I will advocate for free tools (little f) because they are accessible. When possible, I will also advocate for Free tools (capital F) because they tend to share values with the DIY TV movement, they are shared freely, they are made by real people to solve real problems.
The operating system is the software that enables your computer to function. You probably use Windows or MacOS. That’s fine!
I run ubuntu studio on my studio computers because it’s free and it comes with all the tools I need to produce, edit, and distribute media. Most of the tools I use are cross platform, and will also run on Windows or MacOS. The software packages that I am recommending are not the only options to perform these tasks, they are just the options I am familiar with. You should use what you are comfortable with.
I use Kdenlive as my primary video editor. It’s a standard NLE (non-linear editor) and it can do basic special effects, transitions, etc. The interface is pretty straightforward and easy to use, it’s pretty stable. It’s Free, and free. I like it because it treats me with respect, and it does what I need it to do.
Other Free video editors include Openshot and Shotcut.
I know some people really love Da Vinci Resolve, which is a proprietary, closed source application that is distributed for free. Resolve feels half finished and antagonistic compared to kdenlive. It can do a lot more than kdenlive does, it is a much more powerful program, but I do not enjoy using it.
And, if you’re in a pinch, both iMovie and Windows Movie Maker are much better than they used to be.
I won’t use adobe’s products if I can avoid them, because Adobe has a stranglehold on the video production world in a way that gives them too much power, and I will not add to that. If you have access to adobe products, and know how to use them, that’s great! Making DIY TV is more important to me than what tools you use to do it. Use what you’re comfortable with.
I am most comfortable with an editor that I can own, rather than renting, that doesn’t spy on me, and that doesn’t crash all the time.
When you are live streaming video over a service like twitch or peertube, you’ll need a piece of software to capture that video and broadcast it over the internet.
I use Open Broadcasters Studio (OBS) to live stream and perform live video switching.
Alternately, if you’re looking to play back a 24/7 stream of videos, like a more traditional television station, you’ll want a piece of playout software. I use FFPlayout as playout software for broadcasting pre-recorded video to a live stream.
We use Peertube as our Video on Demand and Livestreaming server, and a fork of the PeerVue roku channel to make our peertube stream available to roku users. We go in to more detail about how and why this works in the How To Distribute DIY TV section later in this text.
I use an image editor called Glimpse. It’s a fork of GNU’s Image Manipulation Program (IMP), but it isn’t being actively developed anymore. GNU’s IMP is fine, too. I know some folks who really love Krita (which is also free, and runs basically anywhere.) I’ll probably learn to use Krita in the near future. (but, basically, use what you know and have access to.)
Audacity is fine for simple tasks. If you need something more involved take a look at Ardour, it’s a full DAW and is fairly full featured. There is a free version of Ardour and a paid version. Getting the free version running outside of a linux box is occasionally a frustrating experience, but there are plenty of tutorials to help. I have a license for the paid version, because I find the software to be worth paying for.
I use Droidcam OBS on my phone to live stream from my phone to OBS. This allows us to have multiple wireless cameras streaming back to a single source, which can be mixed without a hardware video mixer. It can produce really stellar results, but it is best suited to a fully live production (as the phone usually can’t record and broadcast at the same time, and OBS can only record the mixed output, not the raw footage from each device.) There are ways to get around this broadcast only limitation, but they get complicated and fragile.