Sunday, December 25, 2011

Plug-A-Matic Buying A Family Camcorder

Tag, you are it; you are the person in your family designated to record video. You have in-laws to the left of you and moving children to the right of you growing fast.  You don’t mind pushing the button but really don’t want to get involved in a time sink

I don’t know how to break it to you but working with video does take up time. With planning and a good workflow you can reduce the amount of time spent getting video out of the camcorder to your pesky and persistent viewers.

Parental Family and Event Camcorder Kit

Here is what I think are essential for family and event recordings:
  • Optical zoom, at least 10x but more is better if you can afford it. If you are recording dances, games, vacations or activities you need optical, not digital zoom.
  • A tripod if you use optical zoom. Yes, there are image and optical stabilization in camcorders but if you are holding the device by hand you can never remove all of the shakes. A tripod or at least a monopod can keep it steady.
  • Extra batteries cuz the suckers that come with more consumer camcorder run out in about 45 minutes to an hour. 
  • External lights for home recording – Your living room lamp isn’t up to the job.
  • External hard drive or DVD transfer for recordings for back up.
  • A video editing program you are comfortable using. 

Now I haven't said a word about high definition, sensor size, ergonomics or memory cards. I want to but the population I'm trying to reach are in linear thinking mode. "Tell me what to get so I can do what I want."

Except that many of the things we need to do now days isn't linear. There are choices, sub-choices and results from those choices.

There I go again.  I’m supposed to remove options, not add to them.

Workflow via Software

  • You have a camcorder that allows you to optically zoom in and out and has decent audio.
  • You want a DVD or video to give to another person. That can be on a disc, memory card or uploaded to a web service.
  • Corel Digital Studio 2010 or Corel Video Studio Express is designed to help novice users create a DVD or stylized video.

You connect the camcorder to your computer (using the power cord, do not transfer anything on battery power) and use the software to transfer the videos from the camcorder to the computer.

The Under $250 Camcorders with 10x or More of Optical Zoom:

Canon - Vixia HF R20 8GB Flash Memory Camcorder with 20x optical zoom
JVC GZHM30BUS HD Flash Memory Camcorder with 40x optical zoom
Samsung - HMX-Q10 HD Flash Memory Camcorder with 10x optical zoom

Beyond Theory

I have to be honest. This seems like the plan. Except that there can be hitches along the way.

You might have an older computer that doesn’t accept new video file formats.

You might not have enough space on your hard drive to store video. You can get an external drive but that is another expense.

If you are a Mac user you cannot use the PC software that comes with some camcorders. You will have to check the Apple web site to make sure the camcorder is compatible with your version of iMovie.

If you are a PC user and can’t get the software from your device to your computer you might have to copy and paste files from one location to another.

The software might be too basic. Or not basic enough.

Similar Software for Parental Users

Roxio Video Lab – PC
Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum – PC
Toast Titanium 10 – Mac

You can do this for under $400. You can even do it under $300.  If you just want the camcorder $250 can buy you a decent optical zoom camcorder. 

This really is a matter of time allocation. If you don’t have the time or the desire to learn about computer video editing then you will need help from software designed to take over for you.

That doesn’t exempt you from knowing how to troubleshoot or find an alternate way of doing a task.  No camcorder can compensate for not knowing how to copy and paste or where the video is on your memory card.

Just saying…be ready to asked your kids for help if you need it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love actual comments. Please understand that comments will be held until I get a chance to look them over or wake up, whichever comes first.

Spam and other forms of hate speech are not welcome here. And due to the actions of spam bots and the people that love them moderation is in full effect.