Friday, October 27, 2006

Greenscreen tips and ideas

If you are interested in shooting scenes using chromakey (also known as greenscreen, bluescreen or bluebox), here is an interesting blog that discusses shooting chromakey for post production.

At the 2006 VidExpo this fall, a graphic artist from a Denver television station discussed shooting greenscreen for post production.

Many of us think of using an external box or video switcher to create greenscreen effects in real time. And while this may be the way to go when you are shooting a weatherperson in front of a map, it's not always the best way to go.

You can make some fascinating composite video clips by using the greenscreen capabilities of Final Cut Pro, or even something as simple as an Avio or Casablanca editing appliance.

Take a look at the linked article and see if you can stretch your imagination when keying in your next project.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Planning a video yearbook

In the old days (back when I was in High School) everyone would get a printed, hardbound yearbook at the end of the school year. You remember those....there would be photos of all the class members, sports highlights, music concerts, plays and a lot of shots of students goofing around.

Here in the 21st century, the old style printed yearbook still is around. However, more and more schools across the country are producing video yearbooks in addition to the more traditional printed yearbook. In a video yearbook, you show the visuals and sounds that make your High School years memorable.

The key to a video yearbook is planning ahead of time. When I work with schools who want to produce a video yearbook, I try to have a planning session with them during the first three weeks of school, so they have an idea of what they need to do before Homecoming and other events occur. It's tough to shoot video of the Homecoming game if it is already over.

You start by thinking of your video much like a printed book. Books have chapters, and so do video yearbooks. What chapters will your video have? Sports? Fine arts? Speech contest? Mock trial? Everyday life in the classroom?

What do schools include in a Video Yearbook?

Senior portraits

Music, drama or other activities

Competitions & Awards

Every day life at school

Teachers

Sports


How will you sort your images into "chapters"?

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


Here are the steps I recommend:

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. Find out what you may already have.

3. Assign someone to videotape events you need (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 before you begin editing. Check the spelling of names.

9. Allow enough time to complete the project. Then add an additional 25% to that, because something always ends up taking longer than you thought it would.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Teachers who blog (and the readers who love them)

In this morning's USA Today newspaper is an article entitled "Teachers speak out of turn." The article discusses how teachers are now writing blogs, and sometimes getting in trouble for revealing a little too much of the "good, the bad and the ugly." If you are an instructor and are tempted to vent your spleen in a thinly disguised diatribe about your school or your co-workers, then you should read this before you join the ranks of the unemployed.

There are also some positives to the article, including a sidebar listing several very interesting weblogs written by educators. Check them out.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hand holding your camera


There are some times that you just can't use a tripod while you're shooting video. Yet you still want clear audio and a crisp picture without shaking or distracting camera movement. So, what do you do?

A few years back, I was helping a local high school with a special homecoming project. It's a long story, but this event was newsworthy enough to have some regional TV stations cover it. What a great opportunity to observe professional videographers and ENG crew at work.

If you look at the camera operators in these photos, they are hand-holding their heavy pro camcorders. Their footage looked excellent when I saw it on the 10pm news that night. Here are two tricks they used to make their footage look so darned good.


1. They got close to the subject.

2. They used the wide-angle setting on their zoom lenses.



Hey, these folks weren't shy about getting up close and personal when shooting video footage. So they got within a foot or two of their subjects. That not only let them fill the screen with the action, but there was another benefit. By getting so close, the on-camera microphones did a great job in picking up the audio.

Why zoom back to the wide-angle setting? By doing that, any camera movement or shaking was minimized. Remember that when you zoom in on a subject, you not only magnify the image, you magnify any shake or shimmy as you are taping.


We only have two things to work with when we produce a video...and those are PICTURE and SOUND.

By getting close to the subject and shooting at wide angle, we have good pictures.

By getting close and using the on-camera mike, we get good sound.


Remember you can't made a good video out of bad footage. Using these tricks from the pros let us shoot good footage.