How to Shoot Your Video

Here’s The Equipment To Get You Started

Camera (one with firewire capabilities)
Power source (battery or charger)
Firewire Computer (one with a firewire port)
Video editing software

Connecting You with Us

Your Camcorder – Each One Different
In today’s marketplace, hundreds of camcorder models are sold by dozens of manufacturers. Each is different but all offer users a multitude of capabilities and recording options depending upon the model and when it was manufactured.

We provide video shooting and uploading tips in our “How to Win” web site home page section but if you are having difficulty operating, recording or transmitting your video, consult your camcorder’s Owner’s Manual. Most manuals should provide you with the information you need.

Still Having Problems?
Camcorder manufacturer web sites are the ideal place to visit for “How To” tips and information on specific models, access to download drivers and even copies of owner’s manuals.

If you are experiencing problems connecting to us and downloading your Message for America, we suggest these links:

www.camcorderinfo.com – A great site for camcorder information. Its “Learn” section provides additional tips on making good videos.

Manufacturers Web Sites
Airtek – airtek.com
DXG – dxgusa.com
Hitachi – hitachi.us
JVC – jvc.com
Panasonic – panasonic.com
Pure Digital – puredigitalinc.com
RCA – rcaaudiovideo.com
Samsung – samsung.com
Sanyo – sanyo.com
Sharp – sharp.com
Sony – sony.com

Tips For Shooting A Great Video

*Make sure to get permission where you are shooting and from who you are shooting.

*Never underestimate the power of an owner’s manual. Your camera's manual cannot only teach you how to work your camera and its features, but it also tells you what your camera is capable of. At the very least you need to learn how to turn your camera on and off, how to load a tape, how to record, how to white balance, how to focus, how to zoom, how to use the iris, and how to adjust the audio record levels.

*Make sure to have good lighting. Avoid backlighting (a silhouetted image), too much light (you don't want your actors to squint the whole time), and avoid shadows (especially across peoples' faces). If you have a light kit remember the three-point rule. Have one key light on your actor, have one fill light to help keep the shadows away, and have one backlight to separate your actors from the background.

*Make sure you pay attention to sound. Use a microphone if you have one. Either way, you have to be aware of the natural sound going on in the background. A good way to monitor your sound is by taking advantage of the headphone jack (found on most video cameras). Wear a headset at all times so you know what audio you are recording. However, beware that what you hear may not be what you record. You must also pay attention to your audio levels on your VU meter. A headset's volume can be turned up or down, but your VU meter will show what levels are being recorded. Remember you never want your audio to peak, but you want to keep it loud enough to hear. On a digital audio meter you want to try to keep it between -25 and +8, and on an analogue audio meter you want to keep it between -12 and +6.

*There are two ways to shoot someone giving speech, with a single camera or with multiple cameras. If you use a single camera you can either choose not to edit it and use a single take, or you can videotape the speech multiple times from multiple angles. If you use more then one camera make sure you have them at different angles (but do not cross an axis).

*If you want to add a little variety or pizzazz to your video try shooting in front of a background that makes your speaker stand out, like a blank white room. Any background (without a design) could work well. You could also have your speaker stand (preferably without a podium), sit on a stool (or other prop), or walk around a few steps (as long as the camera can stay still). Use your imagination!!

*When you are framing your shot try to imagine the screen divided into three horizontal rows. The eyes of your actor should be right on the line between the top and middle sections. Just below the imaginary line between the bottom and middle section is where your titles should go. Remember not to cut off the head of your actor and to give some lead room between the edge of the screen and the direction that they are talking (or walking). For a speech, the speaker can look directly into the camera because he is talking to the audience.

*Use a tripod if possible. If you do not have a tripod, see if there is something you could use in place of one. For example, a table or school desk could work in a pinch.

*Always white balance before you begin shooting. When you white balance you are telling the camera what color white is, and the camera sets all the other colors based off of this. Remember to white balance after entering each new lighting scenario (if you go to a different room, if the sun moves, or outside to inside, etc.).

*An interesting trick you can do to keep the focus of your speaker, even when you zoom, is called critical focus. Zoom in as far as you can on what you want to stay in focus. Use the focus ring to get a sharp focus. When you zoom out the speaker will stay in focus the entire time!! However, you really don’t need to zoom for a speech. Pick a nice waist shot and stick with it for the entire speech unless you are using multiple takes/cameras.

*The camera's iris (or aperture) is what allows light into the camera. You need to adjust the iris to keep your video from being too dark or too bright. Many cameras have zebra lines that you can turn on to help judge your video's brightness.

*Avoid "crossing the axis". Different angles can spice a video up, but try to stay on one side of the action. If you are looking at a speaker from a right profile and suddenly see the same speaker from the left profile you will quickly loose track of the positioning of the actors and get distracted and confused on the storyline. Pay attention that you do not do this in editing as well.

*When you plan on editing your video, be sure to record a little extra video before and after the shot you want to use starts and ends. This is called a handle (or tail). This allows you space for editing and transitions. With a speech it is probably better to keep the camera recording for the entire speech even if you don’t always have a shot. It will help you sync up the video during the editing process.

*Tape is cheap. Take multiple takes of each shot so you have plenty to work with when you are editing.

Tips For Editing A Great Video

*Use a firewire to attach your camera to the computer. You can capture your footage right into an editing software program.

*Most computer editing systems use a drag and drop feature. You can pick up the thumbnails of the clip you want to put onto your timeline and drag and drop it where you want it in your video.

*Transitions help smooth out your overall video. A longer, fade to black helps convey a passing of time. A cross dissolve helps blend together subjects or places. Be careful, too many transitions make your video hard to watch and follow. For a speech you can probably use straight cuts (no transitions) because your not changing subjects or locations.

*Avoid jump cuts. A jump cut is a noticeable and abrupt edit in the video. If someone is walking down the beginning of a hallway and the next shot is suddenly on the other end of the hallway, that would be a jump cut. There is no explanation on how that actor got to the other end of the hallway; this will confuse your audience.

*Normally, you don't want your video to get boring so keep your shots between 3 and 6 seconds in length unless you need it to be longer because of some action taking place. With a speech it would probably be better to let the speaker finish a line before changing camera angles. However, you do not have to change angles at the beginning of every new sentence.

*Don't forget you have a purpose. Don't add a bunch of extra video or information. It will only bore your audience, and they'll stop watching.

*Music can add a lot to a video, but you may not need it for a speech. It could distract from what your speaker is saying. Remember for Schooltube you cannot use any copyrighted material. If you decide you do want to use music, try writing and performing your own music or search the Internet for free royalty free music.

Putting Your Video On Schooltube

*First you need to export your finished timeline into a QuickTime, wmv, or Mpeg file. Follow the instructions of your editing software to complete this step. (The help section of your software can be of great use here.) Remember Schooltube has an upload limit of 100MB per file. That limits you to about 15 minutes of footage. If you find your file is to big, you can try adjusting the quality settings then re-export.

*Upload your compressed file to Schooltube, and inform your moderator that you have uploaded a new video.