My Gear & How I make my films

Hi and thanks for stopping by.

My Youtube films are something I really enjoy making these days, that’s not always been the case though, the first 18 months to 2 years I really struggled with being comfortable in front of the camera. My gear and style has also evolved over the years too, so what you see now is a list of gear and a style that’s taken many, many hours of learning and working out what works best.

I started off using a used Mac mini and Final Cut Pro X, my main camera was a Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 and for 18 months this was my gear. After a while I started to film in 4K and the Mac mini was showing its age and testing my patience, and it was at this time I moved to Windows and a desktop pc in the form of a used DELL, being that was all I could afford. I switched to Adobe Premiere Pro for editing too, as FCPX doesn’t run on Windows computers. Things started to improve, I bought some studio lights and a Rode Video Mic Pro and then I started to get into the editing as much as the video making. By this time my camera started to show the limitations of a it being a bridge camera and my friend was selling his Sony a6300 with a couple of lenses, so I sold the FZ1000 on ebay and bought the used a6300. However, this didn’t go well and the a6300 soon got replaced with a a6500 for better stabilisation as I struggled with still shots and handheld video shots, I struggled on with the a6500 for 6 months. In the background I had also invested in a GoPro Hero 5, a GoPro Fusion 360 camera, a Sony RX100 MK5 and I use my iPhone too, all to get the best shots, whether they be stills or video. In June 2018 I had saved some money and took the plunge to invest in my YouTube gear, I had tried to advertise my media services but to -date I  still only had 3 paying jobs, but it was enough to put towards the gear list below.

My Gear List: (the links below are to Amazon, via my affiliate links – you get the best product price on Amazon and they pay me a small referral fee after your purchase)

Sony a6500 with Sony 16-55mm lens – UK > USA >
I also use a 18-105 G lens – UK >  USA >
2 x GoPro Hero 7 Black –UK > USA >
GoPro fusion 360 Camera –UK > USA >
Rode Video Mic Pro+ –UK > USA >
Big Tripod is Manfrotto 055 –UK > USA >
Travel Tripod –UK > USA >
Window/Car Bodywork Suction mount for small camera –UK > USA >
Drone is DJI Mavic Air –UK > USA >
Phone Gimbal is DJI Osmo Mobile 2 –UK > USA >
Camera Slider is GripGear MM2 –UK > USA >
My bag is an amazon Basics –UK > USA >
Another Camera Bag I use –UK > USA >
My Travel Bag with Laptop compartment –UK> USA >
Motorised Follow Focus & Pan Slider –UK> USA >
Main Studio Lights –UK> USA >
Portable Ring Light –UK> USA >
Desk Voice-Over Mic –UK> USA >
Static Studio Overhead Mic –UK> USA >
Studio Overhead Mic Articulating Arm –UK> USA >
Extendable Monopod with feet –UK> USA >
360 or GoPro high Tripod –UK> USA >
Travel Data Backup Drive –UK> USA >
Travel 1TB SSD –UK> USA >
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD – UK> USA>

I also use my iPhone Xs MAX and Galaxy Note 5 for some images. I edit on a 2017 iMac 27″ with FCPX and also on my 2017 Macbook Pro. That’s the gear mostly covered, I do have some extra gear like sliders, motion heads, basic tripods, tripod heads etc. but they’re very generic items.

Now for the magic to be made, the Filmmaking side of things. The move to the GH5 now allows me to get 4K 60FPS shots, enabling me to either get silky smooth 4k Slo-Mo or capture perfectly crisp still images from any of the video footage. The stabilisation of this camera and lenses is also astonishing, meaning I now get fantastic handheld shots and with my 3 lenses I have the options to get any shot, in any light of anything and have it look amazing. Of course, I’m still learning how to make it all come together, not only because I kept changing cameras and don’t know the GH5 as well as I could do with right now, but I’m also learning how to get the shot, make it look amazing out of the camera and also to tell a story through what I’m shooting. If this was easy then everyone would be doing it, oh wait – they are, which is why I keep pushing myself on the editing side.  The editing side is another area where I’ve just made a huge leap and a massive investment, I moved back to Macs for editing and to FCPX. I got a 2017 iMac 27″, i7, 24GB ram and 1TB SSD drive as my main desktop and a 2017 Macbook Pro (touchbar) i7, 16GB and 512GB SSD for editing on the go. I feel more at ease with FCPX and feel my films are looking better already, at the time of writing this in Aug 2018 I’ve made 3 films on the new setup, and feedback from the viewers is also showing they appreciate the changes.

So where is Gadget John going and also, more to the point, why am I seemingly now producing as many films about travel as I do about gadgets and tech? That’s a good question, and it’s down to you, the viewer, because I made a couple of films about the campervan I bought and the response was amazing, so I made a few more about camping and our travels in the campervan, and you loved them, so much so that my subscriber numbers started to rise more than double. As they say in life “Do what you love” and so I did, I made films about travelling and also made reviews about tech and gadgets too, which I also still love to do.  I now commit myself to producing 2 videos a week, one for each genre in order to keep all my viewers happy and to still keep producing tech reviews but also to entertain the viewers who like our travel vlogs.

Unlike other channels I don’t ask for money, either by donations or from services like Patreon, I think it’s great when people do send me a few £s as a thank you, but I produce the films to educate, inform and entertain people out of the pleasure it brings me in doing so.  As yet, I have never been paid for advertising brands in my videos, though companies have sent me products for free to review and I always clearly state so in my videos, but Gadget John is not, nor can I see it being so in the near future, a “considerable” income source for me. So this means the content is real, it’s not influenced and every view, like, comment and subscriber is very much appreciated and even though some viewers have commented they “hope the notoriety doesn’t go to my head”, I am really looking forward to the day a total stranger wants to say hi out in the streets, that’ll be a very special day, but I’m certain I’ll always be grounded as I’m a Northerner, a Manc at that, and we really do know how to keep things grounded 🙂

Take care, John (and Mandy & Cooper)