Monday, January 4, 2010

Video Recipe Learnings

While working on the kibe video recipe over the past two months I developed a list of learnings that will guide my future video projects. These include design and production insights that range from tactical to conceptual. Some of these learnings are specific to video recipe projects while others are more general in nature. Many of these seem obvious in retrospect.

Here I will also briefly share my experience working in Final Cut. This was my first time editing video using this powerful application (in the two video projects from this past semester I took a co-pilot seat during the editing phase). There was definitely a steep learning curve compared to simpler editing applications such as iMovie.

During Comm Lab class this past semester we covered a lot of strategies and approaches for planning video and animation projects. However, I did not apply any of these strategies to my work on this video because I decided to take on this project in a last-minute moment of inspiration. Anyways, the following activities would have greatly helped:

  • Write down the recipe before hand to serve as a basis for development of a storyboard and shot list. Make sure to identify whether different shots are needed of the same scene, and to consider still picture requirements as well.
  • Use storyboard and shot list to identify the shots where the presenter will be speaking on camera. Plan for these shots by writing a script or at least key points that should be mentioned.
  • Make a requirements list of all equipment that will be needed for the shoot based on the storyboard and shot list. Don’t forget to include power and connection cords, tripods, and other secondary elements.

Explore content and presentation ideas that make the final video more compelling and/or effective. There is no easy recipe for improvement in this area because the strategies required will vary considerably depending on the objective and audience of any given project.

Some obvious areas of exploration that I will consider for future projects include: addition of music or other types of sound effects; use of animation and other visual strategies (such as stop motion); and leveraging existing content that can be mashed-up.

From a production standpoint, there are many things that I can do to improve the quality and efficiency of my work. First off, better planning would definitely have improved the production of my kibe video. Here is a list of many specific tactical considerations for me keep in mind:

First and foremost, I need to remember the importance of having control over the environment for the type of shoot that I was doing for the kibe video (in other instances lacking control may be more beneficial). Specifically I need to minimize my talking during the recording, unless it is planned beforehand. For example, I took a lot of shots that I was not able to use because of my talking on camera. I need to ensure that there will be no background movement during the shoot. Background music can also pose problems if I plan on using sound recorded during the shoot for in the final video.

Having the right equipment is key to controlling the environment. For example, proper lighting is very important to ensure that the colors come across well. Microphones are necessary to capture high-quality audio from the shoot. Using the same camera with the proper settings ensures that all shots have a consistent look, and help save rendering time during the editing process. One specific setting that I forgot to set properly in the kibe video was the auto-focus (which should have been turned off).

One last production consideration is the importance of writing down copy for the voiceover before starting to record. I wrote down this rule after it took me 15 takes to record a 5 second voiceover. That is not to say that the copy needs to be written down verbatim (this depends on the experience and comfort level of the host).

Final Cut
My initial sessions using Final Cut were highly frustrating. I was not used to the long delays required for rendering files and I had no familiarity with the shortcuts, which are crucial to working effectively in this environment. That said, after a good bit a patience (and 4 to 5 hours of practice) I started to enjoy working with Final Cut.

Final Cut is ideal for complex video projects where there are multiple camera angles used to capture the same action. It enables you to easily switch between camera angles once you’ve got the cameras synched. This was an important requirement for this project.

Final Cut has a great selection of shortcuts that enables the user to quickly switch between different tools from the palette, and to perform common tasks such as adding in and out points for any given video. Once you learn the shortcuts the editing process speeds up considerably. Another capability that makes the editing process much more efficient is the ability to cut and paste effects and other type of levels (e.g. opacity, size, keyframes, etc) from one clip to another.

The most complex parts of Final Cut, which were the most frustrating to deal with, include the system settings (such as scratch disk, etc) and project settings (such as frame rate, frame size, and pixel aspect ratio). I’m sure these will become easier to manage once I have a few projects under my belt.

1 comment:

John said...

nice information sharing thanks for that.
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