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
The first area we will look at is production.
Before doing anything you need to plan what it is that you hoping
Things to consider:
- Style of programme you want to make
e.g. documentary, drama, news/magazine style, promotional, event
coverage, vox pops or music led.
- Locations where are you going to film?
Exterior or interior or both? Are there any safety issues to consider?
- Talent who will feature in your programme?
- 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)?
The first step in making your video is to plan
out the final product.
- Why am I making a video? What am I trying
- Who is the audience who are you communicating
- Whats the message?
- What is the best way to convey the message
i.e the style of the video
- How long do you want the programme? (If this
is your first project then we suggest that you keep it short
aim for 12 minutes at most)
- Documentary sounds daunting but in
reality is a mix of interviews, pieces to camera and scenery/location
shots mixed together to tell a story
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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!
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 mornings 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.
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
Sound can be a problem on a windy day
try and find sheltered locations to film if possible.
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.
- 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 doesnt
always give satisfactory results.
- 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.
- Dont 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
- 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.
- 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
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.
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 computers 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 computers
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 camcorders 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
If your computer is short of hard disc space
and you dont 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 computers
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 computers 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 computers 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.