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Constructive Criticism on Video

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Brock Burwell
Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:27:28 pm
Last Edited By Brock Burwell on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:59:48 pm

I'm debating telling you how long I have been doing videos. I just simply want your honest advice on this. I did this video for my church on Sunday and finished editing it on Monday. I would love your advice on what I could do better.

They wanted a video made on their "Feed My Sheep" program which serves food after each church service they have.

Please, honest opinions because I want this to be as good as possible. Thanks!









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Sam Comer
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 4:36:13 pm

Some nice shots and lighting.

The one thing that stands out for me after a first, cursory viewing, is audio.

First, I think the music track is a little distracting - a lot going on. Maybe something little smoother and slower? (Matter of opinion, I suppose).

Second - It sounds like all the interview dialog is coming out of the right channel only. You need to center-pan the audio so it's coming through both speakers, otherwise it's just disconcerting. This is done different ways depending on your editing program. You could also just export it so the audio is Mono instead of Stereo, but there is a slight hiss in the audio as well. This could be from the channel that didn't get a signal while recording. Filling both channels with the mic's signal will help with that a lot. If it's in both channels, then a little noise reduction or EQing should go a long way to help that.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 5:00:44 pm

Great advice thanks!

I use final cut and I'm not really sure how to do that, but I can do some research and find out.

Did I tell the story OK? Does it all make sense?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:20:25 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:23:06 pm

To fix the audio? Double-click on the tracks, see the window with the waveforms pop up. See there are sliders for overall volume and panning left and right.

Once the audio track is double-clicked, you can also go to effects>audio filters> Compressor/limiter, and play with adding some compression to the audio to make it sound "bigger", without actually being louder.


Does it tell the story? Well, it tells what the program *is*.

Was there a "call to action"? Not really. A call to action might be a pitch to donate food to the effort, or to tell someone you know, when to come and why. It tells you currently what Feed My Sheep *is*, but not what you should *do* with the information... like... attend?

If that's a first effort, you're doing very well. Just keep tweaking it.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:42:37 pm

That's a good thought on the "call to action." I guess I didn't really give the viewer anything but information. Not sure how I can do that without reshooting with the Pastor and getting him to basically give them a call to action. I may be stuck with this video unless you have an idea.

Yea this is my first try at this. I kinda copied someone else's video idea and tried to emulate it. I didn’t go to school for this or anything but I'd love to start getting into it. I feel like this place is going to help out a lot as I may be asking for advice a lot.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:52:55 pm

No, it's easy. Add the CTA at the end with a graphic, like the scripture quote I mentioned, and under that, some type:

"To help support the effort by donating food, or to learn how your church can do this< contact xyz etc etc etc" And add a voice-over with it. Done.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 5:00:27 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jan 8, 2014 at 5:04:41 pm

Not a lot to criticize here. Its functional "as-is". What I'm suggesting here is more of a description of what I'd do differently, not saying you should do everything I mention.

I would put a rim of dark edge and soft shadow on the fonts, to help them pop a little when the backgrounds are light-colored.

It seems to be all cuts, and I think a few of the transitions would benefit from dissolves. The music is kinda bland and low, and perhaps too "wall-to-wall"; you might think about using it only on the b-roll shots, or using multiple cuts of music to help define individual sections of the narrative.

Your narrative audio is clean, but sounds a little "thin"; you could run this thru an audio compressor filter and "beef it up".

The framing of the interviews is a little same-same, and you're changing the framing just with the zoom: it's more work, but these shots look better if you physically move the camera in or out in between questions answered. You do that by asking all the questions twice, once for each camera position. Also, I caught a couple times where you cut in or out of a subtle zoom; I think those transitions would work better as fast to medium dissolves, or you should let the zoom move finish, before you make the cut. Zooming live on people talking is always tricky, but it can help add emphasis when it's pushing in, or start to detach you from the message and give it a 'wrapping it up" feeling as it pulls back. You have to really listen to the content of the remarks as you roll, to know when it might be appropriate to make that kind of move, and to judge if the speaking pace of the talent is going to give you time to make that move, without looking abrupt or hurried. It's always going to be a gamble; usually it pays off. If you blow it, there's always b-roll to cover.

It would be good to hear more of the pastor as voice-over while watching him walk around in b-roll. More b-roll of the church itself might be nice too.

You're in love with your footage, which is a common problem I get myself, but you could be more ruthless in shortening this down. Once you've made the major point, it feels a little long or redundant in spots. The interview shot where the lady's eyes wander is distracting. A lot of the b-roll is existing light and some of it was a little under-exposed or harsh, or it's shooting from behind people. I get that you might be constrained in showing faces.

I liked the rack focus shot you did, and wished you had a few more really wide shots or high and low-angle shots to add variety.

You could perhaps add a graphic in there somewhere to finish, with the text from John 21 where the quote "feed my sheep" comes from.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 5:06:23 pm

I love all this advice. I really appreciate it. This is the first video I've done and I really like the suggestions. I will absolutely make some of these changes.

I am in no rush for this so I am going to take my time with it. Thanks again!


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 7:02:04 pm

Good call on getting more video of Pastor for B-roll. I may need to do that.

I will take a look at some more music to see if anything fits better. Where do you get your music? I found a place on iTunes that has royalty free music, but I'm not sure if there are better places.

Do you have any specific suggestions on what can be cut to shorten the video to make it less redundent?

What do you mean you wish I had "more really wide shots?" The rooms I shot in for B-roll weren't very big so I couldn't really get wide shots. I am though going to film tonight to get some shots of the outside of the church that will be wide, but I'm not sure if that’s what you mean.

I love the idea of adding John 21 in there at the end. I will definitely do that. Great call.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 8:36:42 pm

If you're shooting more b-roll tonight, try to get some very high angles and some low, table-height angles, on the wide shots. Keep a checklist with you:

Get singles,
two-shots,
3-shots,
"cover" (wide) shots
Establishing shots of people entering and getting welcomed.
Wide interiors of the church, some panning and tilting shots of the windows, maybe a rack focus or two.
More food prep shots, with people and just with hands and mouths.
Get shots of the kitchen team resting and talking, slowly packing up after everyone else is gone.

Get more "wild" audio and b-roll video of the rooms, of people talking, of "fellowship". Shoot two people conversing from two angles, keeping in mind the 180 degree rule.

Play with more eccentric framing of shots. Not everything should be dead-center, and "look space" should be there. Compose frames where there is action in the background AND foreground, separated left and right (your basic focus pull setup)




SoundDogs and AudioJungle and Music Bakery are three places I like. Digital Juice has a large worship-focused collection you might want to peruse. I also make a lot of use of loop-based music using SonicFirePro 5.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 9:12:12 pm

As I said previously, I didn't go to school for this so I don't know all the terminology. I looked up some of the terms you listed here but I would like further explaination on a few if you don't mind.

What does singles, two-shots and 3 shots mean?

Also, when you say "look-space," do you mean something similar to the rule of 3rds? Space on one side of the subject

Also, You said shots of hands and mouths. Do you mean of the people eating?

Also, do you have any videos that could be used as an example for me to go on?

Thanks for all your help. It means a lot!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 8, 2014 at 10:51:10 pm

Single-shot is a shot of single person, also known as a medium close-up. Two-shots are a shot framing just two people. Three-shots are a shot of three people.

"Look space" refers to seeing more space in front of a person's face, nd where they are facing whatever is oncoming, than behind them. Either standing still, or walking or running, you want to frame the body and head so that there is more space in the side where they are "looking" than "behind" them. If they are in profile, relative to the camera, you'd want to see much more of what is in front of them, than what's behind.

Hands holding food or cutting food on plates, shots of mouths smiling and talking, not eating, unless it's "tastefully" done. people chewing, closed-mouhted, and smiling, could be good.

One other idea about framing a close-up: you don't always need to make as much headroom in the shot as you think. You CAN go closer, MUCH closer, as long as the eyes and eyebrows, and the mouth and chin, are still within the "safe action" area of your frame. CBS's "60 Minutes" used to be famous for that kind of shot, where all the expression is there in the eyes and mouth.


When you get into those tighter spaces like corridors and doorways, and you have an on-camera light, try bouncing that light up at the ceiling or a wall that's out of the frame next time, and this will help some of your shots where there's a lot of shadow.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 9, 2014 at 2:30:31 pm
Last Edited By Brock Burwell on Jan 9, 2014 at 3:18:20 pm

I got some more b-roll shots last night...

I think got a few good shots. I ended up replacing a few old shots with some of the newer stuff.

I got some close up of hands preparing food.

I got a another rack shot

I got a low angle shot I think is usable

I am struggling with the CTA after the last shot in the video. I tried using John 21:17 in more than one way and I can't get it to look the way I want. It just looks bland and stupid. I want it to look professional but I can't figure out a way to make it that way. Any ideas on that?

Also, is this the place where I should post these questions? Is there a different category where this would be more approporiate


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 9, 2014 at 4:31:54 pm

The Editing forum might be helpful, for specific editing questions, and the Cinematography forum, for specific shooting and cameras questions, but there are smart people giving good advice in every COW forum.

If you'd put up a still or motion video clip of the ending you're working on, we could give some opinions.

One thing I could suggest off the top is, if white type over black screens doesn't work for you, you might take an extreme close-up still of an empty, finished plate or bowl on the table, dissolve to a deeply blurred version of it (just use the gaussian blur filter effect), and fly your type across that background image.

The"semiotics" (unconscious symbolism) of that shot is that there's a void that needs to be filled.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:02:58 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:06:32 pm

Brock;

For the B&W piece you showed, With that kind of music and tempo, I think you could have a lot of fun by making the stills "2&1/2-D".

Take each still into photoshop or GIMP if you don't have photoshop.
Duplicate the image onto 2 layers. Create a third, empty layer below them.
On the top layer, draw a mask around the person or persons in the shot, then cut away everything else in that layer.

Save the three-layer images as .PSD with alpha channel and all layers preserved, or save as .TIF with all layers and alpha channel enabled.

Bring those back into your FCP timeline. Keep the stack of layers as it was in Photoshop, but now, keyframe the middle/second layer to go from clear to slightly soft focus (use gaussian blur filter). At the same time, keyframe the top layer to scale up just a few percent over the length of the shot.

When you play these clips now, you get a really cool fake 3-d effect that "pops" the subject out of their background and makes the eye follow it.

A variation on this is to make the subject layer be in full color and the background layer in B&W or monochrome/sepia.

If you're looking for a visual metaphor to go with a particular sermon, like something about how people feel when they are alone, versus how they feel when they understand how loved they are... or maybe a before/after baptism kind of theme, ...this is a great effect to convey such an emotion visually.

This is much easier to do in Apple Motion, but it's not hard to do in FCP7.


To get an idea of how this looks, find youtube clips from the film: 'The Kid Stays In the Picture", or "Riding Giants" and see the animated stills. You'll recognize them when you see them.













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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:55:31 pm

Wow awesome advice...

I've always wondered how people did that. I will definitely be trying that out.

I stole that video idea from West Virginia University. When I was there, that was one of their ads that they ran. It was pretty easy to replicate. I'll see how it looks with this effect. Thanks again!


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 11, 2014 at 5:18:45 pm

Brock -

Here's a really good place to start your education in film making:

http://nofilmschool.com/

Download the free DSLR Cinematography Guide, and you'll be on your way to better understanding the terminology and techniques of film making.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 13, 2014 at 3:45:04 pm

I need your help…This is what I ended up finishing with on the video. I am happy with the video a itself, but I am really struggling with the audio. It sounds terrible and I'm not sure what to do.

I am recording on a canon t3i with a lapel mic. I watched a video where somone suggested that with this camera, I should go in and manually lower the audio to remove the hum that this camera produces a lot. I did that, but they also said that you need to turn the audio up on the lapel mic to make up for it. I don't believe my mic has that option and I just didn’t think twice about it. I only did that for the interview with the Pastor. Once I heard the audio, I turned it back up for the other two videos. So to match it, I had to turn the two ladies audio down so it matched the Pastor. So the entire video volume is very low and I have no idea what to do to fix that. I can't turn it up on the final cut timeline as the pastors is maxed. Any ideas?

Also, the audio for parts is only coming out of one side. I tried to change it all to mono, but some clips won't allow it and I don't know why. It's so strange.

Any suggestions for me? Thanks!







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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 13, 2014 at 4:47:04 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jan 13, 2014 at 5:07:27 pm

You could try a freeware app called Levelator to make all the voice tracks sound closer in level.

What they were trying to tell you about the lav mic and your DSLR, is kind of garbled.
If you have a hum, that's a sign of unbalanced audio coming into the camera, or an incoming level that is too low so the automatic gain control of the camera artificially cranks up the levels, and with it, the noise floor. This is one of those areas where I feel DSLR's always suck, compared to dedicated video cameras, and a lot of DSLR owners use "dual-system sound", i.e. they record the audio on a separate device, to counter these problems. But that adds works and complexity.

You don't say if the Lav has it's own battery, or if it is using "phantom power", tapped from the camera. A buzz or hum can come from a battery-powered Lav with a low battery sometimes. Audio cables running alongside AC power cables also can pick up a buzz or hum.

The deal here I think is: you need something in-between the Lav and the DSLR, to feed the DSLR a level it "likes", but disabling any automatic level controls the DSLR is imposing on the audio. The typical fix for that is a small outboard mixer/pre-amp/matching transformer, that uses balanced 3-wire XLR/Cannon tpe connectors.

Where the audio comes into the DSLR I think is typically a tiny stereo plug like they use for ear buds, and that connection is not what's called a "balanced" input. Unbalanced inputs are a typical place for RF noise to get into a system.


So, there's 3-4 places in the audio chain where it could have gone wrong. I think what you might have done in changing the camera settings was to change the impedance setting of the audio. If you set the recording system to expect line-level impedance signals, a mic-level signal is going to be VERY weak, nearly inaudible, without cranking up the gain and thus getting extra noise.


You might want to read up in wikipedia or other sources on any of the tech terms I mentioned here, then what I said might make more sense.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 13, 2014 at 5:07:07 pm

When listening to it, what do you suggest that I do?

My wife said that on her nice speakers at work, she had to crank the volume and still could barely hear it. She also said some of the people speaking went so low she couldnt understand what they were saying. She also stated that she though the music sounded just like noise in the background.

If you were me and had this video...what would you do?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 13, 2014 at 6:29:25 pm

Check the audio for phase cancellation: if it is 2-track mono, does it seem louder and clearer with one channel turned off?

As to what I'd do, not a fair question, since you and I have different expertise levels and gear. But if I were YOU, I'd maybe first try Levelator on the audio by itself, then re-synch that audio to your master and give it a listen.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 24, 2014 at 3:41:40 pm

Brock: been awhile, how's it going now?


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:05:36 pm

Hey thanks for inquiring about me!

I sured up the video as much as I could and released it to our facebook page and got great responses! We had over 20 people "share" the video and a lot of people approached me and told me how great it was. While it may be great from their standards, I have a lot of work to do to get better.

I'm currently working on my second video for the church which is going to be filmed tomorrow.

I'm watching a lot of videos and trying to emulate them. I found a couple of people on there who do instructonal videos that are really good and I've learned a lot from them. Figured out that I want my next purchase to be a steadicam (or similar) to increase the professionalism of my videos.

Considering purchasing a tutorial on my Canon T3i from a guy I've been following on youtube. He is really good and really expalins a lot in a good way. He only shoots with DSLR and has a 3 hour tutorial on my specific camera which would give me a better idea on how to use it to its maximum potential. It's $39.99, but I think it'll be worth it.

Anyway, that’s where I'm at right now.


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 24, 2014 at 6:38:46 pm

[Brock Burwell] " Figured out that I want my next purchase to be a steadicam (or similar) to increase the professionalism of my videos. "

I say put your money into better audio. How many flying shots do you really need? IMO, one of the worst things a newbie can do is buy a steadicam. Instant case of Steadicamitis™. Every single shot is flying, moving, floating, twirling. It's happening all over again with the new compact gyroscopic rigs like the Movi. It's distracting and takes away from the story in many cases. You need a good tripod/head combo (which can easily run in the thousands). Beyond that, a shoulder rig is nice for going mobile.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 24, 2014 at 7:01:35 pm

Jason's sage counsel should be taken to heart: you'd do better to beef up your audio tools, better mics, and/or audio recorders, then add to your tools for your lighting. After that, worry about a steadicam, but in your case, I'd suggest instead, getting either a telescoping monopod, or if shooting with a DSLR, get some outrigger grips or make your own "fig rig" like I did. On the monopod front, there's one that doubles as a steady cam by adding weight and tiny stabilizer feet to the bottom of the monopod, and this has a lot of versatility for "run and gun" work.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 24, 2014 at 7:57:40 pm

Gotta be honest, that isn’t what I was hoping to hear, but I know coming from both of you that it's good advice.

I guess I'm probably not ready for the flash of a stabilizer yet. I do need to get better mics to be honest. I do a lot of interviews so getting some good mics will help.

Any suggestions on what a good mic would be for someone on a budget?


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Bill Davis
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 25, 2014 at 5:10:27 pm

Brock.

In reality, mic's are generally not "good" or "bad" except at a very refined level of technical specification (self noise, sensitivity, etc.)

What they are is appropriate for the use.

There's no single mic in existence that will do great for a handheld on-camera interview, a dialog scene, and recording a choir.

My advice for your spending is to buy books and start reading. A good place to start is Jay Rose's excellent Audio for Digital Video book.

Audio is 80% technique and 20% gear. Always has been - always will be.

Bood luck.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Bill Davis
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 25, 2014 at 5:05:42 pm

[Jason Jenkins] "IMO, one of the worst things a newbie can do is buy a steadicam. Instant case of Steadicamitis™. Every single shot is flying, moving, floating,... "

Superb example of the adage "When the tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail."

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Brock Burwell
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:35:05 pm

Just finished my first draft of my second video. I have a few things to clean up, but I was wondering what you guys thought of it and what suggestions you would have. Thanks!







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Mark Suszko
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 31, 2014 at 6:32:03 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jan 31, 2014 at 7:30:24 pm

Not bad, but you'll want to fix the text at around the 47 second mark, because it's missing a word, "never", that belongs near the end of that sentence.


I know, this happens to people all the time when they look at something too many times. One trick to check for things like that is to read it back to front one time.

Try not to cut to exactly the same framing/shot between two people; make it really tighter or wider than the preceding shot. Your media guy talking in a chair, on the same screen side as the pastor, isn't as dynamic as putting him on the opposite screen side and better yet, holding one of the cameras, or leaning on an editing console, or up against a tripod... you get the idea: show the man accompanied by some of his tools.

Overall, not bad, really. Could always be shorter, faster.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Feb 1, 2014 at 9:41:46 pm

I don't think I'm over-stating it, but I believe this may be the greatest improvement, in the shortest period of time I've seen. In terms of style, technique, framing and so on you've come a LONG way, Brock. Really nice piece. Congratulations!

AND I agree. You don't need a Stedicam or similar. Handled when used sparingly and with wide lenses has a much more real effect.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Constructive Criticism on Video
on Jan 14, 2014 at 6:25:27 pm

[Brock Burwell] "So the entire video volume is very low and I have no idea what to do to fix that."

Here's a simple trick that I've had to employ when given footage with very low audio levels: Add one or perhaps more audio tracks. Then copy the audio that's too low and paste it into the new track being sure to synch it perfectly with the original. Viola, you immediately have doubled the volume. Unfortunately you've also doubled the noise, but sometimes that's acceptable to get intelligible audio.

Mark is right about an external/balanced line mixer. One that comes to mind especially for DSLR use is BeachTech (or is it Tek). Google it and/or look online at B&H Photo Video.

Having good audio levels for "talking heads" video is just one of the many skills you'll want to develop. And, BTW, your wife is right. The music level is so low that it sounds unintentional or like noise. One simple thing you can do to enable the music to be louder without drowning out voices is to use the equalizer function to dip the music's frequencies in the 500 to 2,000 hz range. That's the range where most of the detail we hear in speech is so when you lower that part the lower and higher parts of the music can be mixed louder.


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