Getting Started on YouTube - Basic Requirements

by cazort

Things you need in order to get started on YouTube: recommendations of recording equipment, movie editing software, and helpful online tools.

Getting started on YouTube is relatively easy, but it requires both some physical hardware or equipment, some software, and some online accounts on various websites, some mandatory and some optional.

Here I will quickly give you an overview of what you will need to get started making videos. This is not a deep how-to guide for how to be successful on YouTube, but rather, a quick-and-easy guide to allow you to start dabbling in making videos.

What You'll Find Covered Here

First I cover hardware for recording, then system requirements (computer hardware) for editing and processing, followed by editing software.  Lastly I cover online accounts and tools to work with YouTube.

Have you uploaded any YouTube videos before?

Hardware and Equipment: What You'll Need to Record

A digital camcorder is specifically designed for filming, but a good pocket camera will suffice for most people's needs. A built-in webcam and mic is a next-best choice, with a high-end smartphone being an acceptable last-resort.

The first and most obvious thing you need in order to get started making YouTube videos is recording equipment.  Unless you are planning to make videos exclusively using software, combining audio, still images, video that has already been filmed, or video that you have created with software, you will need a video recorder.  There are four "levels" of equipment:

  • Digital Camcorder
  • Pocket Camera
  • Webcam & Mic
  • Smartphone

Digital camcorders are specifically made for recording videos, and are the best choice for filming.  New ones start around $150, but many are much pricier.

A digital pocket camera is your next best option.  Some cameras, like the Nikon CoolPix series, have very good filming capabilities.

If you have a lower budget, you may already have recording options built-into your computer.  Most laptops these days have built-in webcams and microphones, and this, together with recording software, is all that is needed to record videos from your computer.

Lastly, if none of these are an option, you can use your smartphone, but this is not the best option.  The quality of videos taken with smartphones is usually low, and recording eats up battery life quickly.

Pocket Cameras Good at Filming Video

Nikon's COOLPIX series are excellent all-purpose pocket cameras, but they happen to be fantastic at filming video; they're as good as many dedicated Camcorders from a few years back.
Nikon COOLPIX S3600 20.1 MP Digital Camera with 8x Zoom NIKKOR Lens and 720p HD Video (Silver)

The shots we want don"t always happen right in front of us; they"re often out on the sports field, up on the stage, across the room or just too far away for many smartphone came...

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Nikon COOLPIX L830 16 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 34x Zoom NIKKOR Lens and Full 1080p HD Video (B...

16 MP 1/2.3" CMOS Sensor4-136mm f/3.0-5.9 Nikkor Zoom Lens22.5-765mm 35mm Equivalent Focal Length34x Optical Zoom & 68x Dynamic Fine ZoomTiltable 3" 921k-Dot LCD DisplayFull HD ...

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System Requirements: Is My Computer Good Enough?

Video editing demands processor power, memory, and hard drive space. Requirements depend on your patience, storage needs, and desired video quality.

Video editing is the most resource intensive task that most people will undertake on their computers.  Video editing uses memory, CPU power, and hard drive space.  Having a good video card also is important, and having a fast hard drive is also a plus.

If you want to upload videos to YouTube, I recommend at least a Quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a minimum 500GB hard drive.  CPU limits your speed of editing work, and the time spent encoding videos when you export them in finished form to be uploaded to YouTube.  I have a computer with these minimal specs, and it is able to produce HD videos for YouTube just fine, but exporting, and sometimes editing, can be a bit slow.

If your computer is older, slower, or has less space, you can get around these limitations by producing lower-resolution videos, sacrificing the quality of your final product.

What OS (operating system) do you use, or will you intend to use for making videos?

Free Video Editing Software

Windows and Mac come with free software; Linux has good options too. These are not the best, but enough to get you started.

For Mac: If you own a Macintosh, you've lucked out, because macs come with iMovie, powerful and easy-to-use movie editing software that will satisfy the needs for just about anyone other than professionals.  iMovie has been around for a while, and newer macs ship with newer, more powerful versions.  For the most part, newer versions are better, although iMovie '08, which shipped from computers around 2007-2009, attracted criticism for removing a lot of features found in earlier versions.

For Windows PCs: Windows versions (except for Windows 2000) ship with Windows Movie Maker, free software for editing movies.  Windows Movie Maker, especially its earlier versions, is bare-bones and less elegant relative to iMovie, but it is usable and is an easy option if you own a PC running Microsoft Windows and want to quickly start making movies.  If Windows Movie Maker is not installed on your computer, you can download it for free as part of the Windows Essential Suite.

For Linux: For linux users, I recommend the free software OpenShot.  OpenShot isn't quite as good as iMovie, but it gets the job done, and it has all the basic features you'd need, and is relatively intuitive and easy to use.

Heavy-Duty Software For Professionals

Adobe Premiere Elements is a popular video editing package. Premiere Pro is sold by yearly membership--and is used by professional broadcasters and to edit feature films.
Adobe Premiere Elements 12 [Download]

Adobe Premiere Elements 12 Adobe Premiere Elements 12 Empower your creative vision with video editing so intuitive and automated, it almost makes the movie for you. Use special ...

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Adobe Premiere Elements 11 [OLD VERSION]

Bring your videos and photos to life with a powerful solution from the makers of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro, industry-leading professional photo and video editing so...

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Adobe Premiere Pro CC [Digital Membership]

Adobe Premiere Pro CC — Part of Adobe Creative Cloud Edit video faster and more fluidly than ever before with the powerful, more connected Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Dozens of brand...

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Online Accounts to Set Up Before Starting

Google account, YouTube channel, Google Analytics (optional), and Google Plus (strongly recommended)

YouTube is integrated with Google, so I recommend, if you don't already have a primary Google account, to create a Google account.  A Google account gives you access to all google products, although you still have to set up separate accounts or profiles for many of them.

The next step is to create a YouTube channel, which you can create through this link when you are logged into your Google account.  Both of these steps are mandatory.

Once you've created a YouTube channel I strongly recommend creating a Google Analytics account if you do not already have one, and linking this with your YouTube channel.  Google Analytics (GA) is a free and powerful tool for analyzing web traffic, and it can be integrated into any website you control, and even some social networking sites and self-publishing platforms (Wizzley included).  GA will give you data on how people come to your YouTube pages, which is slightly different from the built-in YouTube analytics.

Lastly, but more importantly than GA, I recommend setting up a Google Plus profile.  Google Plus is a social network that shares some things in common with Facebook and Twitter.  It is integrated into YouTube's commenting system, and having a profile there is generally a good idea for networking and promoting your videos.

That's All! You're ready to go!

Please share...which section of this page did you find most valuable or informative?

A Sample of My Early Videos

This is an example of one of my early vidoes; here I'm still just getting started, but this shows the quality of a video that can be produced with minimal effort by someone with little experience, using only a pocket camera and free editing software.

Other Pages of Mine

Why This Way is a consensus-based organization and belief system which may or may not be a religion, depending on your definition of religion.
RateTea is a social and community website where anyone can rate and review teas.
Updated: 08/16/2014, cazort
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Questions? Comments? Feedback?

cazort on 10/03/2014

I definitely recommend starting, if it's something you really want to do. For me, it got much easier and I started getting more comfortable and better at recording and editing videos, very quickly after I started. If you don't feel ready to publish, you can at least start by creating a channel and then recording and uploading a video, and just testing it out--keeping the video private and not publishing it. Then once you're ready, you can go public!

WriterArtist on 08/18/2014

I do want to get started on YouTube but am procrastinating, hoping to use it in future. Thanks for the tips, they are very useful.

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