Category Archives: Videography

Make Good Videos with Your Windows Phone – Part 5

Lumia 620 on GorillaPod

You can make fantastic videos with your Windows smartphone, even with an entry-level phone like my old Lumia 620. The only limiting factor is not your phone, but would be a lack of knowledge and experience.

In a previous post I mentioned books and online courses as a way of gaining knowledge. But they can’t give you experience—you only gain experience by doing, or as author Anthony Artis put it “Shut up and shoot”!

In this post I will discuss a possible roadmap to getting experience.

The Learning Curve
Have you noticed at the end of a movie, the long list of credits? They list the producer, director, script writer, camera, lighting, sound, make up, and on and on. It takes a lot of different skills to make a movie, and you have to know it all! Don’t underestimate the learning curve.

There is a lot to learn, but if tackled right, it will be both fun and rewarding.

As with most of us, your first videos will not be the best, and that is OK because we learn by doing. Just don’t choose your daughter’s wedding as your first project.

The conundrum is that without some knowledge you can’t begin to shoot video, and without some experience you cannot really appreciate the guidance of the book or course you may be following. You need to do both in parallel. Read extensively while constantly shooting and editing videos.

This way you will have the pleasure of seeing your videos improve with time. Aim to complete at least one video per week.

Learning Projects
If you are totally new to videography, you need to start small. For starters you have to become familiar with:

  • Your phone’s camera app
  • Your editing program
  • General videography concepts.

Start by creating several simple projects, even if they are a little artificial/goofy (see PDF on getting started). Edit these on your laptop or desktop at first as that will be easier. Do show your videos to friends and family to get feedback.

Once you have a few of these starter projects under your belt, people will know you are “into video” and will come to you with project requests. You will be surprised at how many project ideas you can come up with now you have more knowledge and experience.

Final Tip
If you haven’t already, download the Kindle app to your phone—it’s free. Here is a list of eBooks about smartphone videography. So while you are waiting for a bus, or sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, whip out your phone and read about videography!

Don’t worry that they deal mostly with iPhone—there is nothing your Windows phone can’t do as well or better:

  • Making Short Films on your Smartphone – Michael Kaltenbrunner
  • Make iPhone Movies Everybody Loves – Allan Bronstein
  • The 2014 Smartphone Video Toolkit – Howard Hale
  • iPhone Millionaire, how to create and sell cutting edge videos – Michael Rosenblum

Making Good Videos with a Windows Phone

Make Good Videos with Your Windows Phone – Part 4

iRig Handheld Mic

Just as undesirable as shaky video, that we discussed in the previous post, is bad audio. Our tolerance for bad audio is quite much lower than for bad video!

By contrast, preventing bad audio is technically more complicated than shaky video.

In this post, I will discuss what bad audio is and what you can do to prevent, or at least minimize it when shooting video with your windows phone.

Bad Audio
There are many aspects to bad audio. The sound may:

  • be distorted
  • contain too much noise, like refrigerator hum and wind or street noise
  • have too much echo
  • have poor frequency response

The main approach is to use a quality microphone and to place it as close to the sound source as possible.

Types of Audio
When you shoot video with your phone, it will include audio, whether good or bad. When you bring the clip into your editing program, the visual portion is placed on a video track and the sound portion on an audio track.
In addition, you can add a narration (also called voice-over) which is recorded separately, usually after the fact and in a quiet environment. You can also include background music and sound effects. These different types of audio are ideally placed on separate audio tracks so that you can adjust their relative volume. Nice background music can help to sweeten poor audio a bit.

Smartphone Limitations
The main difficulty with the built-in microphones is the fact that they are built in. You may want to be some distance from your scene to get a wide shot, but then the mics are also far away. They then tend to pick up ambient sounds as much as the sound you are interested in. Just try and record an interview on a sidewalk next to a busy street—it’s a disaster!

The next problem is that smartphones use automatic gain control (AGC), which is ideal for phone and Skype calls. Lumia phones use special microphones that have high dynamic range which is good. But AGC increases the amplification when the audio is soft, and turns it down when the sound goes loud. This is not the effect one wants when recording music, for example—it is better to have manual control over the recording levels.

When set correctly, the electronics won’t overload thus preventing distortion.

The Headset Jack
Most smartphones have a headset jack. A headset consists of two earpieces (either cups or buds) allowing for stereo sound, as well as a microphone for speech recording. The mic is positioned close to the person’s mouth.

The smartphone checks for the presence of a headset and disables the internal mics when a headset is plugged in. The resistance of a headset mic is about 2000 ohm and that is what the phone checks for.

The headset jack is used for connecting external microphones.

Recording with Internal Mics
If you have no other option, you can use the internal mics when shooting video.

Try and get as close to the source of the sound as possible (less than three feet)—even if you have to get a bit in a person’s face. At least the phone is small and not so off-putting. And you will get, if not good, useable sound. The same applies for recording narration.

Audio-Technica ATR 3350 iS

Recording with External Mics
You can connect many different types of mics using the headset jack including lavalier, shotgun and handheld mics (there are some caveats that we discuss later in this post).

When used appropriately, these will allow you to record good sound.
Make sure you use a TRRS mic (e.g. Rode SmartLav +) or a TRS mic with a suitable adapter cable (e.g. Audio-Technica ATR 3350 iS).

When you have to shoot an interview, you can use the headset’s mic. Simply put the earbuds in your hand and hold the mic part close to the interviewee’s face, where the headset mic would normally go.

The headset mic is also good for recording narration.

The Caveats
The first caveat is that the default video app does not recognize mics or headsets plugged into the headset jack. Fortunately, the excellent ProShot app does and it costs only few dollars.

Note, if you don’t have an external mic or the ProShot app, you can still make excellent videos, you just need to be more careful.

The next caveat is the lack of control over the audio—you are at the mercy of the AGC. You have no idea what the sound is like or if it is even being recorded at all. This is particularly relevant if you are videoing and event like a wedding. If you discover afterwards no sound was recorded or it was bad, well, the event can’t be done over…

An advantage of the ProShot app is that it also displays the audio levels while recording your video.

Zoom H1

Preferred Solution
Rather than relying on your smartphone, I suggest using a separate digital sound recorder like the Zoom H1. It uses professional audio electronics and allows you to monitor and control the audio being recorded.
You can place the recorder close to the sound source, leaving you free to move with your smartphone as needed for the video. The Zoom H1 has its own stereo mics making it good for handheld recording of interviews.

The downside is it takes an extra step to import and synchronize the audio with the video. The extra control and quality sound it gives you makes the extra work worthwhile.

It is also amazingly affordable.

Summary
Capturing good audio is vital to your video success. Unlike with video, your options of fixing audio problems while editing, is limited.

It is better to get it right from the start.


Making Good Videos with a Windows Phone

Make Good Videos with Your Windows Phone – Part 3

Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows 10

Often videos shot with a smartphone are shaky—smartphones are designed in the first place for phoning and not for shooting video.

Fortunately, for this very reason, many smartphone cameras have optical stabilization and that helps a lot to reduce shaky videos. No one likes to watch shaky videos.

In this post, I will look at ways of avoiding shaky videos.

Shooting Handheld
The advantage of a smartphone is that if you are confronted with an interesting event, you can whip out your phone and capture the event on video. How to avoid shaky video? The idea is not to move your smartphone while shooting video.

Make your settings, frame the shot, and then start the video. Hold your smartphone with both hands and elbows tucked against your body.

There will be still be some shakiness at the start and end of the clip. That is OK as this will be cut out during editing.

Now walk/move to the next position where you want to shoot, get settled and start process again.

Shooting handheld does not work that well for me. As a senior, my hands are shaky—doctors politely refer to it as tremors. So, I prefer to use a tripod whenever possible.

Using Tripods
Using a tripod is the best way of getting steady video. The downside is that it is something extra to carry and it takes time to set up.

Traditionally camcorders are attached to the tripods quick release plate with a ¼ inch screw fitting. But smartphones don’t come with a ¼ inch hole so one needs some kind of adaptor. There are many on the market and vary in quality.

Smartphone tripod adaptors

Typically, one end screws onto the tripod’s quick release plate, and then you have some kind of spring-loaded clamp to clip your smartphone into. They come in different sizes depending on the size of your phone.

There are two things to watch out for. In many cases the spring mechanism is not very secure, and it is possible for your expensive smartphone to fall out!

The other problem is that the adaptor can interfere with the smartphone’s buttons. For example, many Lumia phones have three buttons with little space between them.

Lumia phones with three buttons

I have found the Glif adaptor to be narrow enough to fit between the buttons of my phones. It does not have a spring so it is more secure.

The Glif with allan adjustment tool

Mini Tripods
In many cases a mini tripod will do the job nicely—and they are easy to carry along. Because they are small you need to place them on table, a rock, a stack of books to get the height you need.

The Gorillapod is very popular because it is very adjustable.

My favorite is the Manfrotto Pixi. It is very sturdy and works well if you have to shoot handheld too.

The Manfrotto Pixi

The Travel Tripod
Professional tripods are deliberately sturdy so that they can accommodate heavy camcorder with huge lenses. This would be overkill when used with a little smartphone—there is nothing wrong with using it if you already have one, of course.

However, don’t waste your money by buying a cheap tripod! You will certainly be disappointed.

My recommendation is to buy a travel tripod like the Manfrotto Befree with a video head. This tripod folds up really small for easy carrying, yet will allow to get steady video.

Manfrotto Befree with Video Head

Making Good Videos with a Windows Phone

Make Good Videos with Your Windows Phone – Part 2

VideoShop LogoIn the previous post, I stressed that one shoots video footage with your smartphone, but you make good video with your editing program.

In this post, I will discuss the editing process in more detail as it relates to smartphones.

Editing Basics

At its most basic, you would use your editing program to cut out unwanted portions of your video clips, then string them together in the proper sequence, add a title clip at the start, and an end clip (credits) at the end.

Finally, the editing program has to combine all these pieces into a single video in the desired format – this process is referred to as “rendering”.

Advanced Editing

The video clips that you shoot with your smartphone contain both video and audio. This may be enough for a simple project. More often than not you would like to add background music and narration, and even sound effects.

On the video side, you may want to superimpose text over the main video, or some extra video to illustrate what a person is talking about (called b-roll footage).

Clearly advanced editing requires a program that can manage many video and audio tracks.

Computer Resources

Even basic video editing requires considerable computing power. With an underpowered processor, editing actions can take forever to complete! Entry-level phones are simply not up to the task.

Memory (RAM)

While editing, your smartphone has to have the operating system, the editing program and the video you are working, in the memory. This can be quite a challenge for your phone!

For example, my Lumia 830 has only 1GB of memory – it is only possible to do very basic editing on this phone (there is a work around that I will discuss later). By contrast, my Lumia 950 has 3 GB of RAM and a much more powerful processor so it can do basic edits comfortably.

Screen Size

Video editing is a visual activity. The small screen of a smartphone makes it difficult to make edits accurately. This is particularly true if your project requires many video and audio tracks during editing.

The Bottom Line

It is best to bring any video clips shot with your phone, into a desktop computer with a large monitor for editing. If you need to edit on-the-go, use a powerful laptop.

That said, I do encourage you to become familiar with editing on your phone. Then if the need arises, you will be able to do it. On a Windows phone, you can use VideoShop or Movie Maker.

For the desktop, you have many more options. I recommend the Adobe Elements Suite as it is very powerful, yet affordable and easy to learn.

Now the work-around if you need to edit a complex project with a less powerful phone: use an online editor like YouTube Director or WeVideo.com.

You can shoot good video footage with your smartphone, and there are video editing tools to turn your smartphone footage into good videos.


Making Good Videos with a Windows Phone

Make Good Videos with Your Windows Phone

Whether you have a Windows, Android or iOS phone, it does not matter—you can make good videos with them. Smartphones can be used for making videos for both business and pleasure. In fact, full-length feature films have been shot entirely on smartphones.

Olive (shot on a Nokia phone)

In this post, I am going to discuss briefly what it takes to make good videos with your smartphone and how you can start.

Your smartphone is smart enough to make it easy to shoot high definition video footage, point your phone and press record. But that alone does not a good video make. Hence the title of this post, one makes good video—shooting the video footage is only a part of it.

The key

Good lighting and good sound are important, for sure. But the key to good video is having a story. You have to put your video footage together during editing in such a way that it tells an effective story. And you need to know what the story is going to be so that you will know what video footage to shoot.

The bottom line is, yes, your smartphone can cut it but there is a learning curve! The good news is that learning how to make good video with your smartphone is fun and free. Aim to shoot and edit a video each week. In the beginning most will be awful—remember the only way of getting experience is by going out and doing it.

Resources

There are excellent smartphone videography courses online:
• www.lynda.com
www.thevj.com
www.tutsplus.com

A must-read book is How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck by Steve Stockman – available from Amazon.

Whether you need to make promotional videos for your business or shoot your child’s birthday party, knowing how to make good video with your smartphone is a powerful skill to have.


Making Good Videos with a Windows Phone

Are You Entitled?

We have added yet another exciting new course to our Adobe Elements for Small Business series: Make Eye-catching Titles.

Having a good title can make or break the effectiveness of your videos. Fortunately Premiere Elements has powerful, but easy to use tools for making titles.

In this course we show you step by step first the basics of titles, and then we go through three more advanced title styles. Each video is accompanied by extensive notes explaining all the steps and decisions.

Project 3
Example of one of the projects you will create in this course.

Adobe Elements is the perfect suite for small organizations as it is powerful, while yet affordable and easy to use.  You can use Photoshop Elements for most of your graphic needs while Premiere Elements is perfect for promoting your organization through video.

We are actively developing more courses in the Adobe Elements for Small Business series. All the courses use practical, project-based design. Be sure to sign up for our free newsletter so we can keep you up to date with new releases.

Courses available in the series:

 

Click here to view the Make Eye-catching Titles course home page ->

What Is Video Marketing?

After my Video_Cameraprevious post on the importance of video in promoting your organization, I have been asked by several people just what does video marketing mean? What does it translate to in practical terms?

In this post I will describe briefly what video marketing is all about.

Type of Organization

Video marketing has some core components that are common to most organizations. But then there are video aspects that depend on your organization and its objectives. For example, the type of videos that a local DIY store could make, would differ from that of a society trying to prevent the demolition of a heritage building.

The Core Components

I am assuming that you already have a website in place and possibly also a social media presence. Then you would  need the following core video components:

  • Welcome Video (goes on your website home page)
  • About Us Video
  • YouTube Welcome Video
  • YouTube Channel

YouTube As Hub

A good strategy is to consider YouTube as the “hub” of your video promotion strategy. YouTube, as part of Google, is an important search engine. They will host and serve your videos. You also have to assume that people will discover you through a video on YouTube.

Hence you should have a YouTube Channel, properly set up. This will allow people to “subscribe” to your channel. When a visitor first comes to your channel, they will see your “YouTube Welcome Video”. If properly set up, there will be a link on this video to drive people to your website, which is still the core of your online presence.

Ongoing Video Production

In addition to the core video components that you set up in the beginning, you need to produce videos on a regular ongoing basis. This will depend on your type of organization. The DIY store must have 100’s of DIY ideas that could be put in video. The NGO promoting the preservation of a heritage building could do videos on the building’s architecture, history, famous people, interviews, and so on.

Technical Matters

For your video marketing to be effective, they must obviously be well done. Furthermore, you have to consider your branding, keyword optimization and so on. This requires the design of proper intros and outros (end cards) and use of YouTube annotations.

Each video must be uploaded to YouTube in such a way that it is optimized in term of keywords, title and description, with appropriate linking (depends on type of video). Then the video needs to be put on a page or blog post on your website and shared on you social media sites.

Opt-in Marketing

If you have a specific campaign, like promoting a new product or service, you would have an attention getting video on YouTube, that will drive viewers to an opt-in page on your website. There would be another video encouraging people to take action (sign up for your newsletter, buy a product, sign a petition, etc). Some marketers even advocate that this be stretched out to a series of videos promoted by email reminders!

The Cost

It is impossible to give a blanket cost estimate when there are so many factors involved. When determining the cost, one has to look at the amount of work involved, as well as the investment in equipment and software.

To make a one minute video can take about two hours of video shoot time. Add to that upfront time to plan the script, and time after to edit and publish, one is talking about a day.

Once the core components are in place one can speed up the production of ongoing videos quite a bit to the point where you can produce a month’s worth (i.e. 4) of scheduled ongoing videos in a single day.

As a ball-park figure, setting up a basic video marketing program would cost between $600 – $2000, depending on the nature/scope of the program.

Summary

I hope I have been able to put a very big, still-evolving subject into a nutshell. If you would like any more information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Let Video Tell Your Story

fbytUsing video to promote your business, organization or cause is the in-thing. It seems like every day I get an email with even more stunning video statistics similar to:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network

Then they tell us that Facebook is ready to overtake YouTube as the go-to place for online video.

The Implications
What does that mean for small businesses? Basically two things:

  1. You cannot ignore the use of video
  2. Because there are now so much video, your videos will have to be good to stand out in the crowd.

We can help
In the same way we have two solutions to offer:

  1. Let us help you learn video
  2. Let us make the video for you.

Our Training
Make no mistake, the learning curve for making promotional video is steep. At the same time it is a fun skill to have and that you will be able to use in other areas of your life.
With this in mind we have developed a whole series of online how-to courses on video for small business using the free Movie Maker. We are currently developing courses based on the more powerful Adobe Elements suite.  Find out more…

videoshootWe Do It
In spite of our obvious passion for video, we believe it is better for you to focus on your organization, and let us work with you to do the video work. We offer a full service from developing the script with you, to publishing it and putting it on your website.  Find out more…

Summary
Using video to promote your organization is where it is at. It is not a fad, it is the reality. We look forward to working with you no matter which of the two options you choose.

Dot’s Easy

Little DotI was looking into examples of movies shot using a smartphone, when I came across this little gem.

What I found truly amazing was how much work it took! Creativity is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration certainly applies here.

 

Behind the scenes
Professor Fletcher’s invention of the CellScope, which is a Nokia smartphone with a microscope attachment, was the inspiration for a teeny-tiny film created by Sumo Science at Aardman. It stars a 9mm girl called Dot as she struggles through a microscopic world. All the minuscule detail was shot using CellScope technology and a Nokia N8, with its 12 megapixel camera and Carl Zeiss optics

Here’s a little film that takes you behind the scenes at Aardman. It reveals what went in to making the world’s smallest character animated film and how it was shot using a Nokia N8.

What can I say—wow, thanks guys!

For more information about Aardman Animations…

Quite Elemental

Today video plays a key role in the promotion of any organization. With this in mind we have added an exciting new course to our Adobe Elements series which focuses on the more advanced video editing tools of Premiere Elements.

As is our tradition, our courses are project-based. So in this course we show how Dandy Daffodils created a video for their website using Adobe Premiere Elements. This program s has really powerful video editing features and yet is easy to use and affordable which makes it an ideal tool for smaller organizations.

Building on our introductory course, Adobe Elements for Small Business, this new course takes you step-by-step through the process of planning and editing a promotional video.

pe screenPremiere Elements in action – creating a picture in picture (PIP)

You will be harnessing tracks, keyframes, picture in picture (PIP) and animation features of Premiere Elements – giving you the tools you need to tackle the most demanding video for your organization.

Click here to visit the course home page today…