Podcasting Made Easy, Part IV: Video

7 Jul

My introduction to video came in 2001 with an early edition of Final Cut.  I had to work on two different computers as the file sizes – at 14 GB – were too large to use on just one Mac.  This was so much better than using two VCR’s to create the high-light tape for our college team.  That’s right, I was at a UC school and we were using two VCR’s to create the high-light tape for our final awards dinner … not any more. This idea stuck with me as I began to incorporate video content into my podcasts – I needed to provide video of good quality to make my episodes interesting to watch.

I did not use Final Cut again for almost ten years.  In the meantime I got pretty good at iMovie.  It was an easy and intuitive movie producing tool, plus, it was a package deal with all of the tools I needed to create a video.  I did not need to know how to layer, write my own transitions, or create animations – iMovie did it for me.  I was able to create a few slide shows, a wedding video and my own wedding video for the rehearsal dinner starring my wife and I. It was easy, fun, and the finished product looked great. I even dabbled with Movie Maker on my PC for a while – another simple and solid app, though with fewer features than iMovie.  It did work great in my classroom.

The first few videos I did for my podcast were iMovie, it’s what I had and what I knew how to use.  However, for long term purposes, I wanted to move towards Final Cut to avoid the “cookie cutter” packaging that my videos had.  I like iMovie, a lot, but for prfessional reasons, Final Cut was the direction I needed to go.

I did not know alot about Final Cut, everything about it had become foreign to me.  I asked for help here and there, check out videos on YouTube (Final Cut King is a good one) to learn the ins and outs of editing.  This part took a long time and a lot of playing for me to figure out, but once I did, the level of effects and manipulations I could add to the film expanded exponentially.  I could manipulate the sound, the picture quality, the frame size, and add my own animations and graphics.  The freedom I gained from escaping iMovie amazed me and opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  Now, I could prodcue a five minute film clip with animations and custom edits in Final Cut just as fast – if not faster – than iMovie.

My initial Mic set-up

With my videos, I had the same issues that I had with my audio recordings, sound quality.  I started with a Shotgun mic, as that is what I could afford.  This mic would sit on top of my camera and collect sound for whatever it was pointed at.  Not bad, but not great  as it would also pick reverberations from the wall as well. So, I switched over over to a wireless microphone.  I picked Sennheiser (the price you see on the site is not what I paid) as I had already played with one, they had a good reputation with a lot of quality reviews.

My wireless set-up

I still had a few issues with audio, such as placing the microphone (you can see me holding ithere or you can hear how I pick up Mike Smith’s watch jingling each time he drops his hands here).  However, again with time and practice, I figured out the best mic level input, sound editing, and how to record in large room formats. This system gave me a lot of freedom as far as location, crowd size, and mobility.

The last piece I am playing with is setting.  I am very conscious of where I am filming and light.  I try not to backlight my subjects as they are hard to see, so no filming near windows as I don’t travel with a light package.  I also try to get a lot of intersting scenery around my people to fill the shot.  I try to avoid empty space – I want the picture to appear enriched with content.  This involves a lot of onsite searching for great scenes as well as the moving of certain props or pictures to better fill out the scene.

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