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A little advice please...

COW Forums : DSLR Video

Chris BarnesA little advice please...
by on Feb 17, 2012 at 1:00:52 am

So I am at a point were I either need to invest in better lenses, a better camera or switch to a camcorder as opposed to DSLR. Can you please take a minute to look over my workflow and take a look at my recent edit? I would appreciate some constructive criticism, in any form. Can I improve my workflow or is a camcorder or lenses the only way to increase quality? Thanks in advance!

canon T2i
canon 50mm 1.4
canon 75-300 4-5.6 (only used this lens in the video below)
kit lenses
basic tripod (looking for a good used fluid head)
Flycam dslr Nano (not used in the video)
Rode external mic

shoot at 1280x720 at 60FPS (mostly fast moving motocross)
transcode with mpegstreamclip to proress 422
import and edit in FCP7
edit and usually use "saturate" and "unsharp mask" presets
export as quicktime .mov
compress with "youtube" presets in compressor
upload to youtube and vimeo

The video on my macbook pro definitely looks better before uploading to youtube or vimeo, but still not as clear as I'd like. Here's the clip, thanks again.

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Steve CrowRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 17, 2012 at 2:15:50 am

To be honest, I don't know if you really want to hear my feedback because it's probably not going to be what you think you want but here goes: :-)

I think the main area you can improve in has nothing to do with new gear - the videos I've watched of yours over the last few months are all basically shots of bikes racing around the track - and if that's all you are going for they're not bad, not at all. But what is lacking is any kind of attention to STORY, I find the videos you've posted boring and repetitive but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm not a fan of the sport. But if I WERE a fan, I think I'd be asking you where are the racer interviews? Where is the technical information about the bikes and the track, and of the race itself that fans want? You could also benefit by varying the pacing and the "style" a bit - I realize that racing videos are often not much more than upbeat music, "in your face" graphics and transitions - but aren't you tired of that already?

Why are you creating these videos? That's an important question I haven't asked yet...are they basically promotion for bike or gear manufacturers? In any case, I bet 80% of your peers doing similar racing videos would take the same approach as you have done. I'd say set yourself apart and try something more interesting and then use the shots of the actual racing as B-roll, the spice - not the main meal.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media

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Chris BarnesRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 17, 2012 at 2:44:31 am

Yes, I hear what your saying and I agree to some extent. The fact is that motocross videos are unlike most anything else. At the first round of this particular series, another camera crew did a video that would probably be very much to your liking. (lots of story, interviews and race results) While the quality of their video was definitely better, mine simply has more views and better reviews. I have tried to mix in some interviews and sometimes that works well, but my target audience has very specific demands. If you put more than a few seconds of anything other then riding, they get bored. (unless that footage is of something funny, then its accepted) I would have to assume, that someone outside of the motocross watching my videos. Would probably be similar to me watching golf. If I was involved in the sport or followed it in anyway, it would probably be entertaining. But since I don't, it is equally boring and repetitive. My main issue is that the other people shooting the same types of clips as me, have clearer, higher quality videos. The reason I shoot these clips is much more complex. The video posted above is for an ATV suspension company that I work for. I am a rider rep, which requires me to attend the races and setup/support the riders that run our suspension. So I figure while I'm there, I might as well film it. On the side, I do race coverage edits for a local race series along with rider profile videos. (these definitely involve more story)

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Steve CrowRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 17, 2012 at 3:11:07 am

You know those football game highlight films made by "NFL Films"? from the 70's mostly? Those were great, I'm not a sports fan (big surprise, huh!) but I loved those films - they always shot on film and looked just great.

Today I know they've hired well known DSLR shooters to create content from them. I heard on a podcast StillMotion did work for the NFL on the draft and I THINK they also did some stuff along the lines of the old NFL Films stuff too,

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media

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Chris BarnesRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 17, 2012 at 4:07:19 pm

So any advice regarding the best way to improve my quality?

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John FreyRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 17, 2012 at 9:30:36 pm

Your video looks well-done to me - not boring considering the requirements you are adhering to. Along with many other types of video productions over the years, I also shoot action sports. I am currently involved in a Speedway Motorcycle Racing project for promotional purposes. Although I own and use several DSLR units in my business, I still use video cameras with powered zoom lenses for the majority of action sports. In the past, it was large Beta-cam units for SD. Now, it is smaller form factor cameras that are capable of 1080 60p, but with a power zoom. Low light capability is also a big deal for me, as most of the race schedule is based upon late spring through early fall night races under the lights. I use a lot of slow-motion in my edits, and quality 1080 60p is a must. I usually shoot on a custom rig that holds(2)cameras, a video camera for tracking shots and a DSLR for wider, locked down shots, with lens choice depending on available light and size of track. I end up with (2)versions of the same race to choose from in the edit. By the way, I am not up on the photo tower shooting all four quick laps of the race. I am in the infield of a small dirt oval trying to capture the dynamics from a different POV. Good Luck!

John D. Frey
25 Year owner/operator of two California-based production studios.

Digital West Video Productions of San Luis Obispo and Inland Images of Lake Elsinore

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Chris BarnesRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 17, 2012 at 9:43:07 pm

I constantly think about either swapping to traditional camcorder or adding a camcorder to my equipment list. I think I can still benefit from the DSLR's ability to create shallow DOF during interviews and b-roll. But I really want my action stuff to look better. I have to shoot at a very small aperture to even get close to keeping riders in focus, so I can't help but wonder if a camcorder would be worth the added investment. Ive never shot with a pro caliber camcorder though, so I'm not sure how much I'd need to spend in order to get the results I want.

Any suggestions on camcorders I might wanna try to borrow or rent? I know that I need the 60fps to keep up with my racers and I'd like the ability to burn DVD, even though most of my work is used on websites, forums etc. I also would like something that will work well with my T2i and possibly another canon DSLR down the road. I don't mind the SD card's as I work with several external hard drives, that I can dump footage between races. Again, any advice is appreciated.

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Bill WillinsRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 20, 2012 at 4:33:09 am

I think you would greatly benefit from the HD little portable GoPro's camera.

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Chris BarnesRe: A little advice please...
by on Feb 20, 2012 at 4:37:19 am

Would you mind watching the video and then responding? Thanks!

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Butch HendersonRe: A little advice please...
by on Mar 11, 2012 at 9:10:11 pm

Not trying to flame you here but I think varying your focal length would help you out alot. A longer lens on the T2i would allow you to get tight shots of the wheels bouncing over the bumps, helmets flying through the frame, and then you wouldnt have to dissolve between the same shot 4 times. I got bored during the 9 seconds waiting for the race to start, and the black bar for the graphic never went away? If you don't have rights for the stickers on the helmet, a disolve to fuzzed out helmet graphics would still convey speed better. A GoPro under the jump would have been fun, A GoPro right behind the front wheel to show the suspension travel and wheel turning. The shot with the safety tape "X" could have been a lot tighter, with the tape out of focus and fluttering through. and a GoPro on the ground right next to the pole on the runout of that corner, where they are close to the edge of the track, would have given you a nice place to cut to.

Butch Henderson
Seattle WA,

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