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CAMCORDERS • EDITING • COMPUTER VIDEO • AUDIO & VIDEO PRODUCTION • DVD

Getting into

MARCH 2008

Festivals How to Light up the Night

Guide to Formats & Codecs

Reviewed • JVC GZ-HD3 Camcorder • NewTek TriCaster Studio

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Intensity Pro introduces professional HDMI and analog editing in HD and SD for $349 Intensity Pro is the only capture and playback card for Windows™ and Mac OS X™ with HDMI and analog connections. Intensity Pro allows you to upgrade to Hollywood production quality with uncompressed or compressed video capture and playback using large screen HDTVs.

Connect to Anything! Intensity Pro includes HDMI and component analog, NTSC/PAL and S-video connections in a low cost plug-in card. Capture from HDMI cameras, VHS and Video8 decks, gaming consoles, set-top boxes and more. Playback to large screen televisions and video projectors.

Beyond the Limits of HDV

Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X

HDV’s heavy compression and limited 1440 x 1080 resolution can cause problems with quality and editing. Intensity Pro eliminates these problems and lets you choose from uncompressed video, Online JPEG and Apple ProRes 422 for full 1920 x 1080 HDTV resolution. Now you can capture in 1080i HD, 720p HD or NTSC/PAL video.

Intensity Pro is fully compatible with both Adobe Premiere Pro on Windows and Apple Final Cut Pro on Mac OS X, as well as Motion™, Color™, DVD Studio Pro™, After Effects™, Photoshop™, Encore™, Combustion™, Fusion™ and many more.

Playback to your Big Screen HDTV Use Intensity Pro’s HDMI or analog output for incredible big screen video monitoring. Unlike FireWire™ based solutions, Intensity uses an uncompressed video connection direct to Final Cut Pro’s real time effects renderer. No FireWire compression means all CPU processing is dedicated to more effects and video layers!

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Intensity Pro

$349 Learn more today at www.blackmagic-design.com

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color that’s as bright as your imagination

Whether you're drawing a picture or recording your family, you want brilliant, vivid color and clear, crisp images. With Optical Image Stabilization and 3CCD true color technology, which captures color the same way as our professional video cameras, that's precisely what you'll get.

panasonic.com/3CCD Picture simulated.

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MARCH 2008 Volume 22 • Number 9

www.videomaker.com

Features

Contents 40 Formats & Codecs

28 Lessons in Lighting 2008 Lighting Buyer’s Guide by Brian Peterson

There’s a lot to think about when choosing formats for acquisition and distribution. by Charles Fulton

34 It Could Happen

Your epic is finally done. The color corrections you meticulously crafted are perfect, and the audio tracks in the edit timeline are speckled with fades and dissolves – evidence of a carefully-blended soundtrack. You click on Save As and rip the project to DVD. It’s showtime. by Peter Biesterfeld

46

34

28 On The Cover

JVC GZ-HD3 Everio Hard Drive and Memory Card Hybrid Camcorder NewTek TriCaster Studio Live Pro Password: sound

Columns

Tutorial:

Transitioning Naturally

Every blockbuster movie has hundreds or even thousands of edits, yet the viewer often is unaware of the cut. Why? In many cases, the change is very subtle, using a technique which is often known as a Natural Transition. by Peter John Ross

54

4 Viewfinder A Humble Honor by Matthew York

50 Basic Training

Departments

12

6 Zoom In CES Wrap 10 New Gear Hot Off the Presses 70 Ad Index

Breaking it Down by Kyle Cassidy

22

54 Lighting

Night Lighting by Robert G. Nulph, Ph.D.

58 Editing

34

Motivation by Morgan Paar

62 Audio

54

10 Voiceover Tips by Hal Robertson

40

72 The Festival Circuit 8 Film & Video Festivals

12 16

Test Bench 12

JVC GZ-HD3 Everio Hard Drive and Memory Card Hybrid Camcorder

16

NewTek TriCaster Studio Live Pro Studio-in-a-box

20

SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive by Fabrik 2TB Storage Device

22

Final Cut Express 4 Editing Software

26

Corel DVD Copy 6 Plus Conversion Software

RATE VIDEOMAKER’S ARTICLES

Next Month

Burning down the House Video Sharing Sites Camcorder Supports Video Gear Bags On Sale March 11, 2008

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We want to hear from you! To help us give you, the reader, more of what you want, we’d like your input about this issue of Videomaker. Please visit our March Article Rating Page at www.videomaker.com/rr.

VIDEOMAKER >>> FEBRUARY 2008

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Tw o g reat ways to t o m a ke stunning h o m e movies...

...in a box! New

Introducing Pinnacle Studio™ movieBox Plus and Pinnacle Studio movieBox Ultimate ®

Now capturing, editing and enjoying your home movies has become easier. With the combination of Pinnacle Systems’ sleek high-speed USB video capturing devices and the powerful, yet intuitive Pinnacle Studio Plus and Pinnacle Studio Ultimate video editing software, it is now more convenient to transfer, edit and enjoy your legacy analog video tapes, digital camcorder footage, HDV and AVCHD videos. Pinnacle Studio movieBox Plus and Pinnacle Studio movieBox Ultimate— two solutions to release your inner video enthusiast and aficionado. Capture and release your creativity today at www.pinnaclesys.com/movieBox

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©2007 Pinnacle Systems, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Pinnacle Systems, Pinnacle Studio, Pinnacle Studio MovieBox, MovieBox and the Pinnacle pinwheel logo, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Pinnacle Systems, Inc. and its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Avid is a registered trademark of Avid Technology, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Product specifications are subject to change without notice or obligation.

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12/7/2007 10:35:53 3:40:51 AM PM 8/31/2007


VIEWFINDER

Videomaker empowers people to make video in a way that inspires, encourages and equips for success. We do this by building a community of readers, web visitors, viewers, attendees and marketers.

by Matthew York

A Humble Honor I have recently completed the most fulfilling video experience of my life. A Non-Government organization named Education Development Center (EDC) invited me to introduce audio and video technologies to Southern Sudan. I led two workshops over the course of a week. Kuol Atem Bol, Director of Alternative Education Systems, Southern Sudan, reports that the two decades of civil war in Sudan have claimed over 1.5 million lives and displaced an estimated 4 million people. Two decades of civil war have given Southern Sudan one of the worst illiteracy rates in the world. About 2.5 million children, youth and adults have missed their basic education. This has pushed the illiteracy rate of South Sudan to 85%, while the overall illiteracy rate of Sudan is 57%. There is a Teacher Training Institute (TTI) several kilometers north of the Ugandan border: the Arapi TTI. During the 4-hour drive on a dirt road from the capital, Juba, we passed by burned cars, buses, trucks and military tanks, as well as de-mining operations working along active minefields. During the conflict, soldiers invaded this TTI several times. On one occasion, a guard was killed and many were wounded, yet the teachers and the staff did not abandon their work. During the worst of times, they would leave the sleeping quarters and sleep “in the bush,” as it was safer to avoid snakes than bullets. These people have remarkable courage and commitment to their craft. Just recently, several computers and a satellite internet connection were installed, run by a diesel generator. I had the privilege of installing the first video editing software package in South Sudan, Studio (a donation from Pinnacle). This was just one of many

editor in chief managing editor technical editor associate editor Video Production Associate

John Burkhart Jennifer O’Rourke Mark Montgomery Charles Fulton Brandon Pinard

contributing editors Hal Robertson Kyle Cassidy Robert G. Nulph, Ph.D. Morgan Paar Brian Peterson production director art director/photographer production coordinator design associate

privileges I had during the two-day workshop on video production. I have never seen more joy from simple acts like inserting videotape into a camcorder, panning with a tripod, capturing video to a PC or making an edit. It is amazing what two decades of civil war will do to the motivation of people. Consumer video technology was born during their wartime. They missed all of it. I was astonished at their aptitude and motivation. I am so proud of them. During their wartime, I have been teaching North Americans how to entertain each other with video technology. It was extremely fulfilling to teach the people of South Sudan how to use video to improve their education system to better enable them to lift their society out of poverty and desperation to hope and reconciliation. They invited me there to teach them about consumer electronics, but I realize that I learned more than they did. I learned about the resilience of the human spirit, fortitude and a hope deeper than any that I’ve ever known.

Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13493 in the subject line.

advertising director advertising representatives telephone (530) 891-8410 eastern U. S. western U. S., international classified advertising coordinator marketing manager marketing specialist marketing coordinator marketing coordinator

Derek DeMarco Melissa Hageman Susan Schmierer Joseph Ayres Scott Memmott Alan Parsons Terra York Nick Strayer Aunchalee Burkhart Kim Peoples Dawn Branthaver Heather Handley Kent Hinesley

manager of Andy Clark information systems IT assistant Lance Olinger director of finance fulfillment supervisor accounting assistant customer service fulfillment assistant fulfillment assistant

Stephen Awe Heather Minton Sandra Wells Elissa Raigosa Autumn Ludington Lisa Rothe

subscription information Videomaker Subscription Fulfillment P.O. Box 3780, Chico, CA 95927 telephone: (800) 284-3226 e-mail: customerservice@videomaker.com address P.O. Box 4591, Chico, CA 95927 telephone: (530) 891-8410 fax: (530) 891-8443 Videomaker (ISSN 0889-4973) is published monthly plus one special issue per year by Videomaker, Inc., P.O. Box 4591, Chico, CA 95927. ©2008 Videomaker, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this publication in whole or in part without written consent of the publisher is prohibited. The Videomaker name is a registered trademark, property of Videomaker, Inc. Editorial solicitations welcomed; publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited material. Editorial-related photos and artwork received unsolicited become property of Videomaker. Single-copy price: $3.99; $5.99 in Canada. Subscription rates: one year (12 issues) $22.50; $32.50 in Canada (U.S. funds); $47.50 Foreign Delivery (prepayment required, U.S. funds). Send subscription correspondence to Videomaker, P.O. Box 3780, Chico, CA 95927. Back issues of Videomaker are available for order online at www.videomaker.com or by calling Customer Service at (800) 284-3226. Periodicals postage paid at Chico, CA 95927 and additional mailing offices. Canada Post International Mail Sales Agreement #40051846. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Videomaker, P.O. Box 3780, Chico, CA 95927. CANADA POSTMASTER: Please send Canadian address changes to: IDS, P.O. Box 122, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6S8. Videomaker makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, with respect to the completeness, accuracy or utility of these materials or any information or opinion contained herein. Any use or reliance on the information or opinion is at the risk of the user, and Videomaker shall not be liable for any damage or injury incurred by any person arising out of the completeness, accuracy or utility of any information or opinion contained in these materials. These materials are not to be construed as an endorsement of any product or company, nor as the adoption or promulgation of any guidelines, standards or recommendations.

P R I N T ED IN USA

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publisher/editor Matthew York associate publisher Patrice York

VIDEOMAKER >>> March 2008

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Welcome to the place where creativity originates, inspiration comes alive and dreams become reality. If you create, manage, finance, distribute or deliver content today then you’re part of the ever expanding and evolving Broader-casting industry. Whatever your role, you need to stay abreast of the latest technology trends like 3D, IPTV, mobile video and social media. Attend the NAB Show this year and you’ll see why it’s THE world’s marketplace for product introduction and the single greatest gathering of content professionals. In fact, it’s the most comprehensive display of digital communications technologies — more than twice as large as any comparable event — and that equals more value. More tools. More techniques. More connections. SM

Invest in your future and be a part of a global forum unlike any other. Join more than 110,000 professionals from 163 countries who make the NAB Show an integral part of their business strategy and career planning every year. Content comes alive at the NAB Show — and so does your future. Register today!

Be our guest at the NAB Show. Use code A592 to register for your FREE NAB Show Exhibits Pass at www.nabshow.com/free

Selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce as the most significant industry event in which to participate in any hemisphere. Visit www.nabshow.com/international to learn more.

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IN BOX

readers' letters

Random Thoughts

I’m a video student from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. I remember in one of my classes my teacher said, “I hate when students say they are ‘filming’ when they have a video camera in their hand. What they are doing is ‘taping’ or ‘video taping.” And I agree with him and understand his logic. One day I was walking to class and wondered: What will be it called when everyone is using a camera that records to a memory card? Ha. Robert J. Grauert, Jr. We suppose they’d use the slang word news videographers use, “shooting”. Although we heard about a Hollywood director of photography who was on his way to film a new TV show and was pulled out of an airport security line when his answer to the question, “what are you doing with all this gear?” was, “I’m here to shoot a pilot.” —The editors

15 Minutes of Fame

I want to respond to your November 2007 editorial about internet video. While I agree that internet video lacks the technical attributes that make good video it is the video itself that makes it so popular. You quoted Andy Warhol “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”, I think this statement embodies the internet video spirit. In my view the fact that the shot is wrong, the sound is bad, or some other technical issue doesn’t matter. What matters is that a “real” person made the video, someone perhaps not unlike myself. I think people enjoy great production on a subconscious level but it is the characters or story line that they are trying to relate to. I think those in Hollywood try very hard to make that mega movie star appear as ordinary as possible on screen so that the audience can relate to the story they are trying to tell.

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Address your letters to In Box, c/o Videomaker, P.O. Box 4591, Chico, CA 95927. Videomaker is unable to process personal replies; however, questions of interest to the Videomaker readership will appear in print. You can also submit In Box entries by e-mail: editor@ videomaker.com.

With internet video there is no mega movie star, it is the kid down the street, or your neighbor next door, people you can relate to. I think you need an empathic story to drive what is on the screen, sure the technical delivery enhances that story, but if the story is worth telling people will overlook, or even embrace poor production value. I think we tell stories to connect with our fellow humans, I think this practice is as old as time itself. Before the internet there was TV, before TV there was movies, before movies there was radio, before radio there was books, before that people sat around camp fires and told their stories to those around them. The story is central, the more people relate to a story, the more popular it becomes, how it is told may vary but at its core is the human condition, and that is where we all meet to connect as people, and internet video is our level playing field, at least for the next 15 minutes. Eric Cook The Collective We Productions http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Ick69

Rainy Weather Audio Tip

I am looking for tips concerning protecting shotgun mics from rain. I live in SE Alaska where we get 120+ inches of rain/year. I have already fried one microphone. What can I do? Thanks, Jim Engell Wow, Jim, that beats our wet stuff in Northern California… where we get manageable amounts of rain until recently, when we were inundated with wet 60-mph winds... but that’s another story. We pitched your question to our Audio columnist, Hal Robertson, for his expert advice, his comment follows. —The editors

Hi, Jim,

My preferred first line of defense is a good zeppelin and windsock. The

pro models often have several layers of screen and/or fabric before water could get to the microphone. You can also treat the exterior fur with some ScotchGard spray fabric treatment. This is normally used for upholstery and carpet to repel water and stains, but it works for this application too. Just shake the zeppelin off periodically. You can also cover the microphone directly with plastic or latex products - balloons, dry condoms, plastic wrap, etc. - but with two caveats: first, keep the material as thin a possible and use only one layer. Second, any treatment like this will certainly degrade your audio quality. Of course, a pint of water in your microphone will also degrade the quality ;-) Finally, don’t forget about the electronics. Mixers, wireless packs and anything with an audio connection should be covered or bagged to keep it dry. Ziploc bags are a quick and easy fix as are simple trash bags and those bags laying in your trunk from Mega-Lo-Mart. When I was in broadcasting, we used to pack silicone grease (not glue!) into critical connectors that would be exposed to the elements. It was gooey and messy, but kept the rain and snow out. You can often find tubes of silicone grease at automotive supply stores. It is used to help insulate ignition wires. Also, don’t forget to throw a few packets of Silica gel into your bag, to help absorb moisture. Most people throw these away when they open the boxes of new shoes, electronics and other purchases, but we at Videomaker like to keep them hanging around to help keep those few drops of rain out of our gear kits. Hal Robertson Videomaker’s Audio column contributing editor FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13636 in the subject line.

VIDEOMAKER >>> MARCH 2008

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T:7.875 in S:7 in

PMW-EX1. The world’s first Full HD handheld camcorder. Under $7800.* Think you need to spend a bundle for full professional performance? Think again. The new PMW-EX1 is the world’s first handheld camcorder with three half-inch 1920x1080 CMOS sensors—and full 1920x1080 recording. The camcorder also provides HD or SD-SDI output, complete with embedded audio and time code. Compared to outdated PC cards, the new SxS PRO™ solid state media is smaller, faster and supports more recording time. And the media is available from Sony and other manufacturers. Sony’s PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX™ camcorder is more performance than you expect, for less money than you imagined. High Definition. It’s in our DNA. click: sony.com/xdcamex to take a survey, receive a free demo DVD and learn about special financing offers.

*Based on XL program price. © 2007 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice. Sony, HDNA, SxS PRO and XDCAM EX are trademarks of Sony.

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Too much camera for the money.


ZOOM IN

industry news by Charles Fulton, John Burkhart, Jennifer O'Rourke and Mark Mo n t g o m e r y

2008 CES Wrap-Up CAMCORDERS

The beginning of the calendar year means taking down the holiday decorations, making goals and resolutions, and the annual pilgrimage to the Consumer Electronics Show. We just got back from the 2008 show, held January 7-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada and offer you a look at a few products that caught our eye.

Canon

JVC

Canon was on the show floor with both standard- and high-definition camcorders. Many of the models include Canon’s Advanced Zoom function that utilizes the camcorder’s image processor to achieve a long effective zoom ratio with Canon FS100 near-optical zoom quality. The FS100 ($399) is an SDHC camcorder available in silver, blue and red that includes 48x Advanced Zoom, a 1.07-megapixel CCD and a mic jack. The FS10 ($499) adds 8GB of internal flash memory and the FS11 ($599) upgrades that to 16GB. Each of these camcorders weigh only 9.2 ounces. The DC310 ($349) DVD camcorder utilizes a 41x Advanced Zoom, 680k-pixel Canon DC310 CCD and a 2.7" wide LCD. The DC320 ($369) upgrades to a 48x Advanced Zoom and 1.07-megapixel CCD. The DC330 ($379) adds a USB port and comes with a remote control. The ZR900 ($249) Mini DV camcorder includes 41x Advanced Zoom, a 680k-pixel CCD and a mic jack. The ZR930 ($269) upgrades to a 48x Advanced Zoom and 1.07-megapixel CCD; while the ZR950 ($279) adds a Canon ZR900 USB port and SDHC card slot for still images. Canon has brought the previouslyreleased HG10 and HR10 into its new Vixia family of camcorders, all of which include Canon HD Video Lenses, Canon Full HD CMOS image sensors, Canon’s DIGIC DV II image processors, Instant AutoFocus and optical image stabilization. New to this Canon HF100 family are the HF100 ($899) SDHC camcorder, featuring 12x optical zoom, 3.3-megapixel CMOS, full 1920x1080 resolution for capture, record and output; 30p and 24p modes, 2.7" widescreen LCD and a mic jack. The HF10 ($1,099) adds 16GB of onboard flash memory. The HV30 ($999) HDV camcorder includes a 10x optical zoom lens, 2.96megapixel CMOS, 30p and 24p, and a 2.7" widescreen LCD.

JVC’s new camcorders include a new graphical user interface and Konica Minolta lenses. The line starts with the $450 GZMG330, which includes JVC GZ-MG330 a 30GB 1.8" hard drive, a 1/6" 680k-pixel CCD and 35x optical zoom. It is available in silver, blue and red. The silver GZ-MG335 ($500) adds an Everio Dock. The GZ-MG360 ($550, does not include dock) and GZ-MG365 ($600, includes dock) both upgrade to a 60GB hard drive. The GZ-MG730 ($800) uses a 30GB 1.3” hard drive and upgrades to a 1/2.5" 7.38-megapixel CCD with 10x optical zoom. This camcorder also ships with the Everio Dock.

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JVC GZ-MG360

Panasonic Panasonic has entered the waterproof camcorder fray with the SDR-SW20 ($400), which can operate in water as deep as 5 feet and can survive drops from as high as 4 feet. The SDHC camcorder includes a 10x optical zoom and 2.7" widescreen LCD, and can be connected directly to Panasonic’s optional DVD burner for one-button burns. The SDR-S7 forgoes the water- and shock-resistance, but can be had for $300. The HDC-SD9 ($800) is a full-HD SDHC 3CCD AVCHD camcorder with optical image stabilization, Leica Dicomar glass, face detection, and a shooting guide that alerts the user when the camcorder is tilted, when the user’s hand is tilted or swinging, when the camcorder is being panned too quickly, or when the subject is backlit or the lighting is too low. The HDC-HS9 ($1,100) adds a 60GB hard drive.

VIDEOMAKER >>> March 2008

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ZOOM IN

MARCH 2008

Samsung

Sanyo

Samsung’s SC-HMX20C (price not available at press time) SDHC camcorder with 8GB internal flash memory records in full HD and in 1080p at 30fps. The camcorder includes a 6.4-megapixel CMOS sensor and can record at 300fps for up to 10 seconds.

Sanyo’s HD700 ($600) 720p SDHC camcorder includes a 7.1-megapixel CCD and is available in silver, red and brown. It includes face detection, 5x optical zoom, a 2.7" widescreen LCD, ships with Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 for Windows and works with iMovie ‘08. The HD1000 ($800) upgrades to full HD and a 10x optical zoom, and is bundled with Nero 7 Essentials and Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5 SE.

Sanyo HD700

Sony Sony’s DCR-SR45 ($500) utilizes DCR-VX2100 will remain an 1/8" 680k-pixel CCD, 40x available. The DCR-HC52 optical zoom, Memory Stick utilizes a 40x optical Pro Duo card slot and 30GB zoom and 680khard drive. The DCR-SR65 pixel CCD, while ($600) downgrades to a 25x the DCR-HC62’s optical zoom, but upgrades to imager block a 40GB drive and 1-megapixel utilizes a 25x CCD. The DCR-SR85 ($700) optical zoom and Sony DCR-SR65 further upgrades to a 60GB hard drive. 1-megapixel CCD. The line is capped with the DCR-SR220 ($850), which utilizes a 15x Sony is adding six new Sony DCR-HC52 optical zoom and 2.3-megapixel CMOS image sensor, and adds face HD camcorders to their line. The HDRdetection and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround recording. HC9 ($1,100) is the lone new HDV camcorder, utilizing a 3.2-megaDVD camcorders for 2008 include the DCR-DVD610 ($350), pixel CMOS sensor and plenty of manual controls. The remaining which uses a 40x optical zoom and 680k-pixel CCD. The DCRfive models are AVCHD: The DVD-based HDR-UX10 ($800) and DVD710 ($400) trades to a 1-megapixel HDR-UX20 ($1,000); and the hard drive-based HDR-SR10 ($1,000), CCD and 25x optical zoom. The HDR-SR11 ($1,200) and HDR-SR12 ($1,400). All of the AVCHD DCR-DVD810 ($480) adds 8GB models include Memory Stick Pro Duo slots. The HDR-UX20 also inof internal flash memory. The cludes 8GB of internal flash memory. The DCR-DVD910 ($650) trades to HDR-SR10 uses a 40GB hard drive, a 2.3-megapixel CMOS imwhile the HDR-SR11 upgrades to a ager and 15x optical zoom, 60GB hard drive and 5.7-megapixel adds face detection but CMOS image sensor. forgoes the internal The HDR-SR11 flash memory. doubles the SR11’s Mini DV isn’t hard drive capacity. forgotten, with the Sony HDR-SR12 DCR-HC52 ($250) and DCR-HC62 ($300). The venerable Sony DCR-DVD710 Continued on page 66

9

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NEW GEAR

hot off the presses

Mariner Software

by Charles Fulton

Montage 1.3 is screenwriting software developed for Mac OS X (including Leopard) that can import and export Final Draft documents and includes pre-formatted templates for feature film, TV and theater scripts. The program also integrates with the Mac OS X Address Book, allowing for submission and tracking of queries, synopses and scripts via email. www.marinersoftware.com $140

Aleratec’s 1:2 DVD/CD Copy Cruiser LS, High Speed Edition utilizes a PC’s USB 2.0 connection to either burn or apply a LightScribe label to two CDs or DVDs at once. The drives can burn DVDs at speeds of up to 20x.

NewerTech

Aleratec

www.aleratec.com $329

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NewerTech’s miniStack NAS includes both 10/100Base-TX and USB 2.0 interfaces. When connected via Ethernet, the NAS can be accessed from as many as 20 Macs and/or Windows computers. The device also allows network media players using UPnP to stream files directly over the network. The drive measures 6.5” x 6.5” x 1.5” and includes a Kensington Security Slot. www.newertech.com $80-no hard drive $130-$330 (80-750GB hard drives available)

VIDEOMAKER >>> March 2008

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Edius 4.5

dEsktop VidEo Editing

Version 4.5 Free UPGrADe Realtime. Mixed-format editing. No rendering. No waiting. Spend more time on the creative process. With EDIUS速 version 4.5 you can mix SD and HD formats, and use new progressive formats including HDV 720p 50/60, as well as HDV 1080 24p over 60i. All without rendering. Wrap this in a cool new user interface, and you have one of the most cutting-edge desktop video editing solutions available today. Brought to you by the experts in real-time, mixed format video editing.

www.grassvalley.com/edius4.5

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JVC GZ-HD3 Everio Hard Drive and Memory Card Hybrid Camcorder

TEST BENCH

A Little Something for Everio-one

by Andrew B u r k e JVC Company of America 1700 Valley Rd. Wayne, NJ 07470 www.jvc.com

STRENGTHS • Long HD recording time • Ease of use • Still photo quality WEAKNESSES • Editability • No Headphone jack

$1,300

The JVC GZ-HD3 Everio is a fun to use camcorder that provides very long recording times with high-def resolution. Along with its big brother the HD7, this camcorder employs Constant Bitrate Recording (CBR) and Variable Bitrate Recording (VBR) at 1920 x 1080 pixels. That mode is what JVC, among other manufacturer's are

THE HD3 IS REALLY FOR THOSE OF US WHO AIM TO CAPTURE LIFE SIMPLY.

calling “Full HD” recording. However, we'll get into the picture quality later. With the 60GB HDD (5 hours of recording time in the high quality mode) and the slimmed down body, the HD3 is really for those of us who aim to capture life simply, and worry about the technicalities later. Did we mention it’s quite a looker, too? The svelte

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JVC GZ-HD3 has unique textures and deep blacks that draw attention to its design. It’s worth a double take. The HD3 fits comfortably in your hand and is weighted just enough to ward off any shaky video from small twitches and movements. Yet, it's light enough not to wear out the arms of a casual point and shoot videographer.

High-Def and Hybrid

The HD3 Everio includes many features but it doesn’t seem cluttered. The main shooting mode is called “XP”, and allows high definition 1920 x 1080 recording with Variable Bitrate Recording (VBR). In VBR modes, video is recorded at different qualities depending on the amount of action in the scene. If lots of action is to be recorded, VBR will gather more information to deliver a better pic-

ture. The HD3 camcorder does this by recording at a rate of up to 30Mbps (XP Mode); higher than HDV tape. Slower action requires less of the camcorder, and so recording may average 26Mbps or less in the same mode. The stepdown VBR mode called “SP” increases recording times by recording 1440 x 1080 video at a max of 22 Mbps. The last mode is called “1440CBR”, and it offers the same high definition resolu-

Wide screen LCD

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TEST BENCH JVC GZ-HD3 Everio

tion but with a constant recording of 27Mbps. JVC boasts a 5-hour recording time in both 1440CBR and XP modes. The “SP” mode will allow you to record up to 7 hours of video. The HD3 is called a Hybrid camcorder because it records to two

THE HD3 USES A 60GB HARD DRIVE AS ITS MAIN RECORDING MEDIA. different media. The HD3 includes a non-removable 60GB hard drive as its main recording media, along with an SD/SDHC slot underneath. Along the back camcorder body are an HDMI connection and a shiny Video/Photo select switch. There is no viewfinder. There is a standard accessory shoe, where any number of additions can be placed since it’s not a proprietary connection. An 1/8” microphone input is thoughtfully placed at front, next to a video light. The flipout LCD screen can also act as the “ON” switch, where opening the LCD powers on and off the camcorder, assuming that the camcorder's power switch is in the "On" position. This ensures that when the user closes the LCD the camcorder turns itself off.

Putting the “Fun” in Functional

As we found out early on, this camcorder is about ease of use. The buttons are placed where they need to be, and the on-screen menu is straightforward. We just attached the battery, flipped the “On” switch and opened the LCD door to start shooting. The HD3 feels a bit heavier than a tape-based camcorder, due mostly to the dense hard drive inside. But we got used to it quickly. Of special note here is the lack of operating noise this camcorder makes; which is almost none! Recording to the SD/SDHC card

is silent and recording to the hard drive is quieter than the optical disc camcorders we’ve tested. This is a bonus since the stereo mic is placed near the hard drive. As is typical of this class of camcorder, the mic captures nice sound up close, but falls off when our subject is past 8 feet away. JVC does sell a shotgun microphone accessory that’s made for the Everio line. Although, audio is still left to chance since this Everio doesn’t have a headphone jack. The video is beautifully rich in both color and contrast. To reproduce the best color, we used the Manual white balance setting, while the Auto setting did a descent job. Overall, the picture is warmer than TECH SPECS

Recording Format MPEG-2 TS to Hard Drive and SD/SDHC Memory Card Signal Format 1080/60i Recording Modes 1920 x 1080 VBR, 1440 x 1080 VBR, 1440 x 1080 CBR Number of CCDs 3 Size of CCDs 1/5" Pixels on CCD 530k Effective Video Pixels 430K Lens Konica Minolta f1.8 – f2.4 Focus Auto and Manual, Focus Assist Button Shutter Speed ½ - 1/4000 Program Exposure Modes Portrait, Sports, Twilight, Spotlight Optical Zoom 10x Manual White Balance Yes; Manual, Auto, Indoor, Cloudy, Sunlight

Viewfinder LCD Monitor Connectors Mono/Stereo Recording Microphone In `Manual Audio Level Controls Headphone Jack Speaker Flash Wireless Remote Onboard Video Light Accessory Shoe Dimensions Weight

No 2.8" widescreen HDMI, FireWire, USB 2.0, S-Video, Component Stereo sound Yes Yes No Yes, mono No Yes Yes Yes, cold 1/4" x 3" x 6-1/8" 1.5 lbs

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ounge Network With Your Peers Videomaker.com/Lounge One of the most rewarding aspects of attending Videomaker’s face to face events is the development of relationships. Friendships lead people to challenge one another to perfect their video creation abilities. You can connect with people who make video like you do. People that use the same editing software package, have the same camcorder, produce the same type of videos or you can find people that have all three things in common. You can engage in discussions about your favorite genre or about your most admired technique. Our Social Network is not only about making friends, it’s about collaboration. There is space to share videos and to provide/receive feedback on your productions. You will also find a place to share sound effects, stock photos and stock footage. It’s like a MySpace for video creators. ©

Please come and join our new network and become an active participant in the Videomaker Community! - Matt York, Videomaker’s Publisher/Editor

Videomaker.com/Lounge 2818LoungeHOUSEad.indd 48

11/7/2007 2:34:25 PM


TEST BENCH JVC GZ-HD3 Everio

Rear connectors

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most. The video doesn’t suffer much from over-sharpening, as is common among consumer cams. We also were pleased with the still photo capabilities of the HD3. The camcorder’s main Select switch changes from Video mode

THE CAMCORDER’S MAIN SWITCH CHANGES FROM PHOTO TO VIDEO EASILY. to Photo mode with ease. And while the switch seems to be in a vulnerable area at the back of the camcorder, we never accidentally triggered it.

Editing

Here’s the catch: if you’re intent on editing with the HD3, your best choice is to shoot in the 1440CBR mode. This is the only mode that offers HDV functionality in the edit bay, because of its constant bitrate. While the HD3’s other modes offer longer recording times and slightly better picture quality, they’re really suited for direct viewing. JVC saves the day by including some useable software, too. Included are a QuickTime component (Mac only) and CyberLink BD software (PC only). If you aren’t into living in

front of your trusty edit station, the HD3 Everio can be connected to an HDTV with the JVC ShareStation to entertain your audience. If quality is your main concern the ShareStation will allow you to preserve the Full HD resolution.

Conclusion

The JVC GZ-HD3 is a good choice for the low end Prosumer. Clear video quality and the long rec times keep this model on our radar. There multiple recording modes gives the shooter the unique advantage to choose between the highest quality or the most functionality in editing. We appreciate this flexibility. Throw in the HD3's gorgeous good looks and simple user operation and you have a camcorder that is certain to entertain shooters and on-lookers alike. SUMMARY

The JVC GZ-HD3 is the simplified version of the HD7 with enough charm and functionality to keep the budding videographer happy.

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Andrew Burke has worked in all areas of video production on three continents.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13562 in the subject line.



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TEST BENCH NewTek TriCaster Studio Live Production System

Studio in a Box by Brian Pete r s o n Newtek, Inc 5131 Beckwith Blvd San Antonio, TX 78249 www.newtek.com

STRENGTHS • Plenty of inputs, high quality virtual sets. WEAKNESSES • Small/lacking preview monitors • No live HD support • Layout cannot be customized

$9,995

TECH SPECS

Video Inputs (6) Component, Y/C or Composite Video Outputs Component (2) Y/C (2), Composite (2), XGA, live web-stream output Virtual Set Support Yes (Virtual sets included) 16:9 Video Support Yes Projector Output Yes 4:3 and 16:9 aspect Projector Resolutions XGA; SXGA; QSXGA and higher Camera Auto-Calibration Yes Live Internet Streaming Yes; Push/Pull Windows Media with VC1 Streaming support 16:9 Streaming Yes Recorder Simultaneous AVI & WMV Hard drive 500GB Seagate Barracuda

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Recording Capacity 20 hours AVI DDR Playback 2 DDRs, alpha channel assignable to downstream key Mic Inputs 4 Balanced (XLR or Phone) Line Outputs Balanced Phone Stereo; RCA Stereo Headphone Out Yes Vectorscope Yes Waveform Monitor Yes Phantom Power Yes Nonlinear Editor Yes Upstream Effects Yes Render Outputs AVI, DV, MPEG-2, DVD, QuickTime, MP4 (iPod and PSP) Weight 16 lbs. Dimensions 15.5"D x 8.5"H x 10.4"W

It’s been about two years since we got wow’d by Newtek’s first studio-in-abox, the TriCaster. So when we heard about all the improvements packed into this latest version, the TriCaster Studio, we made a phone call. What we got was a black box that packs about twice the punch of its TriCaster sibling – at twice the price. Video professionals producing both live and recorded shows for corporate, educational, government, worship and sporting events will want to look very closely at the TriCaster Studio. It is also a good fit for community television and even small and mid market broadcasters. Wayne’s World would have, sadly, looked more like Entertainment Tonight had the Studio been handy.

Thinking Inside the Box

The TriCaster Studio features six sets of live component, Y/C and composite inputs, and spectacular virtual sets that include sophisticated chroma key, reflection, refraction and lighting effects. Four

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TEST BENCH Newtek TriCaster Studio

additional inputs, one from an external computer, two independent digital streams from hard disk, and a background generator, gives you a total of 10 sources from which to output a variety of file formats. It doubles the number of live video inputs, mic and line audio inputs, recording capacity and DDRs over the original TriCaster. The Studio also boasts seven new file formats.

Set up

Once we got past the required Windows XP activation and download of the latest TriCaster update, we rebooted and the TriCaster screen popped up in less than 1:15. This is truly what a turnkey system should do. It defaults to the six input configuration but the TriCaster Studio gives you the option to work in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios and two configuration modes. One that lets you switch between six different live inputs but with very limited on-screen monitoring of these inputs, and another that lets you use three live input sources but gives you more on-screen monitoring options. We had four live input sources for our test so we chose the former. To compensate for the lack of dedicated monitors for each input source, we found ourselves poking around the preview bank to decide what shot to cut to next. Our sources included: two professional camcorders, one connected via component, the other composite; one consumer camcorder connected by S-video cable; a network attached computer; and a Mini DV tape deck. Connecting such a variety of sources usually requires separate processing equipment to adjust signal quality and timing. However the TriCaster Studio includes individual processing amplifiers (Proc Amps) at each input so the results were surprisingly good. We noticed some image latency coming from live video feeds, but it is not enough to impact a production. There is, however, about a half second delay when directly selecting different sources

from the live buttons. There is no delay when switching from preview to live using the take button. After some minor tweaking of brightness, hue and contrast among the three cameras and tape deck we brought in the source from our network attached computer by simply loading a small program on it, clicking on the VGA tab in the TriCaster, selecting the name of our computer and we were ready to incorporate a very good looking VGA signal. With all of our live sources ready to mix, we loaded several clips into each of the two VCRs (virtual tape decks that play two streams of video off the internal hard drive), hit the Record Output button and quickly weaved together a series of shots on the fly with a variety of transitions and overlays; all of it glitch-free.

The layout

If you’ve ever used a video switcher before, or even laid your hands on a Video Toaster, the Studio’s layout will be familiar. Below the tabs for Capture, Edit, and CG panels, at the upper left you have four preview windows. Two that show you what’s cued up in your two VCRs, one for the connected external computer, and one that is a wave- Video inputs (4 of 6) form/vectorscope. Using a 20" LCD monitor we found ourselves leaning in to see any detail on the waveform/ vectorscope. The other windows are the same small size but they give you an adequate idea of what’s cued up. To the right are larger preview and program windows. Three rows of input buttons are

XLR or 1/4" audio inputs

nested below the monitors, one for Effects, Live and Preview. A mouse driven T-bar and Auto and Take buttons sit to the right. You can select from dozens of high quality transitions and load your favorites into five tabbed banks that you can quickly access during a production. The Overlay window shows you what is ready to key over your program monitor but the window is very small and if your text is also small, forget about catching spelling errors.

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TEST BENCH Newtek TriCaster Studio

The lower third of the layout gives you access to the VCRs, Text, Background generation, Input Setup, VGA , Record/Stream and audio.

Virtual and Beyond

The Virtual Sets are nested in the Input Setup and with just a little experimenting with the Tolerance and Smooth adjustments, we were able to produce a reasonably good key. Keying compressed video always presents challenges, but the addition of Edge, Spill, and Garbage Matte adjustments makes getting one that is acceptable for most situations fairly easy. The sets do an excellent job of making the subject look integrated into the environment by simulating reflections off shiny surfaces like desks and floors, refraction, and KF.DivaLite.VM1106.pdf even shadows that map onto 11/1/06

the set background. Close-ups feature realistic background blur and each live input can be assigned its own LiveSet. Additionally, you can squeeze as many as four different shots from just one camera by having the TriCaster digitally reduce your keyed subject in perfect sync with the LiveSet. Other features include easily outputting a live stream to the web. After setting up the details of your streaming provider, you can encode on the fly and either push or pull your feed in dozens of different resolution and bitrate profiles. You can also record an .AVI file simultaneously to your hard disk; a feature lacking in the original TriCaster. The TriCaster is primarily for live productions but it also includes a very capable editor and character generator that were both PM improved in the latest update. 4:31:05

The TriCaster Studio is truly an amazing production tool. Beyond having features no other turnkey system can match, it also appears built to take the rigors of the road. All front panel connections feel solid and the two metal handles on the front also protect the protruding BNC connectors from a careless whack or bump. The TriCaster Studio; a production van in a backpack? Absolutely! SUMMARY

A powerful, stable and comprehensive live production tool that has no equal. Contributing editor Brian Peterson is a video production consultant, trainer, and lecturer.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13674 in the subject line.

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SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive 2TB Storage Device by Fabrik

TEST BENCH

SimpleTech’s Duo Pro Drive

by Edward B. Dr i s c o l l , J r . SimpleTech, a Fabrik Inc. company 1830 E. Warner Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92705 www.fabrik.com

STRENGTHS • Boatloads of storage • Fast throughput on eSATA-equipped PCs • Backup of data available via optional RAID 1 mirroring and online storage WEAKNESSES • No FireWire or network connections

With two terabytes of storage, the SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive by Fabrik fills a key need of multimedia professionals, and video pros in particular. If you’ve spent any amount of time dealing with multimedia, you know you’re talking about big files. Even assembling a simple five-minute YouTube clip can result in several gigabytes of data, from outtakes to audio files, to the actual finished segment itself. And that data needs to be archived once the actual

THE DUO PRO DRIVE FILLS A KEY NEED OF MULTIMEDIA PROFESSIONALS. project is finished. Who knows when you’ll want to dip into those files for another project, whether it’s stealing B-Roll footage, or your company’s opening logo, or simply reusing the background score? Fabrik’s online backup solution also adds a safety net

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to your critical data should anything happen to your drive. While most PCs designed for multimedia have multiple large-capacity hard drives, their capacity is not infinite. I can remember buying PCs in the early 1990s with a three or four gigabyte hard drive thinking “Wow, I’ll never fill that up!” These days though, even a three or four hundred gig drive will be crammed to the rafters eventually. It’s merely a matter of time. The Duo Pro Rear of drive Drive we recently tested is one model in a product line of storage devices marketed under Fabrik’s SimpleTech line. Compatible with both Windows and Mac OS-powered computers, these include their Simple Drive, with capacities of 500 gigabytes or less;

$999 the Pro Drive, of one terabyte or less; and the Duo Pro Drive, which is available in one terabyte, 1.5 terabytes, and in the format we tested, a whopping two terabytes of storage.

Second Time’s The Charm

I did have one initial glitch using my review unit. Upon removing the unit from the box, it was obvious that there

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TEST BENCH SimpleTech Duo Pro

TECH SPECS

online storage. Of course, the speed of these online backups is limited to the speed of your broadband connection, not the throughput of the Duo Pro Drive itself. The Fabrik Ultimate Backup service works in the background to keep your files safe should there be any incidents (either failure or damage to your drive). Drives do fail eventually, so the online backup service can provide an extra layer of protection for when the day comes. All you need to do is replace the drive and reconnect to Fabrik Ultimate Backup to restore your digital content. Don't expect, however, a 2TB capacity hard drive to restore anytime quickly over your Internet connection. The rear of the Duo Pro Drive features both USB 2.0 and eSATA II (short for External Serial Advanced Technol-

Platform Windows 2000/XP/Vista, or Mac OS 10.3 or higher Other USB 1.1 port (2.0 recommended), or eSATA connection for fastest throughput was a loose mounting screw of some sort rolling around the case of the unit. This was not a good sign. Plugging the unit into my Sweetwater Creation Station dual-core multimedia Windows XP Pro PC, SimpleTech’s Duo Pro Drive was recognized by my USB port, but not as another drive within XPs’ My Computer window. Fortunately, SimpleTech quickly dispatched a replacement drive, and it booted like a champ. A few seconds later, it was recognized by both the USB icon in my Windows XP Pro taskbar and within My Computer.

Go Inside The Duo Drive

Inside our test unit are two 7200 RPM RAID drives, each with a terabyte of storage. RAID stands for Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks, and a switch on the back of the Duo Pro Drive’s case configures the unit to either RAID 0 or RAID 1. RAID 0, which is the unit’s default position, provides higher bandwidth and greater throughput. Flipping the switch on the back of the DUO Pro engages RAID 1, which automatically mirrors the data to the second drive. On the downside, this cuts the Duo Pro’s storage capacity in half. On the plus side, should one of the drives fail, the unit will still function, allowing the data to be ported elsewhere while the faulty drive is replaced. The documentation and optional ancillary programs for the Duo Pro Drive are only available on the drive itself, not on a separate CD-ROM. These include the option of “Fabrik Local Backup”, which backs up data on a regular basis, at times of your choosing. There is also “Fabrik Ultimate Backup”, which provides two free gigs of online storage, or for a monthly fee of $4.95 per computer, unlimited

THE FABRIK ULTIMATE BACKUP SERVICE WORKS TO KEEP YOUR FILES SAFE. ogy Attachment) connections. With throughput of up to three gigabytes per second, far faster than USB 2.0’s (almost) half a gig per second maximum throughput, the eSATA II output is a nice benefit, particularly with more and more multimedia PCs using the newer SATA cables to connect their internal drive, rather than their parallel predecessors. Note that you may need to retrofit an eSATA card into your PC to use this method, unless its motherboard has a built-in eSATA output. But that should just require a screwdriver to pop open your PC’s case, and a spare PCI slot inside. An eSATA card typically streets for $50 or less. But a FireWire connection on the back of the Duo Pro Drive would have Continued on page 67

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Apple Final Cut Express 4 Video Editing Software

TEST BENCH

When Three Just Isn’t Enough

Apple, Inc. 1 Infinite Loop Cupertino, CA 95014 www.apple.com

STRENGTHS • User Interface • Color Correction • Broad HD video support WEAKNESSES • Intel Mac required for AVCHD

$199

($99 Upgrade from any previous version of Final Cut Express)

The newest incarnation of Apple’s midlevel editing tool, Final Cut Express 4, brings with it more features and likeness of Final Cut Pro than ever before. AVCHD support, multi-resolution timelines, advanced keyframing and color correction round out a long list of useful features. Some parts of Final Cut Express have gone missing. While Livetype 2.0 is still bundled with FCE, Soundtrack is no longer included. Be sure to look into Final Cut Express 4 if you’ve mastered iMovie, or if you’ve become dizzy after reading about Final Cut Studio. Also, if you've been holding out on an upgrade, FCE4 should tip the scales. This version delivers more features than the last upgrade, FCE 3.5

Express Meeting

One feature that stands out about FCE’s design is its similarity to Apple’s flagship video editing tool, Final Cut Pro. The user interface is efficient, with small buttons for maximum work area. The drop-

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by Andrew Bur k e

down menus are familiar. Button tools reside in the same places. Third party effects plug-ins can even be swapped back-and-forth. Just think of Final Cut Express 4 as a really big chip off the old block. But the similarities can be a kind of a double-edged sword; Final Cut Express 4 is very different from iMovie, especially iMovie ’08. So, there may be a bit of a learning curve involved. Luckily, FCE4 now imports iMovie ’08 projects, complete with cuts and dissolves. In the long run learning Final Cut Express 4 leaves us with the know-how to take command of a Pro-level application later on if need be.

Getting to Work

When Final Cut Express 4 opens it takes full advantage of our widescreen LCD display. On our Apple iMac desktop computer with a widescreen 20" display, FCE4 doesn’t waste a pixel. The user interface looks like this: Two dominant windows display video

at the top of our screen; both 16:9 widescreen, and our Project Window, Timeline, and Edit tool buttons take up the bottom half of our screen. Importing AVCHD footage into FCE4 is simple and straightforward. But we need an Intel-based Mac to do it. We connect our camcorder and navigate to Final Cut Express 4’s new Log and Transfer window. Next, we choose our camcorder in the Finder window and watch our clips pour in. Since our camcorder splits up our video files individually, we pick out only our favorites to transfer. Now, this spiffy new window is made only for grabbing our AVCHD video. The Log and Transfer process transcodes our AVCHD footage into a more editor-friendly video file. Get ready to wait a little while, as transferring plays out in about realtime (an hour for an hour), like captur-

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TEST BENCH

ing tape. We have to fret a little, since we have a new hard drive camcorder that should help make this process faster than tape, but the advantages aren’t as fruitful as we hoped they’d be. Final Cut Express 4 doesn’t allow native editing of HDV or AVCHD. As an alternative, FCE4 changes our video into Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) video files. These are ‘frame accurate’ and act like good ‘ol DV25 video, which is great for editing. It’s really a “pay now” or “pay later” situation: we

on our timeline with their layers intact. FCE4 imports a PSD file into the Project window as a Sequence. The Sequence is added to the Timeline as a

Apple Final Cut Express 4

clip, where each layer is given a video track. When we add non-widescreen DV in with our wide HD video, the DV appears with a ‘pillarbox’; where a

FINAL CUT ALLOWS DIFFERENT TYPES OF VIDEO TO BE CUT SIDE-BY-SIDE. wait at the start instead of waiting for native AVCHD that has to constantly to re-render during editing. As and added bonus, the new Log and Transfer window gets us yards closer to a true “Batch Capture” feature. This allows us to select only certain parts of our video for import, cue them, and lets us walk away to leave our computer to do the work. A startling omission to Final Cut Express 4 is a mature HDV Capture window. Only a one-line dialog box appears, with few features. In the end, Final Cut Express 4 delivers video that we can edit more accurately than the native video captured by our AVCHD camcorder, but it simple HDV capture features leaving us wanting more.

Cutting to the Chase

Once we have all of our elements (organized, of course) inside FCE4, we start to cut and assemble our video clips. Thanks to Apple’s new feature that allows different types of video to be cut side-by-side, we don’t have to worry about resizing our video. Our standard definition video is automatically scaled up to fit in our HD project. Our Photoshop PSD files are accepted

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Apple Final Cut Express 4

TEST BENCH

Apple Final Cut Express 4 main interface

TECH SPECS

OS Minimum CPU Min. RAM Min. Hard Drive Space for Installation Minimum Display Import/ Capture Formats Batch Capture User Interface Number of Video Tracks Number of Audio Tracks Nesting Support Audio/Video Level Envelopes Audio Scrub Keyframe Animation Number of Video Transitions and Filters Real-time Software Previews Third party Plug-in Support Encoding Formats

Mac OS X v10.4.1 or later 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4 or higher(Intel processor for AVCHD) 1GB 500MB for applications, 500MB for additional LiveType content 1024 x 768 resolution DVCAM, NTSC DV, PAL DV, AVCHD (720p and 1080i), HDV (720p and 1080i), PSD, BMP, JPEG, PICT, PNG, SGI, TARGA, TIFF No Project Browser, Viewer Window, Canvas Window, Timeline Window, Audio VU meters, Tool bar, Customizable button bars. 99 99 Yes Yes Yes Yes 200+ Yes Yes DV, Apple Intermediate Codec, Any QuickTime file format, including MPEG-4

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vertical black bar is added on either side to fill in the gaps. A nice example of FCE4’s feature set resides in the toolbox. These are the same industryproven tools that come with Final Cut Pro 6, including Ripple Edit, Blade, and Pen tools. We used the Pen tool to add audio keyframes right on the Timeline, along with motion keyframes to our video. The result? Our video zooms away as the corresponding audio fades down into the end credits. Another effect we add to our video is a Color Correction filter. This visual-based effect features a window with two colorful wheels in which you can adjust the white balance of a clip, among other things. It’s effective and fun, allowing for a high degree of creativity for those who explore it.

Trimmed down

Although Soundtrack, Apple’s midlevel audio editing tool is gone from the bunch, LiveType 2 is around and kicking. We picked out some moving text, called Live Fonts, which can dance or blow up or scroll. There are a myriad of different backdrops too, all user adjustable and able to be tweaked from the stock look

(quite edgy) into more organic-looking images. We can choose HD 1080, HD 720 or DV LiveType 2 projects for direct import into Final Cut Express 4.

Conclusion

Overall, Final Cut Express 4 serves as a solid editing tool and a great stepping stone from iMovie to FCP. Although Soundtrack is no longer a part of this sleek bundle, Final Cut Express 4’s price drop helps make-up the difference. With its support for AVCHD and other popular high-definition video formats, including many top features found in Final Cut Pro 6, Final Cut Express 4 is a perfect editing application for most semi-pro editors. SUMMARY

Apple continues adding top features to their Mid-level video editing application; Final Cut Express 4. Andrew Burke has worked in all areas of video production on three continents.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13673 in the subject line.

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Professional Realtime HD & SD Editing Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 is the most advanced video editing solution for editing SD and HD video. The integrated Adobe Encore CS3 software features professional DVD and high-definition Blu-ray disc authoring support and Adobe OnLocation CS3 provides direct to disc recording & onset monitoring. This software combined with the Matrox RT.X2 PCIe card and professional video/audio breakout box will turn your computer into a video production powerhouse capable of editing HD & SD footage in realtime â&#x20AC;&#x201C; thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the HARDWARE ADVANTAGE! If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a professional editor looking to get the maximum productivity from Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, Matrox RT.X2 is right for you. Here are just some advantages of this revolutionary hardware: t4VQQPSUGPSUIFNPTUBEWBODFEDBNFSBTJOUIFJOEVTUSZJODMVEJOH Sony HDV 1080p, Canon 24f/30f, JVC ProHD HDV 720p and native editing of Panasonic P2 MXF 720p and SD files t)VOESFETPG3FBMUJNF&GGFDUTNFBOZPVDBOTQFOEMFTTUJNF waiting and more time creating! RT.X2 features realtime Matrox Flex CPU effects including color correction, speed changes, chroma/luma keying plus realtime and accelerated Matrox Flex GPU effects including 2D/3D DVE, blur/glow/soft focus, shine and many more

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Corel DVD Copy 6 Plus Conversion Software

TEST BENCH

Copy Shop by Charles Fult o n Corel Corporation 1600 Carling Ave. Ottawa, ON K1Z 8R7 Canada www.corel.com STRENGTHS • Straightforward interface • Support for wide array of formats WEAKNESSES • 16:9 encoding problems

$50

Odds are fairly good that within a couple of miles of your home, there’s a copy shop that will also pack, mail and ship anything that you want to send out to anyone. That store probably also offers a notary public service and may even offer private mailbox services. Corel (and recently-acquired InterVideo before it) took this analogy and ran with it with DVD Copy 6 Plus—and much like the neighborhood mailing/copy shop (er, the ones with paper copiers), DVD Copy 6 Plus does a whole lot more things than just make copies of DVDs.

Installation

We installed an electronically-distributed version of DVD Copy 6 Plus onto a Pentium 4 2.4GHz system. (A 30-day trial version is available for download from Corel.) The installer asked for a couple of runtime modules to be installed, but no big deal. After the main installation completed, the installed suggested that we install QuickTime, but we already had the most recent version. Corel also includes a few additional goodies in the package: VirtualDriver (allows the mounting of a disc image as a virtual DVD-ROM

TECH SPECS

System requirements 1.8GHz CPU (3.0GHz recommended), 512MB RAM (1GB recommended), Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista, 200MB hard drive space, sound card, DVD burner Input file support AVI, MPG, M2v, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, QuickTime, ASF, WMV, DVR-MS, 3GPP/3GPP2, DivX, Xvid, TiVo, DVD-Video, DVD+VR, DVD-VR, VCD, SVCD, AVCHD Output file support MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, WMV, DivX, WMA, WAV, DVD-Video, DVD+VR, DVD-VR, VCD, SVCD, iPod, iPhone, PSP, Zune, cell phone

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drive), Disc Label (a label creator with LightScribe support), and WinDVD 8 Silver. Interestingly, though, the InterVideo branding lives on for these ancillary apps.

DVD COPY 6 PLUS DOES MORE THINGS THAN JUST MAKE COPIES OF DVDS. Only One Machine

The basic way that DVD Copy 6 Plus operates is to choose a task, then choose a target device, sending in your source files, picking a target folder or drive and hitting start. The basic tasks are Disc Utility (the suboptions are one-click copy and erase disc), Copy to Go (transfer to iPod or PSP), Convert DVD, Convert AVCHD and Convert File. Continued on page 71

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B

uying lights may not be as exciting as buying a new camcorder, but the impact on your images can be equally significant. In this Buyer’s Guide, we’ll review the important things you should consider when investing in a lighting package.

Hard or Soft?

The hardness of a light generally refers to its size in relation to the subject. A six-inch spotlight placed 25 feet from your talent will create a shadow with a

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sharply-defined edge. That same six-inch spot only two feet away from a small piece of jewelry will have a softer edge, since it is now relatively large in relation to the subject. That’s the physics. But for our discussion of various lighting fixtures, soft lights will include soft boxes, and hard lights will include spots, small floods, focusable fixtures and any lights that use Fresnel lenses. Soft boxes are a staple for most video producers, because they cast a pleasing light on just about any

VIDEOMAKER >>> MARCH 2008

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Lessons in

Lighting 2008

Lighting

Buyer’s Guide BY BRIAN PETERSON

subject that’s easy to position and nearly impossible to mess up. The problem is that they scatter light like marbles tossed down a spiral staircase. Using a grid or eggcrate will help wrangle those stray photons, but they can add significant cost to a lighting fixture. Some manufacturers include a recessed front panel or even removable flaps to help give a bit more directionality to the light. The interior surface can be either white or silver, and some designs incorporate an internal diffusion panel to reduce the hotspot in the center. Be

sure you don’t use a lamp that exceeds the maximum wattage, and always allow the soft box to vent as recommended by the manufacturer. Getting the most from hard light sources takes a little more time to master. Many videographers start with open-faced floods and focusable spot/floods. The floods are a great way to bring up the general light level of a scene, while the spots can serve as a main light, either unaltered for strong shadows or diffused for a softer edge. These lights can even do double-duty as

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Lessons in Lighting

2008 Lighting Buyer’s Guide

soft lights when bounced into umbrellas or off walls of other reflectors. While more expensive, Fresnels provide much more lighting control than open-faced designs, even when used in a flood setting. They also have a smoother transition from the center of the light beam to the edge.

Hot or Cold?

Filament LED Fluorescent Arc

Lighting Manufacturers

Filament LED Fluorescent Arc

Using tungsten lamps is one of the least energy efficient way to produce light. Tungsten’s

DeSisti www.desisti.it

Elinchrom www.bogenimaging.us

Alzo Video www.alzovideo.com

FloLight www.flolight.com

Amphibico www.amphibico.com

Frezzi www.frezzi.com

Gyoury www.meansst.com/gyoury

Airstar www.airstar-light.com

Altman www.altmanltg.com

Arri www.arri.com

Barger-Baglite www.barger-baglite.com

Bebob www.16x9inc.com Bescor www.bescor.com

Britek www.briteklight.com

Broncolor www.sinarbron.com

Canon www.usa.canon.com

Chimera www.chimeralighting.com

Cinemills www.cinemills.com

Cool-Lux www.cool-lux.com

Dedolight www.dedotec.com

• • •

Interfit www.interfitphotographic.com

JTL www.jtlcorp.com

Leviton www.leviton.com

Lite Panels www.litepanels.com

Novatron www.novatron.com

NRG www.nrgresearch.com

PAG www.pagusa.com

Photoflex www.photoflex.com

Photogenic www.photogenicpro.com

Promaster www.promaster.com

Rololight www.rololight.com

RP Studio www.rpsstudiolighting.com

Sachtler www.sachtler.com

Smith-Victor www.smithvictor.com

SP Studio Systems www.bkaphoto.com

Strand www.strandlight.com

Kino Flo www.kinoflo.com

Mole-Richardson www.mole.com

K5600 www.k5600.com

Ikan www.ikancorp.com •

IDX www.idxtek.com

Bowens www.bowensusa.com

High Lux www.highluxlighting.com •

Filament LED Fluorescent Arc

inefficiency means you’ll have to balance your power load more carefully in older homes and questionable electrical set-ups. It also means the lights themselves will get very hot even just minutes after turning them on. They are, however, among the most popular, because there is such a great variety of lamp wattages and lighting fixtures that use them. They can be found in open-faced spots, floods, focusable spot/floods, Fresnels and soft boxes. The color temperature

• •

Videssence www.videssence.com

Lowel www.lowel.com

Westcott www.fjwestcott.com

LTM www.ltmlighting.com

Zylight www.zylight.com

• •

• •

Compiled by Charles Fulton

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Vegas Pro Collection Combines VegasPro 8, DVD Architect Pro 4.5, and Dolby® Digital AC-3 encoding software to offer integrated tools for all phases of professional video, audio, DVD, and $ 95 broadcast production. These tools let you edit and process DV, AVCHD, HDV, SD/HD-SDI, and all XDCAM™ formats in real time, fine-tune audio with precision, and author DVDs & Blu-ray Discs.

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1/10/2008 9:11:36 AM


Lessons in Lighting

2008 Lighting Buyer’s Guide

Chimera 24 x 32 Video PRO Plus 1 Lightbank

Sachtler Reporter8 LED

ranges between 2800 and 3400 degrees Kelvin. If you shoot interior scenes that use standard household lamps as props or even fill light, the lower color temperatures blend well with standard light bulbs. Three other lamp types are much better at producing more light than heat. They are fluorescents, LEDs and HMIs. Fluorescents require slightly more complex circuitry and bal-

immediately. There are several new color temperature fluorescent lamps now on the market, so be careful when balancing with your shooting environment. LEDs are becoming popular for on-camera applications. They are light, draw very little power and have a lamp life measured in thousands of hours. Their output is limited, but they are great for fill light when you are close to your subject. HMIs, or Hydrargyrum Medium

THERE ARE SEVERAL NEW COLOR TEMPERATURE FLUORESCENT LAMPS NOW ON THE MARKET, SO BE CAREFUL WHEN BALANCING WITH YOUR SHOOTING ENVIRONMENT. last and are much larger than standard tungsten fixtures. They are excellent for shooting in an office where you will be balancing with existing light. They also generate very little heat, so you can turn them off and pack them away almost

Arc-length Iodide, are the kings of cool and efficient light. They have nearly five times the light output of tungstens at the same power draw, and the lamps last hundreds of hours, sometimes thousands depending on the particular lamp.

Lighting Definitions Lamp: The light source. It is also, incorrectly, called a “bulb.” Watt = Amps x volts Amp = Watt/volts Gel: Heat-resistant material used for color effects and correction Diffuser: Any material put between the lamp and the subject to scatter light. Tuff Spun or heat-resistant nylon is commonly used. Eggcrate: A grid or honeycomb affixed to a large light source to provide directional control. Barn Doors: Adjustable metal shades that affix to the front of a light source, usually spots or focusable spot/floods.

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Fresnel: (pronounced Fre-NEL, the 's' is silent) A glass lens with concentric ridges that focuses light with greater precision and gradation without the distracting second shadow of open-faced designs. Color Temperature: Relative amount of “white” light’s reddish or bluish qualities, measured in degrees Kelvin. Desirable readings for video are 3,200K indoors, 5,600K outdoors. Lux: A metric unit of illumination equal to the light of a candle falling on a surface of one square meter. One lux equals 0.0929 foot-candle. Umbrella: Lighting accessory usually made of textured gold or silver fabric. Facilitates soft, shadowless illumination by reflecting light onto a scene.

VIDEOMAKER >>> MARCH 2008

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Lessons in Lighting

2008 Lighting Buyer’s Guide

Videssence P055-155BX Some newer designs have come down in price, but most remain very expensive.

Lots of Watts

Photoflex Octodome This includes reflectors, grids, barn doors, umbrellas, scrims, cookies, gels, etc., and it can be work just figuring out which ones you really need. Many beginning videographers find that umbrellas, color correcting gels and diffusionmaterial are all they need to meet most of their lighting challenges. As you begin to develop an eye for what you don’t want to light, you will need more ways to control the light spill. Investing in a reliable lighting kit can be costly, but, unlike most other gear, it won’t become obsolete any time soon. To get a sense of the overall cost and value to your type of videography, you need to add together three

Just how much light will you need? If you will be lighting mostly interiors, one way to figure this out is to ask yourself three questions. How many light sources will it take to create the style you want? How close, on average, will your main (key) light be from your subject? And how much of the image do you want in focus? Your answer to the first question is the most critical. One well-placed and well-chosen instrument can produce impressive results, when carefully balanced with available light. However, a good starting point is usually three lights. How close you will be from your subject will guide ONE WELL-PLACED, WELL-CHOSEN INSTRUMENT CAN PRODUCE you in choosing the light output of your main, or key, IMPRESSIVE RESULTS WHEN CAREFULLY BALANCED WITH light. The closer you are, AVAILABLE LIGHT. the less light output you’ll need at the same camcorder aperture. While there are many appropriate factors: the initial cost of the lighting fixture, ways to measure light, such as foot-candles, lux, the power draw and the lamp replacement luminance and lumens, watts is not one of them. cost. Don’t forget about considering other Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t use any one usage factors, such as durability, weight, size, measurement type consistently, so, for tungsten breakdown and cool-down times. If you have lamps, you will usually see wattage listed as the multiple interviews scheduled for the same only comparison of light output. This does not day in different locations, all of these become take into account lamp efficiency or how the critically important. And yes, those inexpenlighting fixture alters the intensity. sive halogen lights you can find at any hardHow much of an area you want in focus, ware store will work as floods in a pinch. Just your depth of field, will tell you what aperture don’t expect your clients to be impressed. or f-stop you’ll want to set on your camcorder. If Contributing editor Brian Peterson is a video production consultant, you want lots of depth, it’s simple…you’ll need trainer and lecturer. lots of watts.

Mods and Money

Anything you put between or even near the lamp and the subject modifies the quality of your light.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13470 in the subject line.

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It Could Happen Showtime Your epic is finally done. The color corrections you meticulously crafted are perfect, and the audio tracks in the edit timeline are speckled with fades and dissolves – evidence of a carefully-blended soundtrack. You click on Save As and rip the project to DVD. It’s showtime. BY PETER BIESTERFELD

Rambunctious friends and relatives, even the family dog, gather in front of the digital hearth for your premiere. As they’re hooting and hollering and throwing popcorn, you dare to wonder if there might be larger audiences in grander places who might appreciate your opus. Try to imagine a packed nineteenth-century theater where Mark Twain once gave a speech, and it’s your movie flickering up there on the digital silver screen. When the credits go up, there’s applause and questions about your film. During the schmooze-fest afterwards, a sales agent comes up to you and says she might be able to find a buyer for your movie. It could happen. But you have to work for it.

Filmfests: Why Not?

Without an audience, your movie is like the proverbial hand clapping in the forest. How does anybody know it exists? If you’re genuinely serious about finding an audience for your film, you have to stop thinking that finishing the movie is the end of your labors. One of the best things you can do for your film and for your own development as a filmmaker is to have your movie screened at one of

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It Could Happen

Filmfest.com reports that, in the last ten years, the number of U.S. festivals jumped from 450 to 650.

Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Spike Lee, David Lynch and the Coen Brothers (among others) their first awards. Festivals can also be niche fests programmed around issues, themes or regions. Take the Midwest Independent Film Festival, which will consider films of all lengths and genres, but prefers submissions from “the eight-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.” The goal of your submission is to have it selected from a competing crop and win an award in one of the categories. Although most festivals are competitions, there are non-com-

One of the reasons for the jump is the new kids on the festival block. Boutique fest, student fests and online fests are not only boosting the numbers, but they’re also making distribution of original screen stories achievable for non-professional filmmakers. Some of the younger fests are grabbing a foothold by attracting a mix of pros, semipros and first-timers. The six-year-old Big Mini-DV Festival out of Long Island University, for example, encourages “filmmakers of all genres and technical levels” to submit their videos. At the other end of the festival rainbow sit festivals with long traditions, such as the stately but vibrant WorldFest Houston Film Festival. Founded in 1961, WorldFest boasts that it gave

petitive events, such as the Tulsa Overground. This combination film and music event bills itself as “a festival for the people, by the people. A cinematic grab bag of first-time filmmakers, student directors, professional lensers and big name auteurs.” “Anything goes” programmers at the Overground accept only shorts and caution that only two hours of films are screened each night, so the shorter your film, the better its chances for selection. Once your film is accepted, most festivals will give you an industry pass. This gets you into the formal and informal sessions where filmmakers of all stripes get to mix with industry pros, distributors and sales agents. Whether it’s

the several hundred festivals that dot the North American landscape. Festivals can do three things for you: deliver audiences for your film, connect you to the industry marketplace and provide learning opportunities for improving your craft. Before launching into the do’s and don’ts of getting your film past programmers and screeners and in front of festival audiences, we should first pan across the terrain to explore what kinds of festival experiences are out there.

Festival Landscapes

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It Could Happen

a Q-and-A session with a seasoned filmmaker after a screening, an industry panel on current trends or a boot camp on distribution and marketing, you’ll find these sessions indispensable to your career trajectory.

Festival 101

Festival pros suggest you should know what you want your submission to achieve before you submit it: Is it to get you an agent or a publicist? Or is it to make enough of a splash to get you invited to other festivals? Perhaps you want a distributor or broadcaster to notice your film, because you want to tap them for participation in your next film.

details of submission criteria and deadlines and preparing an information kit about your film. Start shooting production photos early – you never know. Many festivals don’t accept direct submissions any more and prefer you go through an online festival submission service. Withoutabox.com is the biggest of the one-stop online festival submission supermarkets. Its signature product, the International Film Submission System, gives beginning filmmakers and academy award winners alike access to over 1,200 international festival markets. “We help filmmakers navigate the film festival submission process and make informed

There's a festival for everyone nowadays, but make sure you read all the rules. For instance, if you're submitting for teen viewers, you might get rejected if your subject's are smoking, no matter how good your video is. Know your target, they set the rules, not you.

Those who unpack and screen your epic say that wrapping your submission copy in a glossy marketing package is not the way to get their attention. Filmfest mythology has it that the fancier the package, the more the buzz. Don’t believe it. Put your heart and attention into your film, not into the wrapper. What interests festival screeners and selection committees is the quality of your storytelling. But if they like your film and select it for competition, you will want to be ready with a high-quality screening copy and a press kit. If you’re too busy making your movie and haven’t got the time to market it, get somebody on your team to do it. Right from the outset somebody has to be on festival alert, sniffing out the

and well-researched decisions about their film festival entry choices,” says the Web site. Festival veteran and Withoutabox junkie, Murphy Gilson, has had his short film Partially True Tales of High Adventure! accepted by over twenty festivals around the world, including Cannes’ Short Film Corner. The Culver Citybased director and writer has these words of wisdom for festival newbies: “Your DVD is how people think of you as a filmmaker. Are you going to submit a professionally-made disc or some sloppy Sharpie-scribbled thing they lose in their car? A successful festival visit is not only about your screening”.

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It Could Happen Murphy tells us these points to consider when trying to break into the festival world: • Go to other screenings, stay for the Q-and-As and meet other filmmakers. • Go to the panels and the forums. • Try to meet distributors, agents and producers. • Follow up. Go through all the business cards, and send a ‘nice to meet you’ e-mail • Promote your film, but don’t make an *** of yourself. Seinfeld in a bee suit is funny. A nobody in a bee suit is creepy. As a final point, Murphy adds, “Don’t get too attached to rejection. There are probably a dozen valid reasons why your film was rejected that have nothing to do with the quality of your film.”

Submissions: The Final Word Withoutabox is a very powerful ally for the budding film festival producer. Everything you need to get started, without the confines of a distribution agency.

Local programmers pride themselves on bringing something new and fresh to their audiences, and they like to write “premiere” next to an

Press Kit

As soon as a festival announces its selections, the media will want details about the films on the schedule. If yours is one of the lucky ones, you will want to leave a stack of press kits for festival staffers to hand out. To create a pre-screening buzz with your press kit, here’s what you might put inside the package: • Quality 8x10 production stills • Camera-ready word marks and promotional graphics • Writer and director bios • Separate actors’ bios for all the principals (with photos) • Crew credits • Movie synopsis and logline (one-pager) • Contact information and links to Web site • Samples of early reviews • Quotations from the script • Posters • Postcards • Music soundtracks

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• DVD trailer • Post-production blurbs (“What a wonderful picture it was to work on…”) • Peer quotes (Michael Moore: “This has to be the most important doc of the year.”) • CD of all of the above – Electronic Press Kit (EPK) can be made available online • Clever pocketable trinket (helps with title recognition) Tip: Consider a tasteful mix of the above. Postcard-sized items work best.

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It Could Happen entryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s title in the program. But, if your piece has been widely available through the World Wide Web, festival directors canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do that. However, many festivals are more lenient when it comes to short subject films, and there are many who wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t insist on the first-time rule. As well, there are plenty of exclusively short film fests out there looking for your â&#x20AC;&#x153;previously enjoyedâ&#x20AC;? masterpiece. Read the rules to see where you fit.

Credit Roll

Excellence is what will get your submission past festival gatekeepers and into the hearts of audiences and jurors. An informal e-mail survey of festival pros all concurred that what programmers and screeners are generally looking for is â&#x20AC;&#x153;quality storytelling, quality performances and intriguing and slightly unconventional docs.â&#x20AC;? If you want to get plugged into the film festival scene and plan for your first submis-

sion, visit online festival forums and discussion groups. You should also check out the festival â&#x20AC;&#x153;idiot guidesâ&#x20AC;? and other how-to books available on bookstore and library shelves. Look for Videomakerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Festival Roundup, The Festival Circuit: 8 Film & Video Festivals on page 72 to learn about many upcoming festivals, and visit our community sharing page at www.videomaker.com/festival to find a festival that fits for you. Happy browsing. May all your submissions be worthy. May all your audiences be delighted. And may you hoist a statuette or two. Peter Biesterfeld is a documentary maker, incurable doc watcher, screen production educator and writer.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13588 in the subject line.

      

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by Charles Fulton

Formats and Codecs

There’s a lot to think about when choosing formats for acquisition and distribution.

With the continuing evolution of digital video and the advent of consumer-accessible high-definition video, the landscape has changed. New formats have come to light, and, with them, new codecs are now in fairly widespread use.

Say What?

A codec is defined as a compressor/decompressor, or a piece of hardware or software that compresses a data stream into a specific format for recording or decompresses the data from that same format for playback. In this context, we’ll be discussing codecs for video and audio, although there are also codecs for compressing still images and computer files used from day to day. We’ve provided handy-dandy comparison tables of some of the most common formats you’ll run across in your days of video production. [see figs. 1 and 2] In it, we include the name of the codec, its developer, the type (whether lossy, lossless or uncompressed) and the typical use for it. We hope it helps you follow along as you read.

Why Should I Care?

The choice of which codec you use for a certain purpose may be a function of how much disk space you have on hand or what your customer might be asking for you to deliver. In these cases, the choice is easier. But if you have a choice or want to be prepared to make a case for using a different codec, we hope to arm you with the information you need.

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Formats and Codecs Here are some common video codecs used by a variety of devices and software applications.

VIDEO CODECS

Figure 1

CODEC

DEVELOPER

LOSS? TYPICAL USE

DV

IEC

Lossy

Mini DV, DVCPRO, DVCAM

MPEG-2

MPEG

Lossy

DVD, Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD

H.264/AVC

ITU-T/MPEG Joint Video Team

Lossy

AVCHD, Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD

VC-1

Microsoft, ratified by SMPTE

Lossy

Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD

RealVideo

RealNetworks

Lossy

Streaming

WMV

Microsoft

Lossy

Streaming

Figure 2

AUDIO CODECS CODEC

DEVELOPER

TYPE

TYPICAL USE

Linear PCM (WAV/AIFF)

(Legacy)

Uncompressed DVD, CD, most outboard audio recorders

Dolby Digital (AC3)

Dolby Labs

Lossy

DVD, AVCHD, DBS, digital cable

WMA

Microsoft

Lossy

Streaming

AAC

Dolby Labs

Lossy

Download-and-play music

MP3

Fraunhofer

Lossy

Download-and-play music

DTS

DTS

Lossy

DVD

Dolby Digital Plus

Dolby Labs

Lossy

Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD

DTS-HD High Resolution

DTS

Lossy

Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD

Dolby TrueHD

Dolby Labs

Lossless

Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD

DTS-HD Master Audio

DTS

Lossless

Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD

Codecs can be lumped into several categories. One of the most-used means of comparison for codecs is whether it is lossless or lossy. Lossless compression packs the data in such a way that you preserve every single bit of it, so when you decompress the file, the original file is unscathed. A typical lossy compression scheme, on the other hand, discards data that a typical human wouldn’t notice was missing in order to save space. You could also store data in an uncompressed format that you haven’t compressed at all – this is the easiest format to process, but, of course, it also takes up the largest amount of data.

Video Codecs

The codec most video producers know best is DV, which is unique in that its compression is particularly gentle (well, processing-wise, anyway). Technically, the reason any computer editing DV

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Audio codecs come in a variety of flavors depending on your needs.

can perform editing operations so quickly is that all compression on DV is performed intra-frame, so each frame stands alone. You can perform any cut cleanly, and dissolves take a minimum of processor power to execute. The most common form of DV operates at 25Mbps and is restricted to standard-definition video, but Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD (which uses four DV codecs operating in parallel) is worth mentioning as the most accessible high-definition codec that also performs intra-frame compression. There are a couple of other major codecs used for both acquisition and distribution. The bestknown of these is currently MPEG-2. MPEG-2 has become a popular distribution format for its relatively low-bitrate requirements. It is the most common format in such applications as DVD, DBS, digital cable and both of the new high-def disc formats. The other one is H.264/AVC, which is used

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Formats and Codecs by AVCHD and both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, which is approximately twice as efficient as MPEG-2 but requires significantly more processor power to play back and is supported by only a very small number of editing programs. Distribution-only codecs include Windows Media and RealVideo. These codecs feature tremendous efficiency, since they are designed for streaming the highest-quality video possible over the finite amount of available bandwidth on the internet â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the downside is that you generally are not able to edit them at all. Another drawback when it comes to compression is that, if you make an edit on a compressed file and then recompress it, the quality may not always be preserved. Some editing programs are able to work with MPEG-2 video clips at I-frame level, so if recompression is necessary, they can do this intelligently to preserve the quality and increase the speed of the render. If the extent of your editing was simple cuts, you might find that a DVD- or hard drive-based camcorder might work just fine for your needs, when paired with an editing program that performs I-frame level editing. As far as video goes, there are ways to store video without using compression. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to get out your credit card to use any of them, though. Any solution for using uncompressed video requires extremely high bandwidth for storage. This would be one of the times

where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d want to use a RAID 0 for storage (to maximize throughput). To succinctly summarize this discussion, keep the following in mind. In general, the degree of compression in use determines how difficult the footage will be to edit. The considerations you have to make in finding the best balance include amount of disk space available, processing power available, the amount of bandwidth available (if streaming) or the number of bits available (if authoring to disc).

Audio Codecs

While audio takes up a much smaller amount of data on a typical project compared to video, it still bears discussion since, of course, half of the experience of a video presentation is audio. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also easier for pretty much any device (whether a computer, a camcorder, a playback device, etc.) to process audio than video, regardless of the levels of compression in use. Take a simple linear PCM file that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d get if you captured some footage from a Mini DV tape and then separated the audio from the video. This is pretty much the most raw, unprocessed form of audio that you can get. Practically any computer can process linear PCM quickly with reckless abandon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the longest part of the operation would be the time needed by the hard drive to read the file into the system. Depending on the codec used for your audio files, you may see a slight change in the dynamics of the audio properties due to compression.



 

      

  

 

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Formats and Codecs When exporting a video file, typically a software application will first prompt you to choose the wrapper (i.e., .mov, .wmv, etc.).

On the other hand, before compressed audio can be edited further, the computer has to decompress it. If you, opened, say, an MP3 file in Audacity, the needed operation would happen up-front before you could actually start editing the audio. Another differentiating factor between audio formats is the ability to encode more than just two channels of audio. Most producers working on 5.1-channel audio mixes will encode them into the Dolby Digital format. This has become the de facto standard for digital surround-sound mixes over the years, mostly as a result of being one of the two mandatory audio formats for DVD.

Wrap It Up

You know all those QuickTime and AVI files strewn about your hard drive – at the core level,

they’re all the same, right? Well... not quite. There’s a bit more going on. Take another look at the export settings screen of your editing software. Under both AVI and QuickTime, you’ll see a number of compressors other than the good ol’ reliable DV codec. There are a lot of choices you can make and a lot of options at your fingertips (so tread carefully!). This is also the reason why there’s generally no guarantee that you can play an AVI file interchangeably in any system you might bring it to. Generally, QuickTime’s codec management tends to be more robust, so it’s usually more likely that a QuickTime file can play the first time on a computer. While a particular MOV file might include Sorenson video and MP3 audio, another might include DV video and linear PCM audio. Same goes with AVI. Both AVI and QuickTime are wrapper formats, also known as container formats. The goal of a wrapper is to be a holding tank for video and audio packets, which are multiplexed together so the program inside can be read by the computer in a logical order. MPEG program streams are also worth mentioning here, as they are used in a modified form

Yawn, Another Format War Although we're magazine editors, we are fellow consumers along with our audience. As such, we are tremendously disappointed that another format war is taking place in HD disc formats. HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc are currently slugging it out in the marketing and retail arenas. (Ed. Note: At press time, Warner announced it is planning to switch from HD DVD to Blu-ray Disc, so many voices we hear are now declaring Blu-ray Disc the winner.) We had hoped that all of the manufacturers would have figured out that consumers generally roll their eyes when there’s a prospect of choosing the wrong format (remember how VCR sales were slow until VHS killed off the consumer version of Beta?). This isn’t the first format war we’ve seen lately, particularly as far as the DVD Forum is concerned. The DVD-R vs. DVD+R fracas from a few years ago was resolved relatively quietly, with the benefit of pretty much all burners now being able to handle either type of media. And the DVD-Audio vs. Super Audio CD war has pretty much fizzled (unless you happen to be talking to a hardcore audiophile). Neither format was adopted widely – the humble CD sounds just fine to pretty much everyone we know. (Yes, we know that some of you still prefer LPs... good for you.) Then again, there’s recently been a lot of chatter about how the 1-2 punch of even-more-refined compression algorithms and ever-faster broadband Internet access might completely eliminate the need or want for a HD disc format at all, rendering the whole discussion moot. The sooner, the better, we say.

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After choosing a wrapper for your file, you generally have a variety of specifics codecs to choose from.

on DVDs. The VOB files on DVDs are little more than MPEG program streams, though they often include subtitles and CSS encryption (particularly if the VOB in question was on a Hollywood-distributed title). Two other wrapper up-and-coming formats that include Matroska, an open-source wrapper

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Formats and Codecs

format, and MXF (Material eXchange Format), a professional wrapper format that is used by high-end Avid editing systems and Sony’s XDCAM system. You most commonly find Matroska as a distribution wrapper format, and MXF hasn’t begun to trickle into many prosumer editing workflows quite yet. We hope to have assisted you in understanding how codecs and formats impact your daily life as a video producer. There’s a lot here and things are evolving, as does everything else in our field. Charles Fulton is Videomaker’s associate editor.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13743 in the subject line.

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Tutorial

Web Link Watch the video tutorial at www. videomaker.com/ article/13743

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Every blockbuster movie has hundreds or even thousands of edits, yet the viewer often is unaware of the cut. Why? In many cases, the change is very subtle, using a technique which is often known as a Natural Transition.

In the annals of cinema history, Thomas Edison is considered the father of the first motion picture cameras and his assistant Edwin S. Porter made the first narrative movies with one shot cutting to the next. The idea of match cutting on motion has been around since D.W. Griffith started to advance the editorial arts that began with Porter. Transitions, especially in the form of cross dissolves entered the moviemaking tool kit within a few years.

Not so Subtle History

In the 1950â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurasawa used wipes and transitions to great effect in his samurai movies which later got emulated in the Star Wars films. Transitions, especially the more radical ones are usually used to emphasize a change in geography or time in the movie. In the last 10 years, transitions are added for free to the non linear editing packages by the dozens. The temptation to use them rises, even though the more radical transitions serve to do little but distract audiences from the story or idea being put forth by the sounds and images.

Transitioning Naturally By Peter John Ross

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Transitioning Naturally 1. Changing Location Subtly When most people think of transitions, the first thing that comes to mind is a cross dissolve where you fade from one clip to the next. Cross Dissolves are a very “soft” transition because it’s easy on the eyes. Another, more clever alternative is to use the shots themselves to transition from one scene to the next or from one location to another. An example of this would be to show a man typing a letter. He grabs it off the printer, and then in the edit, we go to a close up of the letter; the close up pulls out to reveal a girl and her friend reading the letter. This moved the audience from one location and scene to another without the use of a plug-in or a button. By using the rules of editing and the basic ideas of match cutting, you can effectively get from one

scene to another. The effect can be initially jarring, but today’s audiences are accustomed to quick thinking and radical changes, and yet they are more natural than a fancy page peel or turning one of the video clips into a 3D animated ball that bounces away off screen. Another version of the natural transition is to have one scene end with a person showing a reaction shot, and hearing the sound from the next scene. We can have MAN in scene 1, working, then we hear the audio of WOMAN 2 in scene 2 asking a question, and the visuals still show MAN from scene 1 as he looks up, as if responding to this, and we cut to WOMAN 2 in scene 2 and then we cut to the reaction shot of WOMAN 1 in scene 2. This is an audio transition from one scene to another.

The key to making this transition smooth is the close up on the paper. This close up shot connects the scene prior to the new scene seamlessly.

2. Frame Wipe The frame wipe gets commonly used if the scenes can justify it. This is where someone or something fills the whole frame in one scene and when the frame clears, we are in the next scene or location. The way to achieve this near seamless edit is to cut while the person or object is fully blocking the frame at both locations. Because the camera gets blocked as a giant out of focus blob, the edit is nearly invisible. This technique was used in JAWS on the beach cleverly to change the view 180 degrees without a jarring cut.

In this example a person passes in front of the camcorder, blocking the view. When this distraction passes the audience is in a new scene. This type of transition can be done very discretely.

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Transitioning Naturally 3. Motion Transition

Cutting on motion is a common editorial trick for drawing the viewers eye and it can be used to smoothly transition from one scene to another if it relates. In this example, we can have WOMAN 1 ball up a sheet of paper and throw it down out of frame. Cutting on the motion of the paper ball leaving frame and the next shot is a paper ball entering frame on the floor in another scene. We

just took the viewer back in time to MAN in scene 1 looking at his earlier drafts balled up. The audience will connect with the movement and still understand the geography. This can even be used in a more abstract sense of following the movement without the object (or person) be the same as long as the screen direction matches, the audience’s eye will follow.

Make sure to keep some continuity in the motion of the traveling object.

4. Whip Pan Fast panning, or “whip pans” can also form a semi-abstract cut and the movement can take the audience out of one scene and into the next, continuing the camera movement. Cutting in the middle of the wild camera move, since the image is a smeared blob, also cuts without startling the viewer. As with all transitions, overuse can lessen the impact. Transitions, even natural ones, should be used to emphasize the change in scenes. Sometimes a straight cut can get you from one place to another. Other times, you really want to emphasize the change – like in a storyline or movie where you are telling a story non-linearly. If you are jumping from two different storylines, the jumps between parallel action might warrant some kind of emphasis on the transition.

A whip pan can get the job done, but it's usually a bit more distracting than most other transitions. Use sparingly. To create one, you would subtly swish the camera to the left from scene one so the shot blurs, and use only a few frames here before you cut to the next shot of the camera swishing from the right and settling on the new subject. It's a difficult technique to master.

In narrative storytelling, like short films and features, most NLE transitions might rip the audience out of the believability of the scene. In something like a documentary, reality show, or industrial/commercial video – traditional transitions are more common because

they are acceptable. Use your best judgment, Watch our online video demo for more and good luck! Peter John Ross is an award-winning filmmaker and author of Tales from the Front Line of Indie Filmmaking.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13743 in the subject line.

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BASIC TRAINING Breaking it Down

by Ky l e C a s s i d y

Not all tripods are created equal... One techie breaks them down to explain what each part does, and what to hunt for when you’re ready to stand on three legs… or one. “Geez,” sighed Larry after the DVD was over, “how come my video never looks like that?” The words “talentless hack” danced through my head, but that wasn’t really helpful. “One reason might be that you never use a tripod,” I said. “Why on earth would I want to use a tripod? I move the camcorder all the time!” This was true. Larry likes to videotape auto races, so you get half an hour of a car going around in a circle. “Tripods aren’t just for static shots,” I said. “There’s much more to using a tripod than sticking a camcorder on one in the back of a room and leaving it there.” “Really?” “Absolutely.” “Whenever I’ve tried to use a tripod, I’ve found it really awkward to move – all those knobs to twist and things

like that – and I can never tell what direction it’s supposed to go in....” “Well, Larry,” I said, “let’s talk about tripods then.”

Parts of a Tripod

A tripod has two distinct parts – the legs and the head. In most professional tripods, these are interchangeable components rather than a monolithic unit like you’ll find on less expensive ones.

The tripod leg on the left is a typical crutch type. The lower section of the legs are adjustable. This type is very solid for larger camcorders, but might not go down as low as the telescopic type on the right. However, these legs can often go higher or lower, and are lighter in weight and easier to grab-n-run with.

The legs are usually telescoping tubes or crutch-style which can lock extended; these raise the camcorder off the ground. Typically they’re categorized by the amount of weight they can hold steady. These can be made of wood, aluminum or carbon fiber. Some models, at both the high and low ends of the price scale, connect the legs to the center post or by a spreader at the base of the legs. Many mid-range tripods have legs that move independently of one another.

The Head

The head is the device which holds the camcorder. The head, more often than not, has a “quick release,” which is a plate that screws into the bottom of your camcorder using a ¼-inch screw. The plate then attaches to the tripod head by means of a quick-release lever. Some people leave the quick release more or less permanently mounted to the camcorder. This allows you to attach and remove the camcorder from the tripod quickly – very useful if you frequently mix tripod and handheld shooting.

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The Legs

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basic training

Tripod heads come in several flavors. The most common and inexpensive, but not the most useful for video, are the three-way tilt-pan heads. These have three levers for controlling up, down, left and right motion, as well as for canting the camcorder to one side (for taking portrait-style photos with a still camera). Another popular choice is the ball head, which is much easier to use. It allows the camcorder to move through its range of motion attached

March 2008

controllers (also known as Control-L) are especially useful for studio and event videographers. Check to see if you can hook one up to your camcorder before you plop money down for an attachable controller.

Counterbalanced Tripod Heads

Some pricier tripod heads have what's called "counterbalancing" which is a series of springs that even out tension when you move the camera, this keeps the relative weight of the camera the

GOOD TRIPODS WILL LET YOU SET THE TILT AND PAN DRAG INDEPENDENTLY. to a ball and sometimes has a pistol grip. These two heads, while common, are useful mainly in still photography. When a tripod needs to do double duty with family videos and still photography, one of these is a good choice. The third choice is the fluid head tripod, which is very popular for use with video camcorders. Real ones, called “true fluid”, actually have oil in a sealed chamber through which the mechanism of the tripod moves. There are some cheaper faux fluid heads that just use friction to achieve a similar goal. The drag of the mechanism through the oil on a true fluid head produces a slow, steady movement for tilting and panning shots. Good tripods will allow you to set the tilt or pan drag independently. Some really good tripods have digital readouts to set extremely precise drag. Tripods specifically designed for video typically have one control arm (rather than three), allowing you to do a range of tilt and pan motions with one control. Also popular with video are tripods which put some of the camcorder’s controls (pause, play and zoom) on the pan-arm, allowing you to keep an eye to the viewfinder and control the motion and function of the camcorder with one hand. These LANC

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basic training

March 2008

These are just three of many types of tripod heads and features. The monopod, on the left, has a simple tilt head, and the arm tightens or loosens the drag. Many less-expensive tripods have a similar design. The middle head has an easy quick-release plate and separate pan and tilt controls, while the tripod head one on the right is designed for still cameras and has three control arms, allowing canted shots along with portrait or landscape shots.

Homemade Substitutes

Tripods and even monopods are bulky, and you don’t want to carry one around if you’re not going to use it. There are a few stop-gap solutions that you can safely carry around in your camcorder bag without breaking your back or your wallet. You can always try the old bit-of-chain-andan-eye-screw trick to make a simple homemade monopod. This consists of a threaded ¼-inch eye screw attached to a thin length of chain about five feet long. Screw the eye screw into the tripod socket on the bottom of the camcorder, dangle the chain, then step on it. With the chain held tightly under your foot, apply some upward pressure (pull up) on the camcorder. This will allow you to hold the camcorder steadier than you can hand-hold. It’s not as good as a monopod, but it weighs just four ounces.

Picking the Right Tripod

You want to really think about your needs when you're buying a tripod because it is a device which is going to stay with you for a long time, and it’s not something you should skimp on. There are three important measurements on a tripod: the maximum working height, the minimum working height and the length when collapsed. Ideally, you want the tripod that allows you to get your camcorder the highest and the lowest, and which packs the smallest. There are obviously trade-offs with all of these.

Transporting your Tripod

LANC controllers attach to the tripod's arm, with a cable that attaches to your camcorder. The controller buttons and rocker allow gentle fingersensitive record and on/off functions along with smooth zooms. They're great for live work, where your crew must keep a close eye on a monitor, not the camera controls.

I’m not the kind of person who puts a tripod in a case because I’m afraid it’ll get scratches on it, but oftentimes it is more convenient to carry a tripod in a case because the case has a shoulder strap. You can also get a shoulder strap that attaches to the tripod without a case. Both of these are preferable to carrying it without a strap, if you’re going any distance. Also, some camcorder bags have straps made for holding tripods; keep this in mind next time you’re pricing new bags.

Tabletop Tripods

These are usually available for a few dollars in camcorder and video stores. They’re usually not terribly sturdy, but they will serve to hold the

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same when you, say, tilt down. An ordinary tripod would get front heavy when this happened, counterbalancing adds spring tension to assure that your camera feels and reacts the same, no matter how it's tilted. It will also take over if you remove an interchangeable lens from the camera which would ordinarily make the camera tilt backwards.

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basic training

March 2008

camcorder a few inches off a surface and point it in a particular direction.

Sometimes you don't have the space to carry a full tripod, and that's where a monopod comes in handy. By resting the ‘pod’s leg between your legs, you can shoot for a good length of time without getting too jittery, and still have the freedom to move about quickly,

Using a Monopod

A monopod is essentially one leg of a tripod. Some monopods have heads on them, but not always. Some heads are as robust as those on a tripod... but not always. Monopods aren’t nearly as sturdy as tripods and won’t reduce vibration and motion blur nearly as much, but they’re better than nothing, and they’re very portable. Sometimes it’s possible to brace your monopod, like between your knees while sitting in a chair which can create a relatively stable foundation.

Do Some Research

When I bought my first tripod, one of my cinema professors talked me out of the $30 model I was looking at by mentioning that, if I didn’t want to be back in the store in two years, I should spend the money up front and get the tripod I’d be using for the rest of my life. I did, and I haven’t regretted it. The price was a bit steep, but I’ve used it for years. Buy a tripod sturdier than you think you need, with features that you don’t think you’ll use.

Things to look for: 1) How low to the ground will it get? Some tripods can have the legs splay out and lower the head to within inches of the floor; others will have you stuck a foot and a half in the air. 2) Is the head interchangeable? Just because you can’t afford an expensive fluid head right now doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to later, so invest in something that’s upgradable. 3) Do the legs move independently of one another? Most inexpensive tripods are designed for setting up in your living room and holding the camcorder steady there. Professional tripods realize that sometimes you’ll be in a stairwell or on rocks or other strange places. For this reason, many pro tripods have legs that can move independently of the others. Remember, not all tripods are created equal, but they all serve a similar purpose: to keep your shot, crisp, clear and above all steady. Not every tripod suits every need, either. If you’re shooting a lot of low shots, you might not care for a ‘pod that can extend 8 feet high. On the other hand, if you do a lot of panning or tilting, the head might be the most important part of the ‘pod to examine. Determining your needs is the first step to your tripod research, and then that will give you a leg (or three) to stand on. Contributing Editor Kyle Cassidy is a visual artist who writes extensively about technology.

Nothing is more annoying than the legs splaying out as you hoist a tripod to your shoulders. If you carry your ‘pod around a lot, consider transport when you buy.

F E E D BAC k For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13529 in the subject line.

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Lighting Night Lighting

by Robert G. Nu l p h , P h . D .

Winter is waning, the snows are beginning to melt in the northern states and the sun is sticking around a little longer. However, the night still rules!

What do you do about lighting, if the only time you get to shoot is at night? What about shooting night scenes – how do you light them to look realistic yet still be able to record a good image? Night lighting can be tricky, but when you get it right, the end result can be awesome! In this column, we will look at the basics of f-stops and lighting and how you can use that knowledge to create realistic and very dramatic lighting at night. We will also talk about shooting interiors and making it look like it is a gorgeous moonlit night.

The Secrets of F-stops

Most camera lenses have a mechanical way to control the amount of light that passes through the lens. The opening in the lens is the aperture, and the iris is the mechanical device that opens and closes to let in more or less light. This works much the same way as your eye. The aperture is the pupil and the iris controls the size of the pupil/ aperture. The f-stop is the number that designates the ratio of the overall size of the lens to the size of the aperture or opening, or, in mathematical terms, the focal length of the lens divided by the diameter of the lens opening or aperture: f=F/D. The really interesting thing about the f-stop is that, if you increase or decrease the f-stop by 1 stop, you double the amount of light or cut it in half respectively. Therefore, an f-stop of 5.6 allows in twice as much light as an f-stop of 8 and one-half as much light as an f-stop of 4. Why is this important? It also affects the depth of field, or the depth of the

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area that is in focus in front of the camera. If you want to be able to see everything in sharp focus, you need to be able to shoot at a higher f-stop, which means you need a lot more light. Just having more light does not mean the scene will be brighter. By closing the aperture, you are increasing the depth of field and decreasing the amount of light getting through the lens, thus making it seem darker. When you are shooting a well-lit night scene, it may seem really bright to your eye, but to the camera that is shooting with a high f-stop, there will be beautiful contrast between the bright spots and the dark spots in the scene – the ultimate goal of night shooting. A way to test your ability to do this is to shoot a scene in a room with white walls. When you set your lights up, place them 60 degrees above your subject and make sure that no light spills on the background. This is called cameo lighting. Close the iris on your camera, so that the skin tones on your talent’s face are natural. Use an extra monitor to check your shot. You should end up with a well-lit face and nothing in the background but black. Even in a white walled room! To your eye, the room will seem

bright, but, to the camera set to the right exposure for your talent’s skin tones, the background will disappear! Ahhh, the power of the f-stop.

Setting Up the Night Shot

As with any kind of lighting setup, especially when doing narrative productions, you have to analyze the scene and determine the look you want. Are you shooting in an alley or a brightly-lit street? Are you shooting in a dark room at night with only street light dribbling through the windows? One thing to remember about light at night: it always has a hard edge. This means you need to use intense smaller lights that create the shadows that make a night scene so compelling. Put away the silks and diffusers. Hard is the only way to go at night, unless you want to add a touch of fill reflected from diffused surfaces. Once you have identified the setting, then you work to recreate the look of that setting. Some may think that all you need to do with today’s equipment is just go out and shoot in the natural available light. While there is nothing stopping you from doing so, the end result will be a real disappointment. Even today’s very light-sensitive

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LIGHTING

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Background

Talent

Flag

Fill Light

Flag Key Light

Cameo Lighting

Camcorder

Cameo lighting is a great way to lose a distracting background, and can really add punch to a shot that looks like it's an indoor night scene. The trick 241cool_lux.pdf 5/9/2007 11:42:37 AM is to keep any spill from reaching the background, set a proper f-stop and place the lights at about 60-degrees above the talent.

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LIGHTING

cameras will produce an image that has a shallow depth of field and a gray, grainy look, if the lighting is not right. Begin your setup by determining the primary light source and the size of the shot you will need. If you are shooting primarily closeups and medium shots, your lights can be small and close to your subject. However, if you are shooting long or wide shots, you will need to place your lighting instruments in such a way that you do not see them or cannot tell that they are supplementing the light sources you can see. A streetlight, while very bright to our eyes in a dark night, really doesn’t produce much light, so you will need to supplement it to create the look you need. Let’s take a look at a close and distant setup.

Intimate Night Lighting

For the close and medium shot setups, you need to duplicate the source of the light in the natural world with smaller lights that are set fairly close to your subject. If duplicating a scene under a streetlight, place your main light so that it is at a very high angle above the talent. Use a bounce card just out

MARCH 2008

of camera shot in front of the talent, to add a bit of fill light in the talent’s face. This will give the idea that there are other light sources around; they are just not very bright. In the distance, place some small plain and colored light sources to imitate city lights or stop lights. Use your imagination. Go out on a street, look at a similar situation and duplicate it, keeping in mind that you will have to control the fall of your lights to keep them from lighting anything you don’t want to see. If you are shooting “under the moonlight,” you can place two color-temperature-blue or CTB gels on your light and place it at a 45-degree angle at the two o’clock position in front of your talent. Add some slowly-moving leafy branches in front of the light, and you have a woodsy moonlit night. Don’t white-balance with the gel on the light; if you do, the camera will think that it is white light and will eliminate the color totally. You can use the same setup indoors. Place a light outside a window and shine it through a set of blinds. The resulting light will look like moonlight through blinds and will create a very convincing night scene.

Fog Lighting

Night Lighting and the Long Shot

The long or wide shot at night is a lot more problematic and takes much more powerful lights to pull it off. The best lights to use for long shots at night are powerful 12K HMIs. These are usually way off the budget mark for smaller productions. However, to accomplish the type of stark, hard lighting you see in the movies or in reality, you need a lot of light. If you can get your hands on a brighter light, set it up just out of camera shot, approximating the position of the natural light source. Add tree branches or walls to provide deep shadows. If you are shooting on a street, wet it down to create a harsh, reflective surface to give the light some bounce. The idea is to create a bright background to silhouette your talent. If, however, you shoot with the light behind you so that you can see your talent’s face, be very aware of your own shadow. Remember, it may seem like there is a whole lot of light flying around, but, if you check in your monitor, you will see that with the right exposure (read f-stop), you will have crisp blacks and stark whites.

Back Light

Fog Machine

Talent

The trick to getting good fog shots using a fog machine are to shoot your light beam through, not above the fog. Keep the light soft and low. Then add your talent's light and use a reflector for a soft fill.

Reflector

Key Light Camcorder

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LIGHTING

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SubScriber To simulate moonlight, use blue gells (CTB) over your light source. Use a reflector to bounce s small bit of light on the opposite side of the light. White balance correctly before you turn on the gelled lights, so the subject keeps a bluish cast.

Moonlight Lighting Talent

Reflector Cookie Difuser Blue Gel

Key Light Camcorder

Fog Lighting

Adding a touch of fog can really punch up any exterior night scene. You can rent a fog machine from a theatre supply house. Set the machine for a light mist, making sure that the light source is behind the fog and shining through it, not on it. Wait for the fog to dissipate a little bit and create a fairly even cover without obscuring your talent. This will take some experimenting to get right, but, with a little patience and luck, you should be able to create a very dramatic scene.

A Night Lighting Final Note

While lighting scenes at night can be fun and a great creative challenge, it

can also be frustratingly slow to set up and shoot. Any time you set up a shoot at night, remember to add at least another half hour to every hour it might take you to do something during the day. Crews work more slowly at night, it is harder to find things by flashlight and we just don’t function as quickly at night. That said, grab a flashlight, kick in the creative juices and get ready for a nighttime of lighting fun! Contributing editor Dr. Robert G. Nulph teaches collegelevel video and film production and is an independent video/film producer/director.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13540 in the subject line.

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Editing Motivation

by M o r g a n P a a r

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s … the motivated edit? It's a powerful editing technique, but to execute it well, you must consider the final edit when you plan the first shot. One of our favorite words when we talk about editing is ‘conventions.’ You’ve read it in our mag or on our Website before, we’re going to use it again today and this won’t be the last time we return to this term. We sometimes refer to the conventions of editing as the grammar of the edit. And of the many types of editing grammar we talk about, the motivated edit is one of our most common staples. The motivated edit, though having a single definition, comes in many flavors. In its most basic form, a motivated edit is one that alludes to something not in the frame and then cuts to that item or event. You see it all the time in horror films: a woman is standing in a spooky place all alone and then hears a startling sound. She spins her head around and sees nothing. The sound then comes from another area, and the soon-to-be victim jerks her head in that direction. Eventually, the viewing audience gets to see the object of terror,

usually along with a loud, startling sound. The scene in which the second person is killed in the recent vampire film, 30 Days of Night (2007), is a perfect example. If you accept that any edit breaks the illusion of continuity, then we put forth that the motivated edit is one of the least jarring forms of transition. For this reason, it is used often in Hollywood-style narrative filmmaking. In fact, many call the Hollywood style of editing ‘continuity editing’ – the editing that is least noticeable to the viewer. The general rule or, more accurately,

convention in Hollywood is that the viewer should not notice a single edit during a ninety-minute film. If there is an edit every seven seconds on average, that’s close to 800 edits in an hour and a half. Quite a feat to have all of these breaks in continuity go unnoticed.

Conversations

Another ‘flavor’ of the motivated edit is the ‘shot/reverse shot’ technique of cutting. You usually use this in conversation scenes. A good example of the shot/reverse shot can be seen in part one of the well-produced online

THE MOTIVATED EDIT IS ONE OF THE LEAST JARRING TRANSITIONS.

A type of motivated edit known as the action/reaction cut, is usually found in a conversation scene. As one person speaks, we see the other's reaction, either in solo or an over-the-shoulder 2-shot.

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drama Quarterlife, which you can find on YouTube or its sponsor, MySpace (or www.quarterlife.com). Search for Part 1, and you’ll find the action/reaction cutting at the one minute and fifty-nine second point, when Debra (Michelle Lombardo) walks into Dylan’s

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editing

March 2008

room (Bitsie Tulloch) while she is video blogging, and they have a short conversation. This is so common in Hollywood and on television that I challenge you, our reader, to find a show or film that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t use this editing method. It is usually composed of two over-the-shoulder shots of two people facing each other. The editor cuts back and forth from one person to the next as they talk or react to the otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s comments. Some people also call this edit â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;action/reactionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; cutting.

Everyone is familiar with the â&#x20AC;&#x153;dreamâ&#x20AC;? scene: a shot of what someone is thinking. In this case, the motivated edit can emphasize reality, or spoof it by reflecting an opposite image.

Not What It Appears to Be

We recently saw a more tangential yet creative form of the motivated edit in a British sitcom called Spaced. In episode 1, the main character, Tim, is detailing the life history of other main character, Daisy. As he lists the main events, the editor has cut in clips showing that the details are not as glamorous as they appear â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;on paper.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; We hear Tim state that Daisyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best friendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name is Twist, and that she â&#x20AC;&#x153;works in fashion.â&#x20AC;? The image we see is of a woman putting a suit in a bag at a dry-cleaning store.

   

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EDITING

No budget for a Hollywood explosion? The motivated edit “reaction shot” can fill in the blanks, if you sell the gag with the right props and tricks. In our girl-bomber case, by throwing leaves and debris over her head, and blowing her hair around, we simulate the concussion from the bomb’s explosion. The diagram at right shows how we set the stage for the final shot in the scene, using a fan and a gelled orange light that “flashed” while she ran under the debris field we dropped from above.

MARCH 2008

Debris Drop Zone

Orange Gel

Fan

You can find another great and hilarious example of this form of motivated edit in David O. Russell’s film, Three Kings (1999). Major Archie Gates (George Clooney) asks three of his soldiers if they would rather be back at their day jobs instead of acquiring a large amount of money in a less-than-honest mission. As the camera dollies in on the GIs (played by Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze), the film cuts to short clips of each of them working their day jobs. The shots are not only funny but foreshadow various events that will occur later in the movie. If you haven’t seen this film, we highly recommend it. This example is in chapter 5 of the DVD, at 14 minutes and 38 seconds.

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IF YOU WANT YOUR VIDEOS TO LOOK LIKE THE PROS, WATCH THEIR EXAMPLES.

Spot or Flood Light

Camcorder

Flashback

observers as they flinch, which seals the deal. This could also be someone planting a bomb and running away. The audience hears the explosion detonate as a gust of wind and an orange flash hit the bomber’s back as he or she flees. The high-budget

Low Budget Trick

While we're on a tangent, here's a little trick pertaining to the motivated edit where the ‘edit’ never happens. You could call this the motivated un-edit. This trick is the low-budget solution to big-budget effects. Something happens out of the frame, but we never cut to it. For example, a car speeds to the edge of a cliff, and the driver jumps out. A group of bystanders turns to watch the vehicle shoot off the cliff, all following with their eyes and looks of surprise. In unison, their heads follow laterally until ‘the car’ leaps off the edge. They then run to the edge themselves and stare down to where the car would have crashed at the base of the cliff. We hear the impact and explosion. An orange flash illuminates the faces of the

hard-to-produce explosion scene never takes place, yet the motivated shots imply that they did, and the viewer watching the movie understands the story just the same. There you have four examples of the motivated edit. If you want your videos to look like the works of the pros, watch their examples, and learn the conventions they have been following for the last one hundred-plus years of filmmaking. The motivated edit is one of the smoothest cuts you can use, but you most likely have to plan on it in your pre-production and make sure you shoot it properly. So study your dialog, look over your script and draw it into your storyboards. Your audience will appreciate your filmmaking skills. Contributing editor Morgan Paar is a nomadic producer, shooter and editor currently teaching high school video production.

FEEDBACK

For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13505 in the subject line.

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INTRODUCTION TO VIDEO EDITING Introduction to Titles and Graphics, Splash Screens and Opening Titles, Segment IDs, Lower Thirds and Bugs, Diagrams and Info Graphics, and Credit Rolls and Crawls. (30 minutes)

There's more to making DVDs than transferring video to a disc. Video producers need to approach DVD authoring completely differently than videos created for distribution on VHS. (30 minutes)

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1/11/2008 1:41:35 PM


Audio 10 Voiceover Tips

by Hal R o b e r t s o n

Voiceovers are the mainstays of advertising, instruction and promotional videos, television programs and feature films.

You can often outsource the voice over task by hiring a professional to read your copy. This “voice” will record several versions changing word or phrase emphasis and speed, and it’s just up to you as to which version to keep. However, for most small-time producers, it’s common to record voiceovers in-house for budget and control reasons. Whether you’re recording yourself or professional voice talent, these tips will help you make the most of your voiceover recordings.

1 – Get the Copy Right

A great voiceover starts with a great script. Your copy needs to be clean and easy to read. Numbers under 20 should be spelled out, and others broken apart with hyphens. You may have to provide phonetic spellings for chemicals, technical terms and subjects with complicated names. Be sure to pre-read the copy before recording to verify the

flow. Don’t be afraid to mark the copy with notes for inflection or emphasis. It might feel funny, but it is important to read the copy out loud, using the mic and headphones. You’ll get a better feel for the sound of the copy and the mic, allowing you to make any adjustments before you hit the Record button.

2 – Hydration

A vocal coach once said that proper hydration happens before the recording. While you should have a couple of bottles of water available for the voice

A few good script preparation tips: 1. Use a larger-thannormal font, so the talent can read it easily. 2. Spell difficult words phonically. 3. Break each thought or line into separate paragraphs. 4. Don’t have lines break at the end of a page, to prevent paper rustling.

3 – Medicate Gently

I don’t know about you, but as I age, my seasonal allergies get worse. Spring and Fall are very challenging, and scheduling a voiceover session can be a gamble.

AVOID STRONG COFFEE, ICE-COLD SODAS OR MILK BEFORE RECORDING. If you need to take medication for allergies or other ailments, go easy. Find a treatment that has a minimum effect on your system, leaving you as clear as possible, both mentally and physically. If your medicine of choice leaves you

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talent, it’s important to be properly hydrated ahead of the session. Drink plenty of clear liquids – preferably at room temperature. Avoid strong coffee, ice-cold soda and any drinks that contain milk products. Milk gets the mucus flowing and will dampen the performance. How about a nice cup of green tea before the session? Toss in a lemon cough drop for added insurance.

VIDEOMAKER >>> March 2008

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audio



    

March 2008

a bit groggy, take it as far ahead of the session as possible to allow your body to adapt. If all else fails, bring some tissues and cough drops for insurance.

4 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Location, Location, Location

Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve talked about it before, but the space you record in is critical. A professional vocal booth is isolated from the rest of the studio, and the interior has sound-absorbent material. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re improvising a vocal booth, drape some heavy blankets around the microphone position. Better yet, step into a walk-in closet. The hanging clothes will absorb a lot of sound reflections. If possible,

TURN OFF THE AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM DURING A RECORDING SESSION. choose a location as far away from traffic as possible. If you can hear the air conditioning system, turn it off during the recording.

5 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Tools of the Trade

It may seem obvious, but the voiceover talent needs to see the copy. This means you should provide decent lighting over the recording area. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re creating an ad-hoc space, place one of your video lights overhead on a boom stand. Use a small fixture to minimize the heat. If you have some diffusion, it will help minimize shadows on the copy. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget to supply a music stand or some kind of surface for the copy. Print the copy with a slightly larger font. and double-space for easy reading. Break the copy into natural sections on separate pages, so the talent wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to shuffle papers.

6 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Mic It Up

Realistically, you can use almost any microphone for voiceover recording, but the big boys have a handful of favorites. The Electro-Voice RE-20 is the darling of

If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have access to a real recording booth, a walk-in closet makes a good substitute. It usually has a light, and the clothing buffer the sound quite well.

Long-Distance Approval

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If you work from home, you may not want the client coming over to approve a voiceover. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fair to assume your bedroom edit suite and closet vocal booth wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t serve to impress. As an alternative, make an MP3 of the recording and e-mail it to the client for approval. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re using lower bitrates, make sure the clients understand that the finished version is much higher quality. This allows them to preview and approve in their environment of choice â&#x20AC;&#x201C; even pass it around the office for comments. They can reference changes to the media player timer and the script and forward them to you via e-mail.



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audio

March 2008

Pick up a used music stand at your local music store to give your voice over talent a resting place for the script. Attach a low watt bulb to the stand so the script is easy to see in the audio booth.

when editing audio, some simple verbal reminders will make it easier for you to navigate. Have the vocal talent preface the performance with the project, section and take number prior to recording. This doesn’t have to be a rigid thing, just a verbal bookmark. Later, if you need to assemble an edit from multiple takes, it will be much easier to identify good and bad content. You can give simple visual clues by shooting the talent’s (or your) hands ticking off between takes. Even if it’s dark, it’s better than shooting with the lens cap on, at least you can see that there is video there. talk radio, while several imported large-diaphragm condenser mics are popular in Hollywood. Consider borrowing or renting a nice microphone for your next recording. The higher quality will impress your clients, and it will be easier on your ears too. There are several models available for less than $100 today. Add one to your collection. Even at these bargain prices, you won’t be disappointed.

7 – Blast It!

In addition to the microphone, you’ll need a windscreen to protect against breath blasts called “plosives.” Usually produced from the letters P, B and T, these vocal pops briefly overload the microphone and create distortion. Simply providing a windscreen will virtually eliminate this problem. Foam windscreens are available at your local Electronic Shack. You’ll find the more professional hoop-type windscreens at your favorite online music or production retailer. You can even build one from an embroidery hoop and some pantyhose.

8 – Slate Here

Slating your voiceover recording will make it easier to edit. Since there are very few visual cues

9 – Let’s Try That Again

The way you hear the copy in your head may or may not be the way the client intended. That’s why it’s good to record multiple versions of various phrases, using different vocal inflection. Don’t get carried away with this idea – just concentrate on troublesome phrases, slogans and tag lines. This gives you options after the session and can save a great deal of grief if the client had something else in mind.

10 – A Second Set of Ears

Professional voiceovers usually involve a producer to keep things on track and insure a high-quality recording. If you’re not using an independent producer for your session, a second opinion may be in order. Once you’ve edited the voiceover, have someone listen to the project with an objective ear. Does the copy make sense? Does the structure guide the listener cleanly through the recording? Are there any words or phrases that are difficult to understand? Answers to these questions will help you step back from the project, rethink your edits and tighten the performance.

And... Cut!

Recording a voiceover doesn’t have to be a huge thing – in fact, it could be one of the easiest parts of your production. These ten tips should get you started in the right direction. With a little planning and preparation, your voiceover sessions will yield killer cuts guaranteed to enhance the finished product.

Take 1... Take 2... A simple way to “slate” your voice over takes is by flashing your fingers in front of the camera. This gives the editor visual cues for separating cuts.

Contributing Editor Hal Robertson is a digital media producer and technology consultant.

F E E D BACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13516 in the subject line.

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VIDEOMAKER >>> March 2008

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Zoom in

March 2008

Continued from page 9

Other Gear That Caught our Eyes Sennheiser

Casio

Sennheiser announced the MX W1 set of fully wireless headphones, available in May 2008. Using a wireless technology developed by Kleer Corporation allows the full audio bandwidth that you would get in a wired headphone set. The transmitter is about the size of a matchbox, and there are two bud style ear-pieces that can be recharged up to three times from the battery in the carrying case so you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to scramble to find a plug in the field. Another useful feature is the ability two use two sets of ear pieces with the same transmitter simultaneously, allowing the director and the soundman to both hear the camera audio at the same time.

Casio wowed the crowds with its new still photo camera the EX-F1 (price unavailable). Aside from the digital camera aspects, it appears to be a highly capable high definition video camera as well. The video taken from one of the prototypes proved very impressive. This model incorporates a high speed CMOS sensor and a high speed LSI processor. With this model, Casio has achieved an ultra-high speed 60 frames per second (fps) burst rate for still images, together with 1,200 fps high speed movie recording that captures movement faster than the eye can see for ultra-slow motion replay. Moreover, the new model can record movies at full HighDefinition. Users can record movies at a screen size of 1920 x 1080 pixels, at a rate of 60 fields per second. To be Casio EX-F1 released this spring.

Sennheiser MXW1

Audio Technica

Western Digital

Audio Technica announced its new ATH-ANC3 ($169.95) in ear noise canceling headphones. AT claims these earphones will block 85% of ambient noise over a wide range of frequencies, unlike other models than only block low frequencies. The ATH-ANC3 is supplied with three sizes of ear tips (small, medium and large) for a customized fit. It features a compact control unit with a monitor switch that mutes all functions, to let users hear important outside announcements and conversations.

Western Digital managed to pack a whopping 320 Gigabytes of storage into itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new Passport Portable Drive 320 ($229.99). The same pocket sized form factor, bus powered, and simple USB connectivity as before but this sharp increase in storage capacity puts almost a third of a terabyte of digital storage in the palm of your hand.

Audio Tehnica ATH-ANC3

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A trade show like CES is a fun yet tiring event to attend: so much to see, so little time to see it all! We met with HP, Netgear, and a host of other companies, including Pinnacle, who showed off the new free download "VideoSpin"; and Nero, with its latest Nero Ultra 8 edition. Both softwares combine multiple uses, and you can see all of our video reviews at videomaker.com/video-news/category/ces/ for video stories from the show floor, and watch for reviews on some of these products coming as soon as we can wrangle them from the manufacturers hands!

VIDEOMAKER >>> March 2008

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market place TEST BENCH SimpleTech

Continued from page 21 also been nice. And I would have liked to have seen an Ethernet input. Gigabit Ethernets are rapidly growing in popularity, and in theory, would provide storage transfer at about twice the speed of USB. While not as fast as eSATA II, It would also have allowed the unit to be placed on a network for multiple computers to access, rather than being physically connected to one PC at a time. But adding network capability might have dramatically pushed the price and complexity of the drive up.

Two Terabytes, No Waiting

In spite of my “wish list”, the Simpletech Duo Pro Drive is an extremely useful and well thought-out storage drive. Its onboard software

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Could be an ideal solution for those seeking maximum file storage in a small handsome package. Ed Driscoll is a freelance journalist who's covered home theater and the media for the past decade.

FEED B A C k For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13669 in the subject line.

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VIDEOMAKER >>> MARCH 2008

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TEST BENCH

Continued from page 26 DVD Copy 6 Plus includes not only support for DVD, but a number of HD formats (DivX at 720 and MPEG-2, H.264 and WMV at both 720 and 1080) and portable devices (PSP, Nintendo DS/Gameboy, 3GPP/3GPP2, iPhone, iPod and Zune), as well. There’s also support for making VCDs and for extracting audio tracks to WMA or WAV. In addition, the Disc Copy module also allows a dual-layer DVD to be recompressed to a single layer. (By the way, and we shouldn’t have to say it, but Disc Copy 6 Plus only handles those DVDs that are not encrypted with CSS.)

Corel DVD Copy 6 Plus

DVD Copy interface

This is a Test

We grabbed a DVD that we created over the course of a Videomaker Workshop as our sample for these tests. We started by trying out the one-click copy feature to copy a DVD to the hard drive, but it didn’t do anything but issue an error message. No problem—we expended a few more clicks and copied it with the Convert DVD function, using DVD

COREL DVD COPY 6 PLUS IS NOT QUITE THE POWERHOUSE IT COULD BE. as the target media. The copy went off without a hitch. It was similarly easy to create a disc image from the DVD (though we were expecting an .iso file rather than the .cdi file we got—but every part of DVD Copy 6 Plus that we exposed the file to could handle that newly-created image without a problem.) We next tried converting a DVD to H.264 at 1Mbps. This is a good way to take a DVD with you to watch on a laptop, for example. We were

able to perform the conversion easily, though the actual encoding took quite a while (we're not particularly surprised about that, though.) The finished file looked great in QuickTime player, and was very svelte in size, so we could throw an entire trip's worth of perfectly-watchable video onto a laptop and barely make a dent on its hard disk. To try out some of the more advanced capabilities that we discovered while prodding about, we tried dragging in a few of our recent contest entries, including QuickTime (both SD and HD), WMV (also both SD and HD) and DV-AVI. We created a new DVD from these raw source files, saving the project to our hard drive. The process yielded a ready-to-burn folder that included VOB files for each clip, along with IFO and BUP files that are needed by DVD players. The mix of files yielded normal-looking output when the source videos were 4:3, but stretched-out video at 16:9. Unfortunately, the aspect ratio dialog box was grayed out, so there was no further control we could leverage over the process. This is a known problem with DVD Copy 6

Plus, and a patch is forthcoming to clean up these issues.

A Fine Wine

Corel DVD Copy 6 Plus takes care of the basics—no fuss, no muss. It certainly does copy DVDs and can do a ton of conversions with no problems. As far as the more advanced capabilities that the program includes, the story isn’t quite as rosy for the time being. While Corel DVD Copy 6 Plus is indisputably powerful, it’s not quite the grand, unified encoding powerhouse that it could be. But there’s an incredible amount of promise here. We say, give it a little time (at least one update pack’s worth) and it should be right up there with the TMPG, discreet, Canopus and Sorenson tools. SUMMARY

A well-honed DVD copier, with video conversion capabilities that are almost there. Charles Fulton is Videomaker’s Associate Editor.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13672 in the subject line.

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The festival circuit

8 Film & Video Festivals See our associated festival feature, It Could Happen, on page 34

Whether you made a feature-length movie, a short subject, an animated or experimental film; whether it’s a narrative, a documentary or a music video, somewhere out there is an outlet for your film. Whatever their size, shape or specialty, the most rewarding festivals go beyond premiere screenings in stylish venues, red carpet parades and glitzy parties. The better festivals enrich the marketplace experience for filmmakers with discussions, demonstrations and panels. There are many more than listed here. To find out more, go to the Videomaker community sharing page at www.videomaker.com/festival

WorldFest Houston Film Festival

open to public 4 competition 4 market 4 Where: Houston, TX When: April 11 – 20, 2008 Website Summary: “WorldFest is the oldest Independent Film & Video Festival in the World. It was founded by award-winning producer/director Hunter Todd to present a quality film festival for independent filmmakers.” 55-60 feature premieres. Categories: Feature film, MOW, documentary, corporate and business film, student, experimental, TV production and commercials, music video (also: new media, screenplay, print and radio) Entry Fee: From $45 (student) to $150 (feature, MOW) Entry Deadline: See website for details www.worldfest.org

Boulder International Film Festival

open to public 4 competition 4 market 4 Where: Boulder, CO When: [closed, check website for next season's entry deadlines] Summary: “Combine low entry fees with generous filmmaker hospitality, and open our festival to gifted film artists worldwide regardless of their financial condition. This principle has made the Boulder International Film Festival one of the most influential young film festivals in the U.S.” Categories: Feature film, short film, student, feature documentary, short documentary, animation, Colorado filmmaker showcase Entry Fee: $40 Non-Students: $50 After June 30th Students: $60 Entry Deadline: See website for details www.boulderinternationalfilmfestival.net

International Black Docufest

open to public 4 competition 4 market 4 Where: Atlanta, GA When: September 18 – 20, 2008 Summary: “The IBDF is a dynamic

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forum devoted to showcasing the most innovative and compelling documentary films on the lives of people of African descent globally.” Categories: Documentary Entry Fee: $20 (early) $30 (late) Entry Deadline: Early – February 15, late – July 11, 2008 www.internationalblackdocufest.com

Big Mini-DV Festival

open to public 4 competition 4 market 4 Where: Brooklyn, NY When: [closed, check website for next season's entry deadlines] Summary: “The Big Mini-DV Festival is a two-day event hosted by the Media Arts Department of Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus. The festival will recognize the best documentary and narrative video productions created with the Mini-DV format.” Categories: Narrative short, narrative long, documentary short, documentary long, experimental, animation Entry Fee: $20 Entry Deadline: See website www.bigminidv.com

Big Damn Film Festival

open to public 4 competition 4 Where: Chicago, Cincinnati, Des Moines, Fargo, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Madison, Minneapolis, Omaha, Sioux Falls, St. Louis, St. Paul When: Monthly Summary: “The Big Damn Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind, touring five-day film festival appearing once a month in twelve cities across the United States.” Categories: All genres and styles Entry Fee: $30 (early) $60 (late) Entry Deadline: Varies with location www.bigdamnfilmfest.com

Akron Independent Film Festival open to public 4 competition 4 Where: Akron, OH

When: April 3 – 6, 2008 Summary: AIIFF’s mission is “to nurture film and video artists through the presentation of exceptional and innovative work, and to provide opportunities for artistic growth through outreach and education.” Categories: Feature film, short subject, narrative, documentary, music video, experimental, animation Entry Fee: From $0 (15 min. and under) to $20 (postmarked ‘08) Entry Deadline: Closed. See website for next season www.akronfilmfestival.com

Main Line Film Festival

open to public 4 competition 4 market 4 Where: Wayne, PA When: April 26, 2008 Summary: “The mission of the Main Line Film Festival is to celebrate the art of the short film on the big screen.” Categories: Shorts Entry Fee: From $15 to $25 Entry Deadline: March 15, 2008 www.mainlinefilmfestival.com

Future Filmmakers Festival

open to public 4 competition 4 Where: Chicago, IL When: Check website Summary: “This film festival, specifically for youth under twenty, highlights the work of the next generation of filmmakers. Attend the festival and exciting workshops, meet in-the-know professionals and hang out with other young filmmakers from all over the country.” Categories: Personal film essay, long and short form documentary, experimental Entry Fee and Deadline: see website www.chicagofilmfestival.org FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13765 in the subject line.

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March 2008  

Your guide for creating great video