March just flew by. Video production is one of those subjects that I could easily spend the rest of the year exploring and writing about. But, the goal for this year is to sample and learn the basics of a new photo or video topic each month.
I believe I accomplished my goal for learning video production in March. Granted I have a lot to learn yet, but I am now able to setup my camera, light the set and add some good quality sound to my videos. That’s more than I could do at the beginning of the month.
What did I learn during the Month of Video Production?
Setting Up The DSLR
- Set the white balance manually in order to prevent automatic white balance changes during production.
- Set the DSLR for manual exposure.
- Set the shutter speed of your camera based on the frame rate of the video. 24 fps=1/50th of second, 30 fps=1/60th, and 60 fps=1/125th.
- Set your f/stop to achieve the desired depth of field. For talking head and interview videos, f/2.8 or f/3.2 with minimal depth of field is good.
- Adjust the camera’s ISO to achieve the exposure level needed for a good video.
- Use manual focus to prevent focus motor noise in your videos and to prevent focus hunting in the middle of the video.
Lighting The Video
- You don’t have to spend a small fortune for video lighting.
- The cheapest route to go is to use natural lighting and fill in the shadows with some kind of reflector. Overcast days provide a nice soft light.
- Low cost, daylight balanced LED lights work on or off camera. Light output is good, but not great.
- Continuous output compact fluorescent lighting kits are available at a price that most can afford. These produce a lot of daylight balanced light.
- For talking head or interview videos, three-point lighting is a good way to light the set.
Capturing and Recording Audio
- You don’t have to spend a small fortune to capture and record sound.
- To start out, all you really need is whatever sound recording device your camera provides.
- A shotgun mic, like the Rode Videomic Pro, plugged into the microphone jack of your DSLR will improve your sound.
- A microphone like a lavalier placed close to the mouth, greatly improves sound and reduces room noise.
- Recording high quality sound with a sound recorder and synchronizing to the video during edit is a great way to go.
- Make sure whatever microphone you use has the right jack to plug into your recording device.
- Use a wind screen when outside.
Being the Talent
I learned two things about being the talent in a video. It’s very difficult for me, and I’m terrible at it. I’ve spent my entire adult life trying my best to stay behind the camera. A lot of personal mannerisms that I battle daily are very apparent when on camera. I’m somewhat of an introvert, and tend to not look people in the eyes when talking. I also have a tendency to shut my eyes when talking.
I spent two hours one night shooting a one minute introduction for my Google Helpouts page, and ended up throwing it all away. None of it was usable for the above mentioned reasons.
Later I went back and reshot the Google Helpouts introduction with the knowledge that I was going to have to force myself to look into the camera while talking. I did a lot better the second time. My video footage was usable. Maybe not the greatest, but usable.
I will continue to practice at being the talent. I assume that I will eventually get comfortable in front of the camera.
Editing and Post Production
I didn’t discuss any video editing or post production this month. Editing is one of those topics that could easily dominate an entire month, if not an entire year. If you are interested in learning video editing, I recommend you check out some of the resources that I will list below. Most of them will have some good editing tips and techniques along with recommendations on editing software.
I did learn during the month to keep my video transitions simple. Primarily, for talking head and interview videos, a straight cut is always a good way to go. However, if there is any kind of jump between takes, meaning sudden movement of the talent from one frame to the next, then a slide transition is a better way to go. With a straight cut, the position shift in the talent is unexpected and troublesome to the viewer. By using a slide transition, the viewer can expect the position jump and accept it it easier.
Here are some resources that I’ve used in my research and training. These are just a few that I’ve found. There are countless other good sources that can be found with a keyword search.
Vimeo Video School – many great training videos
Wistia Learning Center – many great training videos
DSLR Cinema, Cinema Raw, and Cinematic Journalism – blog by Kurt Lancaster
Cheesy Cam – DIY photography and video projects
Next Wave DV – blog and training videos on gear, video, sound, and post production
DIY Video Guy – blog and video course
Wrapping Up Video Production
I realize that I have not posted any videos for you to view yet. Part of the reason for that is my inabilities as on-screen talent. Also, producing a video is time consuming.
I’ve heard that to produce a video takes at least ten times longer than writing an article about the subject. I would have to agree, after spending eight hours to produce a one minute introductory video. Using video is such a powerful way to communicate with an audience and share a message though. It’s importance in communication will continue to grow, and I believe the extra production time is worth the effort.
I do promise to get some videos up for you to view. I’m working on one now that demonstrates the sound quality of three different microphones.
What’s Next in the Year of Photographic Exploration?
In April, I will be exploring strobist photography. Basically, this is intermediate and advanced use of one or more small flashes in your photography. I hope you will follow along. If there are any aspects of flash photography that interested you, please leave a comment or contact me directly.