Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Biggest mistakes students & teachers make

Every video project is unique and has its own challenges and problems. However, some hassles and roadblocks seem to pop up again and again. Here is a list of the bugaboos that happen most often when schools are working on an original video production.

Never forget to:

1. Use a new, brand-name video tape at SP speed.

2. Always let camera roll 10 seconds before shooting.

3. Hold the camera still during shooting.

4. Always let camera roll 10 seconds after scene is over

5. Turn off the day and date indicator on the camcorder

6. Use a tripod whenever possible. Don't use the zoom if hand holding camera.

7. Keep your mike close to the subject when shooting audio

8. Write a script before you shoot

9. Budget enough time for the project

10. Tell a story with your video

11. Have your project planned out BEFORE you start editing!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Logging your tapes

You have shot hours of video to make your blockbuster movie. Some organization right now will make life simpler when you sit down to edit.

To find the video segment you want to edit within the miles of videotape, it sometimes helps to create a video log for each tape you have shot. The log tells the location of every shot you plan to use, as well as a brief description of it. Each video tape you used should have its own log.

How to Log on a VCR with a Real Time Counter

1. Rewind the tape to the beginning.
2. Name your tape. I give my tapes simple names, like "TAPE A" and "TAPE B".
3. Set the counter to 00:00:00. This means zero hours, minutes and seconds equals the start of the tape.
4. Watch the tape, and log the time each scene begins, as well as a brief description of the scene. You might log like this:


00:15:00... Long Shot... Mom and Dad standing in front of their new house
00:23:12... Close Up... Sue shows off her diamond ring
00:47:38... Medium Shot... Dog knocks over Christmas tree
01:15:12... ECU... Hand unwrapping a present
01:18:45... Long Shot... Family at dinner

Note: When logging a new tape, ALWAYS remember to rewind to the beginning, and reset your counter to 00: 00:00 before logging it!

Log only the scenes you think you might use when you edit. You can fast forward through the boring parts of your footage, and spend less time logging. That means you’ll also spend less time when you transfer video from your original tape to the editor.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Writing on CDs and DVDs

At the VidExpo in Denver this month, I had a nice chat with a rep from Maxell. We discussed recordable media, specifically recordable CDs and DVDs, and he pointed out a potential time-bomb ticking away in my library.

For final delivery, I burn a CD or DVD and then use a Bravo printer to print the label directly on the face. However, sometimes I get in a hurry and just write the name of the production on the top of the master DVD that I keep on file. And what do I use for this? My trusty Sharpie marker.

The Maxell rep pointed out that most markers are solvent-based. A quick whiff of the marker tells you that some powerful chemicals are inside. Well, when you write on the top of a recordable DVD or CD, that solvent starts eating its way into the disk. And when it reaches the layer where all those ones and zeros are recorded, it corrupts whatever it touches.

So the DVD that played perfectly in the past suddenly stutters and acts up. And, he said this could happen in as little time as one year after you write on the disk.

One year. Ugh.

Office supply stores and mass retailers sell "compact disk marking pens" that use water-based ink. These are safe to use when writing on the top of a disk. You might want to pick up a few of those right away.

What about those of us who print paper labels and stick them on our disks? The rep told me these can separate in time and jam your machine. He said paper labels should never be used on DVDs, because even the slightest imbalance on a DVD can render it unplayable. And let's be honest: how many of us can center those labels perfectly on a disk?

Camcorder batteries

This has happened to everyone, myself included. You are on location, ready to make the best video of your life, when suddenly, your camcorder battery dies! How can that be, when you have only shot about five minutes of footage, and you charged the battery all of last night? Let's look at the gremlins that ruin camcorder batteries.

Two big problems!

1. We never fully discharge the battery! If your new battery will record for one hour, don't shoot for ten minutes and then recharge it! If you recharge a battery before it needs it, the battery develops a "memory", which means it holds a charge for less time. A one hour battery becomes a 45 minute battery, then a 30 minute battery, than finally a 10 minute battery. The solution is simple: discharge that battery until it won't run the camcorder, then recharge it fully.

2. Don't overcharge the battery! If the manual says to charge the battery for three hours, we usually charge it overnight, "just to be safe". Again, don't do it! Check the manual, and charge for only the time required.

A good tip!

Buy a spare battery. Sounds simple, but the reason most of us abuse our camcorder batteries is because we are in a hurry to start taping again. If you keep a fully charged spare battery, we have the luxury of fully discharging our main battery, and properly recharging it.

Video Blogging

Will Richardson writes in this month's issue of Technology & Learning about the blog revolution and how some schools and educators are using blogs.

We all know that many blogs aren't much more than online diaries, but now, some educators are using blogs to share information and to increase student achievement.

You can see Will's blog here.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More on Video Yearbooks

eSchool News Online has a nice article on the new generation of video yearbooks and what some tech-savy schools are doing with them. This is worth a look:


The School Video Yearbook

Today was spent in an area school where we discussed creating a video yearbook for the senior class. Actually, we're a little late in the school year to discuss planning, because some events like Homecoming have already happened. But better late than never.

Our plan for a video yearbook is to create chapters, much like those in a print yearbook. The video yearbook is meant to supplement rather than to replace the printed version, but some of the content is similar. Here is an example of chapters you could use in a video yearbook:

Example #1
I. Fall Activities
II. Winter Activities
III. Spring Activities

Example #2
I. Sports
II. Music and drama
III. Everyday life
IV. Graduation

Example #3
I. Senior collage part one
II. Football and basketball
III. Senior collage part two
IV. Life in the classroom
V. Senior collage part three
VI. Drama, arts, music
VII. Prom and graduation

Most of my smaller schools like to include a baby picture and senior picture of each graduate. Remember that some local photographers may hold the copyright on senior photos, so be sure to get clearance to use the photos. And in return, it's nice to give a "Special thanks to XYZ Photography of Silver Plume, CO" in your credits.

If each photo is on the screen for five seconds, we know that 12 pictures will take one minute to show. If you have 50 graduates, each showing a baby picture and senior picture, you are looking at 500 seconds, or nearly 8 1/2 minutes of photos. For that reason, we usually break this up into two or three chapters, so viewers don't fall asleep as the video slogs through all the photos.

Once you have decided what chapters you want in your project, you should make a "shot sheet" or "shopping list" of the video clips and/or still photos you want in each chapter. If, for example, you are working on the "Sports" chapter, you would want video or photos of:

basketball (boys and girls)
cross country, golf, soccer or any additional sports.

You also might want photos of cheerleaders, pep rallies, coaches, cheering crowds, celebration bonfires or "Spirit Week" activities.

You can break this down even farther if your students can visualize what they want to see and hear on the finished video. Such as:

closeup of foot kicking ball from tee
coin toss
scoreboard showing winning score
cheering crowd in stadium
two people hugging or cheering after a big win
two people crying, sad or depressed after a big loss
bus pulling into or away from school
coach giving pep talk to the team

You can see that you could easily list every shot you want in a chapter that only runs three minutes. This shot sheet is much like a shopping list. Much like you go to the store and buy milk, eggs or macaroni, you are taking your camera and obtaining video clips of "coin toss," "scoreboard" or "kickoff." Using this method, you don't shoot 10 hours of footage hoping to get four or five nice 10 second video clips.

Here is the list of steps I give students when planning their video yearbook.

1. Make an outline of “chapters” you want in your yearbook.

2. Write down the specific video clips, still photos, sound bites or interviews you want for each chapter.

3. Assign someone to videotape events you want on tape (Homecoming, Class Play, etc) Have shots of as many different students as possible, not just your friends

4. Obtain permission to use any copyrighted music.

5. Gather all still photos needed. Carefully label them so that they can be returned to owners.

6. Log tapes so you know what clips are on each tape.

7. Put still photos in the order you plan to use them in the yearbook. A still photo is on the screen for 5 seconds; so it takes one minute to show 12 photos. Make sure you don't want to show 400 photos in 10 minutes.

8. Write down all titles and credits ahead of time. Check the spelling of names.

9. Have your video planned before you come to the Video Suite to edit! Allow enough time to complete the project.

10. Plan enough time for the project.

Certain images and/or photos on this page are the copyrighted property of JupiterImages and are being used with permission under license. These images and/or photos may not be copied or downloaded without permission from JupiterImages.