[twitter]There are no videos of me – as a kid – in existence. And, come to think of it, very few photos too.
Perhaps this could be why, since I became a father just over a year ago, my video camera is always charged, holstered and ready to shoot.
My favourite subject, of course, being my beautiful little boy, London. And I had a lot more time to shoot footage of him after I lost my full-time reporting gig earlier this year (I now work as a freelance music writer with the Vancouver Sun and have a few screenwriting projects in development).
Anyway, this is a great time for amateur filmmaking, because technology has made it so easy to capture memories.
You can, of course, simply shoot and archive the memories. But it’s also a lot of fun (and, for me, creatively fulfilling) to shoot and edit stories documenting a day out, a weekend away or an entire year, which is what I did with my short film, ONE.
Obviously, kids don’t give you a lot of warning before they do something cute, which means sometimes you just have to point and shoot and hope you got it. So you might not always have time to setup that perfect shot. Then again, sometimes it just pays to be in the right spot and the right time.
Still, there are some tricks and tips you can take advantage of in order to make more memorable videos:
1. Shoot lots: With the advancement in ACVHD consumer cameras that use memory cards and internal hard drives to record HD video, proud parents no longer have to worry about blowing through all their pricey DV tape stock. So shoot lots and experiment with different angles. Then pick the best shot or shots and delete the ones that aren’t up to your standards.
(Keep in mind that, if you’re shooting ACVHD video, you’ll need a computer that can handle HD footage, a lot of storage space and editing software capable of handling ACVHD footage.)
2. Zoom: Unless you’re a pro videographer, don’t use it. If you use it to frame your shots tighter, make sure your electronic stabilization is engaged, or use a tripod. Nobody likes watching shaky camera work, unless you’ve filmed a close encounter of the third kind or some kind of natural disaster. Better to move towards your subject than zoom towards it. If you do zoom in towards something, try and make it as smooth as possible, or edit the zooming motion out and cut straight to the close up.
3. Framing: Obviously, framing can make a shot. Try not to have floating heads or cut people off at the forehead. If you’re familiar with photography’s rule of thirds, it’s a good one to implement with video too. Some people just know how to frame interesting shots, others don’t.
4. Sound: Audio is always an issue when shooting video. The onboard microphones on cameras have come along way, but they pick up a lot or peripheral noise. However, for most consumer shooting, they do the trick. If you want something better, pick of a Rode VideoMic. At just over $100, they’re reasonable, and they’re great for picking up the kids (or whatever else you’re pointing the camera at) and cutting out annoying clatter.
5. Editing: Video editing software can be frustrating to learn, but some of the more popular ones, like iMovie or Final Cut Studio are fairly basic to use. Just remember to save your work, often.
6. Music: It’s nice to put music to video. I cut ONE to my friend’s song, the artist Kingsway, with permission. You can use popular artists, too, but keep in mind that if you post the videos to a public forum, such as Facebook, it will be taken down for Copyright infringement.
Here’s what I used to shoot the short film, ONE:
A Canon Vixia HF-10 HD camera. It’s a consumer camera, shoots full 1080p HD (ACVHD) and has three different frame rates, 60i (interlaced/normal); as well as 24p and 30p. The “p” stands for “progressive”. This means the images it captures are not interlaced.
Anyway, I stick to 30p – 24p can give more of a film look but it’s not as good for quick movements and is more challenging to upload it into editing software. With 30p, I just plug the camera into my Mac and upload into Final Cut.
(A great site to compare video cameras is CamcorderInfo.com)
My Mac: A 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB 800 Mhz DDR2 SDRAM with a 23-inch screen. It came with a 350 GB hard drive and also have a 1 TB Firewire drive that I use strictly for storing video.
Final Cut Pro – It’s costly and, for a hobbyist, the cheaper Final Cut Studio and even iMovie will be sufficient.
Magic Bullet – I like to fool around with various filters to give my videos a more film-like feel. Magic Bullet uses templates so you can check out how each one will affect the video. There are lots to choose from so you can either pick one to set a tone or, like I did in ONE, use many different kinds.