Video Novice Needs Advice

inchindown

Active Member
I am a stills photographer, although now retired. With more time available for hobbies, I've decided to have a go in the video arena. I don't really have a general subject area in mind. I have several hobbies and I live in the Scottish Highlands. I'm not that interested in "people" stories. I quite like the area of "how things are done". I'm intersted in birds and butterflies.

The only movie camera I've ever handled was a Bell & Howell clockwork film camera, and that was about 40 years ago. Even then it was only for a module in my professional photography course.

So the new world of digital video is a bit out of my normal comfort zone.

I don't have easy access to shops which sell video equipment due to where I live in the Highlands.

I've already chosen my camera - A Canon Legria HF-G25. Apart from some spare batteries and an external mic, I've not gone overboard with buying accessories yet.

I have some very good tripods from my stills days, but the heads on them seem too stiff and jerky for video work where you might want a smoother pan and tilt movement. So I'll be looking for a good quality tripod head suitable for video work. What is a good video tripod head.

I'm not sure about lighting. The Canon ones seems too expensive for what they are and don't appear to be all that useful in the dark anyway. So some advice is needed on a good light for the G25 which will work both indoors and out.

Any additional advice on accessories will also be much appreciated.

I'm also interested in looking at online tutorials or good books, which might help keep me on the right track. I don't just want to be firehosing the camera everywhere. I think I need some guidance on how to break an idea for a movie into manageable blocks for shooting and then bring them together in an editing package.

A question that has been puzzling me recently is whether you can combine video footage from different cameras into the same movie. I now have 3 cameras which can shoot video. A stiils camera, my phone and now the G25. Does it really matter which camera the footage comes from? I realise there will be quality differences between the cameras, but will I have any problem combining footage from these 3 types of camera?

I've bought Cyberlink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite (PC), but haven't used it yet. I've been playing around in Windows Movie maker and the software that came with the camera. Neither of these seem to be doing it for me. So have I wasted my money on PowerDirector?.

I appreciate that editing package is likely to have much more than I can currently cope with, but I don't intend being a novice for ever. I'm hoping I will be able to develop my skills so I can take full advantage of its features.

So I'm hoping I'll be able to pick up some useful information in this forum which will help me on my way to becoming a fairly good videographer, so thanks in advance for any help you good people might be able to offer.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Hi and Welcome . . . certainly you live somewhere nature is freely available.

Why did you choose the Canon Legria HF-G25, it a very good camcorder but a 10x zoom may limit what you can film.

Normally video tripods have "fluid-heads" this contains some thick grease that make the pan smooth. However, you should look at yr tripods for one with extra bracing as this helps stop "whip" as you apply panning force. Ideally a sturdy tripod will have multiple legs . . . and minimum Pro-style is 2-2-1 (two of the three legs beinig 2-tubed). Look at Benbo for the ability to get close to the ground, for flowers but not panning, etc. but always compare solidity with the best like Manfrotto (prices= Ouch!). Avoid universal ball-heads with funny handles.
+Look at models with a "Bubble" - and Manfrotto have a useful feature where the whole head can be levelled ( ignores uneven ground), & keeps pans "level" - but they aren't cheap.

Never used your Software, sorry, and WLMM was a disaster for me, having too few "features".

Yr Editor determinies what can be mixed, but with Vegas Movie Studio (eg v12 Suite, about £25, Amazon-DYOR) it will practically do Everything - the only issue with multiple cameras is file-numbering - if the numbers are the same life becomes confusing.
On the time-line you can run 3-cameras in parallel (ie filming the same event from different angles - like a Wedding). you can switch, fade between the tracks without doing any "cutting" - so you can change your mind later (or Edit a different version for the Mother-in-Law !).
Because VMS allows track-events you can colour-correct each camera once and all those clips will match each-other - but "correction" is a subject in it itself. Filming a good-quality paint-chart may produce some surprises!

Stills (eg JPEG_) can be mixed with Video, but phones may show up poor quality, having limited settings. With VMS you can zoom-into stills (and movies to a lesser extent) as the file definition will allow this.

For yr chosen software all you can do is watch as many Tutorials as possible, but there will be some "Tips" that apply to all Editors, so I suggest you visit SonyCreative website. VMS is virtually fully-pro software at a Bargain price, with many serious followers on a Budget(and lots of Tutorials - some 20 are built-into the software. Tutorials which won't let you cheat! Ooops!_) - and it doesn't matter what Make the camcorder is used.
Good luck . . . start Editing with short vids maybe a couple of minutes and work yr way through all the Effects; so you know what they do and when (NOT) to use them...
+Don't ignore Audio - it can be 50% of the viewing experience. If you're out and about you will need a large Fluffy to cut out "wind noise" - something I'd expect to be an issue in the wilds. You can make one from fluffy material wrapped round the microphone - but it really needs an air-space for best results. Damaged audio is almost impossible to repair - so don't. To help with this, get some decent closed-back headphones [ minimum AKG's K77=£38.]. . . ones with larger/deep muffs should cut out more ambient noise (I presume Canon Legria HF-G25 has headphone skt.).

Good luck.
 
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inchindown

Active Member
Hi 12Harry,

Many thanks for your reply. You've certainly given me lots to think about.

I chose the G25 because I liked the feature list and couldn't really see the need for a larger zoom range. It did really well in lots of reviews and from samples I saw, it had a really good quality image. If I find it limits me at some point in the future, I may have to consider an additional camera, but for now I think it is capable of enough for my current needs.

I currently have a couple of good quality tripods from my photography days.

I have a heavy duty Uni-Loc tripod with a fluid head. It's a beast of a tripod. so is of limited use. It can be set so the head is close to the ground and the all 3 legs are individually adjustable for length and position. I also have a Manfrotto 055MF3 Carbon Fibre tripod which is pretty rugged and can get fairly low. I would need a new head for this as the one I currently have is a ball head with pistol grip adjustments. Fine for stills photography but not really what is needed for video work. I may be able to use the Uni-Loc head on the Manfrotto if I can find a suitable adaptor, but think I will probably get a new fluid head for it.

I may have a look at the editor you mention. It sounds interesting.

I will certainly start off small. I'm sure it's the best way to learn. I don't want to end up losing interest just because I started off too ambitious.

Once again, thanks for your tips.
 

chrishull3

Well-known Member
Hi 12Harry,

Many thanks for your reply. You've certainly given me lots to think about.

I chose the G25 because I liked the feature list and couldn't really see the need for a larger zoom range. It did really well in lots of reviews and from samples I saw, it had a really good quality image. If I find it limits me at some point in the future, I may have to consider an additional camera, but for now I think it is capable of enough for my current needs.

I currently have a couple of good quality tripods from my photography days.

I have a heavy duty Uni-Loc tripod with a fluid head. It's a beast of a tripod. so is of limited use. It can be set so the head is close to the ground and the all 3 legs are individually adjustable for length and position. I also have a Manfrotto 055MF3 Carbon Fibre tripod which is pretty rugged and can get fairly low. I would need a new head for this as the one I currently have is a ball head with pistol grip adjustments. Fine for stills photography but not really what is needed for video work. I may be able to use the Uni-Loc head on the Manfrotto if I can find a suitable adaptor, but think I will probably get a new fluid head for it.

I may have a look at the editor you mention. It sounds interesting.

I will certainly start off small. I'm sure it's the best way to learn. I don't want to end up losing interest just because I started off too ambitious.

Once again, thanks for your tips.

Hi inchindown good luck with your new cam,i have an XA10 similar in most ways to yours and as you say these cams take brilliant video, the only downer for me is the 10x lens,i do a lot of wildlife and a long lens is realy a must for that type of filming,even with my 2x extender lens screwed on i only get just over 600mm 35mm equivalent,this is why i may in the future change to the new HF-G30 which on top of other improvements has a 20x lens and a pretty well lossless built in 2x extender,with my 2x extender lens even without the built in extender i would get over 1200mm of reach,small chip cams have had long zoom lenses for quite a while,but if you dont need a long lens the 10x will be fine,the good thing with these cams is the ease of use ie manualy focusing if needed and setting aperture and shutter etc,good luck.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
I am also a rural dweller in North Wales and I tend to rely on the internet for supplies. I have a Canon HV20 DV tape unit and a more recent Panasonic HC-V700.
First lighting. For inside look at the range of LCD lights, mine has 126 LCDs. Most come with a holder for a camcorder battery as well as space for 6 AA cells. The holder can easily be converted to operate from a 9v source with bits from Maplins. I use 6 D cells held in the bag I store the light in.
Velbon tripods with fluid heads are a good investment, I have the D-700.

"Deadcats" or fluffy things around the microphone. You need still air around the mic. capsule. I made my own deadcat from a piece of filter foam sold for fish tank filters and a piece of "teddybear" fur from Hobbycraft or a sewing supplier. The foam gives stability and the fur slows the wind inside the unit without affecting the sound.

Re video editors. I use Videostudio Pro X6 from Corel. I used to use Pinnacle Studio but I found it a bit "buggy" and unreliable. VS Pro seems pretty stable. You will need a newish computer with about 5-8 Gb of memory to run hi-end editing suites successfully. Always check toe spec of a new suite to see that the input matches the file type made by the camera you use. The Canon will be fine but I am not sure about the other two. I am a firm believer that a video camera should be used for video and a still camera for stills etc. etc.

Sound is most easily recorded with the video but it is possible to incorporate a recording from another device (I use a Zoom H2) into your final video. Synchronisation is sometimes difficult so I often supply background sound from the second device. Also there are a number of CDs available for sound effects and non-copyright music - all very useful.
 

Bob++

Active Member
Also - while optical zoom is always best, with a good quality image you can zoom much closer in the edit. Don't be tempted to use digital zoom on the cam.
 

Chelters

Active Member
..... but if it has 'intelligent zoom" or similar then don't be afraid to use it :)
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Posts #6+7 - on the Sony CX410 the zoom is 30x Optical but Sony claims 55x using so-called extended zoom . . . .this has been discussed before, but in short it uses the excess pixels in the 8.9Mpx sensor to shift the image area from 2Mp full-frame (~2Mp being HD) to something smaller in proportion to 30/55.
This is NOT so-called digital zoom which would leave you with something like 1Mp and look rather blocky. A 55x zoom is amazing and I've used it live in rugby sports and some of the footage is very fine - the crowd can get boisterous and I had no "pod. all hand-held. I should mention for OP's benefit the lens is "floating" on gimbals and Sony claims this is 13x better than their earlier stabalisers - it would be great to run a comparison. with camcorders attached to the same plank of wood (say) and compare footage running through a village - - -

I was surprised OP went for a 10x zoom as I indicated, since wildlife (as Chelters confirms) really needs something "stronger" - however, I suspect OP maybe is rich-enough to buy a CX410 (Currys now £399-DYOR + I paid a lot more!!! ), and as it won't need the Manfrotto then he can save carrying a heavy tripod (only joking, you need one to remain still - to preserve yr peace of mind, don't you?)

inchindown: - Manfrotto have taken "design" to the limit with that ball-head grip thingy as I may have warned about . . .er, too late --- but you confirm it's NBG for Video. They do some magnificent video Fluid Heads . . . . but they will be costly. I have 221 legs =525 and head 503 - the head has been "repaired" to address the crack fault, but it still fits the bag and the whole is a beast of sorts, although a joy to use, with the levelling-ball set-up.

You've not said what you intend filming, so I'm guessing your finding out as you go along. I agree the Canons mentioned ((This Thread)) have excellent image quality - but there's not "much" you can do when you want a larger image. . . . by the time you've moved, the wildlife has gone home for tea. Terfyn is correct you can Zoon-in during Edit, but it is digital-zoom and the sharpness suffers (beyond 20%) when it's projected on a big screen - so I would only do that for artistic effect while fading the image, that way the audience's brains cannot "see" the degradation - it's all to do with the way our brains create the image we "think" we see.

I don't think your at the non-copyright stage (music) and If you get Movie Studio that comes with quite a few that are usable . . . but IMHO v12 is not as good (for Free Music) as my current v10. ((I had v12 on 30-day trial for a friend)) . . . (NB v10 does not permit -p vids. whereas v11-on does)
Whilst it's a fantastically good Editor, IMHO Movie studio is weak on "Text effects" (I'm used to Compositor/printing techniques, although I dislike the far-too-many fonts we get in Win7) and it's weak in music for the more "serious" videos. However, should you like pop, drums and so on then most of v12's free music will be a sure-winner.
We probably all use Kevin Mcleod's music (free with a Mention) and his paid-for stuff is really good, like it was written for your movie - but it may take a day to find the best title!

.

You can try a 30-day Trial but as I warned it may take somewhat longer to get really familiar. Good idea to make short vids, practicing each feature of Camera and Editor, so you have a good grip of what's possible/ & what's not. Ignore the zoom issue for now, do Tourism visits to a beauty-spot that way you'll use the "wide" end!!!
 
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inchindown

Active Member
Hi 12Harry,

Thank you for those very interesting thoughts.

I don't really know what I want to film yet. I know the limitations of the camera I have bought, in terms of its zoom range, but I am happy to work within those limitations for now. If, at some future point, I find I need a larger zoom range, then I will consider adding another camera to my my bag.

For now, I have enough to do to get used to all the features of the new camera. As I get more familiar with it, I should be able to start shooting in a more controlled and consistent way.

At this stage I don't really want to go overboard with accessories or tripods. I have a good quality Manfrotto tripod and I've ordered an inexpensive Manfrotto 701HDV Professional Mini Fluid Head to use with it. That will be a sufficient combination while I try to work out what I'm doing. I didn't buy the Manfrotto Pistol Grip Ball Head for video use, I bought this years ago for use in my stills work. If I find myself coming up against the limits of this kit, then it may be time to get the old credit card out again. :)

I've ordered Sony Movie Studio HD Platinum Suite v12 so I'll have plenty of time to see what it has to offer.

I also want to use the camera hand held. I drive around the Highlands quite a lot and want to be able to record some of what I see on video. I kind of like the hand held look of a video as long as it isn't too shaky.

I will want to learn how to do a more professional looking video, but only for personal use. I'm not looking to make a masterpiece, I just want to enjoy myself with a new hobby.
 

rogs

Well-known Member
...So I'll be looking for a good quality tripod head suitable for video work. What is a good video tripod head.

I have found my Slik Q504 II to be a very good video tripod. The head on it's own is available at a reasonabe price...see here for example:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000MMSSFA
Should be suitable for use with your existing tripod legs.

A question that has been puzzling me recently is whether you can combine video footage from different cameras into the same movie. I now have 3 cameras which can shoot video. A stills camera, my phone and now the G25. Does it really matter which camera the footage comes from? I realise there will be quality differences between the cameras, but will I have any problem combining footage from these 3 types of camera?

Mixing different types of video footage on the same timeline can be difficult. Some editors handle the problem better than others. You might like to look at EDIUS Neo 3.5 | Grass Valley. The latest version has mixed video formats a key feature. Not sure if you can still get a free 30 day trial of Edius Neo, but you can of its 'big brother' Edius 7... and most of the features are available in the cheaper Neo version.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Making a commitment (Editor) is a start only, now you can concentrate on that one alone . . . use YT tutorials and VAAST (who used to provide a DVD with Movie Studio v10 - but my view is that it was pitched too high and beginners could do with a far simpler intro - but I'm guessing there is no money in this aspect since you will soon consider yourself an "improver"). But run through the many Show-Me-How's as I suspect it could take more than one viewing to make it "second nature"....

It's been suggested elsewhere, but do you have a Film-making club in easy reach? These meet fortnightly/weekly and are a wealth of knowledge, help, etc. and the "contacts" you can make may be more than "interesting" - if you are willing to act as Runner, clapper-boy, boom-operator etc.

However, I think your location is probably yr best asset, either for (2-years on) running informal holiday-break style video courses, and to that end the Zoom is not important . . . . good luck as you stitch together some "tourism" style vids . . . . but then you may find some aspect that you particularly like - like interviewing Golf-Pro's, seeking their "one free tip for their Course" etc." That would be a good basis for a video website, esp if there was paid-content detailing the play for each hole, but you may need to get permission from the owners, so start with a small course and learn the craft (which is where the Film-Making club benefits you)

Good Luck. + let us know how things work out....
 

inchindown

Active Member
I've now done a couple of short videos to try out my new camera. Don't laugh, I'm really new to all this stuff. :)

Having done these, I can already see better ways to have done parts of them and have learned a lot while doing them. Things can only get better from here. :thumbsup:

The first one is of me cutting the hedge in my garden with the camera on a tripod


[ame="http://youtu.be/meysM5W6zAE"]The Hedge Trimmer - YouTube[/ame]



The second one is of a ferry near where I live and is hand held.


[ame="http://youtu.be/uGBhfFlTjq8"]The Cromarty Ferry - YouTube[/ame]
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
Great films - I really liked them! Two comments, the ferry film may have benefitted from a voice over to add detail and (a personal opinion) I feel that "in-shot" reframing zooms detract from the subject. I know its in vogue to wave the camera about and zoom in and out but I feel it does not add to the viewing.
The first film with a fixed camera and you creating all the action was impressive if a little detailed!!
Only my opinion!
 

inchindown

Active Member
Great films - I really liked them! Two comments, the ferry film may have benefitted from a voice over to add detail and (a personal opinion) I feel that "in-shot" reframing zooms detract from the subject. I know its in vogue to wave the camera about and zoom in and out but I feel it does not add to the viewing.
The first film with a fixed camera and you creating all the action was impressive if a little detailed!!
Only my opinion!

Hi Terfyn,

Thanks for the comments.

To be honest, I don't really have a very good voice to use as a voice over for movies.

The ferry video was very much a spontaneous thing. I just turned up not quite knowing what I wanted to do. I just formulated a quick plan in my head as I saw the ferry leaving the other terminal across the firth.

The idea was to try to get it coming in, loading and unloading and then a bit of it leaving again. I also tried to get a few different viewpoints of the action rather than just take everything from the same spot.

I knew as soon as I used the zoom in mid shot it was a mistake. The next time I go to the ferry terminal, I will make a better plan and also stay a bit longer and take shots of more than one docking. I might even get on to the ferry and get some shots while its on the water and coming into dock.

I'll also likely take my tripod with me next time, although I found the G25 quite easy to keep reasonably still during exposure. Not sure how much was me and how much was down to the stabiliser. Only thing against the tripod at the ferry is you have to do most of the shooting on the beach and it takes time to level up on the uneven pebbles.

As for the hedge trimmer, I enjoyed doing that. I made a plan of the shots I wanted to get and then just set up each shot in the plan and used the remote to start filming. I then edited out the bits where I was setting up and created the time line you see in the video.

As I'm inexperienced in this stuff, I don't really know how detailed a video needs to be. In the hedge trimmer, I just broke the task down into a number of steps and then used those steps as my shooting list. I suppose I'll become a bit better at story telling as I gain more experience.

As I'm just getting started, I didn't want to go overboard with effects and the like. In the ferry I just added a intro and and ending and a transition between the scenes. There is nothing added to the hedge trimmer except the music.

The editor I was using is Cyberlink PowerDirector.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
They are pretty good as Terfyn said. The second showing a better Storyline, IMHO - or perhaps hedgecutting reminds too much like I should do mine.
It's a great hobby as you are finding, but my own fix is to use a pole, thereby getting "overhead shots" (although not exclusively). Typically I have a 3 section about5m from a swivel-foot. This would allow an overhead shot of cars on the ramp - the different perspective being particularly appealing.
If you do cut between different Time-of-day shots . . . you need to watch things like sun/shadows - so it's far easier to do it on a bright grey day (ie no obvious clouds as giveaway). Also of course the cars may be different, excepting when the ferry is empty. You can add some Foley from another location for seagulls, seashore waves/shingle etc. Such shots can be done while ignoring the visuals - you only want the audio - later you might like to get a basic Zoom audio recorder (Maplin ~£70)- these record to SDHC card [DYOR].

The hedgecutting film showed (at ~1:00) a leaking fuel container - you need a replacement O-ring there. Also, the film used a lot of jumps . . . it might be better to revisit the footage in a few weeks' (with experience gained) and use fade-transitions as this is easier to watch - Er, IMHO. Some close-ups could be added with advantage, but these can be stills (if they are only on-screen for ~1 second), it can be far easier to get the "correct shot" with a still.

Re.tripod levelling....Pro-models from Manfrotto have a large dia gimball-style leveller which you can operate very quickly - watch the bubble and it's done.
However, these pro tripods are heavy and probably need a golf-trolley to shift easily. Yet a fixed view-point can make a vid look static . . . . to overcome this Pros move the camera even when the subject is static.


Overall it's full steam ahead.... well done.
 
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Terfyn

Well-known Member
Whereas I agree with the need for a tripod, a few points. You cannot get a light tripod and a guaranteed steady shot mainly because light equals flimsy - some light tripods have a hook to hang a weight in order to give stability.
On the other hand, the Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS) will give a much steadier shot - even handheld.

My middle road is a monopod. Mine was from Amazon ( supplier 7DayShop.com). It is lightweight, can be strapped over the shoulder if not needed and provides a very firm platform for the camera. I use mine as a walking pole (a neat little knob covers the screw mount) and as a camera support when required. The pole controls the vertical movement and it is easier than a fluid head to create good pan shots. For telephoto shots, I wrap the strap from the pole around a railing or other fixed object to stop any movement. It is an option to lugging a tripod around when walking. Again "horses for courses", obviously your hedge trimmer video would require a tripod but the ferry video would have benefitted from a monopod.
 

Chelters

Active Member
Just like Terfyn, I also have a monopod in my 'armoury' mainly for holiday use where minimal equipment is my preference. Mine is also from 7dayshop but comes with a metal 'foot' and a cheap plastic head. It stands fully extended about 6 foot tall (useful as I'm 6'6"). I removed the supplied head and fitted a 1/4 thread to which I normally add my old velbon fluid head rather than a ball head. I also use it as a walking pole but just hold the foam grip (with the velbon head still attached) ski style.

I don't actually use the velbon head to pan with, because as Terfyn says you can pan well using the ground spike. Pans can also be achieved by slipping the 'foot' between your belt and trousers and pivoting your hips, with a good stance over 90° is possible and of course you could do a decent PoV shot like this if you turn the cam towards you.

I find the foot useful as you stand on it and coupled with the fluid head it is possible to add movement a bit like a mini crane or slider. Obviously it moves in an arc but the longer the monopod the less visible this is on film. It does take practice though to get a smooth move.

Also useful as a shoulder mount, fully collapsed and flip the head use both hands out front, one through the camera hand strap - It does project behind you so be aware of other people/objects. Whilst it's in this state if you hold both the grip and the 'foot' end again it is possible to add 'slide' or 'crane' movement.

Obvious uses such as getting the camera high above a crowd or down low by holding upside down (flip the video in post)

A monopod like everthing else will need practice (tai-chi lessons ? :) ) but is well worth having IMHO.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
I don't actually use the velbon head to pan with, because as Terfyn says you can pan well using the ground spike. Pans can also be achieved by slipping the 'foot' between your belt and trousers and pivoting your hips, with a good stance over 90° is possible and of course you could do a decent PoV shot like this if you turn the cam towards you.
?


Any chance of a photo?
 

Chelters

Active Member
What of exactly?
Perhaps now thinking about it PoV was the wrong phrase, it's more like being able to film yourself whilst moving. Is that what your asking about?
 

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