Video Gear – Don’t Overdo it!

I’m working on a music video for my library right now, so lighting, audio, and video equipment is pretty fresh in my head at the moment (more on that video later).

If you make video of any type for your library (and you should be!), here’s something to remember: don’t overdo it.

Remember your end-goal. The goal really isn’t a professionally-polished video (although that’s nice). The goal isn’t to have crystal-clear, audiophile-quality sound (although that’s nice). The goal isn’t to have pristine lighting (although, again … that’s nice).

Your real goal is to be seen and heard – to communicate. Make the video, the lighting, and the audio good enough so that it doesn’t distract viewers from your real goal.

With that goal in mind:

  • Do you need a great set of wireless mics, or do you just need to scoot the camera closer to the person?
  • Do you need a great three-point video lighting system, or do you just need a sunny window?
  • Do you need a fancy DSLR camera, or do you just need to … learn the equipment you have first?

Definitely focus on making the best video you can. But also don’t lose track of the real goal.

Cool DSLR setup by Andy Ramdin

I Won a Prince Takedown Request – or, online video copyright challenges

Every once in awhile, I receive a copyright takedown request for one of my videos. In two recent cases, I challenged the process and ultimately won – which means I didn’t have to take down or change the music bed to my video. Here’s what happened in both cases:

Case #1 – Prince and SirsiDynix. In 2010, at ALA Annual, I was invited to a SirsiDynix party. I went, video camera in hand, and took a short video of some dancing librarians. The song, played by a cover band, was Kiss by Prince. The video’s about 30 seconds long.

I posted a version of this video to my Vimeo account, and last year I received a takedown notice from Vimeo, saying that Prince (i.e., most likely some third party company hired to find his songs on the web?) was claiming a copyright infringement.

Case #2 – INgrooves claims a “free to use” song. Sometimes, I use Apple’s license-free  music that comes with iMovie as a music bed for some of my videos. In my video Busy Day, I did just that. I used a “free to use” song loop. No problem, right?

Late last year, I received a message from Youtube, saying that INgrooves was claiming the song was theirs.

What did I do? In both cases, Vimeo and Youtube have ways to contest the notice. With Vimeo and Prince, I argued Fair Use. With my Busy Day video, I shared that the music was already covered by a license. Both Vimeo and Youtube have pretty clear ways to argue your case.

In both cases, just by following through with an appropriate response, I was able to keep the video up with music intact.

Why share this? Because you might have to do the same for your organization or your personal video account at some point. If that happens, here’s a really simple tip (which I plan to start doing) – in the video description section of your Youtube post (I’ll use Youtube as an example), mention where the music came from. Be specific about it, too – where you found it (with a URL), if it had a Creative Commons license, if you wrote and performed it, if it was a loop-based creation, if it came with your video editing program, etc.

Do this as a reminder to yourself. Then, if you ever receive a Copyright notice or a takedown request, you’ll know where the music came from!

Will Copyright Catch up?

A couple days ago, I had an interesting “teaching moment” with my 14 year old. That evening, we decided to watch a movie. Usually we either pick a streaming movie off of Netflix or rent something from iTunes (yes, and once in awhile borrow it from the library).

This time, we wanted to watch Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Guess what? It was nowhere to be found. Disney has a weird practice of placing a sort of moratorium on their movies – meaning, you can’t buy or rent some of them. Not even from the Disney Store.

Anyway … mad librarian searching pro that I am … I solved our “we want to watch a movie” problem pretty easily. I did a quick Google search for beauty and the beast full movie and found a rogue streaming version that we could watch. We watched it, it worked fine, and we had a fun evening.

Afterwards, the 14 year old was asking why the movie was so hard to find, so I explained what Disney does with their movies, and how someone had decided to burn their DVD and upload the movie to a file sharing site, probably to “solve the problem.” And the fact that that’s sorta illegal. And that watching the illegal stream is probably a bit shady, too.

Ultimately, I was able to explain to my daughter how those copyright rules worked great before she was born, but they don’t really work now. Copyright in today’s world is kind of like enforcing a “no chewing gum within city limits” law. Impossible at best, ridiculously silly to attempt to enforce at worst.

Why? Because the web is so easy to use, and because there are so many file sharing and multimedia streaming sites. I’ll guess that if we tried hard enough, we could have watched the whole movie in chunks on Youtube. People like uploading movies and TV shows in chunks on Youtube. Slightly inconvenient, but it works.

In my family’s movie-watching case, who broke the law? Did we by watching? Did someone else by burning and uploading? Did the file sharing site, by providing a place to store files? Did AT&T, by providing my DSL line? The answer is probably … yes.

Is copyright broken? The answer is also a resounding yes. Can it be fixed? Probably so. I’m certainly no copyright expert, but I know it’s not working. Will it catch up to the 21st century? What do you think?

Making Video with Four DSLR Lenses

Last week, I was doing some video tests, and playing around with four different DSLR camera lenses. Here are the results of that – a video, showing what each lens looks like in a similar setting.

Here’s what I used in this video:

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i camera

Lenses:

  • Canon EFS 17-55 mm kit lens
  • Canon EF 50 mm Prime lens
  • Canon EF Macro 100 mm lens
  • Tokina AT-X Pro 116 DX II Wide Angle lens

Lesson learned? The Kit lens and the wide angle lens both worked great for this video. The Prime lens did ok too. The Macro lens? Not so much. So in an interview setting, the kit lens and the wide angle lens would both work great.

Fun stuff!