After following a vlogger on YouTube for a few months it wasn’t long before I bought my own camera to record my own life in selfie mode. I also quickly realized that it was a lot harder than it looked to produce the videos I was watching every day.
That’s when I started paying attention to how they were making their videos and discovered one of the advantages many of the best vloggers and YouTubers had was a functional DIY studio. Video is a difficult and nuanced craft, but building a functional and fun studio makes the process of making new videos much easier.
It took me a while to figure out how and why others on YouTube built their studio, so I thought I would document what I learned from some of the greats. I then took what I learned and built my own DIY video studio at home.
1. Casey Neistat’s Studio
Casey Neistat is an American YouTuber/Vlogger, videographer, and serial entrepreneur made famous by his daily YouTube vlog. Casey is famous in vlogging history for bringing a higher level of professionalism to the world of vlogging as well as his handmade sunglasses, riding an electric skateboard around New York City, and a meticulously designed studio.
While many studios are minimalist in design, Casey’s studio is said to be one of organized chaos. As you can see in the photo above, no wall is left bare. All of Casey’s tools are easily accessible in hand-labeled boxes of various kinds or are fixed directly to the wall. The look is cluttered but gives a consistent aesthetic for his backdrop.
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- Studio Type: Office Studio
- Studio Tour Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJY-HhPcFhQ
- Camera Rig: Casey is inconsistent with his camera rig and has used his Canon 5D, Canon 80D (my personal favorite), Sony a7R, and others for shooting in his studio. He often mounts the camera to a tripod and uses a wide-angle lens to record himself sitting at a desk facing the exterior window.
- Lighting Setup: Casey uses a combination of window light, an on-camera light source, and an eclectic mixture of lights to light his studio.
- Audio: Casey mostly uses a Shure VP83 shotgun mic mounted on his camera to record audio.
- Sound Dampening: Casey’s studio is large enough and so full of stuff on the walls that the room does not require any additional sound dampening devices.
- Backdrop: Casey uses the unique aesthetics of his studio to serve as a backdrop.
- Other Gear: One notable piece of gear often seen in the background of Casey’s studio is the homemade overhead shooting rig that he uses to film overhead shots.
Casey’s studio is so intricate that many videos have been created to explain it’s many unique facets. Here are some links to useful videos if you would like to dive deeper:
- How the Studio is Organized
- How to Build an Overhead Camera Rig like Casey’s
- Casey’s Second Studio Space
2. Peter Mckinnon’s Studio
Peter Mckinnon is a rising star on YouTube who teaches photography and videography in addition to vlogging. He is known for his cinematic B-roll, quirky personality, and obsession with coffee.
Peter is currently developing a new studio, but as of this writing it is still incomplete, so this section will be about his former studio located in a small office space in a Toronto suburb. He had rented a single room in an upstairs office above a downtown shop area and turned it into a multipurpose studio for shooting and editing his YouTube videos. While there are times he gives an overview of the room, most of the shooting he does in the studio is for interviews and tutorials against a wood-paneled wall or a paper backdrop like in the photo above.
- Studio Type: Office Studio
- Studio Tour Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oUkVXSrSCk&t=140s
- Camera Rig: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II used with a variety of Canon L-series lenses or cinema lens.
- Lighting Setup: Peter uses a variety of professional light kits, but is most frequently using his Aputure Light Dome II with the Aputure Light Storm light.
- Audio: Peter also uses a variety of microphones and will often use a boom mic and lav together, though he never mentions which ones.
- Sound Dampening: In his the first video introducing the space Peter mentioned the echo in the room and how it was his first priority to fix it with sound panels and acoustic blankets, but never gives a walkthrough of what he did to make it sound better.
- Other Gear: Since his camera does not have an articulating screen, Peter will often use a smallHD camera monitor to see himself. He also uses a Zoom H4N to record audio.
- Backdrop: Peter usually uses a single wood wall in his backgrounds, but will occasionally mix it up with different solid colors with his wall-mounted paper roll.
3. iJustine’s Studio
Justine Ezarik (iJustine) was a web designer turned internet star that rode the wave of YouTube’s success right from its beginning years. She is known mostly for her obsessions with all things Apple, technology, and vlogging (before vlogging was cool).
I wrote a whole blog post summarizing iJustine’s life and rise to internet fame for those of you who want to see what it takes to get to over a million followers.
Justine has been making YouTube videos for well over a decade, so her studio has changed many times. Currently, she utilizes her whole house to produce videos with a special emphasis on one room where she makes her unboxing videos. Her house has a white Apple store aesthetic with plenty of nerdy video game nicknacks hidden around every corner. The white walls make it easy to bounce a variety of colored gels off of to frequently change up her video backgrounds. All of these things cater to her content around Apple and tech products as well as video game commentary.
- Studio type: home studio.
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8SqiYh0M3I&t
- Lighting setup: Other than having a well-lit home, Justine uses two different light panels, but only describes one as the LiteMat+ Plus4 as her main key light.
- Camera: Sony a7s ii and a Sony a7 iii
- Audio: Justine currently uses a lav for her unboxing videos, but will often use a shotgun mic or just the camera’s onboard microphone if she is walking around her home.
- Dampening: There is no sound dampening devices in her home.
- Other gear: One SmallHD Focus and a larger SmallHD monitor.
- Backdrop: Justine uses her white walls in combination with colored gels when she wants to change up the color.
4. Philip Defranco’s Studio
Philip Defranco is a long-time YouTube personality and news commentator who has been in and out of media deals with Disney and Google and involved in a half dozen other channels. For the most part, Defranco is known for his commentary on current events, pop-culture, politics, and whatever the nation is currently talking about.
Philip Defranco has a full-time media team and studio to help him produce his daily show five days a week. While they have changed offices multiple times they generally don’t show much of the gear or setup they are using behind the scenes. The few walkthrough videos have shown gives us some clues that they are turning a variety of office rooms into mini-sets. Each mini set has a permanent backdrop and decor, dedicated lights, acoustic treatment.
- Studio type: office studio.
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW-_LQEbo8c
- Lighting setup: Kino Flow light kits and lots of Chinese ball lanterns
- Camera: Canon C200
- Audio: Lav microphones
- Dampening: Acoustic foam
- Backdrop: Permanent set design, but typically includes a painted wall, couch, bookshelves, and various knickknacks.
- Other gear: Manfrotto 504HD Tripod
5. Johnny & Iz Harris’ Studio
Johnny & Iz Harris are both known for their YouTube videos that they make for their employers. Johnny works for Vox and produces the borders mini-documentary series while Iz works for Eater as a food vlogger. In addition to the videos they create for their employers, they each host separate vlog channels.
Johnny and Iz both have their unique styles and topics they cover in their channels (personal and professional), but they share their studio space in their home and spent quite a bit of time customizing their it for their videos.
- Studio type: home studio
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzAErq53yZk&t (Johnny), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApTFDOf-ZMo (Iz)
- Lighting setup: Aperature Light Storm and Dome
- Camera: Sony a7 iii and Sony a7s ii
- Audio: Sony XLR-K2M XLR Adapter Kit with Microphone or a Sennheiser Wireless Lavs
- Dampening: Persian Rugs
- Backdrop: They use multiple spots around their home with framed photos, vintage maps, or colored paper backdrops.
6. PewDiePie’s Studio
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (PewDiePie) is famous for being the YouTuber with the most subscribers. His channel focuses on video games commentary but he has branched out to many other topics including pop culture and reactions to other videos that are trending on YouTube.
As a gaming YouTuber, Felix has a small and highly customized room for playing and recording his games. The room has white walls with a variety of colored lights for accents. His desk, computer, and monitors all have subtle lights that glow in complementary hues. His camera sits just behind his middle monitor to record himself sitting in front of a green screen so that he can edit his himself in his chair directly into the video game screen stream.
- Studio type: home office studio
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9rOTxy_Aps
- Lighting setup: Neewer Fluorescent Ring Light Kit
- Camera: Canon XA11 Professional Camcorder
- Audio: AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Microphone with a mechanical arm
- Dampening: No sound-dampening that I could see.
- Backdrop: Retractable green screen
- Other Gear: ASUS ROG Swift PG348Q 34″ Gaming Monitor Curved Ultra-Wide, Origin PC Genesis
7. Jacksepticeye’s Studio
Seán McLoughlin is an Irish YouTuber who is also famous for his video game commentary but with a comedic twist. He also records vlogs to give his viewers more insight into his daily life outside of the video game console.
Seán’s studio is a single small home office room covered in acoustic foam panels with a single desk in the center of the room. He has a fairly simple, but clever, setup where everything he needs to create videos is attached to his standing desk. That way, whether he wants to sit or stand the camera, lights, monitors, and microphone go up or down with him.
- Studio type: Home office studio
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njnMRhM5Xm8
- Lighting setup: Two Elgato Key Lights
- Camera: Sony a7r ii
- Audio: Shure BLX4R and lavalier microphone and a Sennheiser mkh416
- Sound Dampening: Floor to ceiling acoustic foam wedge panels
- Backdrop: Wall treated with acoustic foam and whiteboard
- Other Gear: Origin gaming computer, Elgato Stream Deck (for live streaming), GoXLR mixer.
8. Dude Perfect’s Studio
The YouTubers who make up the team, Dude Perfect, make videos performing and celebrating their trick shots. While their 43 million subscriber count is impressive, what is even more impressive is the average amount of views they receive for each video. Most YouTubers only get a fraction of views of their subscriber to watch each video, but Dude Perfect gets at least half the views to subscribers if not more than their total subs with each video. Their weekly videos are just that popular.
With a subscriber base that high and an above-average view rate, Dude Perfect has one of the largest and most extravagant video recording studios of any YouTuber. Instead of a home office or rented office space, Dude Perfect bought (or rents) and customized a whole warehouse to film their trick shot videos. The studio is equipped with a basketball court, hockey rink, putting greens, larger than life PD logos, and plenty of toys. It’s every junior high boy’s dream playhouse.
- Studio type: Custom warehouse studio
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=779akDPBNYc
It’s difficult to find what kind of camera, light, or audio gear these guys are using. If you find out what they use, drop a comment below.
9. MKBHD’s Studio
Marques K. Brownlee is a popular YouTuber who primarily reviews new technology with an emphasis on smartphones, consumer electronics, and video equipment.
Marques has three large open rooms he records his videos in with a small team to help record and edit them. The studio is part video studio with all the white walls and video gear scattered around but it also feels like a room from a tech startup with random desks scattered around the perimeter of the main room. The walls are mostly white with a variety of acoustic panels near the top to dampen the noise.
- Studio type: Office studio
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6vcV-MAdZk
- Lighting setup: Large windows for natural light, ARRI SkyPanel S60-C, and Aputure Light Dome II with the Aputure Light Storm light.
- Camera: Two DSMC2 Red Cameras with monstro sensors.
- Audio: Sennheiser MKH416 Super-Cardioid Shotgun microphone.
- Sound Dampening: A variety of carpets, acoustic foam, and acoustic panels line the room.
- Backdrop: Variety of backdrops around the studio, but he frequently uses his desk area with alternating black and red sound panels for the video backdrops.
- Other Gear: Yamaha studio monitors, 80 terabyte Pegasus storage unit, Apollo Twin ii.
10. DSLR Video Shooter’s Studio
Caleb Pike is a professional producer and camera operator who has been running his channel DSLR Video Shooter for a decade now reviewing new video tech and gives tutorials related to filmmaking.
Caleb’s studio gets an upgrade every year. This year, he is out of his home basement and into a single large office room with multiple odd wall angles. For now, it is fairly minimalist and empty with the exception of the free-floating grip gear and the camera’s rolling around to shoot videos on his first set design. In the video links below, Caleb goes in-depth into all the details of his studio.
- Studio type: Office studio
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOoFIjx8YI4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZeECB76Pdo, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyu39OaUAig, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpC2v_wAIJU
- Lighting setup: Aputure Light Dome II with the Aputure Light Storm light, Intellytech Diffuser Frame, white side of a sound diffusion blanket for reflecting light. He also uses the Intellytech LiteCloth and the Intellytech Pocket Cannon Mini.
- Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5
- Audio: Deity S-Mic 2, Sound Devices MixPre-10T Portable Multichannel Audio Recorder.
- Sound Dampening: Caleb created his own DIY portable sound dampening wall with two acoustic blankets a plank of wood and a rolling stand.
- Backdrop: Grey wall with bookshelf and miscellaneous camera and lighting props.
- Other Gear: E-Image GH06 Head with 2-Stage Carbon Fiber Tripod, Atomos Ninja monitor and recorder.
11. Sara Dietschy’s Studio
Sara is a bit of a variety show around videography, technology, creativity, entrepreneurship, and vlogging about her life as a YouTuber in New York City. She became popular after she created a hit video mocking Casey Neistat’s vlog videos went viral.
Sara rents a small single room office in Manhatten that she uses to record and edit videos. Over time, she has designed that small room into her DIY video studio to reflect her personality and youtube channel content. Little decor touches remind you of her chief brand (a peach since her last name rhymes with peachy), a guitar on the wall (her earliest videos were guitar accessory tutorials), and light airy colors that reflect her warm and friendly personality.
- Studio type: Office studio
- Studio tour video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS8BbIdDVGI
- Lighting setup: Aputure Light Dome II with the Aputure Light Storm light.
- Camera: Sony a7s ii
- Audio: Rode Video Mic Pro
- Sound Dampening: No sound-dampening devices are used (and you can tell).
- Backdrop: White walls, art, bookshelves, and a neon peach light.
Who Should I Add to the List?
Let me know in the comments below which YouTubers you would like to see added to the list.
Need Backdrop Inspiration?
I’ve curated a guide of 100+ backdrops to help.