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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What Camera Should I Buy?

If I had a dollar for everytime someone asked me what camera they should buy – I could retire.  These days I get a lot of “what video camera should I buy?”  That question is almost impossible to answer without more information.  So I usually reply with my own onslaught of questions “What are you going to be shooting?”, “What editing software will you be using?” , “Are you concerned about getting “natural sound” or will you be using the “video” and not the “audio” from the camera?”.  And of course the big question “What’s your budget?”.

One thing that complicates making a choice in video cameras is that unlike still cameras – video cameras shoot different types of files – mpeg2, native quicktime, HDV, AVCHD.  In addition some shoot to tape, some shoot to cards and some shoot to discs.  Then of course there’s the basic consideration of SD or HD.  And not all HD files are alike.  Sounds confusing and overwhelming doesn’t it?  And it can be so my advice is always to work backwards.

Start by identifying the type of shoots you’ll be doing – corporate interviews or beautiful imagery intended to be shown to a music track.  Where will it be shown?  Broadcast? Web? DVD’s?  And how will you edit it? What platform? What editing software? To help guide you with selecting the right camera for the editing software you have or intend to purchase I have come across some great links to compatablity charts. Adobe Premiere and Final Cut This is a great place to start to see if that reasonably priced prosumer camera that outputs AVCHD files will work with the prosumer version of the editing program you have or will you have to purchase the full pro program.  I have seen lots of posts on listservs with people who need help editing files from the camera they just bought and loosing a lot of time in the process, not to mention the frustration they put themselves through.

There’s all kinds of cool cameras coming on the market everyday and lots of people jumping on the bandwagon as seen in the success of the RED and the hybrid Canon 5D II. There’s a lot of great things about both these cameras but before you plunk down the money – ask yourself if it’s the right tool for you.  Unless money is no object, you’ll want to make sure that your investment in a camera will serve your purpose.  There’s a tool for everything.  Here’s another interesting camera that recently debuted.  If you’re an action adventure shooter – it could be the camera for you.

My advice is to make a pros and cons list before you even look at cameras.  That way you won’t be overwhelmed by the tools – but will choose the tool that is the right tool and the “means to your end”.

Colliding Worlds of Print and Video

The cover of Esquire Magazine’s June issue was shot with video! Now that’s convergence. Granted it was shot with THE RED camera, a high end HD video camera that shoots at 4K, but nevertheless it’s a sign of what’s to come.

When Canon and Nikon came out with their first generation of hybrid cameras the divide between stills and motion became much narrower. They still have a way to go to please filmmakers and high end video shooters but it sent a signal to where the camera manufacturers are heading. Some complaints from the Indie filmmakers have been that the camera shoots in 30p instead of the standard 24fps that filmmakers use. More importantly they don’t like the fact that you can’t shoot video in manual mode – only in auto mode. And audio is extremely limiting – but filmmakers capture their audio independently so that is only an issue for someone who shoots documentaries or a news shooter.

But back to THE RED. This is a high end HD camera that can be modified to meet many needs because of it’s an a la carte building process. But for around $25,000 you have a camera that shoots 4K and just 5 years ago, you couldn’t touch a camera like that for under $100,000. Because it’s a camera that you can build on – you can trick it out and easily spend that kind of money, but you don’t have to.

This has certainly changed how commercials are shot as well as some major TV shows. I’ve heard some art directors have taken frame grabs to satisfy their print needs. It’s not just “good enough” anymore – it’s just as good or better than an image from a still 35mm camera. Art directors are now scrolling through mov files to find just the right “moment”.

I remember years ago, 1982 to be exact when Lenny Skutnik dove into the frozen Potomac River to rescue people from the Air Florida crash. The news crews captured the moment on video and that moment won a Pulitzer prize in the still photography category. People questioned whether taking a “moment” from a running video camera was fair play to receive a Pulitzer for a “still image”. At the time, the quality was poor but nevertheless – it captured “the” moment.

And now magazine covers shot with video cameras – wow – what’s next?

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