It is AMAZING to see what a huge difference high quality video footage can make when creating an instructional curriculum DVD. I’ve been working on importing and editing video which was taken by a professional videographer using an almost brand-new Sony XDCAM camcorder and at least $5000 worth of portable lighting equipment. It was remarkable to see the videographer literally “paint with light” as he framed the scenes for each shot he recorded for us. Rather than import the final video clips from tape or DVD, since his camera saved HD video clips directly as MP4 clips to flash memory cards, I asked his videography company to copy all the clips onto an external firewire drive (the first 1 TB version I’ve ever used to date, incidentally) and I used the Sony XDCAM HD software to import clips directly into Final Cut Pro.
After bringing the clips into FCP, I’m working on editing them into three different sequences and will then burn them to DVD using DVD Studio Pro.
Earlier this fall, I attempted to create this curriculum DVD using my own camcorder (which is a Digital 8 camcorder, probably about 10 years old) as well as a MacBook Pro iSight camera using Screenflow software. Compared to the video quality of this professionally shot footage, that DVD creation effort seems analogous to a well intentioned toddler trying to build a full-scale castle using tinker toys.
My first video editing experiences with Final Cut Pro were back in 2003, when I created a series of interview videos for the Texas Technology Leadership Academy. I found FCP to have a VERY steep learning curve relative to the other i-applications I’d used in the past (iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, etc.) As a non-destructive video editing environment, however, FCP has innumerable advantages over a powerful but much simpler video editing program like iMovie. In that video editing project, one of my mistakes was not capturing enough B-roll video footage to intersperse with the “talking head” video interview footage.
My most advanced “formal” introduction to higher-end video production equipment and techniques came in the summer of 2004, when I participated in the week long Digital Media Academy course on “digital storytelling” held on the campus of Stanford University. I think that workshop took place before I was using Flickr, and I’m actually not sure what the URL might be to photos I took of the event. At any rate, that was an amazing experience and really opened my eyes to the world of XLR microphones, shotgun and high-quality lapel mics, high-end video cameras, multi-camera shoots, and more. Dean Mermell was our class instructor and he was amazing. I was VERY inspired by my experience at DMA and would recommend their courses to anyone with the means and time to take them. Dean self-published a book on CafePress in 2006 titled “A Digital Storyteller’s Handbook: Modern Filmmaking for the Intelligent Beginner.” I have not read it but since Dean is the author and was a fantastic instructor at DMA, I’m sure this is a great book and resource.
Whether I’m creating a video project with high-end footage or inexpensive equipment, the planning and storyboarding process remains absolutely essential. Thankfully in the project I’m working on now, I had some great assistance in that planning and scripting process.
I am really blown away by the high quality of both the video and audio in the footage I’m using for this project. Starting with such high quality footage, it seems likely the final product I create will be worthwhile. It’s AMAZING to see the difference top-quality lighting, mics / audio recording equipment, as well as a camera can make.
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