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

5 Tips on Videocameras and Lighting

I made some videos for WebJunction on … how to make videos! This video is the first part of a three-part series of tips on how libraries can create videos. Michael Porter and I host the series.

Make sure to visit WebJunction’s Video Group and add to the conversation and resources there.

This first video provides 5 tips on videocameras and lighting:

  1. start with what you have (i.e., most people already have some type of videocamera).
  2. get a cheap video camera (like a Flip camera).
  3. lighting (ideas for better lighting).
  4. buy some cheap lights
  5. upgrade as needed

So go watch the video for some great entry-level tips on making video, and make sure to comment, too – either comment on this post, or (even better) go visit the WebJunction page for this video, and start a discussion there!

Experimenting vs Not Doing

me, experimenting

Recently, I’ve been working on a video project (a not-for-work video project). And it’s been fun. And a little irritating at times, too.

Irritating? Why?

Glad you asked! Because lighting has been a struggle, among other things. I’m creating these videos in my basement, and started out using some umbrella lights and my trusty Sanyo Xacti HD1A video camera.

And in the process, I’ve discovered that I have A LOT to learn about lighting. And sound. And scripting (because I generally have a hard time winging it). And because my trusty Sanyo Xacti video camera has started to act up (whack! There, it’s fixed).

But guess what? Instead of giving up, I decided to experiment a bit and improve my skills. The pic accompanying this post is just that – it’s me in action, playing with a new backdrop and a couple of new lights, and figuring out how to use the white balance on my video camera (as in hey, what’s this thing do?).

My point?

I’ve discovered that a little experimentation goes a long way to improving what I saw as problems. Color problems? Fixed. Weird lighting problems? Getting better. Audio irritations? I fixed those, too. Camera problems? (Whack, whack! Fixed again – ok, more improvements needed there, I think).

These days, most of us are NOT experts. Sometimes, we have to wing it. And we have choices when presented with one of those “oh-shoot-I’m-no-expert” projects:

  1. Don’t do it. You can always say “I can’t do that – I’m no expert.” boo, hiss.
  2. Do it, but don’t learn from the experience. marginally better than boo, hiss.
  3. Do it, learn from the experience, and improve it next time. Yay!

Want to improve something? You HAVE to start. You HAVE to keep on doing it, purposefully experimenting during the process, and learning from those experiences. Simple to say, much harder to do.

That’s all for now (whack. whack, whack, whack. Whew!).

SXSWi2008, Day One: Rock Star Lighting and Accordions

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

Formats: Quicktime | iPod

Quick video of the How to Rawk SXSW, just to give you a flavor of the first session. The lighting was pretty cool, and they found an accordion player who plays popular tunes on his accordion. Here, he’s singing an AC/DC song – he also closed the session by sing Hit Me Baby One More Time by Britney Spears.