Well in a change to my stills photography I recently carried out some video work as a trial for St Margaret’s CE Junior School. I had been asked to video a year 4 production. Having seen work that had been taken on Canon DSLRs I decided I should try it out.
Firstly the most important thing I needed to be aware of was the limitations of shooting video on this particular camera. Due to the heat generated by the sensors the longest sequence I could record was around 12 minutes. OK knowing that I knew I could work around it. Next there were the focusing issues. During recording if I wanted to use AF the camera would need to stop and and drop the mirror down to focus on the subject. Solution… make sure I’m using a good DOF and pre-focus, making manual adjustments when necessary. Third was the zooming in and out from the subject being recorded. There isn’t an automatic way of zooming an SLR lens in and out so anything I did here would need to be done manually, which is fine but then goes back to the focusing issue.
Once you understand these differences between a DSLR and a dedicated video recorder it is quite easy to work within those boundaries. So, how did I get on…
I used both of my cameras for the play – one with a wider lens which I could leave in one place to record everything going on and the other with the telephoto lens so I could pick out individuals that might be speaking. I had no worries about storage as I’d linked an external HDD to the static camera while I used the memory cards in the second one. The overall duration was around 50 minutes but there were points at which the lights were lowered when I could stop and start the camera once more to overcome the 12 minute recording limit.
So having captured all the footage the next stage was to create a DVD for the school to sell to the parents. This meant a big learning curve for me. The products I chose to try out for this were Adobe Premier Pro and After Effects, each playing a different part in the editing. To start with I needed to combine the movie files into one which I did quite easily in Premier Pro. Once the sequence was correct I could then remove any footage for example when lights were low and the stage was changing. When I was satisfied with this I then needed to add some titles to the video, this is where After Effects came in. It was fairly straight forward to add a title which would fade out gradually when the main content started.
The final stage was to create the output that I could burn to DVD. Having worked out the video settings I would be using I simply exported the project to an ISO which was then burnt to disc. The feedback I’ve had from the school and some parents has been positive so overall a success.
What next for video work…
Well from that exercise I’ve picked up a few things that I would need to do next time.
1. Directional mics – while the sound recording was good enough there were times when people with quieter voices were getting lost a little in the general noise from the room.
2. Tripod head for the camera – I’d been using my grip release head that I normally use for stills photography. While this did the job it was a lot harder to work with than a video head would be. A video head would allow for smoother and more fluid movement whereas the one I used could cause jumping on the odd occasion.
3. Steadicam – definitely if I was to move around, for example wedding videography. This time I was in one location so it wasn’t a problem.
4. Storage – Oh yes! Recording full HD does tend to eat up 8Gb CF cards pretty quickly so it would be worth investing in larger storage.
Would I video a wedding ?
Yes I would! However if I was asked to do that I would only do the video and not try and photograph at the same time. I might even consider videoing the first couple of weddings free of charge just to see what results I get. If you are interested then please contact me to discuss.