Friday, April 29, 2011

Q10 SwitchGrip Full HD Camcorder - The Left Rejoices!

Say it loud, I am left handed and proud. Yea, though I walk in an oppressive right handed world I seek out each and every opportunity to express my true nature. The Samsung Q10 SwitchGrip Camcorder can be operated from either hand.

This camcorder is more for those people that will be recording friends and family or you are recording events and need a bit of real optical zoom. It is a HD camcorder for beginner to intermediate users that want the video to look good, not a lot of controls to fiddle with and affordable.

Samsung Q10 SwitchGrip Camcorder
Here is the deal; you could operate it as a right handed camcorder. But there is a sensor in the camcorder that when you turn the camcorder upside down it will know to correct the image to normal viewing.

Ergo, you can hold the camcorder with your left hand. You can press record with you left thumb.

Now this is not a justification alone for purchasing a camcorder. And at a list price of $299 I'd say pass and wait for the next item. But I have a hot little flyer in my hands that says that from May 1 to May 7, 2011 or while supplies last it is $199.

So if you are near a Best Buy, Sears, RadioShack and two places I've never heard of, Conn's and Fred Meyer, this could be fiscally doable.

Um, I usually don't recommend getting camcorders from Sears. This is some kind of closeout, clear the decks, roll it into third tier retail kinda deal. For $199 and the understanding of its limitations I can make an exception to the rule.

This isn't a knock on Sears. It is just not a tech savvy place to buy stuff. When you can buy granny panties and camcorders in the same place you gotta know that there is a reason.

At $199 for those that need to transition from The Flip, this is not a bad deal. It has:
  • 10x optical zoom
  • optical image stabilization
  • records 1920x1080i or 1280x720p HD video
  • built in editing software for PC users (you don't have to use it if you don't want to)
So if you need a HD point and share type camcorder, your left handed, not flushed with a lot of cash and you are ready freddy on May 1st, then this might be the camcorder for you.

Being a frugalista and camcorder junkie. It just keeps getting better and better.

The Project - Booking It to USC

Los Angeles will have book fever this weekend, however you define a book. The LA Times Festival of Books is kicking it at USC this year.

In addition there is also going to be a Latino Book jam called LéaLA at the Los Angeles Convention Center that is starting today and runs to Sunday. According to the web site:

As part of its ongoing commitment to extending its culture and arts programs for the Latino community in Los Angeles, California, the University of Guadalajara is set to launch one of the most ambitious events ever held to promote Spanish: LéaLA, the first Spanish-language book fair in California.


The Blue Line will be rocking for sure. So this means I've got no excuse to stay home. But which way do I go? I'm thinking if I could record one story each from both events that would be fine and dandy.

The trick for me is to figure the story that isn't going to be told by 140,000 other people with camcorders, smartphones and DSLRs.

So when I get back home that will mean doing some research about both events and figuring out what isn't being told.

Looking forward to trying something new and hopefully I will remember the lessons of last week. Slow down, look instead of seeing and finding the narrative arc of the story before me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Minor Side Trip and Finding Video Tutorials on iTunes

I can get lost looking for stuff. I consider that a good thing because I have stumbled into many a great site and resource. Or I can loose valuable time reading about the evaluation of old school bottom shelf liquor.

The really nasty stuff. Boone's Farm. Mad Dog 20/20. Not to forget that noxious low of the lows, Thunderbird and Bali Hi. Cringe inducing to think I even know about these alternate use rocket fuels. For the record, I may or may not has sip Boone's Farm and have a vague recollection of someone offering me Mad Dog 20/20 and like a fool I drank it.

Only the rot gut crew drank Thunderbird. Foul stuff even from a distance. I'm having a retro-headache flashback or something.

Reading the comments was a flash back to times barely remembered and parts of it remain forgotten. Much like trying to find good video creation tutorials on iTunes.

I'm finding podcasts that no longer show up when you hit play. Podcasts that were started and never finished. Podcasts that did what they had to do and knew when to flip the switch.

There are plenty of filmmaking, film production and film review audio and video podcasts. I got a few of them loaded up on the Nano. Not really what I am looking for in terms of creating videos and tutorials.

Caleb at DSLR Shooter
The other requirement is that there is an independent web site that has current and archived prior recordings for those folks that hold true to ABI - Anything but iPod/Pad or Apple related products. They, on principle, will not use iTunes. Or they do but have it connected to another media player.

Don't hate, these are sensitive, determined people. I don't agree with them but I understand the philosophy.

I've written about the DSLR Show - the fellas must be super busy because there hasn't been an update for a while.

There is a new to me podcast called DSLR Video Shooter. Has current episodes and an active web site. The site is run by Caleb Pike and this is a excerpt from his About page:
This website is dedicated to revealing resources and techniques to use HD DSLRs to there most potential. This site is NOT a DSLR fanboy blog. HD DSLRs are nothing more than a tool, a small piece that in and of itself is nothing.
Yes, that what I'm looking for, the story is more important than the tools used to get it. Not to say that I wouldn't mind a Canon EOS 7D or 5D. I don't need it. I can lust after it in my heart but at the end of the day I sleep with the one I am am with; metaphorically speaking.

Caleb does have some tasty goodies such as a gear guide and helpful tutorials. Which is a good thing cuz after two hours of looking that is what I was able to find.

I know there are more video specific podcast inside of iTunes but the Sandman is tugging on my cape. I'll give it another go when I get the chance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Festival of Colors by Brian Thomson

Folks keep saying it is the talent and not the technology. This is true but the tech can make the job of obtaining that story a lot easier. This is a video by Brian Thomson using the Canon 7D slow motion feature.



I checkout his Vimeo page, and the most essential answer is plastic bags and gaffer tape.

I picked up a Canon EOS catalog the other day. The new D-SLRs can do so much. Multiple forms of figure and face tracking. Gizmos I have to go look at a technical dictionary to understand. One of these these days there will be an algorithm that will make a determination about what makes a good shot.

Until that sad day I am comforted to know that it is talented folks like Brian that open our world by showing just a little piece of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Alternative Video Creation Sites Via YouTube

I hear that Videoblogging Week 2011 is starting May 1-7. You say you don't have time to get out with your camcorder? Who says you have too? There are so many options.

Here are three popular sites that make it easier to participate. YouTube is providing easier access to some of the alternative video creation sites. If you go to the YouTube/Create page you will see links to Stupeflix, XtraNormal Movie Maker and GoAnimate.

Alternative Video Creation via YouTubeStupeflix allows you to combines photos and video clips into a moving slideshow. The advantage of using this site is that there is a bank of music you can draw from and the have the do-dads that can be applied to your work.

The gotcha is that you can create a 360p video that is under a minute for free, anything longer and you pony up the cash. Then again, you tell the right story and a minute is all you need.

XtraNormal has a set of computer generated characters that you can type the dialog and have limited motion. You think up the idea and let your fingers do the talking. The gotcha here is that you can select the free character modules if you want to avoid paying for sets and more expressive bodies.

Finally there is GoAnimate which is a cartoon animation program that you can whip up your own loony tunes without the bother of onion skin. Everything is there for you, you drag, drop and compose your video.

Now you could go set up an account with these individual sites. You don't need to use the YouTube interface but if you were gonna plunk it up there in the first place then save yourself a step.

Before you create your masterpiece you really should read the privacy information and terms of service.

Just saying. If you can live with the terms of service then go forth and make some magic.

Other Posts of Interest

Monday, April 25, 2011

Applying What I've Learned About Shooting and Editing

The spontaneous video recording without a tripod. Something was wrong. It didn't have any juice. The week before I was beating myself up. Having read stuff at Edit Foundry and by still photographers about how to create a story narrative the same way that you do in writing really helped.

You can't make an average video great but just having different options can make it better.



This Is What I Did

Used the drum track as the foundation for the visual. I separated away from the attached video.

Searched for any close up shots that would help the viewer understand that this was an all ages event. I found some shots of hands and young children trying to drum.

There was a sign that said that if you enter the street festival you give permission for recording. In addition, I was on a public street so I felt ok recording folks

I normally don't record children. I think kids make the best video subjects but I have a concern about the creep of the week watching. This was a little different in that the parents were there and at most the little ones were on screen for no more than a few seconds.

What I Could Have Done Better

Take my time. I had plenty of it. I should have looked instead of just seeing.

  • There was a man in back of the drummers moving and patting his thigh.
  • There was an older gentleman who looked like he wanted in but just couldn't.
  • There were moms trying to get their little ones to understand it was ok to bang and make noise.
There were stories all over the place but I got lost in the drumming.

So yes, next time out I'm gonna recite the five shots. It won't work for all videos but dang if it didn't help.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Shooting Tips For Videos Photo Stories

This weekend I have a choice of activities I could be recording. There is so much going on I can barely think. I want to do it better.

So I've been thinking about some of the skills from taking a photojournalism class a few years ago. The short answer is, no I don't. I have video up the ying yang that I'm not posting because I can't get a story out of it. I need help in how to tell the photo narrative. There is not just one way to do this. I just need a function way for me.

I did find at Wire and Light a series of tips attributed to Scott Anger.

1. Close up of the action
2. Close up of the reaction to the action or who is conducting the action.
3. Point of view shot by the person conducting the action.
4. Shot establishing where the action is taking place
5. A creative beauty shot that ties into the action.

These tips are for still photographers but I guess they could be adapted for all kinds of documentation video.

Wire and Light led me to a post at MediaStorm on Ten Ways To Improve Your Multimedia Production Right Now.

I also found a bunch of stuff at Digital Journalism's April 2009 archive on telling stories with video. One of the post, 10 Tips for Dramatically Improving Your Videojournalism Stories talks about the process that begins with finding the Narrative Arc.

Ok, this is a start. My goal this weekend is to make a finished work that tells a story. A simple one. This means I have to allow myself to take the time to see and not just hit record.

I'll let you know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Craft of the Edit - Edit Foundry

The new Final Cut Pro is out. Folks are all shook up. New design, features, user interface and a serious price drop from Apple. That is a shocker cuz Apple is not known for affordable anything.

Professional editors have concerns that the software has been dumb down to the teaming masses. They have made huge investments in time, education and money to stay competitive and viable.

The teaming masses are ecstatic because at $299 this can allow anybody to use a professional grade product to edit videos and films. This means that talent people who didn't have a grand to bust out on software can step closer to making their projects happen. A gatekeeper has been removed.


The truth lies in the skill and capabilities of those that will use the software. Which brings me to Edit Foundry. You can have great looking video but unless you do a little tweaking it might be hard for folks to watch.

Shawn Montano seems to be the person behind the scenes. The site is a resource on how to craft a story via the edit. The site seems primarily for journalists, photojournalists or those that have to product quality video quickly.

The post on Subtle Editing Techniques is really more about paying attention to event and getting the shots you need instead of recording the event and trying to find something that you can use.

Not only does Shawn talk the talk he demonstrates his techniques via the Edit Foundry YouTube channel. Demonstrate as in you see the completed video showing a variety of techniques from the site.

This is a short video on really small motorcycles.



There is some serious thinking happening in this neck of the woods. So to the pros, pro-ams and newbies I'd say don't worry. If you have the skills to understand how to compose and tell a story then you have nothing to worry about.

If you are just a keyboard jockey for hire then I'd spend some time ingesting the totality of Edit Foundry. If you are a wannabe creator then you really need to do serious reading at the site.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Possible Futures Film Contest - What's Your Vision?

How would you dream a better world. Can you render that dream on video? If you can then consider entering the Possible Futures Film Contest. The contest is looking for videos from 60 seconds to no more than five minutes.

Check out the video for the jist:



The awards for the best film in a category are pretty generous. From $1,000 to $10,000 and a trip to the Amazon Rainforest. You could:

Canoe down tributaries; search for monkeys, parrots and the legendary pink river dolphins; hike through the lush forest with the Achuar guiding and teaching us how they live sustainably and interdependently with their pristine rainforest home.


Sounds kinda cool and if you win the trip you will be experiencing more than the humdrum of the day to day.

For exact contest details, rules and regulations visit the Possible Futures Film Contest web site.

Organizing Video Folders for Pack Rats

I stand before you today as a person who has been convinced of the power of organizing video, audio and photos on her computer. Yea, I have been guilty of having junk all over the joint, making it harder to find what I need when I needed it.

Folder Organization
The advantages may not be clear to my fellow pack rats so let me help you out:
  1. Theme music, public domain audio and narration can all be in one place and prepped for use. I don't have to waste time re-creating because it is ready to go.
  2. Likewise with the photos and screenshots. If I need to generate a screenshoot from a video I can export it from my video editing program, juice it up in Snagit Editor or Irfanview and then plunk it where I need it for upload.
  3. The Upload folder is for the final version of the video and photo that accompanies it.
  4. Video is for raw video from the camcorder or other sources. If I need to convert video that goes here too.
Later when it is time to get it off of the hard drive I transfer the folder to an archive drive for copying to a DVD and bang, I'm done. No lost files, no huge duplicates and my overstuffed main drive sighs in relief.

It is a start. Other might want to add sub-folders for their needs but I can say this is about as much organization as I can handle at the moment. Keeping it simple seems to work for me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Disposable Film Festival Gallery

In March 2011 The Disposable Film Festival showed work created by mobile phones, webcams and point and share camcorders.

DFF on Bassett.tv from Disposable Film Festival on Vimeo.

Now we are talking; I have said and maintain it is not the equipment but what you do with it. I didn't know that the event existed but I'm glad I get the opportunity to check out some of the work after the fact.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Location Photography by NYIP's Chris Corradino - Resource Blogging

It isn't just individuals that have picked up on introducing clients to goods and services via a tutorial or resource video. The New York Institute of Photography's primary business is to acquire students who want to be professional photographers.

How will a student know it is a good fit? They might take a look at some of NYIP's interview and technique videos.



This video is by Chris Corradino on how to record a demonstration and getting what you need to tell a photojournalism story.

The demonstration video uses a combination of still photos, video, talking head and narration to show some of his techniques to capture a story. Towards the end of the video is his completed story.

The Takeaway:

It isn't the equipment, it is the person behind the equipment that knows what to do with it. It doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.

There is no one way to do a resource blog or video. In the next couple of posts I want to dive into how you or anyone can share what you know with other people.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kip Kay DIY and More Videos - Resource Blogging

I first saw Kip Kay's videos on Instructables, which is a major DIY site for those that like to re-purpose just about anything.

Kip's videos are always cool and if you have the skills you can replicate whatever he puts before you. Well, almost anything. Some things should be left alone, like the laser sling shot. This is an example of his style, changing a web cam into a telescope:



He is a crafty dude with a mischievous sense of humor. There are other videos he has about how to create prank items. I would suggest that he might not be the guy to be standing around on April Fools day.

Let's see, he has a major presence on his YouTube channel and his own web site at kipkay.com. He also has an archive of work over at Makezine.com's blog.

Can you profit from giving it away? I think Kip is doing just fine with 10 million plus viewers.
  • There are ads in the videos.
  • I did not know that you could rent sections of your YouTube Channel Box but folks are paying to be posted in his channel area.
  • There are ads on his web site.
  • He is selling some of the parts used in his videos to allow his users to replicate what he is doing.
There are some things to know about Kip, he really is a do it yourself-er but according to his FAQ on his site he does have a degree in journalism. He knows how to present information. He does not have a degree in engineering.

He is a really good tinkerer.

This is a great example of going with your passion and letting it carry you forward. This is also someone who knows how to communicate with his audience and inspires them to do something with what they have around the house.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The End of The Flip Camcorder Line

I just got home and found out about Cisco getting rid of The Flip. Wow. 550+ workers fired. Millions of users in permanent limbo. My best guess is that another company could buy the assets and move The Flip forward.

Smartphones can't do it all, the video quality and data rates can hurt you in wallet. Yes, you can save to the phone but the video quality on most of them just isn't where it needs to be. Not everybody has or can afford an iPhone4.

From around the web are some of the reports about the decision. From All Things D comes a conversation with the prior founder and CEO of The Flip:



Other folks that are commenting on this are The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Mashable's RIP on Flip and Sam Grobart's article in the New York Times.

Yet, there are those folks that don't see this as a bad thing. Cyspense has this take on the message:



The World According to John is a little more passionate about the demise, he is not that unhappy about it:



It is still a stunner of an announcement. Will keep on the look out about the transition plan.

Jennifer Pearson's Tutorial - Resource Blogging

There are all kinds of reasons to create resource web videos. Photographer Jennifer Pearson has a blog called The Dedicated Photographer. Jennifer is a photographer who is using her site to promote her business experience to photographers.



In this video she is demonstrating a Photoshop technique to help photographers make a visual example of how the photos would look in certain areas of the client's home.

There is a couple of things happening here:
  • Jennifer is providing a tutorial for her blog visitors
  • Cultivating future clients for her mentor, photo workshops and tutorial services
  • Giving back to the community who will spread the word that their is this business photography blog that you might want to check out.
Every one is chirping about making money on the Internet. There is no magic formula or quick snatch and grab.

One of the way that has worked for a lot of people is to build a credible space with information that people value. Let it be known that you are out there and folks who are interested will stop by.

There is another word for this concept; Freemium. These are a few examples of how the Freemium concept is applied:
Most of us can't follow the prior mantra of "sell, sell, and don't let them leave until you make the sale." For many bloggers the product is intangible. For the right products and services this could be an helpful approach. Or not.

I do know that web video plays a role.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Look At Resource Video Blogging

One of the things that ticks me off is when folks that should know better still refer to videoblogging as a just talking head or personality videos. Just as there is a diversity in text and photo blogging there is a very strong use of web video for educational, instructional and information sharing use.

It is always called a videoblog? No, and that is really ok. But outside of academia there is a whole bunch of instructional content.

Here are a few examples:

Cooking videos are as diverse as they come. Home spun or professional there are a ton of these types of resource videos

Daniel Delaney's What's This Food; Daniel will post a new food to him or his viwers every day in 2011. The show is supported by local or food specific advertisers.



The show is distributed in iTunes, YouTube and his own web site.

Woodworking

The Wood Whisperer has been going on for a while now.



Crafting

Andrea Currie shows you how to make Russian Nesting Dolls



My point is sharing this is that there still is a problem of perception about what folks are doing with web video. It is not just the teen of the week singing(badly).

There is a range of resource web video producers who are changing the nature of instruction.

More to come, gotta go.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nokia N8 Vimeo Channel

With all the yacky-yack about the iPhone/iPad video recording capabilities you could be forgiven for not remembering that other mobile devices can record HD video. Nokia from time to time has contests and video exhibitions on their Vimeo channel.

This is Wouter Kapteijn's video Fruitylicious recorded on the Nokia



Gotta say that is great looking 720p video from the phone. Here are some of the specs:
  • 12 megapixel with Carl Zeiss optics
  • HD quality 720p resolution
  • Shoot 16:9 videos in HD
  • 3x digital zoom
  • Video capture in 720p 25 fps with codecs H.264, MPEG-4
  • Ambient stereo audio recording in video (AAC 128kbps, 48 kHz sampling)
  • Settings for low light (reduced frame rate), white balance, colour tone
Also on the specs page it seems to have built in video editing software and video catalog.

For USA users you'll want to go to the Nokia USA site for more details.

Other Posts of Interest

Friday, April 8, 2011

Re-Inventing the Cooking Video and Sparking An Idea

Those of us that watch cooking videos know that there is a distance between the food and the viewer. There is a person to connect us to the food but the video is generally carried by the personality of the cook or you really want to know how to prepare the meal and suffer through the delivery.

What if there another way to present how to compose a dish? Or how to present information?



John Craig Ross is an independent producer. I found this video on his Vimeo channel.

It got me thinking about the use of titles, quick cuts and extreme close-up shots that really can tell the story just as effectively as someone jabbering about cutting the onion.

Yes, stepping outside the box is good. The added bonus, the video is beautiful. In my journey to learn how to present ideas visually I'm looking at any and all examples of information presentation.

This is one of the best that I have seen in a long time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quick Look At Machete Video Editor

There are times when you just need a snip or a trim on the side. Machete from Machetesoft.com is more of a video trimmer than a full blown editing program. This is not a bad thing; if all you need is to remove a flub or deadwood from your video this could be the one for you.

Machete Video Editor works on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Machetete Video Editor
For example, let's say you are doing interviews or you are recording an event. You just want to clear out the junk and upload. Or you might have several videos of the same event you want to join but you don't need to add titles or transitions.

Those of you on the notebook persuasion might also be interested in a small functional video editing software. If that is the case then this might be the software for you.

Machete comes in a free version that can only import and export .wmv and .avi video formats. You can't replace audio and there are other limitations.

The paid version can import .avi, .flv, .mp3, mp4 (but you will have to ask if that include h.264 mp4 or AVC/AVCHD mp4 videos) .wav and .wma file formats.

There is just one concern I do need to bring up. You do have to have the correct codec for your video or video file type on your computer. You probably have what you need to get started but with the variations in .avi now romping around like DivX, Xdiv and standard .avi you might not be able to play or edit certain types of video.

Machete does not install codecs on your system - that is a good thing. What they have done is provide a codec information page and links to the official source for certain codecs. Again, you might not need to do this but just in case.

In any event, be very careful about downloading codecs from unauthorized sources, this means the first 5000 links you might see on Google.

If you are comfortable with this type of basic functions and you understand about what this software can do for you then it might be a good reason to spend $20.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Quick Look At FoxArc Movie Editor

If $30 is just about what you want to spend this is software for you but you might get what you pay for. FoxArc Movie Editor does many of the tasks that Windows Movie Maker can do and wee bit more.

If you have an older computer but want to juice up your editing software this might do it for you but lets look at the details. The lack of relevant product information from the web site might give you a clue as to if you should purchase this program. Maybe. Maybe not.

FoxArc Moving Editing Software
System Requirements

There is no system requirement page that let's you know what you need but there is text on the main page that states the software can run under Windows 2000, XP and Vista. So a computer purchased within five years or so should have no trouble running the software.

It might be an option for laptop or even Netbook users. But I can't say for sure because I could find no specification page.

Features:
  • Animation effect that you can apply over the video
  • Applying masks and creative edges, I'm thinking frames, to videos.
  • Apply video filters
  • Text effects like overlay titles over video
  • Add video transitions between clips.
Most of these are standard features you can find in a decent basic consumer video editing program.

Import Video

I couldn't tell you. As of April 5, 2011 I searched the Front page, product page and help. There is no mention of what video formats the software accepts or does not accept.

Export Format

Yes, that they do mention. AVI, MPEG(DVD/SVCD/VCD), SWF and 3GP format.

Help and Support

There is a very brief tutorial page on each section of production. There is e-mail support only. No phone, no address, troubleshooting guide, no other means of contact.

You Get What You Pay For - Sometimes.

I'm not knocking the software. I haven't used it. As a consumer when I go to a vendor web site that has a product that I am interested in buying I expect to see a few things.
  • Detailed product information
  • Can the software run on my system?
  • What are the file formats that this program can import? I don't know and believe me I checked that site up and down to find that out. Those of us that have camcorders that use .mod, .mts, .tod and other video formats do want option that don't involve conversion.
  • Help should be a little more than what I would expect to find in the Help menu of the software. A troubleshooting guide? A list of known issues? A video of the product features?
The Bottom Line

This is inexpensive software. It might work just fine. I understand that some vendors feel they have no obligation to provide anything other than a working, functional, non-destructive product. No spam, no toolbars, no crud.

There is no obligation but it might be good business. It might lend confidence in a person forking over cash because there is evidence that the software can solve a user problem. I read almost all of the pages on the web site to give you what little I found.

Paying for good software means you get a product demonstrations, a viable help page, video examples, a specification page and confirmation that the purchase will be secure between you and the vendor.

My bottom line is at all times, be an informed consumer.

Monday, April 4, 2011

PBS Tutorials on Place Digital Storytelling

This is a neat resource that I just discovered that can help those of you that want to tell the story of a place instead of a person.

Originally created to support the Ken Burns documentary on the National Parks, this section of the PBS web site page has tips about how to create videos.


The tutorial are designed for educators that do not have experience working with video. They take it slow and steady to guide users on the process.

There are videos and pdf guides that you can download and review. I really liked the guide on Gathering the Media for Your Digital Story. It broke down the process to explain a very simple script, the visuals, music in preparation for making a digital story.

The added bonus is information about geo-tagging and how to use Google Earth to help tell stories. This is really a gem of a a tutorial resource.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Learning From Failure - When Bad Video Happens

There are times when you think you are doing the right things and you still get a major glitch or a bad video.

First you have to work through the anger and disappointment. Then fight the urge to smash the camera that done you wrong into bits. This can take as long as you need to process those feeling.

Now you are ready to focus on what can be tossed and salvaged. This is my actual experience. I share it so that you can learn from the pain.

Dean Lee of the Pasadena Community Network
I went to the lecture on citizen journalism. I didn't have time to charge my main camcorder so I brought a digital still camera, my Kodak Easy Share Z1285 that I had used to record decent HD video.

The other reason I grabbed it was that it records in .mov format so I didn't need to lose time converting the video. A quick snip, add titles and upload. I had my tripod and two other small standard definition camcorders as back-up. That was the plan.

So, What Happened?

There was plenty of light on the speaker. I focused on the person introducing folks to make sure I was ok. As soon as the first speaker appeared I hit record and listened.

My camera had other ideas. It made decisions about being in focus. For three minutes of recording the camera was not in focus. In addition, the video cycled through the color spectrum. That guy was rendered in yellow, red, green and there could have been a spot of purple.

But not enough for a purple haze.

After three minutes or so there was clarity. The camera still was playing ping pong on the color but the speaker was in focus.

That lasted for about a minute. When the speaker took a step back away from the microphone it was out of focus again for the rest of the video.

What Can I Do?

Smacking my hand against my head proved to be not effective in solving the problem. I can't upload bad video. There are decision to be made:
  • Chuck it and figure out what I did wrong
  • De-saturate the color so that it isn't noticeable
  • Convert it to gray scale
The section that works is ok, it is just a person talking on stage about how we all pay for Internet access, phone charges and other methods of payment so that we can't be accused of taking content.



I did try to apply a color balance but there were sections of the video that were so vividly yellow that I couldn't apply one color to compensate for the random shift to the next color. I had the same issue with applying levels.

I do like black and white videos and I could have rendered the video as such but my video editing program gave me another option to blend color and gray scale.

There are still color flare-ups but I can live with it. The color/BW blend works. There will be instances where de-saturating a video will change the actual feeling of the location or experience.

Lesson's Learned

I should have watched the recording for at least the first minute or so to make sure everything is going ok. I had a old Xacti camcorder fully charged that I could have used as a replacement camcorder.

For talking head videos I don't have a problem making standard definition videos. It isn't hard to make a pseudo widescreen version. Another option would have been to record with both devices so that I could have an acceptable copy.

I could have moved closer to the podium. There was a good crowd but there were plenty of empty seats. I didn't have to rely on the 5x optical zoom that did me wrong.

The color cycling? I haven't a clue what that was about. Well, maybe a battery power fluctuation, bad memory card, the camera focused on the podium instead of the speaker. I'm going to have to figure out was it me or the accused.

There you have it. Me and the Z1285 are going to have a confab on what when wrong. I'm working through the other videos to see what I can use but yeah, there are days when pen and paper look real good to me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pasadena Community Network Training Course

I recently attended a citizen journalism discussion at the Pasadena Public Library. I have video that I'll be sharing over the next couple of days but I wanted to give a head's up to folks in the Pasadena, CA area about a resource, The Citizen Journalism Meet-up.

PCN Citizen Journalism Training Course
The citizen journalism meet-up is focused on providing journalism skills and techniques to make sure there is a certain quality level to creating news content.

There is also a training course being offered by the Pasadena Community Network (PCN). According to the brochure I have they give an orientation to:"studio production, theory and community access guidelines."

Once you become vetted as a producer you can create your own programs for the Arroyo Channel which is pipped out to Charter subscribers and parts of Los Angeles County. The programs are also displayed on the PCN web site.

The Pasadena Community Network is a part of the Pasadena Community Access Corporation, as part of their mission they provide training in how to use studio equipment, cameras and how to produce programs for the various channels.

I was an active participant in public access television production back in the day so I can vouch it is a great way to learn and produce content for the community. If you do have open and welcoming public access channel in your area you should consider hanging out for a bit and see what you can learn from each other.

If you don't have a functional or accessible public access system no worries, review my citizen journalism tag to monitor on-line resources.