Step 2: Recording Your Videos
Great. Now that you’ve got a rough idea of what you want to do, it’s time to get some video recording equipment. But what should you get? Is a webcam good enough or would you need to spend RM3,000 on a DV camcorder?
It really depends on what sort of quality you’re looking for.
Big budget videos
If you’re planning to create a show with good production values, shoot at various locations (including a studio setup) you’ll probably need at least a DV camcorder, a tripod and some floor-standing lights (or reading lights perched high up on a ladder to illuminate subjects).
And if you want to go outdoors, you might need to enlist the help of a friend to shoot as you speak in front of the camera.
Although one of those new hard disk- or DVD-based high-definition camcorders may look tempting, all you really need for good Internet videos is a standard-definition miniDV camcorder.
You can get a decent miniDV camcorder for slightly more than RM1,000 these days.
Plus, DV video files are a lot easier to edit than the MPEG2 or MPEG4 files generated by other types of camcorders.
If you expect to shoot videos in noisy environments (i.e. any place with other humans), you’ll want to get a DV camcorder with both microphone inputs and headphone outputs.
The built-in microphones on camcorders are very sensitive and can pick up all sorts of background noises that can be very intrusive.
Medium budget videos
But if you’re short on money, a digital camera with movie functions is usually good enough, just make sure it can shoot videos at VGA resolution (640 x 480pixels) at 30 frames a second.
The main problem with digital cameras is that most of them record video in high-bitrate formats such as motion JPEG, which quickly take up space on your memory cards.
Depending on your camera and video-quality settings, a 1GB card may hold anywhere between five (ultra-high quality) to 40 minutes (super-low quality) of video.
The other problem is that most digital cameras disable their autofocusing and zoom when shooting videos, which will make dynamic panning and zooming shots difficult.
Digital cameras tend to have poor sound quality too.
But if you carefully plan your shots, you can still create videos of comparable quality to DV camcorders.
Good compact digital cameras cost anywhere between RM600 to RM1,500 these days.
Low budget videos
If you really can’t be asked to buy a cheap digital camera, then you can rely on your mobile phone, provided it’s got video-recording capabilities.
Most mobile phones released at most a year ago would at least be able to shoot videos at a resolution of 176 x 144pixels, 12 frames per second and with poor-quality audio and video.
These videos are normally in 3GP format (based on H.263 video encoding), which means that they’ll look considerably worse than videos from camcorders or digital cameras.
Whether you’ve got an RM20,000 professional high-definition movie camera or a mobile phone, here are some simple shooting tips that’ll instantly guarantee better shots.
1. Stand closer to your subject.
By doing so, your zoom lens would probably have to be at wide (rather than telephoto), which means handheld shots would have less jitter and camera shake.
Also, if you’re using the camera’s built-in microphone, you’d be able to pick up sounds or speech from your subject more clearly.
2. Try not to move the camera too much.
Videos are more pleasing to the eye (and less likely to cause nausea / motion sickness) when the camera is completely still. So if you need to pan the camera, do it as slowly as possible.
This is also why you should use a tripod whenever you can.
From a technical point of view, less on-screen movement would translate to clearer videos. Streaming Internet video tends to be highly compressed and will display compression artefacts (i.e. blockiness or blurring) if you move the camera too much.
3. Use available light to your advantage.
If it’s bright outside and you’re shooting indoors, position yourself between the window and your subject, using the natural light to illuminate your subject.
The same applies to artificial lighting such as lamps, neon lights and TVs, make sure they’re not directly behind your subjects while you’re recording them.
That way, you can be sure that your subjects’ faces aren’t in the shadows.
Source: Article by Chris Chong from the Star Online, 17 July 2007