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Vine Hype and Pounds Media’s #MySTL Competition

Vine Logo

So there’s a new kid on the block in Socialmedialand and it takes advantage of that shared, unfenced property line with its elite media friend across the way in video production…It’s called Vine and it’s getting people more excited than I’ve seen with any other micro-video app!

Vine certainly isn’t the first video sharing app to come onto the scene, nor is it really even the best in my opinion but it’s hitting on a couple of things that are giving it a more viral quality than I found with other video social networks Viddy or or Socialcam or certainly with apps that are primarily just tools like iSuper8 or 8mm — the concept is easy, the interface is simple and clean and it was apparently seeded correctly. I joined after I saw at least a dozen of  my Instagram buddies had, true story!

Also, the fact that it was developed by Twitter and Viddy allegedly shot itself in the foot may have been a part of it all, too…

But now lets talk about some REALLY fun stuff!

Pounds Media #MySTL Vine Competition

My friends over at Pounds Media are running one of the first contests using Vine called the #MySTL Vine Competition! Here is the rundown of what to do to enter:

What is important, funny or amazing about St. Louis? We want to know and we are willing to pay for it.

At the end of two weeks our team will watch and judge each Vine entry. The scoring will be in three categories: creativity, technique and relevance to the theme (#MySTL). The three Vines with the highest scores will win one of three amazing prize packs.

3rd place will receive: $25 in cash, one pair of Inspire Pro Yurbuds, a dozen future doughnuts from Strange Donuts, a bomber of 4 Hands Smoked Pigasus, a four pack of Fitz’s root beer, and a mini-bag of delicious Red Hot Ripplets. (approx. $90 value)

2nd place will receive: $50 in cash, one pair of Inspire Pro Yurbuds, a t-shirt from STL-Style, a dozen future doughnuts from Strange Doughnuts, one pound of Khaldi’s coffee, a six-pack of Schlafly Dry-hopped APA, a four pack of Fitz’s root beer, and a medium bag of delicious Red Hot Ripplets. (approx. $150 value)

1st place will receive $100 in cash one pair of Inspire Pro Yurbuds, a Yurbuds sports backpack,  a t-shirt from STL-Style, a dozen future doughnuts from Strange Doughnuts, one pound of Khaldi’s coffee, an Urban Chestnut variety pack, a four pack of Fitz’s root beer, and a large bag of delicious Red Hot Ripplets. (approx. $260 value)

Rules:

-For your Vine to be an official entry it must have the #MySTL hashtag and tag @PoundsMedia in the Vine.

-There are no limits to the number of entries, bring ‘em on!

-Entries will be recieved between 12:01 PM CST on Wednesday February 6th until 10:00 PM CST on Wednesday February 20th.

For a complete list of rules, check out their official contest entry at pounds-media.com/mystl-vine-competition

Want to make a great Vine video? Pounds Media is offering some pretty rad prizes so I hope after all that you at least kinda do! In my time derping around with the app already I have a list of a few dos and don’ts that I would recommend to maximize your chances of winning:

  1. Make some cuts – It already makes me crazy to see essentially a 6-second Instagram photo on Vine. Even just kinda turning to show a landscape with no cuts ends up being a snore. It can be made cool of course but I think a better bet is just to spice it up by taking your finger off your screen a few times during your filming.
  2. Tell a story or build a concept – The other part of the crazy-making from just watching a bunch of 6 second photos is that they don’t communicate beyond what a still photo could. Video used like a photo can make your viewer uncomfortable because they are actually so different. Motion is a gift, use it to its fullest! Do something with your video that you can’t capture with a photo, even if it’s just making a montage of shots of the cool restaurant you are at or something!

BONUSESESSS!

1. Mind your sound – Vine DOES record sound for your video so if you can get the sounds in your short to lend to your story, even better! Check out Jason Coffee‘s approach to this:

https://twitter.com/CoffeeCupNews/status/299598916154978305

2. Use detachable camera lenses – Shooting your video clips through different lenses (like these on photojojo.com!) can add additional depth to your stories. It takes some orientation for each but I really like Adam Goldberg‘s use of a fisheye lens in his Vine videos!

https://twitter.com/TheAdamGoldberg/status/300833402649726976

Are you using Vine? What has your experience with it been like? Leave a comment!

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

Terms & Concepts

Video Terms & Concepts

This is a running list of terms and concepts that I will be compiling as I run across them! There are a lot of terms & concepts in video so I will do my best to keep this list happy, healthy and alphabetized!

  • 10 second rule – You only have about 10 seconds to capture a viewer’s attention so make those first few seconds really count!
  • 20:1 ratio – You can roughly expect to shoot about 20 minutes of footage for 1 good minute of edited video. This doesn’t really apply to something like a webinar or a full event recording. Anything you’re trying to digest into a short time limit will often fit pretty closely to this rule, though.
  • 3-point lighting – A technique that uses 3 separate lights to illuminate a subject while also reducing the presence of shadows.
  • B-roll – Extra video clips spliced into the main storyline that accents what is going on and gives a video a more film-like feel. I shoot TONS of b-roll and often don’t have quite enough or the right shots. The BEST b-roll is shot after piecing together your main story and shooting additional footage that describes it. Is your subject talking about reading a book? Shoot them reading a book. Are they talking about doing cartwheels with penguins while wearing a diving suit? If you can shoot that, for the love of Santa, please do because I want to see it!!
  • Clip – When editing video, these are the snippets you drag around to build your story.
  • Diffusion – The process of softening up your light so it isn’t so harsh on your subject, casting shadows everywhere and exaggerating imperfections.
  • Export – The process of sending your video out of your editing software to be stored on your computer, posted somewhere like YouTube or Vimeo or otherwise shared such as in DVD format.
  • Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) – My editing software from 2011-early 2013. Highly recommended by me after over a year of use ane especially now that the price point has dropped!
  • FPS – “Frames Per Second” or the number of individual frames (that used to be the separate blocks on film) move across the screen per second. 24fps is the traditional frame rate for TV and video, it translates well to the web.
  • Import – The process of bringing your video from your camera into your computer so you can edit it. This is generally done through a direct cable from your camera or by plugging your memory card into your computer.
  • Monopod – It’s like a tripod but instead of three (“tri”) legs, there’s just one which is great for hand-held shots. It’s amazing how much more stability this brings to your shooting.
  • Non-destructive editing – This is a sort of complicated concept that refers to an editing style that doesn’t mess with the original clips you imported from your camera. Instead of having to save revision after revision after revision of your video your source files stay the same and you basically edit in a super magical editing land that’s kind of like a copy floating above your originals. It uses something called an Edit Decision List (EDL) to keep track of your changes and you don’t have to save every 3 seconds! This was a learning curve for me in FCPX and it takes a fairly powerful computer to keep up with but I grew to trust and love it.
  • Photo clips: Large clamp-like clips that allow you to hang things like sheets to diffuse lights or attach heavier things to other things. It’s real technical. Sometimes just clothespins will do.
  • Transition – A way to move between shots in your video that isn’t just a quick cut from one to the next. You can use effects like cross-dissolves, fades, wipes or other animated actions to get from one clip to the next.
  • White balancing – a process of setting your camera to recognize “true white” and compensating for any colors that may be cast by the light spectrum in your video.

Mari Smith’s Year of the Video Webinar Digest

So Mari Smith, a leading video and social media personality, has declared 2013 “Year of the Video” and kicked it off with a free webinar last Thursday, January 24th.  I, of course, am down with that and planned to tune in!

…unfortunately that afternoon reared its ugly head with a janky web connection at a St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera for those of you non-OG…) and a task list longer than my Target receipts so I popped in for about 2o minutes while it was streaming, then zoned out in an epic novel I wrote to my boss with periodic clicking to see some of the asinine comments going on in the live chat…

That was last Thursday and now, hey! A week later I sort of have some time to poke back through the recorded video!

The panel consisted of MariDavid Gumpel, Emmy-award winning director and his wife, social media/marketing expert Catherine Hedden. They introduced themselves and each other and then got into some good stuff around the :15 mark.

For brevity’s sake I’m just going to discuss some equipment highlights that I though were particularly cool plus a few quotes because this thing was 1 hour and 18 minutes long! I really encourage you to find some time to watch it if you’re just getting started and let me know what you think. I know I have a really different perspective and I would like to know what you thought of it!

First, they discussed “filming on the go” and some SUPER cool iPhone 4/4s accessories that attach to your phone via Manfrotto Klyps which is a kit based around a special phone case with detachable clips. They have kits available that include tripods and even a little LED light set and I’m REALLY bummed out that they don’t seem to be available for iPhone 5, yet…aargh!

(Blogger’s note: want to see some other super rad iPhone photo & video gear? Check out Photojojo.com!)

Oh, they also added their own little diffusion paper to their LED light. To diffuse and soften your light – because it does justice to your subjects by softening their weird skin blotches shaped like Texas and other creepiness – you can just use white tracing paper or tissue paper over your light source or even a sheet if it’s a window! Though for larger scale work this isn’t recommended because pro-level lights get so hot you wouldn’t believe it…OH THE BURNS we got in college messing with the barn doors on those stupid things…at this level you’d want to use diffusion or gels more like these.

Then they discussed some bigger, meatier pieces. Mmm meaty equipment. This could probably collapse my mind into the gutter real quick…

  Source: canon.com via Films About on Pinterest

 

For larger shooting situations I was excited to see they all use the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, the DSLR camera that I was planning on ordering! They mentioned that the size of a DSLR camera like this seemed to make people a lot more comfortable to be around than the older, bulkier style of professional cameras.

For larger lighting situations a simple paper lantern over a full spectrum daylight CFL bulb works great for diffusion!

Now…microphones! Or…A microphone, anyway…Which they didn’t even get to until the Q&A session, but they spotlighted their Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone that they use with the Canon T3i but their Pinterest pin says you will need a special adapter to use this with a smartphone.

They then start getting into marketing and talking about the structure of web shows for folks who are wanting to start their own. They stress how you need to know what you’re wanting to do and why before you get started. Their recommendation for the first video you should be doing is with a how-to video. It offers a lot of value to a community and sets you up as the expert but you need to consider your business and the quality you need to produce to meet them.

Example: For my work with Young & Free St. Louis the whole point was “young person with a handicam”-style videos but if my employer, Vantage Credit Union, wanted to make videos establishing them as a trusted financial resource for our 26 year old + members, their approach would need to be a bit more polished.

Here are some notable quotes around this idea of video for business:

“You’ve gotta marry your blog or TV talk show!”

It’s a LOT of work to regularly produce great videos. Depending on what you are doing you may need to set aside several hours to days for recording even short videos. That’s not even including editing. The rule of thumb in video is the 20:1 ratio that says you need to shoot about about 20 minutes to get 1 good minute of footage. Can you or your company handle this ongoing responsibility?

“If you’re not producing great content and you’re not being consistent in getting this out, it’s going to be hard to get ROI.”

This is true, video is probably one of the most time-absorbing marketing initiatives. If you just think you “should” do it, it will be WAY more painful for you than just how feel you “should” tweet or have a FB page…

I also wanted to note that some of the commenters on this webinar were fairly rude. This webinar wasn’t moving fast enough, they wanted them to talk about something else, they spent time bashing the event or spamming out their own links and just whining about how this was going to help their marketing. I had an eye twitch after just watching these scroll for a few minutes, but this is the web. The wider your reach gets, the more you will tend to pick up the bad energies from people along with the good so don’t be surprised by this.

This comment was so asinine that I actually saved it as a quote:

“If you think this is great information, please don’t do your own video, hire a local professional. Would you hire an amatuer to do your plumbing?”

FALSE. Remember that video is a large undertaking and there is a LOT to learn though you definitely DON’T have to know it all up front in order to get started with something like web video. If you want to produce a TV commercial then yes, I would still recommend hiring a professional, but as someone who is trained in video I still learned a few things in this webinar or had principles revisited that I tend to neglect or had forgotten about. I encourage you to always keep your mind open and be a constant learner and re-learner as you get started with video and respect the knowledge being shared by others.

/end PSA, thank you for reading.

TERMS and PRINCIPLES (which I am working on compiling alphabetically in an ongoing “Terms” page – stay tuned!)

  • 20:1 ratio – You can roughly expect to shoot about 20 minutes of footage for 1 good minute of edited video. This doesn’t really apply to something like a webinar or a full event recording. Anything you’re trying to digest into a short time limit will often fit pretty closely to this rule, though.
  • 10 second rule – you only have about 10 seconds to capture a viewer’s attention so make those first few seconds really count!
  • B-roll – extra video clips spliced into the main storyline that accents what is going on and gives a video a more film-like feel. I shoot TONS of b-roll and often don’t have quite enough or the right shots. The BEST b-roll is shot after piecing together your main story and shooting additional footage that describes it. Is your subject talking about reading a book? Shoot them reading a book. Are they talking about doing cartwheels with penguins while wearing a diving suit? If you can shoot that, for the love of Santa, please do because I want to see it!!
  • Monopod – it’s like a tripod but instead of three (“tri”) legs, there’s just one which is great for hand-held shots. It’s amazing how much more stability this brings to your shooting.
  • Photo clips: large clamp-like clips that allow you to hang things like sheets to diffuse lights or attach heavier things to other things. It’s real technical. Sometimes just clothespins will do.
  • FPS – “Frames Per Second” or the number of individual frames (that used to be the separate blocks on film) move across the screen per second. 24fps is the traditional frame rate for TV and video, it translates well to the web. Makes everything look smoother and converts well to YouTube.
  • Diffusion – the process of softening up your light so it isn’t so harsh on your subject, casting shadows everywhere and exaggerating imperfections.

So what sort of tools are you using to learn? Do you watch webinars or read books or use tutorials or something? Let me know about it in a comment!

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

The Basics of Video Editing Software

Getting and learning some solid video editing software is probably one of the biggest barriers to entry when it comes to video but DON’T PANIC, it’s getting less prohibitive all the time! I mean, hey, count your blessings! GONE are our reel-to-reel days where we physically have to cut strips of film and tape them to other strips of film to get our stories lined up, as vintage and hipster as that my feel, now…

I, personally, am happy because even a few hundred bucks for some rad software is still way cheaper than film school!

Anyway, I wanted to write-up a little overview of what the space is like right now as you are getting oriented to what you really want to accomplish with your videos.

Also, I am going to be ALL OVER THE PLACE on this blog so a lot of this info really may not be in any logical sort of chronology, I’m at least categorizing it all as I go and I’m still trying to sort out a good order for it all in my own head so you have been warned! You’ll just have to stay tuned and leave LOTS of comments to juice out of me what you really need if I get too ADD and outlandish with this…

ANYway, EDITING SOFTWARE! Yes. It’s not so scary, you can even get started editing your videos with just YouTube, now. They offer free online tools for really simple video editing where you can cut together clips, add music and titles and even simple transitions! If you are really just emerging from the frozen wilderness like Encino Man and find yourself with this burning desire to create video this is a GREAT way to learn some of the basics.

YouTube Video Editor Screencap

The next level is actually software, that like, lives in your computer.

Yeah, it brought its duffel bag and said it was just going to crash for a few nights but we all know it won’t be going anywhere.

The simplest options in this category are also FREE and just relate to your operating system: do you use a Mac or a PC?

  1. If a Mac: all Macs come with iLife which has iMovie included (along with iPhoto, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD) and is also available as an app for iPhone/ iTouch/iPad for $4.99. It’s pretty darn easy to use and pretty darn…pretty! You can import your videos right into iMovie and edit clips together and music, titles and transitions, too.
  2. If a PC: you can download Windows Movie Maker for free. Just select which version of Windows you are using and download away!
  3. If Linux or something: uhm, you’ve out-nerded me…but here, I Googled it for you.

Another slightly more advanced–but also paid–option is Adobe Premiere Elements. It’s about $100 to get started so if you’re not quite ready to drop $300+ this is an option but I almost don’t really advise it now that Final Cut Pro is so cheap and Adobe has released their Creative Cloud….

SEGUE!

Finally, we have the goods:

Final Cut Pro X Screencap

1. If a Mac: The reigning King of Accessible Video Editing Software is arguably still the illustrious Final Cut Pro. There was definitely some drama with the release of Final Cut Pro X (FCPX), which is the software I use, and how it really seemed childish compared to the previous versions srs edtrs got used to pouring blood, sweat and tears into. It looks and works a bit more like iMovie and the whole interface was really rebuilt, slashing some features from before but adding some other great new stuff I enjoy like background rendering, 1-step freeze frame capturing and non-destructive editing.

Uhmm…more on that stuff later.

You can also step it up a notch once you’re ready to start working with crazy special effects and even animation by adding Motion and add another level of insanity with Compressor which is REALLY srs bzns…If you’re just making short videos for YouTube or Vimeo or somewhere else on the web you probably won’t find yourself in need of Compressor ay time soon..

2. If a PC: (and also Mac, Adobe plays nice with either OS!) you have Adobe Premiere to work with. I taught myself to use this software in about a day in order to edit my video for the Young & Free contest in 2011 because I wanted to use something a bit above just Movie Maker because I was trained in Final Cut Pro. I found it very intuitive coming from an FCP background as the usability was pretty similar and I was actually crabby at being given FCPX when I started my job because the changes drove me CRAZY at first! You can still get this one piece of software in the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection for a mere $2,600 OR…this next part is still blowing my mind and I will be signing up IMMEDIATELY if my current employer takes away my FCPX install…

Adobe Creative Cloud Screenshot

Behold, the Adobe Creative Cloud where you can just subscribe monthly to any or every piece of software you choose without having to shell out hundreds of dollars or possibly thousands if you had to bundle.

You can also do a free 30-day trial of both FCPX and the Creative Cloud to start exploring which software may fit you better!

Oh and I would be loath to not mention Ye Ole Industry Standard in video editing which kinda used to be Avid which was taught in every film program in every school ever back in the day, I think. This bad boy will still run you about $2,600 just for just Media Composer. I learned on Final Cut Pro starting in 2004 and that may or may not have been simply because it was cheaper for my little private school at the time…I’m really not sure…anyway, it stuck and it’s still incredibly relevant. I regret nothing!

…except that I can’t apply for jobs looking for Avid editors. Boo.

In summary, even if you don’t have THE BEST software right off the bat don’t let that stop you from STARTING to make videos like you want! Just be honest with what you’re wanting to accomplish and square up your budget for it, doing what takes to get where you need to go.

Do you use any of these tools for editing your video? What do you think of it? Or do any of them now strike your fancy? Please leave a comment!

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

A Story of A Girl and Her Beginner Video Gear

Why hello there! My name is Jenn and welcome to Hitchhiker’s Guide to Video!

I am starting this blog as a labor of love for folks that want to start making short videos, want to make BETTER videos, or may find themselves in a situation similar to where I found myself in the summer of 2011. I won a dream job with a local credit union here in St. Louis that consisted of writing daily blog entries, posting on social media, planning and attending events and of course, making videos…

…LOTS. of videos.

At least one short video PER. WEEK. For a YEAR AND A HALF.

I also actually went to college for video production and this job still ended up being harder than I expected. Being at the creative helm of your own veritable Video Ship each week where you are responsible for every single part of your production puts you through a crazy transformation. On the one hand, some videos you look back at and kinda want to put a fork in your eye but on the other…I now have a portfolio of around 80 completed projects that I have produced from start to finish–and that feels damn good.

The one thing that I can say I really will carry with me forever from the experience is:

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”

-The Bible – New Living Translation, allegedly

With something like video (or almost any new-to-you endeavor!) a lot can be accomplished by just doing anything at all and staying hungry to do it better because there will always be more to learn. With video especially there is always new gear, new software, new techniques new technology…trying to wait to know all the stuff and have all the gear before you start will paralyze you permanently because it’s impossible!

Here’s what I started with:

Jenn's Beginner Video Gear

  1. A Canon Vixia HF M300 HD camera – I’m a Canon girl, the first camera I ever bought was also a Canon back in like…2004 or 2005. A friend ended up breaking it and at that point I had access to my college’s camera so I just said screw it. I was way nicer back then.
  2. A Sennheiser E835 hand-held microphone – a basic hand-held mic. I definitely didn’t maximize it when I just plugged it right into my camera with the …
  3. XLR to 3.5mm adapter – this made it so that I could plug the mic, which has an XLR plug on the end of it. directly into the tiny jack on my camera. 3.5mm is the same size as the plug at the end of your headphones. I can’t say enough about using a mic, if you spend a lot of time filming in noisy environments they’re indispensable!
  4. A couple of XLR cables – Ye Ole standard audio & video cables. These are pretty much the veins of everything that goes into video production. We had so many of these that we used for everything that I could have been buried in these in college and no one would have ever found my body…
  5. A tripod – Mine looked kinda like this but this one is cooler. Mine didn’t even have a bubble level on it which could make things pretty annoying…and crooked…
  6. My MacBook Pro laptop  with Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) – Final Cut Pro & I have had a very interesting relationship curve. I learned on 7, loved it, was given X when I started my job, hated it for basically the whole first year then something my husband said to me drunkenly one night changed everything. No, seriously! More on this later.

You certainly don’t even need this much to get started. Can you record video on your smartphone? Do you have a flip cam? This is just what I started with because it’s what provided me with when I won my job.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

– Arthur Ashe

If I had the opportunity to choose my gear myself at that time though I still wouldn’t have known where was best for me to start. It actually turned out to be really good for me to get into such a basic camera, stretch it to its limits and then grow out of it fully knowing how I worked and what I wanted to do, next.

I will be upgrading my camera in a few weeks to a DSLR but don’t freak out! I will still be chronicling my beginner’s journey because I have a LOT to say about what I’ve learned poking around with my little handicam for the last 18 months. This will just make it so that I can take my own pictures and videos of my picture and video stuff and it will get all meta…or something…?

You can see the rest of my ridiculous story on the About page and I would adore it if you could also say hello on Facebook and Twitter! I’m planning to post here 2-3 times a week and trying to determine the most effective posting schedule for myself so stay tuned!

Anything you already know you’d like to see me cover here? Please let me know in a comment!

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

Coming Soon!

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

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