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Instagram’s New 4.1 Update – Now Post & Filter Videos from Your Library

Hey Girl Saved Instagram Videos

‘gram…

You really got me, now…

You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’…

As much as I’ve been a total “Vine-was-first” snob, this last update that Instagram snuck on us like genius ninjas is…not exactly genius but then yeah, kinda, because they just delivered what everyone was asking for in Vine. And I kinda hate how that’s still often a hard action for companies to nail.

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Basic Audio Tips for Video Production

Audio.

Ugh.

Audio is my Achilles Heel. The exhaust port on my Death Star. My Kryptonite, the source of my utter undoing…

As of right now I just freaking hate audio. I’m bad at it and it takes a lot of thought and unfortunately, it’s one of the most crucial parts of my LASS.

However, like any other Great White Whale, you can devour the beast–one bite at a time.

So get your fork.

Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein

Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein PWNS that whale

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The Cheap-Ass Mic Is Dead. Long Live Dank Mics.

As someone who knows full well “you get what you pay for,” I have still learned a lesson, today…

Mmyep. Thats still legit.

This is just a quick update to lament. A sad eulogy for my little goldfish of an accessory. A quiet swan song for my common sense.

It seems that my $30 lavalier mic that I could clip on someone’s shirt and plug straight into my camera with 30′ of roaming space in between….

Has died.

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Basic Lighting Hacks for Simple Video at Work or Home

Let there be light in your video

No, really. Are you producing a video about funny things girls do or about to get murdered? There’s no warning music so I can’t really tell…

Anyway, lighting is an important part of making videos and here are a few tips to get you started!

Filming outdoors

You just can’t ever beat natural light.

It’s just so…

Natural Light video and cheap beer

Golden…

Refreshing…

Accessible…

and…inexpensive!

Keep it real with sunshine outdoors as much as you can.

Oh, avoid direct sunlight if your subject has eyes, though…no one likes a squinter.

Fry not sure if meme

I mean, unless they’re a ginger, of course. /cough

AND, handy tip, it’s even BETTER for your video when the sky is overcast.  This provides natural diffusion so you don’t have to worry about super harsh light and shadows and squinting! But if it’s just an incredibly glorious, sunny day and you can’t resist picking up that camera, just put some sunglasses on your subjects.

Fry in Sunglasses

Seems legit.

Filming indoors

Try to find a window to get that natural glow!

If it’s super sunny while you’re indoors, you can make your own “cloudiness” with some DIY diffusion – try throwing a white sheet up over a your window!

But what if you want to film at night?

Inside?

Under a rock in a dungeon 20,000 leagues under the sea??!!?!

Okay, now is where things get real. Indoor lights can do pretty gross things to video as they cast their spectrum colors on your subjects in weird ways. Incandescent lights, like your traditional lightbulb, make things very orangey-red and fluorescent lights like office lights and CFL lightbulbs can make things seem blue.

If you’re shooting indoors, first and foremost, just try your best to make sure the kinds of lights you are using are the same. If you are at home and your overhead lights are incandescent, use incandescent light to fill. If you’re at an office and the overhead lights are fluorescent, use a CFL bulb in a lamp or similar to fill.

What’s a “fill?” Oh, yeah. About that. Okay, when working indoors using a technique called “3-point lighting” will save you a lot of grief. You basically just take 3 lights from the same spectrum and arrange them around your subject in a way that lights them from their left & right in front and then a light in back separates from their background and eliminates any shadows like this:

3-point lighting

It’s a simple concept but it DOES take a while to set up each time so make sure to accomodate for that if you’re building a makeshift little set inside!

For 102-level video production techniques, white balancing is also most helpful in these situations. The colors cast by these kind of lights can basically be neutralized by custom setting your camera – though smartphones are still not capable of this as far as I’m aware – to calibrate to “true white.” You can read more about light temperature and white balancing on Locker Gnome!

Now…what about if you’e on the go and want to shoot video outside in the dark?

Well first, bring a really big gun, because that’s when the zombies come out. So…watch out for that.

But next, either get a friend to use a flashlight app on their phone to light your subject or choose an app that has video flash. “Flash” for video on your phone is a light that is continually on that makes it way easier to negotiate your shot than Ye Olde snap flash in still photography! Beware the grain though, video shot on simple equipment in low light will have crappier image quality than a well-lit situation.

And finally, here are just a few things to avoid when lighting your basic videos:

  • Very angular lights that cast shadows…unless you’re trying to make it look like an interrogation. Then that’s okay, whatever it takes to get the perp to talk!
  • Watch out for backlighting…unless you want to protect the identity of the speaker. Make sure you auto-tune their voice too for total obscurity.

Kind of like this:

Do the best you can until you know better. Maya AngelouReally though, the most important thing you can do is make sure you have some light. ANY. Light. We used to make due with crappy office lighting and a good white balance all the time. With Young & Free the stakes weren’t super high to have mind-numbingly professional productions on my weekly videos and depending on what you’re doing you can get away with that. But we certainly want to try to do better.

MY next step is to not be so afraid of my light kit. 3-point lighting with a kit can take a while to set up right and since I was usually flying by my ass when I filming & working with my kindly co-worker volunteers I tended to put it aside.

But no longer, my friends. Now that I’m so corporate and stuff, this is the big time…

So now that you’re all hyper-aware of light and seeing shadows and colors all around you, what are you going to shoot next? Leave a comment or get at me on Facebook and Twitter!

For those about to [REC.], we salute you!

How to Shoot Video Well with Stuff You Already Have

Did you know that our cell phones are now more computationally powerful than the entire computational power of NASA around 1969?

Or that the video camera on your smartphone is more advanced than any professional camera Alfred Hitchcock ever used to shoot his award-winning films?

It’s true, the technology we carry around in our pocket is more than sufficient to get us started on crazy new things like video production so if you’re ready, you can compensate for some of the shortcomings we still experience by just knowing how to maximize what you already have!

Start where you are quote Arthur Ashe

I started with a consumer level video camera (check out my gear!) and an iPhone to shoot video. I whined about each of them at first until I realized I wasn’t even juicing them for all that they could give me!

My little Canon Vixia HF M300 actually let me record in HD, set a custom white balance and had great image stabilization and my iPhone got me through a tough spot with a shoot for my mentor—albeit, not particularly gracefully…

Oh god. Okay, let’s go there. Here’s one of my favorites from that shoot:

I say “favorite” loosely because I was SO mad at myself for this. I managed to actually do what I have nightmares about…leave for a video shoot and NOT BRING MY CAMERA. Really? That really happens? I had to check myself to make sure I was wearing pants and still had all of my teeth, next…

We were able to wing it with my iPhone but I learned a lot of hard lessons in post because of that.

The sound on these was left in mono on purpose because I lost too much volume by switching to stere. This is because I just used the onboard mic on my iPhone while fairly far away from my subjects surrounded by a lot of ambient outdoor noise.

Megafail.

That audio is TURNT UP in every way I could possibly manipulate it. Thank GOD that each of these interviewees just had such great stories that they carried the videos past my…technical difficulties.

One thing I made sure to get right though was to SHOOT IN LANDSCAPE MODE. Holding your phone upright as it would be when you are texting or browsing Instagram is considered Portrait Mode and when you import footage like that to edit, you will have some awesome, thick black bars on either side of your clips that make you look like a n00b. Which…you are, but don’t be SO obvious, okay?

This video pretty much sums it up:

Next, mind your LASS.

Mind your LASS

Seriously, she’s getting out of control. She’s just running around and voting and starting businesses and stuff. God.

But no really, let’s break this down:

  1. Light: When it comes to simple pick-up-and-go video production you just can’t beat natural light. In every circumstance you possibly can try to navigate around being able to use natural light for the best possible visibility and color results. If you MUST shoot indoors away from windows and do not have a ton of incandescent lights to prop up around your subject, then just…make sure really great stuff is going on to distract from gross lighting quality!
  2. Audio: As we have learned, the on-board mics for hand-held cameras and smartphones are…present, but don’t produce the most excellent quality. For the best results make sure you are minimizing background noise (and don’t underestimate background noise, a rogue air conditioner can really mess with you…) and your subject as close to your camera as possible.
  3. Stability: Standard hand-held cameras offer some pretty good image stabilization features but most smartphones are more sensitive. Keep your camera stationary as much as you can or use BOTH hands, ideally with your elbows anchored into your waist, to shoot.
  4. Story: The narrative or concept of your video is still the most important. What are you trying to say or show? In normal conversation I tend to ramble and follow rabbit trails like a maniac so I absolutely script and storyboard my videos as much as I can ahead of time. I LOVE this quote:

“If you can plan like Hitchcock, you don’t have to edit like Herzog!”

I found it in the comments of a Gawker article called “5 Rules for Making a Company Video Worth Watching” that featured some good points for company video (more on more business-y videos later!)

And also action. The 102 level of this is to incorporate action which can be made by following something that’s moving, zooming in and out, focusing in our out, or using cuts. Cuts are really helpful, scenes that move around and are just a few seconds long are ideal but this is often difficult to do without  multiple cameras, especially in an interview setting. Which is why I left it out of the core LASS.

Here’s a video I made as I finished up my term with Young & Free St. Louis advising competing hopefuls on how to make the most of their application videos:

And to close, here are some other really great tips from maclife.com:

10 Tips for Shooting Better Video with Your iPhone

We’ll get more into editing soon, too. I really encourage you to get used to working with real-time video and really separate yourself from the ideas of “editing that out” or “fixing it in post” because that stuff can be incredibly painstaking and difficult. You will always be better off if you just shoot your video well to begin with!

What do you think? Are you so pumped to get started? Tell me about yourself and your work in a comment or say hello on Facebook and Twitter!

For those about to [REC.], we salute you!

5 Basic Ways to Rock Your Vine Videos

Well, hello there! It’s been a while you fine specimens, how the heck are ya?

As I was getting organized in some new life situations over the past couple of months (don’t send help, it’s okay! I’m alive!) an important development came from my blogger’s group. I have been over-thinking this here blog and I want to switch my focus from ALL THE THINGS beginner video to really digging into the tools video muggles already have at their disposal like YouTube and smartphones. Cool?

And the provider of some really great lessons about the basic anatomy of a video is actually the new mobile video app called Vine.

Yes, Vine again!

Though I don’t use it every day I’m still really into it and want to start using it better.

Vine is actually very constrained and it is HARDER to work with in many ways than standard video – which can be edited and allows for more time to communicate your story – but that constraint is exactly what makes it a good exercise. It’s like, being really out of shape and then hopping into P90X full-throttle. You can try it, but you’ll probably puke at first. But then once you get it, you’ll have rock-hard abs and glutes that won’t quit.

Or something.

Here are the basic ideas that govern making a rad Vine video:

1) Stabilization. Because you have to have a finger on the screen to make a vine video that can make this a bit difficult but instead of holding your phone with your thumb on the screen, try holding it with your whole hand on the front of your phone and use your index finger to record OR try using your opposite hand so that you have the stability of 2 hands.

Will Sassow has unbelievable stability control as he checks out chicks while eating salad in his truck:

 

2) Timing. This one just takes practice to figure out where to press and release, like finding the sweet spot on a trombone slide. I have had clips of my directorial coaching speeches overlaping my footage, weird hesitations and other awkward bits as I’m trying to maneuver my phone and say, shots of Jameson or a fisheye lens or a cat.

Exhibit A and B of my bad directorial coaching and weird hesitations with Jameson shots:

 

3) Story. Or “concept” or what I call a “schtick,” even. I think this is one of the most important things I’ve seen a lot of folks overlook. A story doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be a sort of raison d’être for a VIDEO. Will what you’re filming be more impactful and worthwhile because it’s animated or could you convey the same thing through a still photo? 6 seconds is a lot of time to ask people to spend on something in internetland so make it worthwhile!

One of Jason Coffee‘s “schticks” is to work with voice-overs where he does the voice of his son (while he wear’s dad’s glasses!) and then his son does his voice. The contrast between the voice you expect seeing them and the voice you get makes this concept a lot of fun!

 

4) Light. Since with Vine What You See Is What You best be minding your lighting! There’s no “fixing it in post” so if you really want to get that beer-sign lit drunken bar shot just know that the output is going to be a beer-lit blur for all to see.

See, it’s way better to get a trippy strobe-lit drunken bar shot:

 

…I’m still so pissed that clip only ended up being the shot from the last band to play that night..even though I had progressively shot the first 3. Another hard lesson: Vine is new so it can sometimes still be glitchy. Don’t wrap all of your hopes and dreams and unicorn tears up in it just yet…

5) Sound. There is sound on Vine! And the easiest way to deal with it is to try to get your settings silent BUT the REALLY ambitious incorporate sound into their clips with lip-syncing to music, SFX and dialog produced in their actual environment!

My friend Holly does an excellent job of utilizing the sound around her in this rap-along:

 

UPDATE: This has to be added because it is a GREAT resource for taking a bite out of Vine:

The Ultimate Guide to Vine: Pro-Tips, Awesome Ideas, and Who to Follow!

I’m still working on a great “schtick” that I can run with. I feel like the best ideas really are the simplest ones with Vine and I’m just waiting for the perfect, simple lightning to strike…

Have you tried Vine, yet? How do you feel about it? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

For those about to [REC.], we salute you!

 

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