Entertain or Die!

Video Critique: The Toy Review

By Your Questions Answered 2 Comments

Today’s video critique: A toy geek boldy submits his review for our review. Dear Steve, I collect toys as a hobby, and very rarely come across reviews that are entertaining enough to watch. So I set out to make review videos of my own. I wanted to do entertaining and informative videos, and also wanted to put myself out there so people can recognize me as a person, and not just another pair of clumsy hands clutching random pieces of plastics. Your book has been very helpful, and I’d appreciate any comments on what can I do to make my video…

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Keep Your Video Short: 12 Tips to Keep Your Video from Sucking (#10)

By Tips and Tricks, 12 Tips to Improve Your Video NOW One Comment

When it comes to video, the old show-business expression “Always leave them wanting more” applies. Anything worth saying in video is worth saying shorter. TV commercials tell a complete story, entertain us, and sell us—all in 30 seconds. Benjamin Button lives his entire life on screen, backward, in two hours and 46 minutes (not a long time for an entire life, but still some might suggest it could have been done in 2:20). The record of your mother’s second birthday party probably exists as either a grainy two-minute silent home movie or six photographs stuck in an album. Yet if…

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Making Your Video Sound Great

By Your Questions Answered Leave a comment

Hi Steve! I bought your book, How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck and this morning I shot my first video – a documentary of a local pancake breakfast. The finished product was 1:46 and includes 17 cuts. If I hadn’t read your book it would probably be a lot longer and much more boring! One question I have is sound.  I was concerned that the sound from the individual clips would be discontinuous…but I overlayed some music that came with Corel Video Studio and magically it all seemed to work out really well. I don’t know if I just…

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Easy on the Graphics: 12 Tips to Keep Your Video from Sucking (#9)

By Tips and Tricks, 12 Tips to Improve Your Video NOW Leave a comment

Unless you have a real design sense (you’ll know because everyone in middle school wanted to work with you on group projects involving posters), take it easy on the graphics and titles in your video unless they’re really necessary.  Extraneous graphics and titles are like extraneous anything else in video.  They just confuse the hell out of people, pulling our eye away from the point of the video to focus on zooming, sparkly words. How do you know if titles are necessary? Two tests: 1) Is it impossible to figure out the information the title gives us without it? If…

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Great Video Transcends Equipment

By For Pros, Your Questions Answered 3 Comments

Great video transcends equipment.  You can shoot an awesome film on your cell phone, or a terrible video on a Panavision digital rig with a crew of 200. Case in point:  This video, shot on a Nokia N8 Mobile phone.  It surely wasn’t edited on a mobile phone, but that doesn’t obscure the big idea:  great video comes from the brain, not the machine in your hand. This video has a terrific sense of style, a clear organizing idea, and great music holding it together.  A complete tale in under 2 minutes.  Watch: Thanks, Gretchen, for the tip! Check out…

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Shoot What Interests You: 12 Tips to Keep Your Video from Sucking (#8)

By Tips and Tricks, 12 Tips to Improve Your Video NOW 2 Comments

I recently watched a video blog post that featured an orchestra whose only instruments were iPhones. The players—it looked like there were about 20 of them—had special gloves with speakers on their wrists. Pretty cool idea, no? And very visual—a big circle of musicians playing iPhones. The problem was the video. It started with a very wide shot of the group and then wavered, as if unsure where to look. Occasionally it veered off to one part of the group, then another, with no apparent motivating goal. I felt adrift. There were things I wanted to see—like a close-up of…

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Keep the Brightest Light Behind You! 12 Tips to Keep Your Video From Sucking: #6

By Tips and Tricks, 12 Tips to Improve Your Video NOW 2 Comments

Here’s why you should always keep the brightest light behind you when shooting video: Modern video cameras, from cell phones to HD, adjust automatically for light. If the light’s too bright, they close down the lens to let less in.     Normally, no problem for you or the video camera. Your outdoor shots in bright light look great, and so do your indoor shots by candlelight. Unfortunately that smart circuitry gets confused when it has to deal with multiple light levels in the same shot.  Most video camera circuitry is set to expose for the biggest, brightest thing in the…

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Stop Moving the Camera! 12 Tips to Keep Your Video from Sucking! (#5)

By Tips and Tricks, 12 Tips to Improve Your Video NOW 5 Comments

One of the fastest ways to make your video suck less:  Stop moving the camara. Pros get to move the camera. You will too after you become a pro—or even after you’ve practiced enough to reach “skilled amateur” status. (Note, though, that some of the greatest shots in movie history don’t move the camera much at all!) But if you’re not a pro, treat your video camera like a still camera. You don’t move with a still camera—you just point and fire.  Same deal here.  Point the lens, take your finger off the zoom button, look at the LCD screen…

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Breaking Video Rules and Winning in Grand Rapids

By For Pros Leave a comment

Breaking video rules can be glorious. But to break the rules and win you have to a)  know the rules and b) break them with enormous style and commitment. I often talk about “Thinking in Shots” as a critical video skill. A quick glance at any TV show, movie or well-made video reveals that the longest shots you’re likely to see are 30 seconds long…and most are in the 10 second range or shorter. Generally speaking, your video will improve if you master this skill. But if you’re breaking video rules, it pays to go all the way.  The folks in…

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Knowing When to Turn the Video Camera Off

By Tips and Tricks, Your Questions Answered 2 Comments

I used to work in TV news, so I use techiques learned there, like your 10 second rule, etc.   However, in taking video of my son (just finished kindergarten), I find it hard to figure out when to turn the camera on and off for the 10 seconds due to the unpredictable nature of what he (or others around him) may do. I may miss the best stuff! Any tips on how to minimize footage and reviewing time while maximizing good stuff? –Kirsten in Tallahasee Knowing when to turn the video camera off is tough– especially when you’re the parent of the cutest child in…

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