Pro, Prosumer, Consumer?
Over the past 15 years or so in the field of digital video the separation between professional cameras and editing software and their consumer level equivalents has become somewhat blurred.
These days even with the added category of “prosumer” those differences are becoming less and less.
There remains however one key factor that separates all of these things regardless of brands or other considerations and that factor is codecs.
Amateurs are using the H.264 codec and pro’s are using… well just about anything as long as it is not the H.264 codec!
The reason for this is pretty straightforward.
The H.264 codec (otherwise known as MPEG4 part 10) was developed by the MPEG group as the next stage of development in delivering a codec that provided superior video quality at substantially lower bitrates.
This in turn resulted in far smaller video files being created.
However, and believe me this is a big “however,” the intention for it was always as a distribution codec only.
No part of its development had or still has anything to do with shooting video or editing video.
It was intended as the codec to be used only to create the final video files needed to distribute and play that video.
Of course the camera manufacturers jumped on it immediately because that one factor of smaller video files perfectly aligned with their desire to get video cameras in the hands of amateurs at an affordable price point.
This is not to say you cannot get good looking video from your average consumer camera.
But it is the reason why when you are trying to extensively edit, enhance or manipulate those files your computer starts cranking and wheezing and choking in an alarming manner!
CRAZY EFFECT! Warning… this is trippy
OK, this is pretty straightforward.
It is just a demonstration of using a mirror effect to get a bit if a trippy look to a video.
I have gone through a number of editing software programs and have found at least some kind of equivalent effect available in most of them.
They do differ to some degree depending on how advanced your particular editor is when it comes to control over what you can do with it.
A simple video editor like Filmora offers it as an effect with control over only one parameter but you can still use it.
At the other end of the scale programs like Pinnacle Studio, PowerDirector etc. not only offer more control but also the ability to use key frames to blend in the effect, have it progress and then blend out.
You’ll need to check your particular brand as to what you can do.
The Importance of Camera Movement
One aspect of shooting video that became far more important with the broad introduction of high definition video was that of camera motion.
In the days of standard definition a handheld shot was something you could very often get away with because the camera motion or shake sort of got absorbed into the shots.
Not so with high definition where everything is accentuated and if it is too bad you will have your audience reaching for the air sickness bags!
So the question is why is it so important to have smooth footage?
The basic reason for this is that it is how you and I see the world every day.
If you look around the room where you are now or stand up and take a walk still looking around the room what you are seeing are smooth steady shots on a continuous basis.
If you or I were cameras we would be constantly shooting with either a tripod, a dolly or the most advanced steady -cam rig you have ever seen in your lives!
That’s how we see the world so when we see shots that are handheld and jumpy we find it disturbing.
This of course can be used to great effect… in small doses but generally speaking we prefer the our view of the world to be smooth.
How to Get Cinematic Footage With Your Phone
These are just some quick down and dirty tips for getting a little more out of footage shot on a smart phone.
Most of them are pretty good but the one talking about frame rate probably needs a little clarification.
They recommend shooting 24fps to get a more film like look and that’s pretty much true.
Movie film and even movies shot digitally are shot at that rate.
There are many reasons why this is so but probably the most compelling is that because it has been used for so long, audiences are tuned into it and subconsciously recognize it as how a movie “should look.”
Whether it is the best or not is up for discussion but the bottom line is that there is broad agreement on it.
Just bear in mind that if your are going to shoot in 24fps you should produce your final edit at exactly the same frame rate otherwise you will get a degradation in the way motion is displayed in the video.
PowerDirector – Tips to Manually Synchronize Video and Audio Tracks.
One of the truly great nightmares that can occur in video editing is the discovery that your audio and video are out of sync.
This can happen for a number of reasons which I won’t go into here but regardless of the reason re-syncing the audio is always a pain.
The video below is a pretty good walk-though of some strategies and techniques you can apply to get everything back together again.
Be warned! NONE of them are pleasant or fun to do, this is some very, very tedious work.
Listen with Your Ears: Perfecting Audio
I often blog about the importance of attending to the audio in any video project because without a doubt it is the easiest to get wrong!
And when you do get it wrong it is almost never apparent to the viewer exactly what it is that is wrong.
They just watch your video and get the distinct feeling that something is wrong… just before they zone out or click away.
The most basic approach to audio in a video is just acknowledging to yourself that you have to do something with it to make it work in some way.
One trick I learned a long time ago in dealing with audio was to make the video as best I could and then adjust the audio or add audio elements as best I could to get to a semi-completed project.
Then in the final stages, watch the video all the way through with the sound turned up paying attention to ONLY the audio of the project.
The question you ask yourself throughout is, “Does the audio enhance the video’s ability to hold my attention or does it distract from that experience?”
The key is learning to listen objectively.
Brandon Li TRANSITIONS Tutorial
Whenever possible I try to add at least one or two tutorials each week on the subject of transitions.
You can go back through each week’s Friday Roundup or even do a search on this site for “transitions” and you will come up with a bunch of results.
The reason I do this is because transitioning from one shot to another outside of the usual cuts and fades is easily one of the most important ways pro filmmakers create that pro look.
You can be pretty certain that they never use any kind of pre-packaged transition that came with the software!
So for any of you who have been following along with these types of tutorials this week we have a more advanced one.
It is technical, it is fiddly, it is time consuming it is… well let’s face it, it is pro editing!
Shooting Video – Where To Start? Train Your Eyes!
When you first start out trying to learn some of the basics when it comes to shooting video there are a few subjects that always come up as the things you have to know.
One of those is the subject of composition.
Composition can be approached at a very basic level and can then be taken through the the point of writing a University thesis!
It is a big subject and the theories and rules can seemingly go on forever especially when you consider that amongst all those rules is the rule that says you can break the rules intentionally to create an effect!
However there is one action that nearly all even the most basic texts fail to address.
That action is the ability to look and actually see.
Sounds a bit dumb I know but bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this.
When you walk into your living room every day you think you are seeing the same thing all the time, it’s just your living room right?
This goes to an interesting relationship between your eyes and your brain that is part of the way we as humans process information.
Actually what is happening when you walk into your living room is that you are using your eyes to scan the scene and compare it to previous scans and if nothing is too different then pretty much nothing really registers.
The reality is that you are not actually looking and seeing, you are just scanning and comparing mentally to previous scans.
We tend to do this habitually in our lives in that we are constantly scanning our surroundings looking out for things of interest or danger or whatever.
What we are NOT truly doing is carefully looking and seeing precisely what is there.
So before you even approach the subject of composition you have to learn that looking and seeing are not native actions and that they are activities you need to train yourself to do.
CyberLink PowerDirector 16 – Render Preview Tutorial
If you are engaged in a very effects heavy sequence of editing in PowerDirector and are experiencing lags or even crashes due to maxing out your computer there are some things you can to to ease the strain.
One of those things is to pre-render the resource heavy segment you are working on so that the computer can assign resources else where.
That way you can keep your editing experience smooth and still see what you are doing in hi-res.
PowerDirector – Tips on Split Screen with Adjusted Proportions
Sometime when trying to create a split screen effect you may be presented with the situation where the two or more source videos have been captured with different proportions.
Just slapping them together side by side will look pretty naff but there are a few things you can do to make them match a little better.