Filmmaking

8Oct

Five Tips to Produce Quality Video for the Web

We do a lot of broadcast video and corporate films, but we also do a fair amount of video designed for the web. So I’ve learned a few things about how to do web video right.

Web Video Tip #1: If you’re still shooting using interlaced video- stop that! You shouldn’t be shooting interlaced anymore, anyway, unless you’re shooting sports videos. Even corporate videos deserve progressive-scan video signals, and web videos look a ton better when you get rid of that ugly “1980s” look by shooting with a camera that can shoot progressive, not interlaced.

Web Video Tip #2: Shoot to deliver your video at 24p. It looks way more filmic and cool.

Web Video Tip #3: If you’re going for a cinematic quality (and you should be, to stand out), try to minimize shaky camera moves. They scream “cheap amateur”. This is why you invest in things like tripods, dollies, and Steadicams.

Web Video Tip #4: Make sure you expose properly! You have no idea how much crappy video we see, here. Usually we’re asked if we can fix it. If the video involves blown-out highlights, we can’t fix it at all. Some places to watch for blown out video: foreheads of men. Noses. Anything that gets too shiny when you shoot. And yes, some video has blown out backgrounds. That’s usually not so bad, it doesn’t look as amateurish as blown out faces.

Web Video Tip #5: Audio quality matters! If you can’t use a dedicated soundman, then at least record with lavaliere microphones and listen to the audio as it’s being laid down. Ideally, you’ll be recording into a separate audio system. Why? Because most cameras’ onboard audio sucks. Sometimes, we run a mike into the camera and still record a separate, higher-quality mike into our dedicated audio recorder. Then, in post we use software that automatically syncs the good audio to the camera audio. Then again, we almost always use a dedicated soundman, too.

Upon reflection, each these tips applies equally well to almost any kind of video you create, if you’re going for a quality look for your message. But many companies and organizations don’t put as much thought into creating a web video as they do when creating, say, a corporate film or a TV commercial. As the web becomes the dominant medium in our culture, learning to do your web video correctly will help you stand out, and give your message the best chance possible of connecting with people.

1Oct

4:2:0 Has Got To Go (Quality Matters)

We’re in the middle of a pretty large project that involves CEOs from major companies from around the globe. I wish I could say more about the project, but I cannot. I can say this: the corporate video departments of these multibillion dollar corporations really ought to invest in some quality video equipment, especially with regards to new cameras. Much of the footage we’ve received has been in the dreaded colorspace 4:2:0 that cheaper HDV cameras put out. And that’s a problem.

It’s not only a problem because the footage comes in as interlaced video. We can fix that. But 4:2:0 video doesn’t key well, and many of the shots we’re dealing with involve greenscreen keys.

I feel bad for the corporate videographers shooting this stuff. It doesn’t matter how hard they work it, they’re stuck with a colorspace that makes their video look bad.

As for us, of course we shoot on RED. Which is a digital negative, basically a 4:4:4 full colorspace image. The difference is startling. Yes, it costs a lot more. But it’s absolutely worth it to get rid of that cheap video look that 4:2:0 gives. That’s technology from the early 2000s. It’s time for it to go.

And yeah, it’d make this project a lot easier if we could have gotten quality video footage. Ah, well. We’re not just great cinematographers, we’re also pretty handy in the edit suite. We’ll make it work, and we’ll make it look outstanding.

28Sep

MidasMount SnapFocus Prototype

Brandon, our friend at MidasMount, has been working on a special new prototype SnapFocus/Shoulder rig for our RED MX camera. We’ve got one of the very first prototype SnapFocus devices, which allow us to pull focus on the fly as we shoot, without needing a second person to pull focus, like traditional film cameras do. The SnapFocus is a huge advance, and will let us get some amazing shots that previously wouldn’t have been possible.

I’ve donated the shoulder pad support from our Birns & Sawyer shoulder mount to the cause, and Brandon’s bringing out the acetylene torch and the welding kit to build us a one-of-a-kind, RED MX version of his awesome invention.

Stay tuned for pictures, as this project develops.

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