Category Archives: Videography

Adobe Elements for Small Business

Adobe Elements 13 LogosWe have shown in our many online courses that you can do a lot with MS Word and the graphic tools that are included with Windows.

However, if you have found that you often wished you had more graphic power in your projects, then you should consider the Adobe Elements suite.

What is Adobe Elements?
Adobe Elements Suite consists of Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements and the Organizer. The reference to “elements” reflects that these programs contain all the essential elements of the full Photoshop and Premiere—but at a greatly reduced price.

The main advantage for small business, besides the price, is ease of use. Adobe has really succeeded in making everyday graphic tasks easy and fast. And in business, time is valuable.

Both programs have a Quick View where you can do many tasks with a single click.

For more complex projects there is the Guided view, where the program guides you step by step through the specific task—this is particularly handy for those tasks that you don’t do often.

The Expert view gives you access to the more advanced features when you need them.

What is eLive? This view gives you access to Adobe’s online resources Elements website where you can find many tips, inspiration and tutorials. Ideal for when you are hard at work, but feel you need a bit of a break.

If for example, you have a photo taken at the tradeshow, and you want to put it on your website, but it is not so nice. Click on Smart Fix in Photoshop Elements and chances are it can be rescued. Or you have a video of the mayor visiting your booth – but you used your smartphone and it is shaky. Premiere Elements can fix that too with one click.

These are powerful programs but Adobe has made it easier to master them. You don’t have to use all the advanced features all the time, and certainly not in the beginning. The more you use the programs though, your skills will grow progressively. You will still use the Quick and Guided views often, but you will be glad you also have the Expert view when you need it.

Once you start using Adobe Elements, you will certainly fall in love with the program, both for at work and at home.

If you are not sure if you should spend the money, we encourage you to take our free online course, Introduction to Adobe Elements.

In this course we show you have to do many common business tasks and it will give you a feel for both the ease of use and the power of Adobe Elements (see the completed course project below).

The course is fun and free – so what are you waiting for,  click here to go to the course home page…

A Video Family Tree

The Nel Family circa 1912
The Nel Family circa 1912

I was restoring a photo of my mother’s family taken in 1920. I have often looked at the photo over the years. It was only when a friend asked who the people were that I realized the mystery—there was an “uncle” that I did not know who he was!

I immediately emailed my sister but she confessed she also did not know. It shows the importance of capturing memories while one has access to people who know.

A while ago my cousin asked to create a video biography for her. We had a lot of fun doing it as you can see in the short extract below.

In this post I would like to describe a related type of project—the video family tree.

A Video Biography
A video biography captures the life story of one individual. One basically sits together and come up with a script for the video. Then you collect photos and other artifacts from the years gone by. The person then tells his or her story on camera, often referring to the photos and school albums and so on.

A Video Family Tree
By contrast a video family tree tells the story of a whole family. Basically you record a short video vignette by each person on the family tree. The beauty is that these vignettes give one a sense of the personality of each person on the tree.

Technically a video family tree is more complicated to do because there are so many more people involved. And often they live far apart, even in other countries in some cases. But this is more of an organizational difficulty than a technical one. With email and Dropbox most of these difficulties can be easily overcome.

Half the fun of a video family tree project is exactly the getting all the people involved and seeing family again that you might not have seen in years!

The final video is typically put on a DVD (or BlueRay) and you navigate the family tree using the DVD menu. In many cases it is advantageous to also put the video family tree on a website, making it easier for people to access it from anywhere.

Don’t Procrastinate
If the idea of a video family tree appeals to you, don’t delay. Time flies—one often has just a short window of opportunity to pull it off. A month after I had made the video biography of my cousin, she passed away unexpectedly—if we had procrastinated…?

For more details on creating a video family tree, please drop us a line. We would be happy to help you make your video family tree or video biography a reality.

Getting Started With Video

videoingAre you intrigued by video? Maybe you would like to use video in your business, or try your hand a video journalism. But how does one get started?

In this post we will describe our practical approach to learning videography without breaking the bank.

What Is Videography?
Making an effective video is all about telling a story. Your story might be about your company’s new product, or a news event, or an interesting tourist destination. You can use a combination of video clips, still photos, music, narration, and graphics to craft your video story.

So clearly, making a video is a little bit more complex that writing a post for Facebook.

Our Approach
We have put together a series of online courses that use the free Movie Maker software included with Windows.

The courses have been designed to take you step-by-step from the basic concepts through to the more advanced techniques for making your videos look professional.

We have also included several projects where you learn to apply the basic concepts in real-life applications.

Basic Concepts:

Real-life Projects:

A Caveat
Do we give the impression that videography is fun? We certainly do! That’s why we made this series of courses. Are suggesting that every business should make their own videos? Not necessarily. If you try it and find it is your thing, great!

However, making video is time consuming and the learning curve is steep. Outsourcing your business video to a professional is reasonable. But having an understanding of the video process will make your collaboration with a professional videographer more effective.

Whether for business, as a hobby or starting a new career, our video courses will get you started in a fun and affordable way.
So do check us out today!

PowerPoint vs Movie Maker

ppvsmmYou can save a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation as a video. And you know PowerPoint well. Does that make Movie Maker unnecessary?

Not so! They each have their strengths.

In this post I will make the case for using PowerPoint and Movie Maker together.

PowerPoint has powerful text formatting tools. And you can animate everything on a slide. But its video editing capabilities are non-existent.

On the other hand, Movie Maker is not good with text but it excels at editing video. In particular it allows you to add separate narration and background music tracks.

A Good Approach
So a good approach is create your text-heavy presentation in PowerPoint, complete with lovely text formatting and animations. Then you save the presentation as a video.

Finally you open the video in Movie Maker and add the narration and music, and save it for uploading to YouTube. We show an example of this approach in the video below.

Yes, you could have made the video entirely in eithrtPowerPoint or in Movie Maker. But we believe using them together in this way is a simpler approach that builds on the strengths of each program.

For more how to videos, be sure to visit our online training site for more on using Movie Maker for small businesses:



Backpack Video Journalism

A BackpackJust what is backpack video journalism (BVJ) and why should I be writing about it? BVJ is a relatively new subset of video journalism.

This post will explore how BVJ can apply to senior citizens.

Video Journalism
Traditionally a journalist would write about a news item and it would be published in a newspaper.

Then with the advent of TV, the journalist would write a story, usually read by the news anchor, and then supplemented with a video clip of some kind.

We have all seen the images of the journalist, microphone in hand, interviewing a person on scene. Next to her is the camera person. with the monster of a camera on his shoulder, shooting the video.

This is still how much video journalism is conducted. These days the video has increasingly become the main feature of the story, rather than just a supplement.

Backpack Video Journalist
Enter BVJ. This is a journalist who does everything. He or she writes the script, does the video shoot and interviews, and finally does the editing and uploading of the video.

Because video equipment has become lighter and cheaper, it is now possible to pack everything you need (smartphone, accessories, tablet computer) in a backpack, hence the term.

BVJ and Seniors
Because the equipment has become lightweight and more affordable,  it also means that a senior citizen is quite capable of grabbing the backpack and go and capture the story! And for the most part we have time on our hands. That is the first part of the equation.

The second part relates to identifying the story that needs to be told. In our everyday lives, we see, experience and discuss things most young journalists would know nothing about. So potentially the senior BVJ can make an important contribution to news gathering because of our unique perspective.

We are after all a growing demographic with disposable income (tongue in cheek) that advertisers like.

Backpack video journalism is a very real, exciting possibility for retired seniors. Yes, there is a learning curve but we are just old, not unintelligent. We are quite capable of learning all the ins and outs of BVJ—just don’t rush us, we like to take our time.

If you think this is something you could be interested in, please do let me know.
Video Journalism
Backpack Journalism

Essential Videos for Your Organization

videos-your-small-business-must-have-660x369[1]My attention was drawn to a recent excellent article in Small Business Trends stating that there were three types of video each small businesses should have.

What caught my interest was not so much the valid points made but rather the very humorous image (shown on the right) that went with the article.

The Videos Needed
Basically the article stressed again the effectiveness of video for promoting a business or organization. Specifically they recommend the following three video types:

  • organization overview
  • product/service demo
  • customer testimonial

Potential Problem
Granted, the focus of the article is the need for the videos and not how to make them. However, in the introduction they state “You can use your smartphone to do a simple video…” and the photo shows several people shooting video, while holding the smartphone incorrectly with money falling from the sky.

Humorous perhaps, but it can leave the impression that making these videos with your smartphone is easy.

Yes, you can shoot these videos with a smartphone, but no, it is not easy. If not done well, the videos will detract from, rather than enhance your organization’s image.

Points to Consider
The following points should be kept in mind when making these videos:

  • importance of your brand/image
  • consistency
  • proper storyboard/structure
  • professional look is important

Yes, these three videos will help promote your organization or business. And yes, you could potentially do it yourself using a smartphone.

If you want to know more, we have several online courses on how to shoot video for small organizations on our training website  In particular if you are considering using your smartphone, look at the course Shooting With Your Smartphone.

Droning On

droneDrones, or unmanned air vehicles (UAV) have become quite affordable. So many companies have found them useful for aerial videography.

Commercially they are used by realtors for example. They are used for weddings, in sports, nature conservation, and much more.

Certainly the police and other security groups have found them very useful and they have certainly saved lives.

Click here for examples of videos made using a drone.

Drones are dangerous
However, drones are potentially dangerous. They could cause serious injury or damage should they crash. Typically such a crash is unexpected, so a car driver might swerve instinctively and cause a secondary accident.

With this in mind, you need to be sure that your insurance will cover you, both for the loss of your drone and 3rd party claims.

There have been several near misses reported by airline pilots coming in to land. So you should never use a drone in the vicinity of an airfield.

How to use a drone safely
In Canada the use of drones is regulated by Transport Canada. Fortunately they allow you to use small drones without special permission.

For drones over 25kg you need a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

For more information on drone safety be sure to visit their website.

Go for it
You can buy a small drone for a few hundred dollars. So why not treat yourself and get to know this exciting new field of videography? There is a learning curve (see this CNN article). At this point the field is wide open.

Sound Reasons

A HAAC Microphone
A HAAC Microphone

When I bought my Lumia 620 I discovered that although it was a budget phone it had HAAC microphones and rich sound recording. I had absolutely no idea what that meant but it sounded good…

In this post I will discuss the audio technology of Lumia phones and why it is another sound reason to consider a Lumia phone.

The HAAC Microphone
Traditional microphones start distorting the sound when the level or amplitude becomes too loud. Nokia developed the patented HAAC (high amplitude audio capture) microphone. Basically there are two channels for the sound, one for regular sound levels, and one for very loud levels.

The software in the phone combines the channels intelligently. The result is that the phone is able to capture a very wide range of sound levels without distortion. (Links to a more technical description is given at the end of the post).

Rich Sound Recording
Sounds are captured and processed using 32bit software algorithms – that is high performance! This allows the software to improve the quality of the sound by providing wind noise reduction, microphone self-noise reduction, microphone equalizers (to fit product acoustics to frequency response requirements), camera autofocus noise reduction and automatic gain control.

On basic phones, like my Lumia 620, there are two microphones, one at the top and one at the bottom edge of the phone (or left and right edges when holding the phone horizontally).

When speaking on the phone, the lower microphone picks up your voice, while the top microphone captures ambient sound (mostly noise). The software uses the sound from the top mic to subtract the noise from your voice signal.

When capturing video, rich recording kicks in in a different way. Your phone is now held horizontally (or should be). The two microphones are now used to capture rich stereoscopic sound.

Once the sound from the two microphones have been cleaned up, they are combined with the information from the video camera into an mpeg container file (.mp4) and stored on your phone.

The diagram below shows the various components involved in rich sound recording.


Multiple Microphones
HAAC microphones are inherently omnidirectional which means it picks up sound equally from all directions. When you are videotaping a performance or a person speaking at a podium, you would ideally want the microphones to be directional, i.e. recording what you are interested in, and ignoring all other sounds. This is illustrated in the diagram below:

directional recording

The more expensive Lumias (not my 620 I am afraid) have four microphones: two facing in the direction of the camera and two on the back. This allows the software algorithms to filter out the unwanted sounds from behind the person shooting the video, thus giving one excellent directional recording ability.

The Lumia 830, which is the phone I covet, has only one microphone at the back so the directional effect is not as perfect as on the 930 but it is still pretty good and gives excellent surround sound recordings for your videos. This I think is a reasonable compromise for an “affordable flagship” phone.

If you are technically inclined you can view these Nokia white papers.

In the next post I will discuss how to use the audio side of your phone in your business.

Types of Video for Business

Shoot with SmartphoneI often get asked if a business or organization should get into video. And if so, what type of video should the get.

Is it necessary to have video?
It is not essential to have video to promote your organization – there are many successful businesses who do not have any video.

That said, video will definitely enhance your Internet presence and your ranking on search engines. As it is relatively easy and inexpensive to add a video to your website, there is no reason not to make use of it.

Videos are typically hosted on a service like YouTube or Vimeo and then embedded in a page on your website. So you get double search engine exposure as it were. So whether someone searches on YouTube or Google, in both cases you will be found.

The About Us Video
Just how much and what type of video is right for your organization?

It depends on the nature of your organization. It is a good idea to start small, to get your feet wet as  it were. A good starting point is to add a video on your website’s About Us page. After the home page, the about us page is typically the page people turn to next. This About Us video should tell the viewer who is behind the website. It can be quite personal in nature. People are more interested in getting a sense of who you are than whether you have made a glitzy video production.

There is quite a learning curve involved in making a good video. So if you are only going to make the one About Us video, it is better get an expert to do it for you.

Another easy addition to your website, somewhat related to the About Us video, is testimonial videos. These are easy to do as no one expects the client to be a professional actor.

Multiple Video Scenarios
For many organizations it makes sense to create several videos. Here are some examples:

  • You might have a yoga school for example. Then you could add regular yoga lessons on your website. This could be a lucrative extra income stream for you.
  • A realtor could post videos for each of his or her listings.
  • If your website is about nutrition, you could add videos about how to prepare specific dishes.
  • If you manufacture or sell products that are complicated to use, then how-to videos will be very helpful for your clients.
  • Not for profits can create video public service announcements.
  • Authors can create video book trailers for each of their books.
  • Project-specific videos are a great way to announce and promote an upcoming event or project.

Clearly the list is almost endless. If you see multiple videos in your organization’s future then it is worth tackling the learning curve. Even if you still subcontract the work out, it is good to be knowledgeable about the process.

The Online Business Case
If you have an online business that sells products or services, then video is even more important.

Having a mailing list on your website is a key marketing tool for most online businesses. In addition to the about us video and all the other types we have mentioned above, you need to create videos that will encourage people to sign up on your mailing list.

Considering that people might find you on YouTube first, you need to have a video there with an action line encouraging them to go to your website. Then on your site, you need to have a video as part of your landing page that showcases what people will get if they sign up on your mailing list.

Once they sign up, you can add another video on the confirmation page, thanking them and possible even offerings some upsell opportunity.

Doing it yourself
If you are a small organization, or if you are just tickled by the idea of creating videos, then you can certainly do it.

You can start simple with your smartphone, and free video editing software that came with your computer.

There is some merit in getting someone with experience to help you with the first video at least.

On our training website ( we have several videos showing you how to go about it. Feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Why Choose the Lumia 830?

The Lumia 830There have been several blog posts and reviews on the Lumia 830 stating that it was too expensive! As if they really know what went into the design of the 830!

As a result I have also been asked why I covet this phone. I will try and explain…

Slow Processor

A big argument raised by the naysayers is that the processor in the 830 is the same as in the lower cost 730 and now even the 530.  Therefore it should be priced closer to those phones.

While that is true that the processor is the same, it is in fact quite adequate for what is needed in a phone. I have been using a Lumia 620 which has a much slower, older processor and it works just fine! By comparison the 830’s quad core processor is a quantum step up for me. So really it is not an argument. The processor does not determine the price.

However, the Lumia 830 comes 16GB of memory which is important for performance. It also has a MicroSD memory card slot for extra storage and of course there is OneDrive.

Size Factor

Stylus My first mobile flip phone from Telus had a small green screen and I had a hard time reading the phone numbers on it.

Then I replaced it with the Lumia 620 whose screen is amazingly clear and bright – what a relief! But at just over three and a half inches it is still on the small side. Reading is no problem and one can always zoom in if needed. However, typing with my fat fingers turned out to be a problem. This I solved using a stylus – that was a great discovery.

Much has been written about smartphone size. Once the size becomes too big it is called a phablet – a cross between a phone and a tablet, which is easy to read but awkward to lug around. It seems that 5 inches is the optimum or so called sweet spot in screen size. That is another reason for me with challenged eyesight to consider the 830.

The bigger size of the 830 allows for a larger battery to be used in the phone – a definite plus when one uses the phone all day.

Making a larger phone strong enough is a challenge that has been elegantly solved in the 830. It uses a tough metal frame for strength, but still maintains the modern European design style that Lumia phones are known for.

Productivity Centre

Microsoft Screen Sharing For Lumia Phones – HD-10The Lumia phones have all the business and entertainment apps that I need. The Lumia 620 now goes with me wherever I go. The apps are intuitive because they are Windows-based.

The 830 has the same suite of productivity apps, with the latest operating system, and includes wireless charging and large screen projection – productivity features that are important for when one is on the go a lot.

The Deal Maker – OIS

830-camera-componentsFor me it is the optical stabilization that makes the difference. You see, I am approaching my 70th birthday and I am no longer as steady as I used to be.

Nokia first introduced optical image stabilization (OIS) in the Lumia 920. With OIS the camera detects shaky movements common in handheld devices and corrects for that.

In low light situations in particular, when the lens is kept open longer to allow more light to come into the sensor, the image is then even more sensitive to camera movement. Then OIS really helps.

Basically gyroscopic-type sensors detect the movement of the camera. The electronics then reposition the lens by using rapid-acting actuators (also called motors). This is illustrated in the Lumia 920 video below.

What is truly amazing is that the Lumia team together with Zeiss have been able to build all that into a phone as slim as the 830 – and for that price. No wonder it is billed as an affordable flagship smartphone! Kudos to them!


Even without the Zeiss camera with OIS, the 830 is an excellent, classy handheld computer that can also phone and do texting and with the included software is worth the price.

Add to that the magnificent camera and you have an affordable flagship.