In The Desert
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Making a Video
Written by Don Gilmore
Now unless you're capable of holding your camera rock steady, then a tripod is going to be your best friend for video work. Maybe you can find something like a hood, mirror, bench, or tree to stabilize your camera, but a tripod is the best. If you're going to do a lot of video work then invest in one with a fluid head to be able to pan or move up and down smoothly. There are several things that make a video interesting and several that make a video annoying. Here are some pointers.
Almost all the new digital cameras have a video mode and most of them work great! Using one in the desert has become a regular occurrence for animal watchers, off-roaders, and people on vacation. Let's see what you can do to improve your next video.
On the very top of the ridge in the background was a Golden Eagle - not visible by the human eye. Trying to shoot a video at that distance is not an easy accomplishment. In this case we tried to lay the camera on the side mirror on the vehicle. However the lack of an easy to move head on a tripod ruined the video See below.
Just not the right circumstances for a good video. Too far away required too much telephoto magnification. Even the slightest breeze could make the camera shake. In this video we tried to get the Eagle into the left side of the frame to catch him taking off.
After a walk to get into position, hand holding here was not working out. In the second half of these 2 short clips you can see the difference, after a short rest to regain some stability. You need to have a good technique for hand holding and know when you're going to be at your best.
This entire video was shot hand held. Getting there early and using a good technique helps. Holding the camera with both hands is a must, one near the shutter button and the other on the lens or left side of the camera body. Putting your left elbow into your mid section helps. Practice your technique.
At times panning the camera is a must, like the example here on the right, done with a fluid head tripod for a smooth effect. Too many times however people are tempted to pan around an event or audience and they do the panning to fast or too jerky and ruin the video. Try to get a vantage point where you don't have to pan at all.
This entire video was shot on a window tripod without the need to do any panning and this worked out great. No jerking up or down and the video is just the way we wanted it to look. You can't go wrong if you use a tripod when you can.
Video software has a lot to do in producing the final outcome. Once you learn how to use your camera, get your holding technique down, and shoot in a good quality format (AVCHD) in full HD, then the software comes into play. So which software makes this easier? First lets see what others think.
Here's is part of the equation as seen on Wikipedia's definition for AVCHD formats:
"Just as editing DVCPRO HD and HDV video once demanded an expensive high-end computer, AVCHD editing software requires powerful machines. Compared to HDV, AVCHD requires 2-4x the processing power for realtime playback, placing a greater burden on the computer's CPU and graphics card. Improvements in multi-core computing and graphics processor acceleration brings AVCHD playback to mainstream desktops and laptops."
It's confusing, so here's the simple definition. It used to be that you needed a really fast multi-core desktop or laptop with a really robust graphics card to work with these files. Corel's Video Studio has made this easier through SMART PROXY. The software works with smaller images of the video and as you make changes it works on the smaller files, making it easier on your computer to make the changes. When you're all done with the video it then makes all the changes as it's saving the video, making the changes to the full sized images, music, transitions, and whatever else you've done to enhance the video. Corel is always in the forefront with this type of programming. AND it does work. Here's a screen capture to show how the program is set for Smart Proxy ---
Here's what we've come up with to make a better video.
1. Use a tripod when you can.
2. Only pan when necessary, use a good tripod for panning.
3. Use a good camera holding technique.
4. Use descretion when videoing at a distance.
5. Don't zoom in and out, once maybe, but continuous zooming is annoying.
6. Keep videos as short as possible. Not just for load time but to also keep them interesting.
7. Use a good video editing software like Corel's Video Studio Pro
Don't forget cropping, in most cameras you can crop right in the camera if you're not using software. Don't hesitate to crop to get rid of bad sections of video. Also remember some of your viewers may not have high speed connections or modern video cards in their computers.