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- Live-streamed video is more popular now than ever, and many social media apps offer some form of the feature for anyone to use.
- Properly filming a live-streamed video takes more than just reversing the view on your selfie cam and talking away — it requires a reliable tripod that can hold a steady shot and allow you to have your hands free while filming.
- I tried Joby’s GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging Kit, which comes with a durable tripod, a microphone, and an attachable LED light.
- The kit allowed me to confidently stream weekly workouts on Instagram, improved my audio, and reduced the anxiety I had about tipping over my camera while jumping around my living room.
- Its $200 price is worth the cost for people who make a living or complement a current job by live-streaming video, but most people don’t need a setup that’s this high end.
When live-streamed videos debuted several years ago, they immediately changed the landscape of how people used social media. Instead of pre-recorded videos posted to Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, people could now broadcast themselves in real-time to anyone who tuned in.
This subsequently opened the doors for a variety of new streaming content, be it someone playing a video game, a celebrity taking questions from fans, or an artist debuting new music (among so many others). Others, like myself, have even taken to live-streaming fitness routines chock full of jumping jacks, push-ups, and other sweat-inducing workouts.
As is the case with many of these streams, the finished product is a solo production — who you see on camera likely plays the role of director, host, gaffer, sound mixer, and editor. Before I started my weekly streams, I knew getting the right shot wasn’t going to be as easy as just standing in front of my phone and talking clearly. Years of TV and video work taught me the importance of lighting and camera positioning, but I had always used a legitimate studio camera. Filming on my phone was going to be much, much different.
After fumbling with a $20 tripod I bought on Amazon for a few episodes, I had the opportunity to try out Joby’s GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging Kit — a verifiable Cadillac of streaming gear. Now, I had access to a highly customizable and stable tripod, a legitimate microphone, and some LED lighting designed to make my streams truly pop.
Though I’m no bonafide fitfluencer, the setup did help me feel confident firing up Instagram Live each week and taught me something very important: Spending $200 on a fancy camera rig for your smartphone isn’t that bad of an idea — so long as you actually need it.
Joby’s GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging Kit comes with three main components:
- GorillaPod Mobile Rig: A tripod built of durable aluminum wrapped in a rugged ABS plastic that features a unique ball and socket design, rubberized grips for stability, an easy-to-use smartphone mount that fits a variety of phone sizes, and the ability to add additional arms for lighting, microphones, and other accessories.
- Beamo Mini LED: A compact LED light that attaches to one of the accessory arms. The light is also waterproof, offers lighting up to 1,000 lumens, and features five different lighting levels.
- Wavo Mobile microphone: A lightweight microphone that features a shock mount that helps minimize movement and capture clear sound. It’s also designed to pick up just a user’s voice and dampens any other sounds coming from anywhere else. An included windshield cover minimizes sound from wind or fans, too.
The kit also includes two accessory arms that screw into the rig in order to hold the LED light and microphone, as well as a small carrying case. The case is good for storing the accessories but it won’t fit the entire tripod, light, and microphone.
The rig’s quality is noticeable as soon as you take it out of the box. Everything from the movable legs to the smartphone mount all feels capable of lasting a long time. I’ve used the rig for almost two months and it still functions just as well as it did when I unboxed it. There are some minor scuffs just from day-to-day use but nothing that’s concerning enough to make me worry about its long-term durability.
One of the rig’s best features is how stable it remains, even when I’m jumping around my living room, giving it every opportunity to topple over. It’s often set up in some precarious position (I’ve resorted to putting the tripod on top of an upside-down laundry basket that’s placed on my kitchen garbage can) and yet, it stays in place. This is thanks in part to both the gummy, rubberized nubs on the tripod legs, as well as its sturdy construction.
Of course, setting it up correctly also goes a long way in getting a reliable shot. This means bending and situating each leg so as to create a solid base while also keeping in mind how level the camera is. I use predetermined cues in my living room to initially line the shot up and then hone it in by making use of the phone mount’s ability to vertically and horizontally swivel. Once I’ve found the correct shot, two knobs secure the phone’s position firmly in place.
The tripod’s pliability also makes it easy to set up in a variety of ways. You don’t have to set it on a flat surface for it to work, you can also wrap the legs around a pole, create a sort of cradle for your hand, or lean it against a wall.
Setting up the microphone is easy to do — even after the shot is set. After screwing in one of the accessory arms and attaching the microphone to it, an included audio cable (which, thankfully, comes with a lightning port adapter for iPhones) plugs into both the microphone and the smartphone. I wouldn’t consider myself an audiophile but I could still recognize clearer sound in my streams when using the mic — even if it was minimal.
The included Beamo light secures onto a second accessory arm, though I didn’t need to use it as much based on the nature of my streams. Not only do they take place in the afternoon but I’m also shooting directly into a light source (i.e. my windows), which isn’t exactly preferred.
Don’t get me wrong, using an LED light, even in daytime, can help improve the lighting of any stream but I just didn’t feel as though mine required it. I do like that the kit comes with a light, however, as it adds to its versatility and would let me shoot confidently in low-light conditions should I need to.
Spending $200 on a tripod kit may seem like an odd investment — and for many, it is. But with more people turning to streaming to either make a living or complement a current job or project, cutting corners with cheap gear isn’t always the best decision to make. I was doing fine with my $20 Amazon tripod but I always filmed with at least some anxiety something would go wrong, namely, that it would topple over.
With Joby’s rig, that thought hardly crossed my mind. I even noticed much more stable video when watching playbacks of the stream, too. Couple this with better audio quality and the ability to have proper lighting when needed and I was able to execute my solo streams far more comfortably than when I started out.
Joby’s GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging Kit is a versatile solution for live-streaming that helped me improve my weekly fitness streams. Its durable tripod delivered a steady shot while avoiding tipping over and its included microphone helped improve and clean up my audio. It’s an investment at $200 but if you’re serious about live-streaming or even need to film videos shot on your phone for work, it’s well worth the price tag.
- Should you buy it? If you’re going to use it often, then yes. This is designed specifically for someone who routinely live-streams or films smartphone-shot videos and wants stable picture, clear audio, and advanced lighting. If you’re just sending random Snapchats or don’t need all the bells and whistles, you can save the money.
- What are your alternatives? A quick trip to Amazon reveals page after page of various tripods and vlogging setups, all with a very similar design. The difference, however, would be in the durability. Joby’s GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging Kit is made of high-quality materials throughout. If the $200 price tag is too steep, consider opting for the rig by itself (which is just $99) and then buying an inexpensive lavalier microphone on Amazon.
Pros: The kit offers a high level of versatility for people who live-stream or film smartphone videos often, microphone captures clear sound, LED light helps improve lighting no matter the time of day, tripod is durable and allows for a variety of shooting angles and perspectives
Cons: Expensive at $200, doesn’t come with a carrying case big enough for everything in the kit