Equipment

Gone are the days when actors didn't have to be familiar with the technology. When everyone was locked in a home, the same happened to actors, and the industry changed dramatically. Everyone starting from Producers, Screenwriters through Casting Directors, Agents down to Actors, had to adapt to new circumstances. The people involved in the industry had to become more technical than they had ever dreamt of. 

We realize that only some have a considerable budget, and there's no one size fits all solution. Therefore, we provide two choices for every necessary piece of equipment - a value one and a premium one. The Value Choice should get you 80% of what you'll get from the premium choice.

Please note that the descriptions below are just suggestions BCActing is not affiliated with or has no interest in suggesting any of those brands or products. It also does not guarantee that the choices suit your specific use case. You should consult a trusted industry professional before you spend funds on any of the products listed below. The list does not include all of the possible choices that might be suitable. 

Video

The main piece of equipment an actor needs is a camera. Gone are the days when you would need a big bulky camera for your in-home studio to get decent image quality. When speaking about image quality, it's not so much about the resolution but the optics. You're unlikely to be uploading 4K or 6K videos to Actors Access as the videos will need to be compressed to 100MB to be viewable on the phone over the mobile network. If it's bigger, they might not be keen on waiting to get it loaded. And often, the casing director will view your video using their mobile phone, so the additional resolution will not make a difference - apart from your wallet. So all those ProRes, huge megapixel jargon words don't apply to you so much. You need a good quality FullHD recording at 30 frames per second. No ripping, no delay.

Value Choice

Any decent smartphone would do.  If you have one, it's most likely you already have everything you need to get your video recorded. But if you need to replace your device, read on.

The good thing with phones is you can get them as part of a monthly plan from your mobile providers. 

Premium Choice

Over the last couple of years we're observing quite a bit of a revolution in the world of digital cameras. The DSLRs are no longer the prime choice, the advancements in technology allowed manufacturers to provide mirrorless solutions that are of superb quality for video blogging and recording. Regardless of the manufacturer, try to select a model with full-frame,  interchangeable lenses, a screen that you can rotate to see yourself when recording and external microphone input. 

The lens might be quite an expensive part. But for self-tapes, you should not need a zoom lens. For self-tapes basic nifty fifty (50mm lens) should do the job and provide a non-distorted image.

Audio

If you're working as a movie actor, you not only need to be seen but also heard. Therefore the quality of the audio might be the differentiating factor. While the quality of the video sensors improves over time and mobile phones use lots of image processing to boost the video further with audio, you can't cheat physics. Without the external microphone either for the mobile phone or the camera, you'll not sonud so good, or not like yourself.

There are multiple types of microphones. What you're after is either a supercardioid microphone or a lavalier (a microphone that you pin to your clothes). Why those two types, the directional microphone will eliminate most of the noise from the busy street outside, and the lavalier microphone will focus on yourself. When recording at home, you do not wish the ambient sound of a washing machine or your neighbour's kids to get picked up by the microphone. While there are ways to filter that out, this is time-consuming and expensive if you ask someone to do it for you. So always try to get the best audio recording possible, starting with the microphone.

The two leading manufacturers of microphones are Rode and Shure

Value Choice

There are plenty of microphones you would connect to your mobile phone directly either through the lightning connector (iOS devices) or through USB-C connector (modern Android devices - please check that your Android phone does have USB-C)

Premium Choice

With the premium choice, you would look at bigger microphones and spend about 3 times as much as the best value choice. 

Tripod

Whenever you're recording at home or outside you need a tripod, holding the phone in the hand is not an option. 

The leading manufacturer of tripods is Manfrotto but Neewer also has quite a good range at a bit cheaper price.

Value Choice

Any tripod would do. Pick one you like and will not break your budget. You can get them at your local camera shop but you can find a selection of those on the Amazon website:

Still, when you'll need a proper clamp to mount a mobile phone on the tripod:

Premium Choice

The main difference between cheaper tripods and more expensive ones is really the build quality. You get what you pay for. If you're likely to disassemble and assemble the tripod often, then the premium choice can save you a lot of frustration. Pick an option with a 3-way head - this will make the setup much easier for example:

You'll also need a clamp for the mobile phone:

Lights

Now here's the thing. Even if you have the best camera, when it's dark you'll not get great results. Very often you'll be recording late in the evening, when there's less traffic outside, when all the chores, homework is done, when kids are sleeping and not jumping and yelling around. You need to be well lit. 

Value Choice

When you're on a budget, you do not have many options, you can either go with the ring light that is very popular among youtubers, and even though the circle in the eye is distracting, more and more people use it. It is quite portable and easy to set up and you can save on the tripod:

Premium Choice

If you have funds you should go with 2 led based soft boxes with regulated color temperature. One of them will be serving as your kick light the second will be working as a fill light.

Background

The thing is that no one is intereseted in the contents of your house. As a standard you should record your self tapes on a solid color background. The worst thing you can do is to put a dirty wrinkled cloth behind you - this will successfully jeopardize distract the viewer and would send a message that you didn't even bothered to iron it out before recording the video. What choices do you have then?

Value Choice

There are a few options if you're on a budget. You either get a collapsible blue background:

Premium Choice

If you own the place then paint one of the walls in your home gray, the color you need to select is Dulux Grey Steel 1 - they'll know the code in the shop. This is less intrusive than painting the wall blue which might be extreme. It's also why grey has become a popular choice for auditions.

But not everyone owns a house, if you are renting but still considering having a more permanent place to record your videos then you might need to get crafty. Get the following items:

Computer

If you're reading this then you most likely already have a computer. It's unlikely that you'll be replacing it just for the purposes of doing self-tapes. But if you need to purchase a new one here are some options

Value Choice

Any Apple of Windows computer would do as long as it has at least 16GB of RAM and SSD. Avoid computers with less than 16GB because they'll be unlikely to run the video editing software fast enough, and the old type HDDs are way slower. If you still have Hard Drive (HDD) instead of a Solid State drive in your PC consider upgrading just this component. Even a 2-3 year old machine would do. Still, if you're after a new machine then computer brands that have reasonably good reputations are:

Please remember to always do your own research and ask a qualified professional you know for detailed advice.

Premium Choice

Go with Apple M2 machine that has at least 24GB of memory and 512GB SSD. If you're on a budget, pick the macMini. Avoid low-end 8GB models, and computers that are at the end of their cycle. You can find advice on this website:

Printer

You should already have one, but if not, you should consider getting one, as it makes practicing sides much easier if you do not have to read them from a small mobile phone screen. From a practical point of view, try to opt for a printer with WiFi connectivity and if you have a mac also with Airprint functionality. A wireless printer can be placed in any location at home not necessarily close to the computer.

Value Choice

If you're on the budget get the cheapest possible inkjet printer you can find. Any one would do. Some popular manufacturers here in Canada are HP, Canon abd Epson.

Premium Choice

If you're after economy it might be worth investing in a black and white laster printer. The most popular manufacturers in Canada are Brother and HP.

Alternatively, you can opt for a large tank inkjet printer that will also be more economical in the running than a standard inkjet printer. Canon and Epson provide appropriate models.

Video Editing

Once you have the video recording equipment, microphone, tripod, backdrop and computer, then you need to get the recording out of your phone or the camera and put it on the computer so you can send your audition out to your agent or casting director. In simple cases, you would just cut the video right on your phone and you would not need any specialized software for this, still for emergencies and to add this one final it might be worth having at least one package just in case. 

Value Choice

If you have Apple computer, you should try the free software first, it'll get you familiar with the editing process and not overwhelm you with its complexity:

For more advanced editing or if you're running Windows, consider installing the free version of Davinci Resolve from BlackMagic:

Premium Choice

If you have an Apple computer, consider investing in a FinalCut Pro software it's way more advanced than Apple iMovie but it's the very same software that is used to assemble Hollywood Movies. And considering it's pricing tag, it's a good value for money:

For more advanced editing ,or if you're running Windows consider investing in Davinci Resolve Studio from BlackMagic:

The studio version allows for much more sophisticated editing.

Scriptwriting

Long are gone times when movie scripts were written using a regular text editor. Nowadays, in the time of Internet the screenwriting is a cooperative, multi-stage process that requires input from multiple writers. The modern scriptwriting package is expected not only to provide space to hold the research but also to outline the solution and hold the beat bord that in the old times would have been stored physically on your wall. 

Value Choice

The software package that is still reasonably priced is:

The open-source standard in scriptwriting is a plain text file formatted in a fountain format. This solution requires substantially more setup:

MacOS users can download a free screenwriting package Beat for fountain writing:

Premium Choice

Final Draft is the de-facto industry standard for scriptwriting. The Final Draft is a commercial software available for Windows and Mac.

Growing in popularity are all of the subscription-based online packages:

Audio Editing

Many of the camera actors in British Columbia are also very successful in the voiceover. While most of the time, recording will take place at a studio, auditioning requires actors to have a suitable setup at home. The same software can also correct audio tracks in video recordings. 

Value Choice

The open-source software that is the simplest one to start with is Audacity:

For simple audio recording, though with a substantially steeper learning curve, voice-over artists can also use Avid ProTools Intro:

The one plugin worth investing in is iZotope RX in its basic version:

The plugin is officially supported in Avid ProTools and all Premium Choices. Audacity detected it, although the plugins do not officially support it.

Premium Choice

The industry standard for voiceover acting is Adobe Audition:

This is a subscription-based software, so it might not be the cheapest option unless the actor has a lot of voiceover bookings. The Adobe Audition is also quite more challenging to master than LogicPro:

Both of those work with the iZotope RX plugins:

Professional voiceover actors can connect directly to the sound engineer from their home studio using the Source-Connect software: