In the Studio

Earlier this evening, we shot the second segment of video for my Foundry Tradesmen video project. It was exciting to create something of my own. In my day job, I work in Information Technology and at my current job I wear a lot of different I.T. hats. One of the things that I do, is support teachers and students involved in video production.

I recommend audio and video equipment. I help with questions on software and hardware requirements for video editing applications. I provide training and support. I specify computers that will meet the requirements for specific audio and video editing suites. I’m involved supporting teachers and students involved in our Broadcast Journalism programs. My work however, doesn’t allow me many opportunities to create or edit content on my own. I mainly just swoop in when there are problems, get them resolved, and go on my way.

When I found out about the Foundry Tradesmen program and read that they would accept video submissions, I figured this program would be a great excuse to make a video. Foundry had already defined the project but, it was up to me to bring it to life.

Foundry Tradesmen Studio Still Image

We did a two camera shoot in an interview style format. The camera angles are supposed to give you an idea of what the final product of this imagined interview would look like and also give you a behind the scenes look at the studio production. I hope the final result is believable.

I think the biggest part of what I had to do for the shoot tonight was coordination. I needed to get my cast, crew and props all to be in the same place at the same time. All the people involved in the production are family and friends, who all have other full time responsibilities. I want to thank everyone who’s helped me with this project. I wouldn’t be able to pull this off without you.

Foundry Tradesmen Studio Still Image

The thing I was most worried about was my performance. I’m not an actor but, I hope I managed to fake it tonight. I guess that’s really what makes a great actor, the ability to fake it and have people believe your not faking it.

I’m not ready to reveal any more of the details on what my video is all about other than what I’ve already shared so you’ll just have to wait for the premiere. 🙂

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Video Captured

Earlier today we recorded the first footage for my Foundry Tradesmen video entry. The footage we recorded today was for the intro and the conclusion of the video. We shot the video outdoors in a local park adjacent to a bike trail. The shoot was a family affair, with myself and my daughter as the talent and my wife was kind enough to play the roll of camerawoman.

We shot the video using the Canon XH G1s. This is a high quality HDV camera. It’s funny because it uses tapes. In the world of smartphones that can shoot HD video, it’s weird to use a camera that still uses tapes for recording. I setup the camera at a lower aperture because I wanted a shallower depth-of-field. I had plenty of light entering the lens at the lower aperture so I engaged the ND filter on the camera. For those of you who are not familiar with photography, the ND or neutral density filter is a glass filter you attach to your camera to reduce the overall light intensity. In the Canon XH G1s and other higher-end video cameras these filters are built-in to the video camera and you can engage them by simply moving a lever.

When I imported the footage to my computer tonight, I noticed it looked grainy. My guess is that the light conditions changed enough from when we setup the camera to it’s final position that the amount of light was too low. Grainy video is common on consumer cameras in lower light conditions. The video isn’t unusable but I wish it had turned out better. If I had more time, I would probably reshoot this segment. If I had a bigger budget, I would buy the Neat Video noise reduction filter. I’ve read that it can do wonders to clean up video noise.

Still Image from Video

Since my crew was small, I used two Sony UWP Series wireless lavalier microphones. The wireless microphones allowed my daughter and I to move about freely in the shot without a wired connection to the video camera. The wireless lavalier mics are the kind that you clip to your clothing. They are very small in size and with some strategic placement and careful clothing choices we were able to completely hide the microphones in the shot. There was a gentle breeze blowing today and we did pickup a little wind noise in the audio but, I should be able to tame that in post-production. That’s just a fancy way of saying, I’m going to adjust the sound on my computer so you can’t hear any wind noise.

You might be wondering why I went through all the trouble to use wireless microphones. You might ask, “Why didn’t you just use the microphone built-in to your video camera?” For those of you who are new to shooting video, I offer you these two very basic tips for shooting more professional looking video.

Tip 1: Use a tripod.
While films such as the Blair Witch Project have made it to the big screen without a single tripod used during the production, that’s not the norm. You simply can’t hold a camera still with just two hands and certainly not for long periods of time. So unless you have an expensive steadycam type device your best bet is to use a tripod.

Tip 2: Get your microphone off the camera and close to your talent.
Nothing sounds more amateur than hollow distant sounding audio. Even the best built-in camera microphones will not do a good job picking up soft sounds from a distance. Plus the built-in mic is going to pickup all the unwanted sounds between the camera an your subject.

Overall, we shot about 12 takes. The perfectionist in me would have shot a few more takes but I think we got what we needed. It was fun shooting the video and I love the other actress and of course the crew. 🙂