Like, anti-red-eye tips, sort of.
July 31, 2008 8:01 PM   Subscribe

What can I do to produce fairly high-quality videos for podcasts with basic equipment and a modicum of skill?

I am a project manager in charge of overseeing the production of short (10-minute) videos by a stable of consultants, and I need to figure out how to (and how to help them) shoot videos of fairly good quality with basic equipment and little prior skill. (I have about $250 to spend on a new digital camera/video camera, so recommendations for that are welcome, too.)

The videos I need to shoot are just talking heads. How can I ensure that I make fairly good ones? I also need to provide a style guide to assist people in shooting their own--how can I translate tips and tricks into a written guide when I won't be present to assist?

Idiot-proof tips and tricks would be appreciated.
posted by liketitanic to Technology (1 answer total)
Ok, let's start with the basics.

For $250 you're not going to get the world's best camcorder so make sure it has firewire output so you can go digitally and get it into your computer easily.

Next, zoom in tight. What works for TV doesn't work for podcasts. Imagine a 3" screen. You want to see the faces of the people, so don't leave a lot of background. Mostly head and shoulders. While this is my link, it may help you: a videocast interview from last weekend

One thing I wish I'd had for that interview was a tripod but as we were at San Diego Comic Con we didn't have that luxury. However we had a VERY expensive camera. On a $250 camera you will have no image stabilization. So here's what you do: get a tripod. Put camera on tripod. Don't move camera. Period. If you must move the camera, understand that the movement will be nausea-inducing and you will need to cut that.

So you will need to train the interviewees as well, train them to not speak until the camera is pointed on them and steady (again, if it's multiple interviewees...if it's just one, point and shoot)

The key is all in good editing. Get yourself a Mac with iMovie 05 (not this cruddy 08). 08 will work, actually, but if you want to layer in music, etc. 05 is the way to go. Apple still offers it as a free download.

If you're using a PC, Roxio has some good video editing stuff as part of their Easy Media Creator suite. But iMovie is free for Mac iLife users, Roxio costs. Don't fool yourself into thinking Windows Movie Maker is suitable for ANY professional product.

As for guides for other people? Simple tricks above, pass them on. But the key is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. You can't have $250 and a few tips and expect to shoot like a pro; I have formal education in television and news, and I have been working on it for over a decade, and I'm still learning new things.

I suppose most important would be to set your clients' or bosses' expectations for what can be done with a $250 camera...
posted by arniec at 6:20 AM on August 1, 2008

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