Through the years, we’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. While every project is unique, it often seems that the problems remain the same. Here are a few questions we always encourage asking at the start of any video project:
Who is our customer? Projects often have many parties involved. Be sure that you know who you’re responsible to keep happy.
What is the purpose? You need to know what the video is trying to accomplish.
How will we measure success? Determine which factors will be used to judge the success of the project.
What do we want to say? Identify the goal of the piece and the message that the audience should walk away with.
What resources do we have? Decide who will be assigned to the project. Establish if there are any assets or resources available to the project that should be utilized. Make sure there are no assumptions being made about what you have to work with
What is the budget? Never discuss approach without having an idea of your financial constraints. Creative types often get swept up into big ideas without knowing what the project can support.
What are the deadlines? Equally as important as budget is schedule. You need to understand any major milestones so you can schedule work and adjust your approach to match the available time.
Are there any customer requirements? Never make assumptions. It’s always a good idea to ask the clients if they have any specific needs or requirements for the end product. You’ll often be surprised how important details can go unspoken until the very end of the project.
Here’s a simple idea: Keep your web videos short. It is better to have ten 4-minute episodes than one 40-minute episode. We try to keep our web videos to less than 10 minutes (in fact less that 5 in almost all cases).
Web videos tend to be consumed during things like work breaks, downtime, and airplane flights. Others will use them during commutes on the morning train or the subway. Think of web video and podcasts as portable, on-demand learning or entertainment. Remember that your audience is often watching web video on portable media players with small screens. Be sure to keep the total run time low to avoid viewer fatigue.
In the training videos we produce, we try to limit topics to one per episode. And if a single topic takes more than 10 minutes to explain, then we’ll split the video into two or three parts. This way the viewer can download Part 1 and start watching it while they’re waiting for the rest to download or be released. There’s nothing wrong with multiple parts. That’s the whole concept of serializing a web video into an actual series that builds up a subscription and viewership base. To learn how to make great web video check out Professional Web Video.
Like to take pictures? Well you may have run afoul of shooting photos of federal buildings (which is pretty easy to do in DC where I live). Here's a useful federal directive that you should print out and put in your camera bag.Federal Protective Service Information Bulletin of Aug. 2, 2010, emphasizing "the public's right to photograph the exterior of federal facilities" from "publicly accessible spaces such as streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas." It also states that in a field interview, "officers should not seize the camera or its contents, and must be cautious not to give such 'orders' to a photographer to erase the contents of a camera."Download it here – http://documents.nytimes.com/photographing-federal-buildings-from-public-sp...
I'm speaking at ASMP's Strictly Business Conference. There are two stops left for this great show on business for photographers. REGISTER HERE FOR PHILADELPHIA or CHICAGO “The American Society of Media Photographers invites you to the Strictly Business 3 Conferences, the newest generation of this highly acclaimed series.” FULL CONFERENCE DETAILS Your registration includes 4 meals, 2 receptions, 2 keynote presentations, 6 workshops and bonus evening sessions. This packed schedule will inspire you and direct your career! When and Where February 25-27 in Philadelphia
April 1-3 in Chicago
I was on a shoot last week and I was trying to remember where to find the latest P2 and AVC Intra drivers from Panasonic. Seems like these keep getting updated and moved around, meaning its not always easy to find where this software lives. Sure you can bookmark the page, but seems like I always need it when I’m in an edit suite or trying to help someone else out through their problems. So, I have solved the problem once and for all (I hope). I used the URL shortening service TinyURL.com to trim the long URL. While the software is available at https://eww.pavc.panasonic.co.jp/pro-av/support/desk/e/download.htm that is just too hard to remember. We used the TinyURL service to shorten it to http://tinyurl.com/p2swdl. Just think P2Software Download and you’ll remember it. Check it out – http://tinyurl.com/p2swdl
I had a revelation today on how to handle my memory cards while shooting in the field. You see when shooting DSLR video, I can burn through a lot of cards. Plus I typically have a couple of camera angles going off at once. An easy mistake to make (but deadly nonetheless) is reformatting a card that you've already shot to. So here's my surefire plan to keep things straight.
Right Pocket – The right pocket contains all of my empty cards that I wiped before the shoot. All cards are erased before you get on-set so you know if you put the card in and it has something on it, then that's footage that needs to be backed up.
Left Pocket – The left pocket contains all of the cards that have been filled up while shooting.
You're probably saying.... "Ummm... what's the big deal?" Well here's the killer memory jingle to not screw things up.
"The Cards in my RIGHT pocket are the RIGHT ones to use.... The Cards in my LEFT pocket should be LEFT alone."
Okay... I won't win a Pulitzer for that... but hopefully it'll keep me from accidentally screwing things up when shooting.
For video production, the budget is truly king (especially these days). It is important that you create a detailed, line item budget so you have a clear idea of the work involved and the costs associated with the project. Many clients will expect this level of detail in your pricing. You may also find it helpful to share a line item budget with your production team members so they know how much time is budgeted for each task.
Open the fileBudget_Template.xls. You’ll either need Apple Numbers (part of iWork) or Microsoft Excel. The templates are filled in with several standard labor items for video production tasks.
Add rows for tasks as needed since this document is by no means exhaustive. Be sure to add any items you frequently need and delete any items that you never use from the starter template.
Adjust the rates for your services. It is beyond the scope of this book to tell you how to price your services. You should do a little market analysis and see what your competition charges for items as well as look at your own internal costs.
Once the rates and task items match your internal needs, save the document as a Budget Master for your company.
Locate the file on your computer and press Command+I to access its properties.
Select the Stationary Pad and Locked check boxes. Now your master budget cannot be overwritten, and when you double-click it, a new blank budget opens as a clean slate.
When you’re ready to use the budget, double-click the file to open a new budget. Enter the quantity for all items you expect the project to need.
Instead of deleting unused items, simply right-click on a row and choose Hide Row (Numbers) or Hide (Excel).
If you want to discount items, just adjust the discount amount in Column E.
All items will be subtotaled by category with a budget summary at the bottom of the spreadsheet.
Save your budget, and then print or email it as needed. Be sure to save a new version for every change in case you need to compare budgets later in the project.
Oftentimes you'll find yourself using more than one camera body while shooting footage. This may be to get an extra angle or to avoid having to change lenses in the field. The closer your camera settings the match, the more seamless it will appear when you edit the different footage together. Ideally the acquired footage will match as closely as possible. This means that you to adjust both the aesthetic and technical properties.
Look inside the camera and check your menu settings. You'll typically find several options that will aesthetic properties of the footage. Ideally, you'll closely match these settings across multiple cameras:
Color settings – Use the same color space for each camera if it's a choice.
Picture Style – Many cameras offer different modes that stylize the footage. We recommend shooting flat and adjusting your color with Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects after the shoot for greater flexibility.
Shutter speed – Your shutter speed should typically be 1/60 if shooting 30 fps or 1/50 if shooting 24 fps. You can alter this number for different looks, but be sure the cameras all match.
You’ll also want to check several technical properties for each camera. Be sure to identically match the following properties across each camera:
Frame size – Your frame sizes must match. Be sure that you aren’t mixing 720p with 1080p.
Frame rate – All your cameras must match frame rate (exactly). Be sure to check that you have a precise match. Make sure the firmware of your cameras is also up to date.
Color calibration – Be sure that all angles color calibrate at the same time, on the same subject, under identical lighting conditions. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot more postproduction work.
Blending modes are an integral part of both design and color correction workflows as they let you mix the content of two or more layers. Part of the reason many pass on blending modes is that they are hard to use if you don’t know which one you want. The truth is that the list can get a little long and if you aren't familiar with them, it can get a little confusing.Here’s a much better way to experiment when using Adobe Photoshop or After Effects:1. Select the layer or layers you want to blend.2. If using Photoshop, choose the Move tool (In After Effects, you can skip this step).3. Press Shift + = (Shift plus Equal) to scroll through the list.4. To move backward, press Shift + – (Shift plus Minus) to return to a passed blending mode.Be sure to check out my two Photoshop books – Photoshop for Video and Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Unlike most print designers, video artists must design type over diverse canvases. Often this background contains a full spectrum of color. Achieving sufficient contrast is the key to preserving legibility. When using light-colored type, it is essential to make it larger than if it were dark type. Don’t be tempted to use all uppercase to make the letters stand out. Unfortunately, uppercase letters take more time for the viewer to recognize word shapes and process what they are seeing. This is generally time they don’t have. Applying a stroke, outer glow, or tight drop shadow is an effective way to getting a contrasting edge. The biggest problem with type and video is that there will always be light and dark elements in your scene. It is crucial to add a contrasting edge to any type that is going to be keyed over a full-chroma, moving background.
A Hue/Saturation adjustment layer offers a nondestructive way to check contrast of type over a patterned background. One way to test your contrast is to convert the file to grayscale. This can be achieved with several methods:
You can print it out in Grayscale.
Add a saturation adjustment layer, and desaturate (set to 0% Saturation).
You can use the History panel to create a duplicate document that you flatten and desaturate.
Adequate separation between foreground and background elements will make for better viewing for your audience. Think of color as tonal value. Some combinations show very low contrast when desaturated.
When creating graphics for use in a video editing program (like Premiere Pro) you may need to do a little extra preparation. Let’s convert a vector graphic (like an Illustrator file) so it’s ready for the video screen. 1 Create a video-sized document Choose File > New... and choose a preset that matches your video editing timeline. 2 Add the logo Choose File > Place then navigate to your desired logo file and click Place and then click OK. 3 Scale the logo to size Drag the Transform handles to size the logo, hold the shift key to scale proportionately. You can use the guides to help you keep the logo properly sized. Be sure the logo stays inside the inner box (also called the safe title area). Press Return (Enter) to rasterize the logo. 4 Give the logo a transparent background Click the visibility icon for the Background layer to hide it. Now, only the logo itself is visible and the rest of the file is transparent.
5 Store the transparency in an alpha channel Choose Window > Actions to view the Actions panel. Click the small triangle in the panel’s upper-right corner and choose Video Actions from the menu that appears. Select the Alpha Channel from Visible Layers action and click the Play button. Click Continue and a new alpha channel is added to the image. 6 Save the file Choose File > Save As. Name the file and be sure the Alpha Channels box is checked. Click OK to save the file. Be sure to check out my Photoshop book –Photoshop for Video.
The term vignette is used to describe an image whose brightness fades to its periphery from the center. This produces a darkening at the edges of the image. In some cases, vignettes are desirable and they’re applied or enhanced for artistic effect after the image is shot. Fortunately, Aperture provides flexible controls for both removing and adding vignettes to your photos in a nondestructive fashion.
Aperture offers the Vignette adjustment controls to apply an artistic vignette to an image. With these controls you can add vignettes to a photo after it’s shot. This is often done to simulate old-style photographic techniques, such as those used on portraits.
Aperture offers two styles of vignettes: Exposure and Gamma. The Exposure vignette is intended to simulate a lens-created vignette. The other method, the Gamma vignette, intensifies the pixels in the affected area and creates a more pronounced effect.
Select an image in the Browser.
Click the Add Adjustments pop-up menu and choose the Vignette controls. A Gamma vignette with default values is applied.
Choose Exposure from the Type pop-up menu.
Drag the Amount slider all the way to the right. The slider stops at a value of 1.0, but this isn’t the limit for the effect.
Click the right arrow next to the Amount value slider and set the amount of dark shading to 1.7.
Drag the Size slider to the right to set the distance in pixels that will be affected by the darkening vignette. Choose a value of 1.5.
Note: You can use the Lift and Stamp tools to take the vignette from one image and easily apply it to others.
The cost of creating video for the Web has plummeted, but it is still one of the most expensive elements of many Web site or Web 2.0 initiatives. Publishers want results—and it’s up to you to get them. In today’s world, your video needs to be in several places simultaneously, with great hooks bringing users back to your Web site. In this session you’ll learn how to become a hyper-syndicator, publishing your video to devices including cell phones, laptops, and televisions. Video publishing may start with an embed code, but so much more is possible—and this session will show you how to take advantage of the best opportunities available. For more on creating video for the web, check out Professional Web Video.
In this podcast Richard Harrington uses Adobe Photoshop Extended CS5 to work with footage files and create a film look. Richard uses smart filters, masking, grains and a vignette to create the final look. After Effects is used to batch render the comp.
I wanted to just share a thought with those of you who are doing creative work for hire. Make sure you are getting progress payments along the way. The last time we hit an economic rough patch (back in 2001) I remember getting stiffed by a client who went bankrupt. This client of course had paid their bills consistently for 2 years... but then the doors closed and I was out nearly $5,000. Let's just say... lesson learned.
The basic tenet is progressive billing. Make sure you are invoicing the client throughout the life of a project. This way you’ve gotten at least 50% (but hopefully more) of the money in before the project leaves your hands. Once the project leaves your shop, it's pretty hard to get paid (you've lost your leverage).
Here are some practical tips to help you avoid getting the short end of the stick.
Use Milestones – Payments are most effective when tied to milestones. Sign the agreement, deliver the script, start the shoot, etc.
Don't Confuse the Accountants – Try to avoid payments of identical dollar amounts as it can lead to confusion with accounts payable. It's almost a guarantee that some will get kicked out or ignored.
Try 55%/45% for Deposit + Shoot or
40%/35%/25% Deposit + Production + Post or
35%/30%/20%/15% for a Long-term project
Stand Your Ground – Be prepared to withhold or watermark deliverables if client falls behind on payments (just be sure to put it in contract and warn them first).
I hope this gives you some practical knowledge you can use. I'll be speaking about the business of video and photography at the American Society of Media Photographers Strictly Business (SB3) Conference. Three locations LA, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
This is one of my most advanced, deepest, and most useful techniques. I show you how to isolate the color of a single object in moving video and swap it to anything you want. The magic is done with LAB color mode and tracking mattes. If you watch only one Motion Graphics or Video tutorial this month... this is it. http://podcasts.creativecow.net/photoshop-tutorials-podcast/secondary-color...
Most professional photographers have grown accustomed to the flexibility that shooting with a raw format provides. When coupled with the great control of the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in, they have great control over highlights and shadows as well as the ability to recover exposure problems.
Unfortunately, your DSLR won’t shoot raw when it’s set to video mode. This means its like the old days (note we didn't say good old days) when you had to shoot JPEG. You’ll need to dig back into your past experience (be it film or JPEG) and retrieve the knowledge needed to help you make important decisions during acquisition.
When shooting outdoors, the use of a LCD viewfinder is highly recommended. These devices make it much easier to see a display as well as judge the quality of exposure. By removing all light pollution, you can make accurate decisions.
Just because you’re working with a movie file doesn’t mean all future options are limited. During postproduction, you can further enhance your footage. The first pass is color correction, which addresses issues with color and tone. Optionally, a color-grading pass can also be done to further improve the images with stylized adjustments that affect the mood and tone of the footage and thus develop the story. For more on the fusion of photography and video, check out From Still to Motion.
The Lens Correction filter in Photoshop is an easy way to fix common flaws in an image (such as barrel distortion, lens vignettes, and chromatic aberration). Usually the filter is run on 8 or 16 bits per channel still images. However it can also be run on DSLR video clips. The filter can also correct perspective problems caused by camera tilt. It also automatically looks up lens information from an online database.
Open a video file using Photoshop Extended.
Choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters to ensure flexibility in editing.
Choose Filter > Lens Correction.
A new window opens. Look in the bottom-left corner for information about the camera and lens used for the shot. (This comes with the metadata the camera wrote to the original file.) If you’re using a movie file, this info may be missing. It's a good idea to also shoot a still image on set to capture important metadata for your video clips.
Click the Show Grid check box to make it easier to see perspective issues.
Choose a manufacturer from the Camera Make menu.
From the Camera Model menu, choose the correct camera model.
From the Lens Model menu, choose the correct lens.
From the Auto Correction tab, check the Geometric Distortion, Chromatic Aberration, Vignette, and Auto Scale Image check boxes.
Switch to the Custom tab for advanced controls. Use the Vertical Perspective and the Horizontal Perspective to compensate for keystoning or angled shots. Adjust the Vignette Amount to further brighten or darken the edges.
Click OK to apply the correction.
Because of the complexity of the effect, the video clip won’t play back smoothly. Choose File > Export > Render Video to process the file and create a new clip. Be sure to also save a PSD file for future changes. You can double-click the Lens Correction filter in the Layers panel to open the Smart Filter for future edits.
This is a great feature from Photoshop CS4 that many don't use. The Flick Panning feature allows you to quickly throw the image canvas around as a way to navigate. It takes a little getting used to, but it feels very natural with a little practice.
Check your General Preferences to make sure Flick Panning is turned on by Pressing Command+K (Ctrl+K).
In the General tab, make sure a check mark is next to Enable Flick Panning and click OK.
Set the the Zoom level set to 400% (or greater) for the image.
Switch to the Hand tool by pressing H.
Click to grab the image then quickly move your mouse in the direction you want to flick and release the mouse button.
To stop the pan, simply wait and let “inertia” kick in or you can click again to stop at a desired point.
Some fonts are meant for printing only. This fact is easier to accept if you remember that the print industry has been around a heck of a lot longer than the television industry. Test your fonts. If they are too busy or have too many elaborate serifs, make them inactive or remove them from your system. Many modern fonts look particularly good on screen. Some recent additions include Georgia, Verdana, Myriad, Impact, Trebuchet, Gill Sans, Helvetica Neue, and Futura. These are just a few of the fonts that have been optimized for viewing on computer displays. Any font marked as optimized for web output is also well suited for video work. Here are a few of our favorite websites offering free and affordable fonts.
At RHED Pixel, we use the Mac’s built-in calendar and address book to keep the office organizer. Technically, this is a no-no as they’re not really designed for 20 different devices to be syncing at once. But hey... we’re risk takers. I did find two great apps on the new Mac App store today (they are also on the web too).
Here are the official descriptions:
If you're like us, your calendar is how you manage your life. And that means that bad data can mean a really bad day—or worse. Calendar Cleaner removes duplicates, finds subtle problems with your events, and keeps everything clean as a whistle.
Your contacts are the center of your personal social network, and as such are often synchronized among your Mac, your iPhone, and many other apps, services, and devices. Contacts Cleaner finds and fixes the little problems that can creep in while you're not looking.
In the Photoshop tutorial from Creative COW, you'll learn how to make an alpha channel based upon the luminance in an image. Alpha channels allow you to store transparency in a graphic. This is part of a series of Photoshop tutorials from www.creativecow.net. Be sure to check out my two Photoshop books – Photoshop for Video and Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5.
I’ll be teaching a class on the iWork apps for iPad on Thursday, January 27 at the San Francisco Apple Store. The class is totally free and starts at 6:00 pm Address: One Stockton Street San Francisco, CA 94108 (415) 392-0202 Driving Directions & Map I hope you can attend.
Non YouTube partners are starting to see longer time limits for their uploads. If you have no strikes against you for copyright infringement or other reported issues as well as held an account for some time, then you may get blessed. It doesn't seem to be anything you can request, rather just wait for it to roll out over time.
As you work in the timeline or source window, you'll come to rely upon In and Out points in order to accurately edit. These two points can clearly define which part of a clip you want to use, what section of the timeline you want to replace, or where to remove footage. Here are the most essential commands:
In – Press I to add an In point
Out – Press O to add an Out point
Clear In – Press D to clear an In point
Clear Out – Press F to clear an Out point
Clear In & Out – Press G to clear both an In & Out point
Go To In – Press Q to go to an In point
Go To Out – Press W to go to an Out point
Lift – Press ; to remove the media between the In and Out Point and leave a gap.
Extract – Press ' to remove the media between the In and Out Point and close the gap.