One Camera...or Two?
Hi, I just got a call from a past client who started her own Nurse Educator business and wanted a video of one of her classes, which are 2 days long. They use Powerpoint and Videos and at times dim the lights, there is also Q&A at the end. I plan on inserting the media in post production. I've shot hundreds of seminars with one camera, but they were mostly for "documenting" the event, this is to represent someone's business.
So my question is: would I benefit from two cameras? I'm thinking a 2nd camera would be mostly for "insurance", as I plan to keep the main camera on the teacher and follow the action. 2nd camera could be a wide shot of the room. I only have one camera, so I'd have to rent one...otherwise I'd just do it. Any thoughts on this? She wants a proposal ASAP.
Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions
While there are techniques to make the one camera look like two or more, and we can cover that in another discussion, a job like this can benefit from two cameras. You get two more channels of backup audio, for one thing. Don't neglect getting absolutely perfect audio for these things, it is even more vital than a good picture! You get continuity and a cover shot while you change tapes and batteries on each camera. You get audience cut-aways and reactions, and much more dynamic shot control of the speaker: you can punctuate her dialog by cutting to closeups, for example. You can avoid a lot of tromboning in and out for zooms, or having to cover that with slide closeups, if you have the second camera to go to. You can get better audience participation shots if there is Q&A.
You can adjust iris independently to get the best picture of the room and the best picture of the powerpoint screen.
That last may not be a big issue if you are adding the powerpoints back in during post from a CD copy, but still, being able to read or see the screen properly in a camera shot helps orient you to which slide you are going to see whan that slide comes up full. Subtle but effective.
If you can afford to add in the cost of the rental, and bill her, I'd go for it, as it will add a lot more professional look. If she say no, come back here and we can talk more about how to pull it off best as you can with just the one camera. I do this a lot.
Thank you Mark, I agree 100% with all you said. Yes, I hate the zoom in, zoom out look...I like to cut it like a live TV show: cut to camera 2, camera one goes in for CU, then cut to that camera and have camera 2 pick up another shot. I don't think I will have the luxury of saying "can we do that again from another angle".
I would have to use wireless mics so they are free to move around. Not sure if a boom hanging from above would help as they are very dynamic and move a lot.
Speaking of Power Point, are there any new ways of importing a PP into Premiere? I used to convert each slide into a BMP, but it takes a quality hit. Would something like Camtasia work? Now I need to look around to rent the same or similar camera that I own: a Sony DVCAM 450WSL. I'm thinking 4:3 would be the way to go, since it will used in a classroom setting and not sure they will have a Plasma or LCD screen. Thanks again.
Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions
Regarding PPT, you have several options. Dedicate a camera to shooting it off the screen, take the disk with the presentation on it and export the slides as jpegs instead of bitmaps, use a free download of Microsoft producer to make PPT export as an AVI file, use Camtasia or similar screen grabber, or buy or rent a scan converter and hook it to the computer vga port between the port and the projector or monitor.
With the scan converter, you could run that into a deck with an audio tap from your camera, and you get an iso track of just the slide show in perfect synch with the live presentation, so you can edit back and froth with it like it was another camera in post. The scan converter and camtasia will also grab any movements she makes with the mouse pointer, and any animated builds or transition effects the presentation has. Exporting stills does not, so if the transitions or builds are important to the client, you'd have to re-create them in the NLE application. Camtasia has a lot of satisfied fans, but it may not be for everyone. I'm not sure I would want to try to load and run it live during the client's presentation, for example. It may use up too many processor resources, and hard drive space to store the massive video files it creates. Not great on some laptops.
You get what you pay for with scan converters. I own a 99-dollar one that works okay for the most basic powerpoint and screen grabs, but for serious work I would not bother with a unit under a thousand bucks. We use a Scan-Do Pro here that cost six gees brand new, it is awesome, but other brands in that price range are good too. Don't panic, you can often rent one of those expensive ones for a day for maybe fifty to a hundred bucks, depending where you live.
Hi Mark. I've always been in situations where the client can't afford a 2 camera setup so I've shot them with just 1 camera. How do you do it and still make it look like a TV show that shows the talent from one angle to another while he's talking? Thanks and God bless.
I didn't mean to write a whole article, but I like to get it right and complete. So get a fresh cup of something and settle in.
The big secret to a good single-cam lecture gig?
Advance preparation and a plan in your head. It's always nice to be the editor as well as the shooter because the editor half of you won't give the shooter half any peace until you get enough coverage. But if you know how you're going to edit later, the shooter knows what shots he can ignore as well.
For a single-cam powerpoint-driven lecture, the first thing I try to do/know is: Can I get the actual slides on a disk, preferably ahead of time.
If they've been promised, but not delivered, I show up extra-early to the event, when the speaker is just arriving and setting up. I will plant the camera directly in front of the screen in the best possible place, with the iris set for best viewing of the slides, and have the speaker click thru them all, one second per slide. That's all I need, I can freeze frame them and extend their duration in post in a couple ways. When I use my dvcpro model 700 camera, it has a video input and can be used as a recording deck with a simple menu switch, so I can bring a pocket sized 99 dollar scan converter and do grabs to tape direct from the laptop's VGA port, if I need to. Again, pretape one-second grabs of each slide. Also, 1 gig USB memory sticks and a handful of blank CD ROMS are DIRT cheap and easy to bring along in the camera bag or a keychain for copying the slides off. Either copy the whole presentation or quickly open Powerpoint and export>all slides> jpegs to a folder you already have prepared in your USB memory stick.
Knowing I have the slides on disk or pre-captured before the event, I now don't have to worry so much about exposing for the screen. I can position, light, and expose for the speaker and any audience participation needs first.
I like to position the camera about 45 degrees off center, to the opposite side of the screen, so I have the choices of a single tight shot on the speaker alone, a medium with the speaker and maybe half the slide behind one shoulder, (with enough visible to be able to tell which slide it is) a wide shot with full-body of speaker and screen.
Because I got there early, I spend every last possible second before the show starts getting cut-aways of people in the audience in singles, trios, and bunches. If I can get behind the speaker at the podium to grab an over-the-shoulder with them in foreground and some audience in background, that's a great cover shot you can use any time because you can't see the mouth moving. You need a solid six seconds, minimum, of any cover shot you take, preferably more, but at least six. Slam-zoom to get them, tape them, and get out again. Try a couple rack focuses of foreground audience to background audience, to be artsy. Audience cutaways are best caught early when they look the most fresh and alert, and before they can escape when the lights dim...
Show begins, and I've already been rolling for ten minutes or so worth of cutaways...
Now assume for a second that for some reason you can't pre-tape the slides, can't get there fast enough, spent all your time fixing an audio or lighting problem and its too late.. whatever..... or, you don't think you can get them afterwards because the presenter is a jerk or they have to catch a plane, or you do, etc.
This is what I do.
Disengage the servo zoom and put zoom on manual.
("Luke, you've switched off your targeting computer, what's wrong???" "Nothing, I'm all right...")
Pre-set your focus for the speaker, note the setting. Same for the screen. Shoot the first slide for a few seconds full frame. Snap-zoom out super-fast to slide and speaker. Hold that shot. Speaker hits next slide. Figure he's going to go about a minute on it. Hold the new 2-shot and listen to him, listen for him to finish a sentence or paragraph leading into the slide. Wait for it.... now, GO! Snap-in to to a tight shot of the entire slide, hold steady and count off six seconds...and snap back out to either a tight single of the speaker, the 2- shot, or a wide shot. Back home, after you clean the womp-rat skins, you'll freeze and extend that tight shot and pull it back on either side of the cut to cover and extend over as much of the shot as you need. You can then pick when and where you copy/paste>drop it in again if the speaker stays on the same slide a long time. You can even find time for a fast audience cut-away with this technique covering for you. When you get comfortable shooting this way, you can start thinking like a live director; always think ahead to what your next shot needs to be, and be ready to SNAP to it.
What I try very hard to do is establish a subconscious visual rhythm to the work. I really listen to the presenter. Not just the content, but the vocal inflections that hint at summation statements. As each new concept or "chapter" comes up, I get the full-frame title slide for it, a paragraph of intro in CU of the speaker, followed by a wider shot that retains the slide, so you the viewer can keep your place, and I the editor can find the right cutaway later. Then finish with more closeups of the speaker. Because I can grab and extend slides later, or use the copy from the disk, I want to mostly shoot the speaker, and only enough of the projector screen to keep me oriented later in post, where I have much more control.
So we build up the repeating beats like that until the slides are all done. If you fast-forward a tape of my shoot/edit, you can see the repeating pattern of shots and count the "chapters" going by, and find a particular chapter very quickly. I believe a viewer gets a feeling of continuity out of watching a show cut this way, as well.
Best of all, your finished product will look like a live-switched 2-or-3-cam show of all cuts, not the more amateurish tromboning, nausea-inducing zoom-in-zoom-out junk people expect.
Audio-wise, I consult the speaker ahead of time to see if they are an immoveable podium-clutcher or a walk-and-talk duck-shooting-gallery target. I then usually put a wireless lav on them anyway, as well as plant a boundary mic or dynamic omni stick mic on the podium, because I am a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, and because Murphy finds a harder time of it the more backups you have going.
The boundary mic sits on a spare, cut-down rubber mouse pad, so as not to pick up thumps and creaks. I feed these two mics to a Shure 4-channel mixer, strapped or gaffer-taped to my tripod in easy reach with one hand. The mixer goes to channel one, I leave the camera's shotgun wide open on channel two. I monitor the audio the whole time. Spare tape and a peanut-butter-flavored Power Bar is in my shirt pocket, a bottle of water in my coat pocket, the camera is on AC with a spare 3-hour brick at my feet. Bladder is empty, I'm wearing comfy shoes and we're good to go for hours.
I dare you to stop me. :-)
For times when there is no room on the podium for my table stand, I made a cute inexpensive gadget from two Radio Shack mic clamps attached end to end. This little fella will hold my wireless stick mic clamped to the camera grab handle while shooting ENG off the shoulder, but it can also piggy-back my mic to a gooseneck or other table stand or floor stand, or even the side of the podium where there is NO stand. Costs about $20 to make, if you buy the clamps at Shack... seen the same thing for double that, online.
My biggest wild card to deal with is usually the hotel house audio. The house PA in most places I've worked is abysmal; I've never had the luxury of working in posh hotels with real AV in-house help. It is typically a hardwired, hands-off, no-changes-allowed, padlocked setup, and nobody from the hotel can EVER be found to answer questions about it or modify it beyond turning the power on or off. It's a toss-up if there is a feed to tap from it, usually not. If it does have a tap, you'll find the output buzzes and hums like a swarm of killer bees, and whichever impedance you are using, damn if it's not the other. What to do?
Be over-prepared, of course. And always be thinking of work-arounds.
Sometimes I'll sacrifice the mixer and use it inline between the hotel PA mic and the wall, getting my tap that way. Sometimes I'll use a y-adaptor with XLR's. Sometimes I'll gaffer tape the two stick mics together, theirs and mine, so wherever they go, I go. Sometimes I'll use the lav that way, gaffing it to the stick mic from the hotel PA, hidden from camera shot, slightly less bulky. I have a box full of Radio Shack audio adaptors and plugs, gender-changing adaptors, and an adjustable in-line attenuating pad in an XLR shell, to bring line levels down to mic. One time we had to lav mic a speaker cabinet... it's war, you sometimes just have to improvise. Whatever it takes to get good sound.
Particularly with these lectures, the sound is of primary importance, more than anything else. They'll forgive bad shots if the audio is good, but nobody will watch it if the audio is bad. In my kit, on general principle, regardless of the job, I always have two omni/cardioid stick mics with stands, one or two lavs (one phantom, one self-powered), a nice PZM, and two Lectrosonics wireless sets. Plus several sets of Canare brand or Starquad XLR cable in lengths of ten, twenty and fifty feet...
If I can't get one useable audio track with all that... ...fire me.
...Or admit it can't be got by mortal man.
All that junk and more goes into a large mechanic's satchel that looks like it belongs to Felix the Cat. It's my video "Bag of Holding". Last time I weighed it, it was around 35 pounds, sometimes it's more. After hauling it around all day I'm sore, but I'm never sorry.
Because I'm as prepared for anything as a one-man-band can be, and fortune favors the prepared.
"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"
Mark...you're amazing. I hope you're successful, because you deserve to be. I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates all the time and knowledge you give to "us" on the Cow. Thank you.
Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions
Nope, just prolific;-) If I'm so smart, why ain't I rich?
People define success differently. I wish I could define it from a restored '68 Mustang, overlooking my island getaway and the 22 foot sailboat tied up next to it. I'm only ever going to see that as a comp, when I get skilled at using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects:-P
It still amazes me I've been just making a day to day living at it and feeding and raising a family this long, doing something I'd be doing for free as a hobby, if I wasn't getting paid. While I'm far from rich, I ain't diggin' ditches either. I make a difference in my own small way and some days that's enough.
And don't make me out as smarter than I am: I'm sure there are plenty of other guys and gals here that use the same knowledge and techniques, I didn't pioneer anything new, I just took the time to write it down for you. You would have figured out something similar eventually on your own, I'm sure. I'm just passing on things other people have taught me or that I've picked up along the way by experience or observation of others. One way I pay those folks back for teaching me something is to pass it on to someone else, like yourself. That's what I love about this site, we're all here helping each other out and building the biggest do-it-yourself textbook ever. I learn much more here than I have taught anyone else. I'm the one that should thank all of YOU.
Mark, You're very modest...a nice quality. There might be others out there who know what you know, but you express yourself in a very eloquent and concise manner.
The most bizarre thing happened this morning...I received a phone call about shooting a seminar for nurses (different video than my original question)and she is going have power point throughout the entire 6 hour seminar with 5 presenters. I told her that you can fit two hours of decent quality on a DVD and that she would 1 DVD for each speaker. Do you agree there is no other way around this?
Then she asked for a price, so I told her I'd get back to her with a proposal by the end of the day. I know there are a lot of Grey areas when it comes to pricing, but do you think $6K is too much? This is for a 2 camera shoot, with at least 4 mics, lighting and post production, which includes multi cam editing, titles and the encoding/burning of 5 separate DVD's.
I can't see doing it for less, but not sure of the client's expectations...sticker shock. I told her that "people think shooting a seminar is a simple process, but there are a lot of elements involved and you want it to look professional...if not, you should get a camcorder and do it yourself."
Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions
Anybody that knows me is having a good laugh at your "modesty" reference.:-)
The way our gear works at my shop, we stick to two hours for DVD's as well. I tried using a slower 4-hour rate on the Panasonic DvD recorders we have, but got into problems with customer player compatibility and the compression just destroyed he quality on what are often very shaky graphics to begin with, when you're using powerpoint as the source.
If anything, on a purely time for hours basis, the $6k you bid may actually be low. You need to know before you talk to anybody about a project, what your true costs of business are and what your hourly and day rate needs to be, just to break even as well as to make a profit.
Then take a long look at what kind of time goes into those six complete hours. If you plan to do a lot of editing to polish them up, your profits to hours ratio goes lower, though the finished quality will be better. This is one reason that for big all-day lectures it can sometimes be a better deal overall to live-switch a multicam feed and just be more or less done with it at the end of the day. Costs more up front but saves time. Six-plus hours of raw tape can equal six hours of digitizing, twelve hours of editing, plus the time you took to shoot it and whatever time it takes you to dub it off. Be sure that whatever you decide to charge that you are billing for ALL the work you're going to do.
I'd like to take this off on a different tangent for a minute. While I shoot a LOT of powerpoint stuff, I never really LIKE it.
First off, while there are a few people out there that know what they are doing, most powerpoint slide shows are horrible quality, technically speaking. Much of the blame for this I put on Microsoft. Powerpoint was and seemingly remains designed to cram a lot of visual information into a small memory footprint as the prime goal. It also was and remains oriented towards looking at it on a computer screen from arm's length away, at most.
What this gives us are graphics that come out of the starting gate with particularly poor resolution for text, compared to what comes out of a dedicated video character generator or broadcast CG software. And nowadays they are almost always projected on a large screen, though never composed for that. Often the colors and brightness levels can exceed NTSC safe levels. On top of that, the built-in "wizards" most users rely on when composing the slides, don't format the slides very well for video in a 3x4 ratio, I can't wait to see what they do for 16x9. The themes are often of poor contrast, or poor color choices, the font default choices are bad for video, and they may add a lot of distracting stuff.
You can get around a lot of this if you are an experienced presenter. You can build better custom themes and backgrounds yourself, either in Powerpoint or Photoshop, and use powerpoint as just the shell mechanism for transporting and presenting the image stream. Won't be as compact a file done that way, but can look WAY prettier. There are also services and artists out there that can create extraordinary and striking slides for you, using all the best principles of graphic design. I just never get to see that kind of work. If I get a really heinous slide show, sometimes I'll offer to rebuild it in PPT or just export the text data into a real CG and build better resolution "real" TV graphics. Depends on the time and budget available, and how high-visibility the project is. You have to pick the hill you want to die on, after all. Not every project deserves an Emmy-winning effort.
But leaving all that aside, there is an even bigger issue to me.
I don't think lectures with powerpoint are very good television.
I don't mean just from an entertainment perspective. I mean as effective use of our medium.
The true power of video is in the combination of sound and images, juxtaposed and combined to create more meaning together than they have alone. Its also a medium that favors broader themes and emotions, not a lot of minute detail. What I'm getting at is, there is probably a better way to communicate the same material than to tape six hours of people reading their slides to an audience that I'm pretty sure can read the slides themselves, faster. But usually, nobody is willing or able to do that work, find the time for it, or pay for it. It requires much more effort to take the client's information and synthesize a script that tells the story of that information most effectively. Powerpoint's format for organizing a presentation is also IMO a tool of the Devil. It puts the emphasis on building an orderly outline of bullet points, not on synthesizing an understanding of the material and getting that across to an audience. Not every message really fits the one-size approach of powerpoint. I feel it's use in early grade school classes as "technology training" is a horrible mistake, churning out kids that can't compose a proper report or truly organize and understand information. Ed Tufte points out places in corporate and government where these powerpoint shortcomings have led to trouble, including the Shuttle Discovery disaster.
My opinion is that ppt slide shows are often not the best way to communicate the information, just the one that people find most convenient and cheap and expedient to do. I'm not saying that every slide show has to have the quality of an epic film. Sometimes the pure data itself is so engaging to the target audience, your best strategy is to just to shut up, get out of the way and let them see the charts, graphs and tables with a minimum of distraction. I think that's an exception rather than the rule.
On the other hand, in those situations, those charts and graphs and tables could probably be communicated just as well if you just made a PDF file of them or a hypertext web page, that's self-navigating.
Ask yourself if the data on these slides couldn't just as easily be sent out as a email instead.
If that's the case, isn't it part of our duty as communication experts and facilitators to tell our clients there's a better, perhaps cheaper way to tell their story? Don't we owe that to them, to at least suggest there's a better way? Reading a book on tape is not television, nor is it usually something we should be calling effective training. What we are challenged to do in those situations is to prize out the parts of the live one on one presentation that really DO communicate and teach, and make THAT the focus of the video. The rest is detail to print out in a manual.
When people say video training doesn't work effectively, my guess is they don't really have any to start with. Not really. They have "radio with pictures". They have recorded a "book on tape". This is where somebody with experience in Instructional Design could be a great help, to get them moving in a better direction.
For more on why you should hate powerpoint as much as I do, wiki or google the terms powerpoint and Ed Tufte. For a real hoot, google the search terms "Powerpoint" + "Gettysburg Address", and see what evil can be done when the way the technology is applied is a mis-fit for the message.
Try to talk her into doing the course without the audince just for the camera. Shoot her. Then add the graphics and video later. That way you can shoot her properly with correct lighting. You could even bring in an audience for the Q&A if need be.
Gary/Mark, I asked about that, so that we could have a controlled environment and she said the instructors "work" better when they have an audience to play off of. I just wrote her and asked about the power points and wrote a company about renting a Scan Converter. I'm thinking the 2nd camera should be at 3 or 9 O'Clock to capture the teacher and students and I would be at 6 in the back of the room.
Then there is the whole legality issue, with filming nursing students in the class. Not sure how to handle the Q of the Q&A soundwise. It might be awkward passing a mic around, then again they do it on TV. In the past i have setup a mic on a stand and the people who wanted to ask questions would come up to the mic. Thanks for the replies.
Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions
Lecture attendees are very used to filling out sign-in sheets. Just add another sheet that's a release form. Or put a sign on the door saying by entering you agree to be taped, and have the presenter repeat that information before she begins. If there are people that want to attend but not be on camera, you can put them in one designated corner that doesn't get shot.
One of those strategies should work, I should think.
As to audio, you could have an assistant with a hand-held directional shotgun point it at people that speak, from one diagonal corner of the room. Works in a room of fifty people or less, needs fast hands on the mixer to ride the gain or you get too much noise along with the speakers. A field of PZM mics mounted on low ceilings could cover a pretty wide area unobtrusively, but also introduce noise.
I often use the planted hardwired mic stand for questions in a situation like this, but you need to plant enough of them to make it easy to get up and go to one, or people quit trying, then they try to shout from their chairs and that doesn't work well at all.. you must stop everything and insist they go to a mic, make a pest of yourself about it... Plus, the speaker at the front of the room MUST enforce the rules by not responding to people unless they go to the mic. A side benefit of the mic stand approach is you can light just that spot and leave more of the room relatively dark. Good if you're economizing on lighting, and makes the rest of the people there feel less singled-out...
I have also seen assistants run around with a wireless handheld to people that stand up. They can also be used to sort of pre-screen the questions in a whisper and decide on the fly if it is an appropriate time to ask that Question, or if it is a rehash of something already covered, or to be covered later in the show. Good for keeping things moving on schedule.
Lots of good material here, but I'm gonna disagree with the idea of trying to mic the audience. It's a nightmare and hardly ever gets more than barely adequate sound unless you set up a stand mic and make the audience shuffle up to ask their questions directly to it.
Which is silly in and of itself, cuz the audience isn't typically relevant, only their QUESTIONS.
So go ahead and set up an audience mic, but not for the soundtrack, for your reference.
Then in post, instead of hearing the audience questions, just SUPER the question as text (concise, clearly worded text) as a lower third over the beginning of the properly recorded answer.
The viewing audience will "get it" immediately and you don't have to worry about audience audio at all.
I would say it depends on what the client wants, plus sometimes its not just about a simple question, but comments, conversations, opinions, and the like also. Bill, while you are correct in your description of captioning questions, that technique is less handy when you're trying to cover things in terms of a Socratic give-and-take.
For some situations, captioning a question works fine, for others, the audience will think you're doing it because you couldn't get decent audio. If you can grab the audience on their own tracks, you can bring that up just when you need it, and keep the overall noise level down.
Such matters of audio policy are best discussed with the clients beforehand.
Thank you Mark. That's a complete tutorial!
Regarding "Reading a book on tape is not television, nor is it usually something we should be calling effective training," I totally agree with that. I have this client who wants me to make a training video where he wanted the WHOLE SCRIPT be part of the subtitle. I told him that, not only will it fill the whole screen, it will also take away the viewers attention from the actual demonstration that we've shot... or vice-versa. I told him that it's not how video works. But since I don't want to lose the job, I went ahead and put the script on screen but begged him to let me edit it so it doesn't fill the whole screen.
Can I quote you and put your post on my website? It's very very informative and I'd like to educate some clients. Thanks and God bless.
I'm just a guy. You should quote Ed Tufte.
That guy has credentials. Read up a little on him and his theories about clear visual expressions of data, and of graphical interfaces.
Another voice in support of reading Tufte.
His book, "Visual Display of Quantitative Information" remains the gold standard for understanding how to present information to an audience.
Plus, ya gotta love someone who appears to hold such vast contempt for the typical PowerPoint presentation in business!
FCP since NAB 1999
creator: muti-track movies
Wow... great thread here. Kudos Mark for another informative post!
One thing I like to do with pp or any on screen graphics is keep my digital still camera hanging off my tripod and shoot a still of each slide. You can color balance, straighten perspective and adjust contrast in photoshop afterward.
"everything is broken" ......Bob Dylan
Rennie, that is an excellent idea...I'd keep my digital camera on a tripod and use a remote to trigger it. I asked one of the two possible clients if I could shoot the PP on a different day and have them go through a mock presentation and they said yes. Sure it's more time for me, but the end result will be more controlled.
Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions
Using a digital still camera seems REALLY complicated to me. Why not just take a thumb drive along and having the presenter copy their PPt presentation directly to it?
That way you can "fix" the poor quality design if need be - making fonts bolder or changing to a more video friendly font.
Even if the presenter doesn't want you messing with their slides, you can just have them export their slides as a series of JPGs.
This is just digital data. Why would you want to dumb down the raw data via camera to a 2d plane then have to mess with that afterwards???
Doesn't make sense to me.
FCP since NAB 1999
creator: muti-track movies
Well...now that you put it that way, I agree. And if the PP has animation that won't help anyway. Sounded good at first.
Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions
I'd have to agree here. I've used my still camera when I've been called in by one speaker on short notice without proper planning and without involvement of all participants. It worked well for the situation I was in but if you have access to the original files that's the way to go of coarse.
"everything is broken" ......Bob Dylan
Not a fan of using a still camera for grabbing the screens, you could use a consumer mini DV camcorder on a tiny set of sticks to do that and have audio and movement too, plus, it would all fit inside your "big boy" camera bag.
But here's something: you don't necessarily need a laptop to GIVE a powerpoint show, long as there's a TV or projector with a composite NTSC input there, you can store the slides as jpegs and play them out of most no-name $30 digital stills cameras in slideshow mode. If really pressed, one could also use this method as a cheap feeder for a teleprompter, one page at a time, of course, and the whole page instead of scrolling, with no editing ability, but still... very compact... they come with a composite video out....
I often suggest to folks that are nervous or otherwise reticent about using a laptop in some places, that a $30 DVD player from the Walgreens will play a CD with jpegs on it and give you a fine slideshow, without any fancy programming, software or authoring required. If you can burn jpegs to a CD, you are in business. The remote usually also lets you zoom into the jpegs and pan around within them if you need to. If the DVD player gets stolen, you're out less money than the gas it took to drive across town.
Really enjoyed this discussion, especially Marks comments.
I wanted to agree that Powerpoint is spawn of the devil. However, corporate types consider it essential. I have used Camtasia with reasonable results. Much, much better than the scan converter. And we were using a good scan converter. I just got a cd with the slide presentation on it. With Camtasia running, I click through it, staying on each slide a couple seconds. Then I stretch the slides out to fit the hole.