone. They’re a bit expensive for someone starting out but the sound captured is quite similar to source and you have the option to switch polar patterns between cardioid, stereo, omni and bidirectional modes.

What was left was the webcam and that’s where he ended up getting a little confused. Confused enough to call me up. Since he was trying out OBS on the side, he decided to use the embedded webcam in his laptop. There’s nothing wrong with using that to get the hang of OBS except for the fact that his laptop was a 15-year old IBM Thinkpad with a VGA camera. Kudos to IBM for building laptops that last more than a decade but the video resolution was so bad, that for a moment it felt like the ‘90s and we were back to watching animated GIFs. The cringe was worse than going through a hundred dank memes. We checked out all the webcams available on Amazon and it was pretty evident that Logitech was ruling the top-selling list. We needed a webcam that could capture widescreen too since my friend planned on streaming co-op games as well with two hosts in front of the camera. Another need was for the camera to be able to capture at least 30 FPS at 1080p to avoid ghosting.

Youtube gear
The DJI Osmo mobile is a handheld stabilizer that works great for vlog-style videos. Just hook it up your smartphone and let the gimbal do the magic

There were quite a few contenders that fit the role. The Brother NW-1000 is a decent webcam but it lacks exposure compensation and face tracking. The latter being an important feature for any webcam these days. So we moved on to the HP HD 4310. Again, this too was a decent webcam and we nearly bought it but a quick glance through the user reviews revealed that the front panel was made of plastic. Plastic scratches very easily and a few months down the line you’ll be left with a foggy lens. Next up was the Genius WideCam F100 which is pretty good for getting a wide angle but quite a few users mentioned that it was prone to stuttering, an issue that has plagued the unit for a long time. And we skipped that too. Then we checked out the Logitech C920. And boy, was it good. It has everything – 1080p at 30 FPS with the option to tweak the resolution, exposure compensation is good and there’s face tracking as well. Moreover, it comes with a glass plate and has a tripod mount on the bottom. Jackpot! All that was left was to go through the user comments and it turns out the C920 is the gold standard for webcams. So we went ahead with the C920. You might wonder, why not the C922? It records at 720p 60 FPS and has a built-in green screen filter. Well, since we were using OBS, the stream was going to be at 30 FPS and OBS has built-in green screen. Hence, the extra features on the C922 were redundant with our setup.

Youtube gear
Logitech C920

My friend hasn’t begun livestreaming yet but every now and then he shares an unlisted video to show that he’s closer to making good on his promise. Who knows, one day he might invite me to play co-op on his stream. Till then, ciao!

This article was first published in the April 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Agent 001

Agent 001