Archive for Video Production

Thinking of Upgrading to Final Cut Pro X? Wait!

As I mentioned previously, Final Cut Pro X did not receive the warm reception from editing professionals Apple probably expected. It lacks a lot of features that Final Cut Pro 7 had, in addition to the ability to edit legacy Final Cut Pro files. So the big question is: Should I Upgrade to Final Cut Pro X? Well, I would say for current Final Cut Pro users to wait until they add back the missing Pro features or at the very least, keep the old Final Cut Studio and also install Final  Cut Pro X. With the new version of Final Cut, you can install Final Cut Pro X and during the installation process, it will move the old version of  Final Cut to a folder called “Final Cut Studio” so that you can run both. If you can afford it, you might want to get the new software, just to learn it so that you can be prepared for when it gets straightened out and then continue to edit most projects on Final Cut Studio. If you are a Final Cut Express or iMovie user and are looking into take the next step into more advanced editing this might be a good choice especially for iMovie users, because Final Cut Pro X can import iMovie Projects. Final Cut Express users will like it for the new pro features, as long as they don’t have a need to edit old projects. For those who want to get into editing Final Cut Pro X would be a good way to get started but if you are a current Final Cut user, wait until the pro features are added back but consider buying Final Cut Pro X to learn it and get ready  for when it is all straightened out.

Final Cut X Release Thoughts

Well, it’s finally here, today Apple released Final Cut Pro X and released along with it Motion 5 and Compressor 4. Final Cut Pro X is available in the Mac App Store for $299 while Compressor and Motion are each available for $50. So instead of $1,000 for the total suite as it was previously, you could get the whole thing for $400. However, we lost a few applications from the previous suite. The last version of Final Cut Studio included DVD Studio for DVD authoring, Live Type, which I assume was integrated into Motion, Soundtrack Pro which is probably integrated into the advanced audio editor in Final Cut Pro X and Color which is also integrated into Final Cut Pro X in the new color correction tools. I hope that the three remaining applications still have all the functionality that the former apps had  in addition to the new features. But now, you no longer to switch apps.  If this is the case, which at least I think it is, you really just need to use Final Cut for editing and then, use Motion just to make motion graphics  and then Compressor to prepare it to distribution. This will save a lot of time from switching apps as you had to in previous versions of Final Cut Studio.

Final Cut Pro X along with the other new Final Cut apps is a nice looking upgrade I’m going to wait until I see full reviews before considering upgrading. Although, I must say that the new features like Auto-render and the new advanced media management make this really tempting to get. But for those who couldn’t afford the Final Cut suite previously, it’s much more affordable to get the newest version of Final Cut now that it costs 40% of what it used to. However, for those who are familiar with previous versions of Final Cut, as I am, Final Cut Pro X is completely different so  you will have to re-learn the all-new interface. The one thing that i’m waiting for is to find out whether or not it will work with projects from previous versions, which it should, but I cannot be without them. But it looks like a great new version of Final Cut is here!

New Final Cut Pro Thoughts

On Tuesday, Apple gave a preview of the all new version of Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Pro X. This version was rewritten from  from the ground-up and has a brand new user interface. When I first saw the interface, I have to admit that I was a bit concerned because it looks a lot like the new iMovie that was very unpopular.  But they said this is a professional program for professional editors. The new version has a host of new features starting with the import process. In Final Cut Pro X, you can now stabilize shots, color correct, detect people in shots, detect the types of shots and automatically clean-up audio all as you import your footage, you can also edit as you import. This is going to save a lot of time and will let the editor spend more time being creative and less time fixing footage. The new version of Final Cut also supports playback up to 4K and most importantly Final Cut Pro X renders in the background, so no more waiting to render to playback which is a huge time saver. You can also add keywords to clips or parts of clips to make finding that perfect shot easy to find with a quick search and it prevents audio and video from going out of sync which is another huge nuisance. The timeline also lets you slide clips without colliding with the other clips and they have a built-in inline precision editor to easily ripple and roll the clip’s in and out points. You can also audition clips to non-destructively try a clip in the timeline before adding it and you can merge clips to simply the timeline and make rearranging easier.

This new version makes many processes simpler than they used to be, for example, cleaning up audio used to be a multi-step process and involved sending to Soundtrack Pro and using several tools and equalizing, but now it can be done as you import the clips. I’m sure you still could do it the old way, but this makes it much easier. Like I said when I saw the iMovie-esque interface I was worried that they dumbed Final Cut down for more consumer use, but it has all the power-features the last version did and then some.

Final Cut Pro X will be released in June in the Mac App store $299. They said to stay tuned for the rest of the suite. I hope they release new versions of the rest of the sutie (Soundtrack Pro, Motion, Livetype, DVD Studio and Compressor) I think they will cost less than Final Cut Pro and they will be sold individually and hopefully as a suite also and hopefully for less than the current price of $1,000. Even though I like the Mac App Store a lot, for major software like Final Cut, I still would prefer to have actual media to install from especially if it is still 50 GB of content.  But this new price of $299 for Final Cut Pro gives people access to a great non-linear editor which is all a lot of people need for a lot less without having to drop $1,000 for the whole suite. It also gives them more features than the $199 Final Cut Express the same is true about other consumer and prosumer editing systems, so, people who don’t need Motion and Soundtrack can get a professional video editing program for $300 which is great! There are still a lot of questions about the rest of the suite, upgrading, bundling, education discount and more but I think this is a great new way to edit.

Who Killed the Flip Camera

In short, it was Cisco (owner of Flip since 2009, which I always thought was an odd acquisition for a networking company) but, there is a underlying reason. For Cisco, it was that they wanted to cut costs and focus more on their primary business, which is networking equipment. But why didn’t they try to sell the Flip division? They make great cameras and could be an asset to any camera company. But, a lot has changed since the first Flip camera was released in 2006. In their early days, Flips provided very affordable, eventually high definition cameras that can be taken anywhere. These cameras have been used for anything from home movies to short films. Many people carried these cameras with them wherever they went so they can record video.

Now, five years later, most smartphones have a built-in high definition video camera that has most of the features offered by the Flips. So if someone has a smartphone or another devices with a built-in HD camera like the new iPod touches and iPads,  why buy and  carry another device that has features that are, for the most part, already available in a device that you own. Sure, the dedicated camcorders might have more features and controls but, for those people who just want to shoot home movies, and don’t tweak the settings they don’t need a dedicated camcorder and can stick to the built-in camera in other devices.

For those who are still interested in a camera like the Flip, I recommend the Kodak Zi8 because it shoots great, high-definition video  much like the Flip and it also has two crucial features that the Flip didn’t offer. First, the Zi8 records to SD cards freeing you from the restraint of the device’s built-in memory and allowing you to swap  cards out when one fills-up. The other feature, is a mic input that let’s you record audio from a better quality microphone which is important for people who video blog or who want to make any professional video. Still even with these features, if you want to make really professional video, you are better off with a traditional camcorder. Unless you need the small form-factor or have a limited budget, the traditional camcorder is best for professional video.

Although, it is sad that the Flip cameras are no more, they were more or less a evolutionary step for those who wanted a pocket-sized camcorder before they became standard in smartphones and many other devices. Great things were done with the Flips and they let people shoot video without having to carry around a full camcorder. They still are great cameras and shoot beautiful video which is why they were so popular and why they caused many other camera manufacturers to make their own pocket camcorders.

How to Make A Video Production Board

This video production board is good for tracking video projects and keeping yourself organized. I am going to show you how I made mine.

Supplies:

1 Whiteboard

1 Role of Tape (any color)

1 Permanent Marker

Some sort of hanging device

1. Divide the whiteboard into 10 even sections and mark it

2. Use tape to divide the whiteboard up

3.  Use a permanent marker to label the sections: (you may change them if you want)

Pre-Production

Production

Capture/Naming Clips

Set In and Out Point

Rough Cut

Smooth Cut

Graphics/Effects/Audio

Final Edit

Export/Delivery

Archive

4. Hang it on the wall

AVCHD Workflow for Final Cut Pro

As I mentioned in my previous post AVCHD is a bit of a difficult format although Final Cut Pro makes it easy to use this format, I am going to give you every step you need to use AVCHD efficiently.

  1. Connect Memory Card or Camera to Computer
  2. Copy THE ENTIRE CARD as a backup leave the folder structure completely intact. This is incase you need to recapture footage which can only be done if the card hierarchy needs to remain perfectly intact.
  3. Open Final Cut Pro
  4. Set Scratch Disks to where you want video to be captured to
  5. File —–> Log and Transfer
  6. Select Clip and give name, set in and out point and input other metadata
  7. Click Add Clip to Queue
  8. Repeat for other clips
  9. Edit your video
  10. Copy final project file and scratch files to your archive location if you want to re-edit later

AVCHD What You Need To Know

Most consumer video cameras, including my Canon Vixia HF 100, use the AVCHD codec which is a highly compressed HD codec. This is good because it lets you record more onto your memory cards or other recording media. However, inorder to edit this footage, you must transcode it, which takes time and processor power.  It also will take a lot more space  after being transcoded requiring you to have a good amount of storage as well as backup to make sure your data stays safe. Some editing suites have AVCHD transcoding built-in like Final Cut Pro but if your editing program doesn’t include that, you will have to get a converter program and convert each clip before you can edit them. These usually cost around $50 and unlike programs like Final Cut that have it built-in where it is fairly convenient, it is another step that slows down your workflow. Even with programs that have  built in transcoding like Final Cut you need to keep the memory card hierarchy intact otherwise it won’t work.

In my use, AVCHD works fine because  I have a large external hard drive and  a editing suite that transcodes automatically.  I also don’t use my camera too frequently, but  I could see issues with storage if I do. It shoots high quality video for affordable prices and if  you have or buy a editing suite with AVCHD support, it is not a problem and provides high quality video for a low price.

Video Tips

As promised, here are my list of video tips. Some of the tips might be a bit redundant from the Photo tips article, but they are

  1. Read The Manual- Although it may be time consuming and seem noobish, it will give you the understanding of all the functions of your camera and give you help if you have any questions. Video is more complicated than video making it even more important to read and get better video.  It will help you get a better understanding of how to use the equipment and really get the most out of it.
  2. Use Manual Settings- Most users just use automatic settings which work some of the time and turn out decent video. However, if you really want to get the best possible video (as you should), manual settings are the way to go. Not all cameras have all if any manual controls, most have white balance, exposure while higher-end cameras have many more manual controls. If you spend the time to read the manual and learn how to control the manual settings you really can shoot superior video.
  3. Take Many ShotsYou might think that your first shot was perfect but, re-shoot (assuming you have cooperative talent) and try different settings and angles to be sure you have a perfect picture. Memory cards and hard drives to store the video are cheap, and you can always delete ones that don’t turn out, it’s better than being stuck with a messed-up video.
  4. Don’t rely on Post-Production- Final  Cut and other video editors have become really powerful but you still should work to make sure you start with the highest quality video you possibly can. Editing can only go so far if a video starts out terrible don’t expect it to magically be fixed in post.
  5. Always White Balance- Before shooting your video, be sure to adjust the white balance of the video. This is best done manually by zooming in on pure white to show the camera white white looks like under the lighting conditions. There are also preset settings in most cameras for general lighting like Fluorescent lights, Tungsten lights, and daylight.
  6. Use a Tripod- When you shoot video and you don’t need to run around with a camer, use a tripod. This will keep the video level and steady. It is also very important when zooming in.
  7. Don’t use the Camera Mic- Never use the on-board camera mic for audio, bu a good microphone to get higher quality audio.

Portable Video Production Suite

If you want to start producing your own videos but don’t want to dedicate a whole room to be a studio and want to move around to shoot on location, here is a list of items that will let you produce high quality video with maximum flexibility and minimal expense.
Equipment:
Camera (Multiple cameras if possible)
Recording Media for camera
iPad (Optional)
Myfi (Recommended if shoot location doesn’t have internet access)
Lighting kit
Tripod
Monopod
Folding Dolly
Wireless microphones
MacBook Pro
Second LCD Monitor
Headphones
2 Lavalier Microphones
Shotgun microphone
Handheld Microphone
Boom Microphone
Boom Pole
Backdrop Stand
Muslin Backdrops (Chroma key Green and Various colors)
Software:
Final Cut Studio (Can be substituted with Final Cut Express)
Adobe Creative Suite 4-Production Premium (Photoshop and After Effects)
Boinx TV-Optional

If you want to start producing your own videos but don’t want to dedicate a whole room to be a studio and want to move around to shoot on location, here is a list of items that will let you produce high quality video with maximum flexibility and minimal expense.
Equipment:Camera (Multiple cameras if possible)Recording Media for cameraiPad (Optional)Myfi (Recommended if shoot location doesn’t have internet access) Lighting kitTripodMonopodFolding DollyWireless microphonesMacBook ProSecond LCD MonitorHeadphones2 Lavalier MicrophonesShotgun microphoneHandheld MicrophoneBoom MicrophoneBoom PoleBackdrop StandMuslin Backdrops (Chroma key Green and Various colors)
Software:Final Cut Studio (Can be substituted with Final Cut Express)Adobe Creative Suite 4-Production Premium (Photoshop and After Effects)Boinx TV-Optional

DSLR Cameras for HD Video Production

Until recently, Digital SLR cameras were used by mostly by serious photographers but now, the newest generation of DSLRs have the capability to shoot high definition video! This has been a growing trend and has allowed videographers to buy a DSLR camera instead of a professional or pro-sumer camera, which typically cost much more than a DSLR. Many DSLRs also have a microphone input as well giving you what you need to produce high-quality video. There have also been many accessories DSLRs allowing them to be used more like a video camera including viewfinders, audio adapters, shotgun microphones and much more.

This has become so popular that several television shows have shot full episodes on DSLRS including the last season finale of House which was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II. This allows people to produce high quality video, with lower cost of entry. It produces broadcast quality video at a lower entry prices and allows more people to afford producing high quality video. Although the feel of these cameras feel less natural than the standard camcorder, but with the quality you get for the price, there no denying that DSLR cameras can provide quality video at a great price and can rival camcorders. Personally, if I were looking for a new video camera, I would definitely consider a DSLR.

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