Video News

I came across some interesting things this week, so I am passing them along.

One was the much anticipated announcement of the debut of the Scarlet – a new camera from the same company that makes The Red. There have been a lot of rumors about this camera over the past year and it will be rolled out in 2010.  Check out Philip Bloom’s blog about it. And here’s another post on FreshDV with information about the Scarlet.

If you’re a Sony EX-1 shooter, here’s an interesting tip along with a how-to-video on using the Zacuto Z-finder with that camera. This viewfinder was made for the Canon 5d, but Martijn Schroevers found a clever way to attach it to the LCD of the Sony EX-1.

Next up is yet another new video camera format from Sony – NXCAM. The NXCAM can record 1920 x 1080 images at 24Mbps (50i or 25p), as well as supporting 720/50p and Standard Definition recording.
Very interesting but I wish these camera manufacturers would standardize formats and codecs.

I also came across a very interesting company called Wistia. They allow you to share and host your videos but in addition they offer heatmap tracking which gives you a visual spectrum of how your visitors watch your videos and what attracts them or confuses them.

And to give you an idea of how much web video viewing has exploded, here’s an online channel Expotv where consumers send in video product reviews. No fancy production values but an interesting concept of sharing information that has really caught on.

With all those news items I figured it was about time I changed my header – gone is that template blue – replaced by something more relevant to the blogger.

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Editing and the Story

I’ve grown to love the editing part of the video production process.  It’s where I “craft” the story and take it where I want it to go.

Last Spring I attended a conference at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan.  The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, MichiganWhile staying at this historic gem, my goal was to create a short web video on the hotel and the island.  I shot the property in a dozen different ways getting b-roll footage of carriages, guests on the porch, tea in the parlor, the orchestra and other areas of the hotel as well as scenes in town. I also interviewed third generation owner and President, Dan Musser III and carriage driver Tom McCarthy.  Those interviews as well as some soundbites from a talk given by concierge Bob Tagatz – gave me my narrative track.

When I returned I gathered all my assets – interviews, b-roll and music and started to layout the story. Generally, I lay down my best soundbites first.  This drives the story.  I’ll then go through all my b-roll and live action shots and select the best clips that best illustrate the narrative track.  I was fortunate on this piece because I was able to capture footage of the harpist at the Grand Hotel and this not only provided me with some nice visuals, but it gave me a music track to work with that made sense in the context of the story.

After piecing together the story in Final Cut Pro, I then went  back and “cut” it.  Given time, I may even live with it a bit, going back and cutting more each time giving it more punch.  I’ve uploaded my first two cuts on vimeo.  Here’s a link to my latest rough cut. I’ll probably live with it a bit and then go back and cut out another 20%.  It’s always hard to cut but it makes the piece stronger and these days – people don’t take the time to look at long web videos.

Creating Memories

I’ve just returned from a shoot in Mackinac Island, Michigan. For those of you not familiar with the island – it’s like a step back in time with no cars and very limited cell phone service.

The purpose of my trip was two fold – to attend a conference of a trade association I belong to, The Society of American Travel Writers and to shoot video of the island and the magnificent Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel is a historic landmark living up to its name. It’s family owned and operated and I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the owners, Danny Musser. He said something in the interview that really resonated with me. He said that they weren’t in the business of selling lodging and meals but of creating memories. And that they do – every little detail is a cinematic experience.

I thought about that philosophy – creating memories – and realized that this is essentially my goal as well when I shoot stills or video. My intent is to capture the essence of one’s experience, whether it be a travel experience or a documentation of a personal event.

So I need to remind myself that behind the technology is the visual message. Behind the beautiful shots and the attention to detail is the “message” or the “memory” captured. I’d like to think that what I capture today will ultimately be archived and “create memories”.

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