Monday, August 25, 2014

Process Video Set Up

Today I made a layout and video taped it.  I'll edit the video later - tomorrow and Tuesday as time permits.  But while I had everything set up I thought I'd snap a few pictures of my set up.

I've been watching process videos for better than a year now, I think they're fun and I gain so much from watching them.  Sometimes I'm inspired by the actual layout, but sometimes I see better ways of doing things, or organizing, or I get a glimpse into the decision process that goes into another's layout.  It made me want to share, too!  But I couldn't figure out the logistics, and there's very little information out there.  I was plagued with questions.

  • How do you get the camera perfectly parallel to the work surface?
  • Can you video tape upside down and flip the video right side up?
  • How do you deal with the lighting?
  • How do you add narration?
I have a feeling that a vast majority of process-video-makers use a tripod.  And I have a tripod, and it even has "shoulder" and "arm" that allow me to shoot straight down.  Perfect for shooting parallel to the work surface, only the thing weights a ton.  And while that's obviously an exaggeration, it is far too heavy for my work surface.  

Kerig has seen me watch these videos for a while now, and when I mentioned that I'd make them, too, if I could figure out the tripod issue, he started brainstorming about ways to get the job done. Cheap.   Free.  (This discussion took place when I was out of work with my broken arm. There was no way I could justify spending money on this.)  We talked for a while and we realized that we had the answer all along:

This is called a copy stand, and in the pre-digital dinosaur days, before all-in-one printers that cost less than a decent pair of shoes, if you wanted something copied, you had it photocopied.  Like, an actual photo.  A copy stand was used, it has marking on the platform to line up your artwork or documents, and then there's the post and arm.  There are two cranks that let you raise on lower the camera, and slide it along the arm to position the camera closer-to or further-from the post.  In its traditional set up, that arm would extend over the platform.

And that's how it was set up in my original process videos, but as you can see, the platform is an inch or so off the table.  The platform is plenty big enough for the actual layout, but it made it awkward to use the trimmer and set things down around the layout.  I asked Kerig if we could take the arm off and mount it backwards so I could just use my regular mat instead of the platform.  Turns out, you can!  

This isn't where I usually scrapbook (my usual desk is talked about here.) so when I get prepared to do one of these videos I try to anticipate everything I'll need.  Much of that gets piled on the platform so it's closer.  Handy, eh?

In the upper left hand photo, you can see the self healing mat that I use.  I used some yellow washi tape to mark off a square to corral my layout in.  I found out after the first video was done that I didn't know how easy it was to work out of frame.  With the tape down, I have a reminder that if I'm not working in the box, no one is seeing what I'm doing.  Has that been a magic cure all?  No! But I feel like I'm getting better. :)

I sold cameras for 12 years, and I know a little bit about photography, but what I know about video you can fit in a thimble. With room left over for a goldfish.  One of the things that I do know, though, is that you can't get your camera to close focus  if you've got the lens zoomed out at all.  Of course, knowing something and remembering it are two different things. It took me until the third video to realize it and lower the camera on the post instead of relying on the zoom to get it framed up the way I wanted.  

So that's my set up.  Copy stands can be found at B&H and Adorama new, and ebay both new and used.  I'd look on craigslist, and even put up an ISO post - a lot of old school photographers had them, and wouldn't necessarily think to list them.  

As for my other big concerns:

Can you flip the video? Yes, absolutely!  I'm just using Windows Live Movie Maker, and it came on my computer, but I'll bet it can be downloaded for free if you don't have it.  The program is pretty easy to figure out and once the clip is loaded into the software you can easy rotate it 90, 180, or 270 degrees.  It also easily allows you to speed up the video to 2,4, 8 times the speed and even allows you to slow it down.  If played back at regular speed, the sound ambient sound when you work is heard (so you can narrate while you work...or else it's going to pick up the t.v. and all the conversations happening.).  If you speed it up, no sound plays at all.

How do you add narration?  I use "Sound Recorder" which also came with my computer.  I had no idea what program I had, so I used the search box in the start menu and searched on "record" and it came up.  Once the video is all flipped and sped up I watch it once or twice so I know how it's going to go.  I have a Turtle Beach headset, the kind gamers use. (I'm not a gamer though... I needed them for online classes)  I start my recording software and then quickly start the video and record my narration.  I don't care about sound or noise when I'm making the video, but I'll set the furnace so I know it won't go on and turn off any fans and other noise makers.  And honestly, I don't usually get it where I want it to be the first time around.  Once I'm happy with the narration, I save it somewhere where I can find it, and in Windows Live Movie Maker I click "add music".  It prompts me to find the music I want to use, so I just find the narration I just saved.  

What about lighting? I don't really have any sage words of wisdom for this one.  My table is very tall, and there's a nearby ceiling fan with 3 60 watt bulbs and it seems to provide plenty of light, and my camera seems to do a great job of adjusting its white balance.  When I first turn the camera on, there's a yellow cast, but within a second or two it adjusts and my white is white. (yay!)   

So that's my set up!  By far the biggest hurdle was getting the camera mounted, and after that was solved, everything fell into place.  I am NOT an expert! Heck, I've only got 4 videos up.  But like I said, I had a hard time getting any answers, so I thought I'd share what I'd figured out so far.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  What I can answer, I will!  

Also: GoFundMe  ☺

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