Last week I came across a video promoting children's swimming lessons at our local pool.
It was visually beautiful. A wonderful montage of shots of smiling children swimming set to some carefully choosen music. Nearly 3 minutes of footage which, ultimately, told me diddly squat about the lessons, what the children could achieve, the support they get - all the questions I wanted to know but couldn't find the answers to.
What the company missed was an opportunity to talk direct to the parents and potential customers – explaining what they want to achieve with their swimming lessons and how they go about it.
So what are videos for? What do you want to tell your audience and how are you going to do that? This should be part of the planning process before you even pick up the camera. I'm not talking about storyboarding as such as I'm not a great fan of such prescriptive filming, but thinking about what your audience would like to know before hand is essential.
This film by Bamboo Sushi does just that. In a creative and innovative way it promotes the company and it's products by explaining the history behind every plate of sushi that it serves.
Now the sushi video is probably beyond many people reading this, but there is no reason why standard talking head interviews cannot be used as creatively to give an insight into your company or organisation, instilling a sense of confidence and expertise in your products and services.
Turning a talking head interview into a concept is exactly what the BBC have done in Five Minutes With....
So how do you do give the audience what they want?
Otherwise, beautifully shot and edited as the swimming video is, what is the point of a watching something that leaves you no better informed at the end than at the beginning?
So it was fascinating following the News re-wired conference last week – couldn't be there but amazing following it online. Huge thanks to the bloggers and tweeters who worked very hard to keep us armchair followers up-to-date.
One of the really interesting discussions was Sky's Nick Martin who talked about the possibilities and the opportunities of journalists using iPhones. He specifically talked about the riots last year when camera crews were being attacked and journalists used their iPhones to filmed footage incognito. Here the link to find out more about his talk at News RW http://www.newsrewired.com/2012/02/03/newsrw-three-pieces-of-advice-for-mobile-reporting-from-skys-nick-martin/
Coincidentally another interesting development at the end of last week was the surprise release of Avid Studio for the iPad. A really interesting contender for best editing app and serious competition for iMovie and 1st Film Net editing apps. So far all three do separate things really well – wish they could all be merged into one for the perfect editing app.
With all this talk about mobile video recording and exciting new apps released I thought I'd put together my definitive list of equipment and apps for iPhone filming and editing – please feel free to suggest more!
iRig Microphone £38.99
Budget made for iPhone microphone
Tamrac Tripod - £17-20
Light, cheap, portable and essential for steady shots
The Glif - £14.00-£18.00
You'll need it to attach your iPhone to the tripod!
Libec TH-650DV- £138
Personally I like a tripod which feels stable – for the build quality this Libec one is cheap as chips but has a good solid feel and importantly a ball head leveller
XLR converter £39.99
To record a decent interview you MUST have an external microphone attached to you iPhone and this cable enables you to use a decent XLR microphone.
This one has a headphone jack but be aware that (as far as I'm aware - let me know if you've come across one) no filming apps send sound out for monitoring so the headphone only useful for monitoring audio interviews. This enables you to take your pick from a variety of XLR quality microphones.
The Life is a Prayer blog has a great review of a huge range of microphones for iPhone http://www.lifeisaprayer.com/articles/photography/iphone-4-ipad-external-mic-audio-input
The Owle HD Video Kit £275
Everything you could ask for beautifully packaged - but at a price!
Great filming app with white balance, exposure, focus control
iMovie - £2.99
Couple of great themes and music, perfect for using on iPhone/iPad
1st Video Net
Much more professional level editor – two video tracks and pro features
Avid Studio - £2.99 (iPad)
New app on the block with some interesting 3D montage effects
Extras for iMovie
Create a better range of titles for iMovie
Love the tilt shift effect – this incredibly easy app stands out
Take your pick (I like Red Movie Looks) to transform your footage into well anything you want – B&W, Vintage, Noir etc etc
I use this to transfer video from my iPhone to iPad – just a bit less fiddly to edit on
As the capabilities of filming and editing with iPhones gets better and better so more apps and equipment will be brought out it's just a case of tracking them down. I'm still waiting for a filming app to come out which allows you to monitor audio – if you know if one let me know.
Happy New Year from UK Video Skills Training!
With great digital editing packages out there suiting every budget everyone is 'having a go' and, in some cases, producing some great work.
However for many people editing is their biggest nightmare so in this post I thought I'd look at some tips and tricks to make editing less daunting and much more fun.
1/ Before you even pick up a camera think what you want the end film to achieve. Using only one mic is fine if you want to create an authored piece where the interviewers voice is edited out. However what if you then decide it will make a great podcast you'll be kicking yourself in editing trying to splice in those pesky questions. Plan in pre-production not post-production!
2/ Film a variety of cutaways and short sequences – they'll only add a matter of minutes of your total filming time but will enable you to create a voiced package easily and get you out of a jam editing if you want to avoid jump cuts all over.
3/ When you import your footage make sure you spend time labelling each segment for example:
I/V – John Smith “What do you want to achieve”
I/V – John Smith “Why should people buy”
CU John reading
MS John reading
When it comes to the edit having a system will make it so much easier to deal with clips especially if it's a long edit. Everyone has their own labelling system – find one that works and stick to it.
4/ Save your video on a second hard drive – video slows down even the fastest computer.
5/ Organise your clips before you start editing once you've started editing do not move the clips until you've finished editing. Most editing systems do not import the actual video but point to the clip using a shortcut. If you move the clips after editing you will come up with various versions of “I can't find where you've moved the sodding media clip to!!!”
6/ Remember to delete auxiliary files – editing creates a huge amount of these temporary files.
7/ Watch as much as you can – you can learn how professionals edit (and film for that matter) but just watching how they've done it. Be realistic though. If you're filming lots of talking head interviews watch the news rather than French indy productions.
Above all once you've mastered editing remember less is more especially when it comes to those tempting transitions – there really is no excuse for the flying bird transition EVER!
Have fun experimenting
Being a Video Journalist is empowering – you can produce, film and edit your own videos exactly the way you want.
Since the beginning of the VJ movement with Channel One in New York being a Video Journalist has come a long, long way. In my opinion (for what it's worth) the VJ moment really came with the release of the Sony VX1000 – the world's first prosumer mini DV camera. This camera, coupled with an audio box for XLR input, was the basis of my kit at ITN for a couple of years in the late 1990's.
Back then we were viewed with huge scepticism by the television news community and we had to put up with a lot of flack. But by it's very nature being a VJ is not as intrusive as a full crew – I managed to secure several exclusives for ITN by simply just not looking like a camera crew. You can build up intimate relationship with your subject and people are much more likely to open up to you on camera because they don't feel intimidated.
However there are challenges to doing it all yourself and here are my top tips VJ filming tips based on years of experience:
1/ Use a tripod – always! I still see so many great videos ruined by wobble vision. If you have a decent tripod with a ball head it takes seconds to set up. It's so important, especially with small hand held cameras which are hard to stabilise. I can only think of one or two situations in my whole news career when I couldn't use a tripod.
2/ Get everything on tape – name, spelling, position – saves a lot of confusion later. Do this while you're focusing - you'll be setting up the camera so you won't have a notebook to hand and it also helps cover the awkward moments while you set up.
3/ Give your composition more looking space and get them to sit down on a non swivel chair. That way you are not constantly stopping the interview to check they haven't gone out of frame.
4/ Saying that after every 3 questions re-check your composition
5/ Stand close to the camera – this way you can achieve a good eye-line and can check composition easily
6/ Use headphones – and a tie mic. Getting close is the key to getting good audio and you won't know if your hand-held mic keeps getting into shot as you're filming
7/ Use your elbows! Working on your own in a media scrum situation is not for the faint hearted – you need to be close to get good audio and there is only so far your arm will stretch
8/ Remember the J of VJ don't get so caught up with the filming that you forget the story
It's here and it's even better than I thought.
The camera on the new iPhone 4S is proving to be pretty amazing if the crop of videos which have sprang up on Vimeo are anything to go by – and judging by the huge amounts of comments (mostly positive) most of the viewers are impressed as well.
Two videos have caught my attention. The first is by Australian film maker Benjamin Dowie
Here are his first impressions “Got an iPhone 4S yesterday and got up this morning to go for a surf. No surf, so thought I'd shoot some stuff to see what the new camera is like on the 4S. Got home, looked at the footage, and couldn't believe it came out of a phone. Was so excited so thought I'd quickly cut a vid to share the goodness.
It's actually amazing. The automatic stabilisation seems to work wonders, and gets rid of most the jello. Depth of field is flipping awesome. Colours are really good straight out the camera, but I did give this footage a slight grade.”
Now it is possible – just to get some depth of field using the FilmicPro app with an iPhone 4 but to get this from the native camera is stunning.
The second film out on video is a direct comparison between the iPhone 4S and a Canon 5D MK II by Robino Films. It's only when you see comparisons like this that you realise what great quality the new iPhone camera is.
Impressive though they are remember these videos were made by professional film makers so if you are going to shoot video with the iPhone 4S remember
1/ Use a tripod please, please, please
2/ Shoot landscape
3/ Use airplane mode
4/ Invest in a quality microphone for interviews
5/ Use an app like Movie Camera or FilmicPro where you can set white balance, exposure and focus
Our new 'QuickShoot' iPhone course is being updated - really looking forward to getting used to the iPhone's amazing new camera after seeing these videos.
In the multi-media world the audio slide show is often seen as the poor relation in comparison with videos and podcasts. Audio Slideshows can be an invaluable resource and a stunning way to showcase some stories.
Here are some of our top tips:
1/ Take the photos like you would a video with a variety of shots – audio slide shows are particularly good for close-up studies.
2/ Do the interview first – listen and make note of what you need to shoot. It sounds obvious but then you can match the photo and the audio in the edit.
3/ Make use of NatSot – or natural sound. Record at least a minute if not more and use it to cover natural breaks in the interview. Use NatSot at the beginning of your Audio Slideshow as a way of adding atmosphere and a sense of place. This stunning Audio Slideshow about a snake safari in India makes fabulous use of NatSot: http://gu.com/p/3v3pe
4/ Don't have the interviewee introducing themselves. Use your written lead-in to introduce your interviewee, include introductions in your voice over or use titles like this http://gu.com/p/32575
5/ Audio matters – use your headphones every time you record, use fades and monitor your levels during editing to make sure multi-layers tracks are balanced.
6/ Use care if you use the Ken Burns effect in iMovie or pan and zoom effects in windows based editing systems. The effects are a great way to add movement into your photos but don't use it to try and recreate video
7/ Don't make your Audio S too long especially if you have limited photographs – I only lasted 4 minutes into this 12 minute monologue by Tracy Chevalier on Rubens painting The Family. http://gu.com/p/32e9q
I'm not sure I can listen to anyone talking solidly for so long, the photos do not change enough, there is no NatSot to add atmosphere and because of this the recording sounds tinny. It sounds like it was recorded in a echoing gallery, which of course it was, but without the NatSot to introduce us to the fact that it was recorded in a gallery it just sounds dreadful.
We're often asked on our training courses how do we film conferences and lectures and our answer is the same every time - unless you have the facilities, equipment and, of course, the training don't even try it. This presentation on 'The secret to making money online' is a perfect example of why.
From it's distorted audio (should have used headphones guys) to shaky one shot with enough headroom to park a bus (rule of thirds anyone) and out of focus this video is an awful advertisement for such a 'cutting' edge company.
Contrast it with this TED lecture – beautifully lit, great audio, multiple cameras and well thought out powerpoint presentations.
Now yes the TED lecture was professionally filmed with multi-cameras but there are many ways you can film a great lecture or presentation on a budget.
1/ Consider the room – if the lighting is poor and you cannot do anything about it forget filming in it. Record it as a podcast instead.
2/ Use your headphones – if the audio is too loud and distorts there is nothing you can do about it in post production.
3/ Try to establish what the subject will be doing on the stage pre-shoot and go for a good mid-shoot with room for movement either side.
4/ If the speaker goes out of shot re-frame without turning off the camera and use a cutaway to cover the movement in the edit
5/ Don't switch off the camera to get audience cutaways– you're bound to miss the vital announcement. Get your cutaways with the audio running or film them at the beginning or end.
Ultimately consider your audience. Do they want to sit and watch a hour long lecture or would they rather listen to a great podcast of the lecture and watch a related interview covering some of the lecture in-depth or answering post lecture questions?
18 days ago Gustav Johansson made my life very difficult by releasing his new film 'Sydney' for the language school EF - Live the Language series. After months of loving Paris I now can't decide if this is my new favourite video. This stunning series of promotional films takes a basic premiss a city, a journey, throws in beautiful young people and some really cracking graphics.
It's a great example of how a series of films can maintain the same theme and feel even when they are exploring very different cities.
Gustav has taken the original concept and stuck with it throughout the whole series but allowed it to naturally evolve and develop into some beautiful and evocative films.
He's thought about every aspect of the production equally and while it may be difficult to replicate the inventive soundtrack of Sydney which was composed by Magnus Lidehäll (I especially love how the music changes when they are in the aquarium) it's a lesson to everyone not to just take some stock music and shove it on the soundtrack hoping for the best.
The typography are another work of art from Albin Holmqvist. Like the soundtrack they are not just an added extra but a really integral part of the whole concept although I feel they are on screen slightly too quickly to really appreciate them.
For me though Paris ultimately has to win. I just feel Gustav has gone overboard with the high 8 scratchy post production vibe on 'Sydney'. If he'd just kept it perhaps to the beach scenes for me it would have worked perfectly, but feels like it's been applied to pretty much every shot and I think it distracts from the beauty of the film. 'Just because you can doesn't mean you should' still holds true.
So I've made my decision Paris here I come - well until I can I'll just watch the video again and again and again
On a video forum site some (and only some) of the 'TV professionals' were up in arms about self shooting – one said the Shoot It Yourself product was 'c**p' and had a limited shelf life, another widened the debate to self-shooters in the media industry slamming them as little more than 'secretary's with cameras...'
Well my hackles rose – I thought this debate may have been put to bed some time ago but obviously not...
Exciting times ahead for UK Video Skills Training. We've just signed up to twitter (ukvideoskills) and started our new blog all on the same day - think we'll need a G&T at the end of the day to recover.
Thought we'd start this new blog with a couple of old favorites and some speculative rumors. According to various media outlets this week the all new iPhone 5 is due very, very soon and UKVS cannot wait to get our hands on it. It will mean some hard work reviewing our popular 'QuickShoot' iPhone filming and editing course but if the leap of video capabilities from the iPhone 3 to the iPhone 4 is anything to go by it should be very exciting.
Remember our 5 top filming with an iPhone tips:
1/ Use airport mode
2/ Film landscape
3/ Use an app like Filmic Pro so you have control over white balance, exposure and you can see the audio levels
4/ Use an external microphone like the iRig or check out www.lifeisaprayer.com for some really detailed audio information and choices
5/ Use a tripod - please!!!!
So to some old favorites. Each week we'll try to bring you a round up of the very best new videos and podcasts out there but to kick us off I've included a couple of my all time great videos.
For it's amazing sound track, dolly filming and great opening sequence this mountain biking (I know!!!) video is the business. Even if it does make me feel old for not knowing what 'shreading' means.....Nearly one and a half million views on YouTube can't be wrong.
And now for something completely different from the Mast Brothers - it's an advertisement for chocolate but like nothing you've every seen before. Grab a cuppa sit back and enjoy it.
Now don't tell me that you don't want to pick up a camera right now and try shooting something similar - well either that or have a very large bar of chocolate.
UK Video School Training - everything you ever wanted to know about making great videos..and some things you didn't!