Why big video files cause trouble

See this post by Curt for information.

If your external hard drive is formatted as FAT32, it would be better to reformat it to NTFS.

It has been more than a year since I bought my external hard drive and did the research to use it correctly, and I had forgotten about the formatting business. Curt’s post gave me a flashback. (Thanks, Curt.)

Of course, if you do reformat your hard drive, that ERASES EVERYTHING on it. So first you would copy everything to some other location (like a hard drive on another computer) — and then do the deadly reformat procedure.

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Video interview with B-roll

Watch this example (2 min. 37 sec.) and notice two things:

  1. Do you feel like you are seeing too much of the interview subject? Her voice and her story are very good, but do you really want to keep coming back to her so many times? (Maybe we should see her only two or three times in total.)
  2. By the end of the story, you may have been distracted by the owners and the dogs — you may have forgotten what the event was about. The storytelling very effectively returns us to that idea — it is a photo shoot for the dogs — by saving the dog portrait photos until the end. This creates an ending that feels satisfying — a very good ending.

You can obviously make a video like this one!

Tight shots help you avoid jump cuts

The wonderful Colin Mulvany explains how this works in a comment on a blog post by Angela Grant:

Avoid putting two mediums or two wide shots together [side-by-side]. Also, tight shots make great scene transitions between two similar shots. I’ve also found that by having a lot of tight shots available, my edits goes much quicker than if I had to cobble the edit together with two wide shots.

Even though the extreme close-ups are harder to get on the site, they will save you in the editing process!

The blog post links to a good example of a bad jump cut. Learn to recognize these so you can avoid making them.

Shooting sequences really matters

I know I’m overloading the course blog this week — sorry!! But this is really good:

The sequence is the foundation of all video storytelling. Sequences compress time in a video story. Without this compression, what you’re left with are long video clips that visually bore viewers to death.

Proper sequencing gives the video editor a better way to pace a story by using a variety of wide, medium and tight shots. This helps move the viewer through a story efficiently.

That’s from a blog post by Colin Mulvany, the videographer from The Spokesman-Review. He started blogging very recently, and I LOVE his blog! It’s very enlightening!

Blogging 1 assignment

For easy reference, here are the blog posts in which each student reviewed and compared two newspaper videos:

  • Brittany: 2 from the Toronto Star
  • Cher: 2 from The Washington Post
  • Curt: 2 from the Toronto Star (both different from Brittany’s two selections)
  • Eisa: 2 from The New York Times
  • Iñigo: 1 from The New York Times (different from Eisa’s) and 1 from the Las Vegas Sun
  • Kecia: 2 from The Spokesman-Review
  • Laura: 2 from The Spokesman-Review (one is different from Kecia’s, and one is the same)
  • Shifen: 1 from the Las Vegas Sun (different from Iñigo’s) and 1 from the Toronto Star (same as one of Brittany’s)

Nice job, students!

Tips from the HV20 camera manual

Here are the tricky things we covered in class:

  • Turn image stabilization off and on (OFF when camera is on tripod) — p. 38
  • Adjust audio levels (make sure you are wearing your headphones!) — pp. 60 – 62
  • Manual focus for an interview — pp. 48 – 50 (esp. page 50)

You can print out the individual pages and carry them with you.

These do not work when you are in AUTO mode (use the switch on right-hand side of camera); put it into “P” (Program) mode.

Use the camera ON THE TRIPOD whenever possible.

On the tripod, you may try some zooms. They can look okay if you are on a tripod. You may also try some pans and tilts. But please, hold the vast majority of all shots STEADY — no movement of any kind. These shots are the easiest to use in editing. The moving shots can be very hard to use, and you will be kicking yourself during the editing work if too many of your shots have a moving camera.

The week ahead: Shooting 2

Make sure that what you shoot this week follows the criteria provided in the Shooting 2 assignment.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you shoot in sequences, exactly as you did for the Shooting 1 assignment. Even if there are no close-up hand shots (for example, the divers probably do very little with their hands, except climb up the ladder to the diving board), you must still get AT LEAST five different shots of each “thing” you expect to use in the video. The sequence of five or more shots must have BOTH different shot types (extreme close, close, medium, wide) AND different positions (stand here, stand there, over-the-shoulder, down on the floor, etc.).

  • Shots should be short, e.g. 10 seconds, whenever possible.
  • STOP RECORDING after EACH shot!
  • Sequences are composed of shots. Shoot at least five shots for every sequence.
  • “Events” are shown as a series of sequences. A 2-min. video probably includes 3-5 events (not including the interview).
  • How many sequences should be in an event? The story will determine this. You need to think about this BEFORE you start to shoot. This is what you do while you are walking around without your camera for the first 30 minutes.

The one exception to “short shots” is the interview. Set up the camera, set up the person, start recording, take your hands OFF the camera, and conduct the interview without touching the camera again. When finished, turn the camera off.

One interview should work well for this assignment. As I said in class, you may conduct MORE than one interview, but I want you to choose only ONE interview to use in the edited video. Thus if you interview someone and it’s very bland and factual, FIND SOMEONE BETTER — and do a second interview.

I was thinking about Laura’s cake decorator. What if she is boring? Laura might end up interviewing the bride-to-be about her cake — and what it means to her. That might be more emotional than the cake decorator’s interview, and hence much better audio to match with the visuals of the cake being decorated. We do not want to see a how-to about cake decorating!

Don’t be overly literal: Maybe Curt can match audio about Romania to visuals of ice cream. Just because I am skeptical does not mean it’s impossible. Curt might be more creative than I am!

Video interviews and video sound

These are the two topics I did not have time to cover during class yesterday.

The first one, video interviews, I decided to make into a blog post in my primary blog (follow the link to read it). I have also linked this on your syllabus page for Week 6.

The second topic is video sound. This was covered nicely in a short “Make Internet TV” tutorial (Capturing Sound) that I linked on your syllabus earlier. You might want to review it.

You will be using the (new) shotgun mic on top of your camera. We have the Rode VideoMic, and it’s gotten a lot of rave reviews. There are certainly more expensive shotgun mics out there, but this one is no slouch.

The reduction in noise, as compared to what you’d hear from the on-camera mic, is quite significant. … The ability to capture sound at distances with the Rode VideoMic is also very pleasing. It could easily pick up voices at moderate volumes from over 20 feet away. The mic still captures sound quite nicely beyond 20 feet, but in situations with other competing noises like heavy traffic, the sound you don’t want starts drowning out sounds you do want. Realistically, the audio is definitely best when the mic is pointed at the source you want to capture. There’s a notable difference in sound from objects directly in front of the mic compared to those off to the sides.

The reason for using an external mic with a video camera is the same as the rationale for using an external mic with an audio recorder — QUALITY of sound. Sure, the little built-in mic on the Canon HV20 is not so bad, but it’s just the bare minimum of the range of possibility.

A shotgun mic mounted on top of the camera is not the only option. Other common set-ups:

  • Wireless lavaliers: This is a tiny microphone that you clip onto the interviewee’s shirt or jacket. It is wired to a small transmitter that the interviewee can clip to a belt or slip into a jacket pocket. The transmitter sends the audio to a matching receiver that is plugged into your video camera. We will not be using these (because we don’t have any!).
  • Booms: This is basically a mic on a stick. You can buy all kinds of expensive booms, or like the DIY crowd, you can make one. You use the boom (often it is very long) to dangle the microphone above the heads of the people in the video — out of sight of the camera. When you see two people walking down a street and talking in a video, and there are no little mics clipped on their shirts, where was the microphone? A boom operator (a third person) was walking beside the two, holding a long pole arched over them, and a mic was hanging over their heads.
  • Handheld mics: In some cases, you might plug a regular mic into the video camera with a long cord attached, and someone speaking (on- or off-camera) will hold the mic. This method might also be used to gather some nat SOT, e.g. the sound of a small creek, or a person’s footsteps on a gravel path. By holding the mic close to the source of the sound (but out of view of the camera lens), you will get synchronized, authentic sound to go along with the visuals.

About wearing headphones (YES! YES!) — if you want to ensure that you are getting good audio, you WILL wear your headphones whenever you are shooting video.
If you have questions about any of this, please make a note to yourself to ask during class on Feb. 14!

What you have learned in 2008 so far

Kecia has made a very good blog post that I recommend to ALL of you. Even though a post was not assigned, she summarized what she has learned so far this semester, and she also linked two of the videos we have watched and discussed them.

This post will reflect well on her if she applies for a job and the hiring editor looks at her blog. The editor would see not only what Kecia has been learning (the laundry list, so to speak) but also how she is thinking about it — which makes Kecia appear pretty smart! Go on and read it — I think you will agree.

This kind of post also creates a nice record for the blogger herself.

I hope I’m not embarrassing Kecia too much. Any one of you can write a post like this, as I know from last semester.