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The Friday Roundup – 4K Video Camera Drops Below $800 So Let the Games Begin!

Prepare for the 4K Marketing Hoopla!

So this will the first of what I predict to be many blurbs on the subject of 4K video.

The reason I say this is that we have reached a point of critical mass regarding 4K video and as a consumer I think you can probably benefit from a little insulation from the marketing tsunami that is about to hit.

You see the first sign that a previously unavailable technology is about to hit the consumer market in the field of video cameras or cameras in general is that the technology in question skims in under the $1000 mark.

The breaking of that barrier usually means that in pretty short order a small war will breakout and the price will soon start dropping.

Once that price point war begins then the marketing departments of the manufacturers in question go into overdrive and before you know it you have been convinced that this new “whatever” technical thingy is something you simply cannot live without.

In other words, you will be condemned to a life of shame and humiliation because you are the one kid on the block without that all singing, all dancing wizzbang (…insert current technical development here…)!

So this week Panasonic announced a new Lumix G7 camera with internal 4K resolution capability at under $800.

Let’s recap.

About three weeks ago the first sub $1000 4K capable cameras were announced and here we are now with the first price cut move taken on the part of Panasonic.

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that Nikon, Canon, Sony and all the rest will be on to this like white on rice in pretty short order.

The one question that remains unasked in all of this is the question that the marketers do not want you to ask and that is, “But do I really need 4K?”

The uncomfortable answer to that question for the marketing departments is absolutely not!

You see the only time you will see any particular advantage to 4K footage is if you display that footage on a very, very large screen.

So when you see YouTube banging on about 4K capability for their service you have to keep in mind that they still haven’t quite worked out how to stream that huge amount of video data fast enough so that you can see it on you little monitor or phone screen.

In fact viewing tests have shown pretty clearly that once you get up to 1080p (the current top end of the high definition scale), it doesn’t matter if you go to 2kK or 4K, the viewer can’t really see much difference.

So in the interests of keeping things a little more balanced I have included a couple of links below.

One is to the Panasonic announcement of the camera itself and one is to an article and some related articles on CNET where they go into exactly what 4K is and what it means.

You will notice that the majority of the information actually relates to the display and distribution of 4K video.

That’s because all of this is mainly about distribution and display of video!

The importance of being able to capture at 4K can only really be of any interest to anyone at the moment if they are intending to display in a way that actually uses that format.

Until such time as that applies to you the current iteration of HD at 1080 will serve you perfectly for years to come and by the time 4K does become relevant the prices will have plummeted.

The other link to ReelSEO gives an excellent overview of the situation especially from an online streaming point of view.

Screen Recording Tips

One of the main reasons why I recommend Techsmith Camtasia as my choice for screen recording software is that it is purpose built for the job.

There are other brands out there that can certainly do the same thing but none of them in my experience can match the quality of output you get with Camtasia.

There are a number of reasons for this but one of them is that Camtasia has built into it compensation for a number of parameters with regards to video that will never match a computer screen.

You see the resolutions and sizes of computer screens do not in any way match the same settings for a video file so at some point conversion is going to be necessary.

How well that conversion goes depends on the settings of the recording in relation to the intended settings of the final video file.

Now if you have some kind of advanced mathematical knowledge and ability maybe this isn’t a problem for you… but for me it’s a nightmare!

The beauty of Camtasia is that all you have to do is tell it what you want to do and it takes care of the rest.

Check out the video in the article linked below for an example of one of their great tutorial videos.

Video Orientation Quick Fix

This is just a quick fix for any videos you may have taken while shooting vertically and now need to get them horizontal because in a project or online they are looking a little weird.

Generally speaking when using a phone or similar to take video you should always try to do it landscape mode (phone sideways) because this will result in a video that most closely resembles widescreen.

Now very often software and even some web services will detect that the scene has been shot in portrait mode and will automatically correct.

However if you need to do it yourself here is a down and dirty method.

Picture-in-Picture Effect

This is a demo from Gripps covering in a little more detail than usual the art of using the picture-in-picture effect in an editing suite.

It is worth noting that the original question he was addressing was from a user who was having difficulty in creating a simple picture in picture effect without losing resolution.

In other words every time she tried to do it the picture kept getting a little blurry.

The reason for this is nearly always that the user is trying to apply the wrong technique to achieve the desired result.

In her case she was applying the “Crop” filter to get a smaller picture so that the other picture she was wanting to show had space.

From the outside this kind of makes sense but in the world of video some things just don’t quite work how you think they would.

If you are trying to do something you have seen done elsewhere and it’s not working out, always check the manual or hit the online forums for an answer.

Microphones

This is a handy little guide put out by the guys at Magix this week running through a few choices for microphones.

One of the first things you will discover when taking your beginning steps with video is that although the pictures look good, the onboard sound on many recording devices can be a disaster!

Freeze Frames and Masks

Another cool video from gripps this week on using the freeze frame feature in VideoStudio to create an effect.

To be honest the Freeze Frame button itself is simply a feature that takes a snapshot of the video frame you are on and creates an image file and inserts it at that point in the video.

In using the freeze frame button you get the option of choosing the length of time you want the frame to freeze for.

It then inserts the image file with the preselected timing already added.

You can actually do this manually by taking a snapshot, cutting the video at the correct point, inserting the image file and then dragging one end to the length of time you want it to appear for.

However the freeze frame button just does it all automatically and ensures that the image is inserted at exactly the correct point.

In the second half of the video, Gripps goes into a short tutorial on using a mask and how to green screen out the background of a video to use as an overlay so you get the effect he shows at the beginning.

A Simple Green Screen Process

One of the things that tends to put a lot of people off using chromakey (green screen) as a technique is the difficulty in getting a good enough live video capture against a screen.

A few weeks ago I posted a link to a rather comprehensive video on the subject and truth be told, it’s not really that easy!

The problem is usually the set up required to get video shot against a green screen that is not just against a green background, but against an almost perfectly lit green background.

Without that, any software is going to have trouble keying out that green if the green is inconsistently green.

Of course the cause of that is incorrect lighting usually so already we are not only into the world of green screen but have somehow gone over to lighting as well.

There is however another way of at least getting into green screen and learning how to use it while still getting some decent results.

If you do a search on the internet for free green screen clips you will find there are some pretty good ones kicking around if you are willing to take the time.

You can use these “pre-shot” videos in your own projects and who who knows what results you may get.

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