Video production and editing
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Date: 2 June, 2005

 



'The more experience that you have the quicker you will be able to do things however always err on the side of caution with timings for the day.'




 

Richard Armiger explains the basics of making a video programme.

So you have a camcorder and you want to start to make a video programme. In this article we will take you through the steps to making a programme and take a brief look at the background for video editing.

Ever wondered what the difference is between ‘production’ and ‘post production’? Well it is a simple as this:

Production – the planning and filming of the material

Post Production – the editing and finishing of the programme

Video Production

The first area we will look at is production. Before doing anything you need to plan what it is that you hoping to achieve.

Things to consider:

  1. Style of programme you want to make – e.g. documentary, drama, news/magazine style, promotional, event coverage, vox pops or music led.
  2. Locations – where are you going to film? Exterior or interior or both? Are there any safety issues to consider?
  3. Talent – who will feature in your programme?
  4. Permissions - Do you need to make arrangements in advance to ensure that others are available? Do you need permission to film in certain places e.g. high street, marketplace, shopping centre? Do you need to get permission to film people (you will need to seek permission from parents or guardians to film children or young people)?

Planning

The first step in making your video is to plan out the final product.

  1. Why am I making a video? What am I trying to achieve?
  2. Who is the audience – who are you communicating with?
  3. What’s the message?
  4. What is the best way to convey the message – i.e the style of the video
  5. How long do you want the programme? (If this is your first project then we suggest that you keep it short – aim for 1–2 minutes at most)

Style

  1. Documentary – sounds daunting but in reality is a mix of interviews, pieces to camera and scenery/location shots mixed together to tell a story
  2. Drama – probably the hardest of the styles and due to complexity is not the best one to start with
    News/magazine style – similar to documentary but more has pace to it, live or almost live and topical
  3. Promotional – this is product or service led. Tends to be a mix of sales people and customers talking about or demonstrating the product or service. In a church context this would promoting the gospel or promoting church activities the a range of content
  4. Event coverage – this can be as simple as a fixed camera looking at a person talking through to a complex multi camera production which would end in a finished programme at the end of the event with little or no editing required. Again this is not the best place to start
  5. Vox pops – very simple question and answer format. You just need a mix of people either at church or in your local high street to give you their opinions on a given subject. You then just point the camera at the person answering and record their answers. Probably the easiest style to film and edit
  6. Music led – anything from a bands fast moving pop video through to meditative music with background pictures such as landscapes. If you are recording a pop video the trick is to film the same song over and over again with different shot sizes and angles to ensure you have sufficient material to edit.

Storyboarding

A storyboard is basically a place to draw what you want to see, and an explanation of the action required. You can produce as many ‘frames’ of a storyboard as you think necessary to tell the story.

The storyboard will not only help you to ensure that the story flows from beginning to end but also illustrates this to all of the people helping you in making your programme. When you come to edit your material, the storyboard will again prove useful in reminding you of your original thoughts.

Remember a storyboard should not be fixed in stone, you can change things as you are filming if you find that there is a better way. Be flexible!

Scripting

If you are making a video which requires several people to speak then it is not only sensible but in many ways essential to write a script. This way you have the ability to match the words if you need to record any of the material more than once – important for when you come to the post production stage!

Scheduling your day

You need to be realistic here. Filming often takes a lot longer than you anticipate. Even a simple interview can require a whole morning’s work. The more experience that you have the quicker you will be able to do things however always err on the side of caution with timings for the day.

Our advice is to split the day into sessions no more than two in the morning and two in the afternoon and two in the evening if you are really keen! Another consideration is that if you are travelling between locations this can significantly reduce the time available for filming.

Always ensure that all those involved know what is happening, when and where.

Locations

Exterior – generally lighting not required as God does a pretty good job himself (in the daytime at least!). However his lamp is rather large and very bright and on a sunny day can cause contrast problems when filming individuals. To over come this you can use a reflector such as a large piece of white card or polystyrene.

It is worth going to the individual locations to ensure that the exteriors are relevant to the content of the programme

Sound can be a problem on a windy day – try and find sheltered locations to film if possible.

Interior – the main challenge very often is lighting. Video looks much more professional when correctly lit. Lighting in a building is generally a mix of daylight through windows and artificial lighting. In order get the best results you may need to add additional lighting or think carefully about using the daylight (after all it is free). Try and avoid using the camcorders built in gain or lowlight ability as this will risk poor quality material.

The Big Day

So by now you should know what you want to do, have planned properly including producing a storyboard and working out the schedule and the locations; now it is time to start filming! The following provides you with some hints and tips which will help your filming run more successfully.

Filming Hints

  1. It is worth noting that 90% of all television is static shots; that means a group of static frames of different sizes are all you need to make a video, trying to be to fancy with moving cameras is not as easy as it looks and doesn’t always give satisfactory results.
  2. Use a tripod – given that 90% of shots are static lets keep it that way; get the sturdiest tripod that you can afford. It is very difficult to achieve good handheld shots and even with fancy technology like ‘steadyshot’ you will not hold a shot steady for more than a few seconds.
  3. Don’t use the zoom! The zoom is designed to allow you to change shot sizes quickly not to use whilst your recording. The only time zooms are used in film making is when the director is trying to add mood to a shot, it is not easy to achieve well and domestic cameras do not really provide adequate zoom smoothness.
  4. When filming people be consistent with the size of the shots. If you have two people talking to each other make sure the shot of each person is the same size, otherwise it will look very odd when edited together. It is possible to change shot sizes during a sequence but you must ensure that you complement the other shots.
  5. Use a separate microphone for anything other than basic wide shots that do not involve dialogue. For all vocal reproduction a separate personal microphone, clipped to their lapel, or hand held reporters style microphone.

We know that we have only just scratched the surface with this article but hopefully it will have encouraged you to pick up that camcorder and have a go.

The next section provides an introduction to video editing …

Video Editing on a PC

With apologies to Apple Mac users, this article and the Active Practice will concentrate on editing for Windows users.

Background

Just a few short years ago, a computer capable of video editing would have set you back an amount sufficient to settle the national debt of a third world country. Unless you were very rich, your computer would probably have sported a disc drive capacity of no more than nine gigabytes, sufficient to store about six hours of video footage at a picture resolution something less than the quality of VHS.

Then along came the DV format and firewire. Firewire was initially developed for the Apple Mac but soon became available for the PC. The DV format was quite remarkable in that (unlike the VHS v Betamax wars) all the major equipment manufacturers were able to agree on the specifications. Originally a consumer format, DV has now achieved widespread recognition amongst professional users.

DV has brought accessible and quite sophisticated video functions to the home movie enthusiast. Even a relatively basic system is capable of far more than assembling several hours of the latest family holiday.

This article will hopefully encourage those with access to a DV camcorder and a computer to consider producing a video to use in a worship context or to make a video as a tool for evangelism, perhaps outlining some of the activities that take place in your church. The walkthrough this month takes you on the journey of capturing and editing video material on your PC and then exporting the finished video back to tape or on to a DVD and other formats.

Computer hardware

To edit on a PC you will need at least a P3 processor running at about 800 Megahertz. (Ideally P4, >1200Mhz, at least 256 Mb of RAM). Because of the way in which video files are constantly being written to and read from the computer’s hard disc, it is advisable to have a drive dedicated to the video files, which is separate from the drive or drives used to store your computer’s applications and day-to-day files. Ideally this should be a separate physical drive, but it may be a single drive which has been partitioned to provide a separate storage area.

Bear in mind that video uses vast amounts of disc storage. DV will need 12 Gbytes of disc space for each hour of video. You will also need space for the temporary files generated when you use any video effects, such as dissolving between scenes or adding titles. So it is advisable to have a drive with at least 20 Gbytes available as you begin an editing project. The disc drive will need to be able to work fast enough to handle the video signal in real time. In practice most modern drives running at 7,500 rpm are up to the task.

You will also need a method of getting the video signal into the computer. Many computers these days come equipped with a firewire interface (otherwise known as iLink on Sony machines – or by the generic term of IEEE 1394). Firewire allows the DV signals to be transferred directly from a DV camcorder into the computer. If you are using a video format other than DV you will need to have an interface which converts the camcorder’s analogue signal into a digital signal which can be read by the computer. Units which are capable of receiving an input from SVHS or composite video and converting the signal to digital (with firewire out) are available for under £100.

If your computer is not equipped with a firewire interface, this can be purchased for around £30 - £50, in the form of a small card for a laptop computer or a full size card for a desktop machine. Alternatively there are products which will covert analogue video into a digital format and connect to your PC via a USB2 port

Firewire connectors come in two forms. The full size connector is “D” shaped if you look at it end-on and will connect with most desktop firewire cards. There is a smaller connector which will connect with most DV camcorders. Many laptop computers now come equipped with a firewire port, designed for the smaller connector.

If your computer is short of hard disc space and you don’t fancy opening it up to install a new internal disc drive, you could purchase a firewire drive. These are external drives which communicate with the computer by firewire. They are a little more expensive than internal drives (c£160.00 for a 120 Gbyte drive) but, given the convenience and flexibility of being able to move it around between computers, it often provides an excellent solution for video editing.

For the enthusiast, dedicated video editing computer systems are available which use a video card fitted within the computer which handles all the video processing independently of the computer’s main processor. Video processing cards are available from dedicated equipment manufacturers such as Pinnacle, Matrox or Canopus for between £500 - £1000. A dedicated video card means that the video is not dependent on the computer’s own ability to process the video signal in real time.

More complex video effects can be produced without having to 'render' the video. However this is not by any means a requirement. The increase of computer processor speed available over the last year or so has meant that a modern machine (P4, with a 2.8GHz processor and 1024 Mbytes of memory) with good software is well up to the task of quite sophisticated video editing.

But owners of older, slower machines need not despair. In practice the major drawback of a slower processor without a dedicated video card is the fact that the computer will need to “render” the video more often, typically when adding video effects or before playing out the finished product. (Rendering means taking all the constituents of a video sequence – e.g. one shot dissolving into another, and making one single video file, usually stored on the computer’s hard disc as a temp file.)

Article edited and provided by Richard Armiger. Richard is co-director of Active Media Publishing Ltd. A company which provides: design; training; media based worship resources; media and communication services.

This article first appeared in eChurch Active (published by Active Media Publishing) – see www.echurchactive.net for more information. Contributions to the article by Geoff Moore and Trevor Marr. Contact Richard at richard@ampublishing.net.

 


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