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Corporate Events Video--Just getting started

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Brian McKennaCorporate Events Video--Just getting started
by on Mar 7, 2008 at 7:48:46 pm

I am using Final Cut Pro and AE for video editing and graphics on my Macbook Pro. Up until now, I have edited existing videos. And I know where to get existing stock footage.

Now, I need to perform interviews with executives and public relations officials for our corporate events. The videos will be placed on a web platform only.

I am looking for any advice what type of camcorder I should use? I am looking for a camcorder that is less than $1,000. If the company decides to continue this, we may jump up to a higher end camera. But for now, what are the things I should look for when I search for a less expensive camcorder? On this, I am a complete novice. Most of the interviews will take place inside so lighting will be a factor.

Second, for audio, what type of microphones would you recommend? And how would these microphones work with the camcorder?

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Rennie KlymykRe: Corporate Events Video--Just getting started
by on Mar 8, 2008 at 1:10:50 am

For web video , quality of video is not an important factor but audio will be.

Given that good audio will use balanced lines you should look for a camcorder that can input XLR audio inputs and can be white balanced. A used Sony PD-150 or 170; Canon GL or XL1; Panasonic DVX100 are all good choices. It's a shame to buy SD cameras in these times but for your budget and needs these dv cams will be simple and effective.

Wired lavs like sony ecm-77 are good. Wireless mics are nice but cost money and since you may need to mic 2 people at the same time the wired lavs are cost effective. If you have to mic more than 2 people at once you will need an audio mixer and more mics or some boom mics.

The next thing is some lighting gear. The cams I mentioned allow manual white balance so get some cc gels and c-stands and light heads. You can get by with one light for starters making it only slightly brighter than the existing light and gelling it to match the existing light for color temp. These cams are very good in low light but you need to get light into the eye sockets. Eyes are set back in a person's face and you need to get light in there. Just one light at a 45' angle a few feet higher than the person's head and catching the eyes is good. You can use a white wall or styrofoam panel or reflector disc to act as a second light by letting it bounce your main light back at the subject from a more frontal angle. Eventually you can build your light kit and light more elaborate sets. Search lighting for more details on lighting, there are lots of guides out there.

Experiment with friends and family to get good at mic placement and lighting so you can be fast with these people's valuable time.

"everything is broken" ......Bob Dylan

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Brian McKennaRe: Corporate Events Video--Just getting started
by on Mar 8, 2008 at 2:13:06 pm

Your post was very helpful. Thank you.

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Rick WiseRe: Corporate Events Video--Just getting started
by on Mar 8, 2008 at 7:02:59 pm

Unfortunately, the SD cameras mentioned above all cost more, used, than your budget. You might want to consider the Canon HV30, which is HDV and right at your budget of $1,000. If you do, make sure you have the computer power and upgraded FCP to edit HDV.

The lighting advice is great -- just to add a couple of details: Try to get the interviewee (if there is just one at a time -- much easier to control and light) to face either into the lens (one style) or just to the left or right of the camera. The latter is the more common style for these sorts of videos. Let's say the interviewee is facing camera left. Then place your single key light 45 degrees further to the left of camera and about 45 degrees up from horizontal as a starting point. Every face is different. You are looking to have your light: reach into the subjects right eye and also just into his/her left eye, and illuminate only a small bit of the subjects left cheek. This is called the "Rembrandt Patch."

But look at the subject either through the camera or by placing yourself in front of the lens. If the subject has deep set eyes, you will need to lower the key light until the light reaches into those sockets. If the subject has a very flat, round face, you may want to move the light even further to the left.

With a piece of foam core or white show card clipped to something like an empty chair and placed camera right, you can adjust the amount of fill bouncing back from your key into the face of your subject. There is just one spot where you will get the maximum bounce back. Obviously, the closer you bring the card to the subject, the more fill you get. Again, look at the result: do you want so much fill? or is there too little? There are no rules for this, just taste. Look, look, look.

Eventually you will want a second smaller light and various rigging devices to use as a backlight; later, some other lights to put patterns of light on the background.

And be sure to bring along some 1/4 plus green, some 1/4 and 1/2 CTB, so that you can balance the color of your key to what will almost certainly be overhead "daylight" fluorescents. (You will figure out ways to clip the gels to your light).Your key will almost certainly be a tungsten unit, since HMIs (daylight balanced units) cost a whole bunch of money. You might start with a Lowel Rifa light, with a soft box on the front. Generally, you will want soft light, not hard light, for these interviews.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA

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Mark SuszkoRe: Corporate Events Video--Just getting started
by on Mar 10, 2008 at 6:14:34 pm

I would say don't buy a crummy camera, just because your budget is low; rent a better one. Along with a good light kit and mic. This is business, and it makes no sense to go drop a grand on the camera right away without knowing how much it will be used, or if its the right one. You can rent a much better camera and lighting for the same amount of money than you can afford to buy outright. You also are not paying any depreciation or maintenance on these assets when they are not being used, the accountants should like that.

You also sound unsure of yourself, perhaps inexperienced. It might make sense in that case for the fist gig to hire an experienced cameraman with all his own gear for $400-$1,000 for the first one, and use him not only to get you impressive footage, but to demonstrate how to set up the camera, lights, mic, so you can do it all yourself the next time. In this way your first results are going to impress the bosses the first time out, and they'll likely support you more for the things you want to get down the road as you build trust and experience.

As to quality for web, IMO whatever you do, it only gets worse on the web, so I would start out with more quality rather than less. Smart lighting to reduce graininess and nose, and proper shot composition, good selection of clean, low-detail, static, non-busy backgrounds, all of these factors help reduce the compression load on the codec and thus improve the look and smoothness of the final compressed output. They are absolutely right that without great sound, the whole thing is a waste of time.

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