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Must-Have Tools for UGC Creators

The new era of advertising is upon us… and no, I’m not talking about AR, XR, QR codes, or anything Web3 related. I’m referring to the shift away from big-budget commercials towards localized content nestled between absurd viral videos and the latest dance trends. User-Generated Content (UGC for short) is certainly an umbrella term for virtually anything created by an individual and posted on platforms like TikTok or Instagram. However, in the context of this article, we’re discussing UGC content that is designed to sell or endorse a particular product. Have you seen those TikTok shop videos? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. This content is intentionally made to look unprofessional and relatable to the audience, establishing a level of trust that leads to sales conversions and increased profits for both the creator (via affiliate programs) and the product seller (through direct sales).

“Okay, so I just grab an iPhone and start shooting?” Well… yes, but also no. Understandably, the content should give the impression it was shot by someone who may not be a video creation expert. However, poor video editing, subpar audio, and inadequate lighting will not lead to successful sales. Such content will be unpleasant for viewers and will likely encourage them to swipe past. You need to stand out: your video should be well-lit, and your audio clear. This approach will make your content look amazing on TikTok. And better-looking content equals longer view times and more conversions 😉

In this article, we will cover the essential tools for filming and editing UGC content guaranteed to stand out from the crowd.

How to Film UGC Content

So you can just use an iPhone but tbh… you are better off using an Arri Alexa 35 with a vertical mount.

For the low investment of $75,000, you can now have your videos capture the attention of viewers for an additional 0.34 seconds due to the irresistible colors, bokeh, and dynamic range of the Arri Alexa 35. But who are we kidding, this is pointless. The whole point of UGC is to make it look unprofesional. But unprofessional doesn’t mean looking bad… there is a way to make unprofessional look great. Let’s begin.

The Best Camera for UGC Content

As a profesional filmmaker, I might typically recommend a Sony or Canon mirrorless camera. However, for UGC content creation, the real game-changer is the iPhone 15 Pro. The iPhone 15 Pro revolutionizes UGC content with its exceptional video quality, the convenience of a USB-C port for easy file transfer, and the support for ProRes shooting, making the videos truly stand out on any screen.

When shooting UGC, I keep my iPhone settings at:

  • Record Video: 4k at 30FPS (60 if I’m moving around a crazy amount)
  • Enhanced Stabilization: On
  • HDR Video: Off (important as HDR video can be a bit of a pain when posting to TikTok and in the edit)
  • Lock White Balance: On
  • Camera Capture: High Efficiency
  • Apple ProRes: On (Yes it uses more space but it keeps the colors looking so much better until it’s time to export. If space is an issue, leaving it off is not the end of the world)
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07/03/2024 06:42 pm GMT

I am also a huge fan of recording directly to a portable SSD. It makes getting the files off of the phone a non-issue and allows for longer recording. For ease of use and size, I use the Samsung Type-C Flash Drive. At 256gb and under $30 it is the perfect iPhone video companion.

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07/03/2024 06:57 pm GMT

Choosing a Mic for Content Creation

Now, the standard iPhone mic has gotten better… but it’s still not great. Sure, you can always record your voiceovers under a blanket to minimize echo, but at the end of the day, it still has that tinny/hollow sound that just sounds cheap. And your voice? Well, it’s worth a million bucks, so let’s make it sound like it.

Lavalier Microphones

The lavalier microphone, or lav mic, is a compact microphone that clips onto your clothing, usually around the collar area. Chances are, you’ve seen these small mics making appearances in various TikTok videos. While they’re effective for capturing sound, they’ve become somewhat of a niche choice, primarily for specific TikTok content.

For voiceovers or intentionally stylized videos, lav mics can serve well. However, they often present challenges in terms of visual distraction—they don’t always sit neatly on clothing and might even brush against your neck during recording. This can detract from the authenticity and polished look that many aim for in user-generated content, as the presence of a microphone can make the setup appear more staged than natural.

But alas, if this is what you’re going for, I wholeheartedly recommend the DJI Mic. It’s wireless, sounds amazing, is easy to set up, and can record for over 14 hours internally! It’s also perfect for when you need to record to the afformentioned flash drive, as you can just sync the sound up in Adobe Premiere Pro during the edit and not have to worry about not being able to plug the device into the iPhone.

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07/03/2024 07:55 pm GMT

Condenser Microphones

The condenser microphone is renowned for its sensitivity and ability to capture a wide range of frequencies, making it a top choice for studio-quality sound. Unlike dynamic microphones, condenser mics require power, often supplied via phantom power (USB power in this case), to operate. Their precise and detailed audio capture is attributed to the condenser technology, which excels in picking up vocal subtleties. This sensitivity makes them exceptionally suited for voiceovers, podcasts, and any user-generated content (UGC) where audio quality is paramount. With a condenser mic, you can achieve rich, clear, and detailed sound that elevates the professionalism of your content.

For UGC projects, the Elgato Wave:3 works wonderfully. Its superior sound quality, despite the higher investment, significantly enhances the audio experience.

Integrating this microphone into your content creation setup is seamless. You can record your audio directly into Premiere Pro while filming with your iPhone, allowing for a streamlined process that maintains both audio and visual excellence. This ensures your UGC not only looks great but sounds incredible too, without any compromise.

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07/03/2024 08:05 pm GMT

How to Light Yourself (or the product) for Video

Okay… I’m going to be honest. I like a standard 3-point lighting setup for pretty much everything I film. However, this isn’t always practical (or easy) for newcomers to UGC creation and definitely takes more time to get “just right” than one would anticipate.

When I’m in a rush, though, a nice ring light usually does the trick. And as the adage goes, “Any light is better than no light.” However, when you search ‘Ring Light’ on Amazon, there are literally hundreds to choose from. It’s overwhelming, to say the least, so I’ve narrowed it down to the brand that looks the best at an affordable price.

The Neewer Ring Light has two color modes, a carrying case, a Bluetooth remote, and a built-in iPhone holder with a stand… so, basically, there is no need for a tripod! It’s a fantastic all-in-one solution.

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07/03/2024 08:12 pm GMT

Yes, there are options that are much cheaper, but… you get what you pay for, and those things break super easily. Also, a lot of cheap LEDs have a flicker and sometimes an awful green hue that makes your skin look “dead,” to say the least.


iPhone Tripods (that are actually good)

I feel like people have forgotten about how awesome these little Joby GorillaPods are. They are super portable, can act as a stand, can be mounted to anything, and best of all, work as a great vlog-style camera grip. Even if you already got the Neewer ring light with the built-in stand… I’d just pick one of these up too for convenience’s sake. I’ve had mine for 7 years, and it is still going strong. The kit version of the GorillaPod also has an iPhone holder!

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07/03/2024 08:19 pm GMT

Video Editing Software for TikTok

We have three main options for video editing: CapCut, Adobe Premiere Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. Each comes with its advantages, though some have their drawbacks. Let’s delve into what each offers.

CapCut

CapCut has rapidly become the go-to editing app for those new to the User-Generated Content (UGC) scene. It’s user-friendly and feature-rich, catering well to iOS, Android, and PC/Mac users alike. Since its 2020 launch, CapCut’s seamless integration with TikTok has significantly boosted its popularity, making it a perfect match for the platform.

This synergy is intentional, as CapCut originates from TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance. It provides creators with a straightforward platform for transforming raw footage into captivating content. Plus, it’s free, meets essential editing needs, and retains the authentic ‘raw’ quality often sought after in UGC videos.

Adobe Premiere Pro

For those who’ve mastered the basics and are ready to dive deeper into video editing, Adobe Premiere Pro steps in as the next level. Preferred by experienced creators, Premiere Pro offers sophisticated editing capabilities for desktop users. Its extensive range of tools, customization options, and advanced features make it an excellent choice for UGC creators looking to enhance their editing prowess.

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve presents a slightly steeper learning curve (though some argue it’s easier to grasp than Premiere Pro) but remains within reach for those eager to advance their editing skills. It suits creators desiring more sophisticated production tools than what simpler apps provide.

DaVinci Resolve encompasses a broad spectrum of editing, color correction, audio post-production, and visual effects features.

Its appeal lies in the professional-grade yet accessible capabilities it offers. Creators can experiment with advanced techniques such as multi-camera editing or fine-tune their videos’ color grading for a more refined aesthetic.

Additionally, its superior audio post-production capabilities ensure that your project’s sound quality matches its visual excellence. For UGC creators planning more intricate video projects, DaVinci Resolve is an invaluable asset.

In Conclusion

The world of User-Generated Content (UGC) is a testament to the power of authenticity in advertising. It’s not about flashy equipment or big budgets; it’s about genuine, relatable content that resonates with audiences. Whether it’s through a simple setup with your smartphone or utilizing accessible editing tools like CapCut, Adobe Premiere Pro, and DaVinci Resolve, the goal remains the same: to create content that feels real and connects on a personal level.

Choosing the right tools, such as a versatile microphone or effective lighting, can enhance the quality of your content without sacrificing its authenticity. Products like the Elgato Wave:3 and the Neewer Ring Light offer practical solutions for improving audio and visuals, ensuring your content is engaging without appearing overly polished or staged.

The essence of successful UGC lies in its ability to blend seamlessly into the viewer’s feed, making them pause, watch, and engage as if they’re interacting with content from a friend, not a brand. It’s this personal touch, powered by creativity and genuine storytelling, that makes UGC a powerful strategy in today’s advertising landscape. So, while the tools can help polish your content, remember that the most impactful element is your unique perspective and authentic voice.

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