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Saturday, 26 July 2008

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Video is as straight forward as still photography. You just have to keep in mind the dimension of time. Time can make or break your video. You can lose someone's interest in a matter of seconds if things are done poorly.

Another special consideration in video is the element of sound. Sound can also make or break your video. Make sure your audio is the way you want it.

Just like in photography, lighting is everything. Especially in DV format, the more light the better.

There are more choices of cameras for video than there are for still photography. You've got way more than point and shoot vs. SLR to consider.

I do corporate type videos for the government for a living. I can tell you all you need to make a simple instructional video or commercial with "prosumer" type equipment or quality. Much beyond that, you'll need someone with real heavy production experience to help you out. It can be as simple or as complex as you want.

Feel free to contact me with specific questions.

The Little Digital Video Book, by Michael Rubin is a good start.
It's out of date technically, but has film/video basics. There's an overdue update coming on Sep 11.

Rubin, by the way, recommends using Final Cut (Express) rather than iMovie, even for small projects.

I know nothing of this, but I've been following Doug Plummer's (http://dougplummer.blogs.com/dispatches/) trials and tribulations. By his account, it's not an easy path to tread.

Definatly Final Cut Express for Mac users.

Hey Mike,

You might be best getting a student to help you out with this one.

Although just shooting a talking head isn't overly taxing it can be if you're not comfortable with the moving image.

The main thing to keep in mind is that people will tolerate mediocre visuals with video, but crappy audio they will not. We're use to high quality audio in everything we hear, while visuals vary.

I'd recommend investing in a wirelss mic system so you can just tap into their box their to guarantee you're getting a clean track to work with.

You might try a camera like the Canon HV20/30 and if you're looking to make more an investment the Canon XH-A1. That's what I shoot with. I'd describe the hv20 as a prosumer type camera with the xha1 being more like a SLR.

As far as editing goes you can't go wrong with Final Cut Pro on a Mac or Express, which is much cheaper.

That's probably not much help, but these sites should prove useful for you:

http://dvinfo.net/conf/ - Incredible forum

http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/language_of_film.html

http://www.digitaljuice.com/djtv/default.asp?show=all_videos&sortby=&page=4 - awesome site with video tutorials on pretty much everything

http://www.newslab.org/resources/photogtips.htm - useful pointers

Good luck,
Tim

I'm happy to help with what I can, being a commercial photographer whose business has incorporated video. The video productions are where we see the most growth going forward.

As Charles said, it's like still photography in that decent results are possible straight out of the box with a prosumer camera and supplied software (good 'ol iMovie).

I dove in and just did it myself with a new Sony Hi-Def camera and Final Cut Express (highly recommended). Lynda.com has great tutorials. If you've ever designed your own websites this is the same kind of deal, a potential (but fun) time sucker.

Audio is the only thing that gives me pause but it's obvious you're an audiophile (the Marantz brings back great memories) so you shouldn't have any problems.

Here in Cincinnati we have a non-profit called Media Bridges that teaches videography. It's possible to get instruction and use their cameras and computers while making a production. If my schedule would have allowed this would have been a great route for me to take and would have saved some delays.

I'm happy to discuss the project, there are some setup / format details you'll want to take into consideration going in.

This might sound trite, but I would take a class at a community college.

I think it's funny that you've fallen into the "I need a professional so I'll hire a student" trap.

Doesn't it wind you up when people say things like "I need some really good photos, so I'll hire a student."

Why should it be different with video?

For technical mac bits I think you should talk to Don McAllister of http://www.screencastsonline.com/

Alec,
There's no budget to speak of. Hence, no professional. Unless you'd like to work for nothing? ;-)

Mike J.

This reminds me of something Billy Collins said (former Poet Laureate of the US) about anyone with a pen and a piece of paper thinking they could write poetry. Oh well, learning things the hard way keeps my mind active, so, not only have I set out to teach myself a bit about making a video, I'm also doing it on a PC. If you're not a MAC guy, try Adobe's Premiere Elements and use Jan Ozer's book: Making a Movie in Premiere Elements. Use a large dose of imagination but not too many special effects and you'll do fine. As far as equipment goes, use a good mike and any HDTV camera in the $1,000.00 range (make sure it'll accept an external mike) - like DSLR's they're already pretty good at that price, but being high tech gear they'll be obsolete before you're done reading this post.

Mike -

I do a lot of video and I think it has many more aspects to it than still photography and requires considerable knowledge and skill to pull off. Of course, I am talikng about doing anything well. A snap shot with a P&S takes very little skill. Putting a video camera on a tripod and pushing play takes very little skill as well. I am not sure from your post exactly what you need, so it is hard to give you solid advice. I would say, howerver, that unless you have an interest in learning video production, then learning it is probably way more time consuming and more intense than you would desire. The software can be very expensive as well. And, as others have pointed out, you really need to learn audio editing as well. Unless what you need is fairly simple and straightforward, or if it is OK that the result appears amateurish, then you probably need help. It takes a lot of work, many hours, and a lot of equipment to get it right. Fall is not that far away.

Ed

I second the community college approach since equipment and expertise are both present at low cost. The instructors are often local pros and can walk you through he basics. Nothing "trite" about that.

Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Hire a professional. Etc.

Since you're on a Mac, iMovie works well and is fairly easy to use. If you bought a Mac within the past couple years it should have some version of iMovie on it already. I prefer the older version ("iMovie HD" or version 6, as opposed to the newer "iMovie '08" or version 7). The newer version is slick but it seems geared toward producing 3-minute Youtube videos. If you buy iLife '08 ($79) it comes with iMovie '08 but it lets you download iMovie HD. Others have recommended Final Cut Express, which I'm sure is fine, but it does cost $200.

Processing video takes enormous amounts of disk space (10's of GBs) and time (a couple hours minimum) for doing things like encoding and burning DVDs. If you don't have a top-end Mac it will take longer. You might have to get an external drive. Get FireWire 800 if you can afford it.

Be prepared to spend lots of time (hours and hours) editing the video. This is in addition to encoding and DVD burning time I mention above. It depends on how much of a perfectionist you are, but for each one hour of video it might take three hours or more of editing time. Remember, you have to import the video first, in real time. Then you have to run through the video and cut out dead time, mistakes, etc. If you have several takes you'll have to view each, select the best, edit it down, splice it in, etc. You also might want to break up the material into chapters, separated by titles, include some still shots, etc. Then with final review it's probably three complete run-throughs at a minimum.

My personal style is to be minimal. Simple fades to and from black, simple titles. No fancy effects, wipes, zooming, flying text, etc. I find that stuff irritating. Of course, do whatever style you want for yourself.

Producing video can be fun and rewarding! I'm sure you'll get good results. The big surprise for me was how much time it took for me to get the results I wanted. Let us know how it turns out.

Mike,

No budget; use the FREE app on your computer, iMovie. It is capable of very high quality results, and, it's.... FREE. Borrow a mini-dv camcorder, and do a little playing. Titles, transitions, and all controllable. If you solicit help from any of the schools in the Milwaukee area, you will have some notion of the possibilities. iMovie was a revelation to me after the struggle I had with film movie cameras, and by the way, it's free on your computer.

Heck, I'd even send you my copy of "iMovie 6, The Missing Manual", as I'm at iMovie 08; by your pal Pogue.

Bron

Milwaukee will have a video school somewhere, and it won't cost much, and you'll get lots of advice on cameras and techniques, and if you go at night, it can even substitute for a social life. When you're done, you'll be able to shoot films as good at those sold by Luminous Landscape, which I would consider about the minimum acceptable level for something you have to pay for.

JC

I work professionally as a videographer, and photography is my hobby. There is one simple advantage to hiring a professional:

I've done shoots like that for as little as $300. Because it's interesting subject matter, and I want to help people out. Still seem like too much money?

For that $300, I bring with me up to $15,000 worth of equipment, and years of experience.

Now, doesn't it sound like a bargain?

In fact, the minimum amount of equipment I would bring would cost $500 to rent, and I know my gear inside and out.

If you want to get into this, and learn, and grow with it, this is a great start. If it's a one-off and it needs to be done well, take a look at who's working in your local area.

Beyond the technical aspects, I would watch a bunch of instructional videos on similar topics to see what works and what to avoid.

How long will the finished video run?

I'm retired industrial film and video camera man, editor, director and producer. Not all at the same time, of course.

I second Bill Mitchell's comment to hire a professional. The dimensions of time and sound add considerable complexity. I don't think is more difficult than still photography, it is just very, very different.

If you can't hire a professional for budget reasons the community college suggestions are excellent. But realistically you won't be able to pick up all the needed skills in time for fall. But you will learn a few things and your product will be better, even if not perfect.

As a general rule, don't get hung up on technicalities and equipment. The exact camera doesn't matter much, but a good tripod head will. (Not a ball head!!!). Lighting obviously won't be flash; it'll have to be hot, continuous lights. Most editing software will get the job done, but the learning curve is steep. So -- KISS. Don't try to produce an imitation Hollywood flick, you're bound to fail.

You may want to consider renting your equipment. This will give you access to pro-level gear. Chicago has several rental outfits.

One last thought: your're right, talking heads are usually very boring. So lots of thinking and planning before you get involved in the nitty-gritty of production will help you make a better show.

Sorry that I sound so negative. But your project is daunting and if your standards are high, you're more likely to fail than to succeed. But I hope I'm too pessimistic.

Mike,

Some good advice here. As a pro. photographer and videographer myself, Tim's advice about excellent audio is the most important suggestion of all, IMHO. These days you can get a split from the amp. you are using for the PA, and feed that (appropriately balanced, etc.) straight into on of the camera's channels. Use the other channel to record 'atmos'—or audience questions.

Final Cut Pro is what I use; it can do pretty much everything, but FCE will be fine for this situation. 'Prosumer' gear on the video side, and assistance from someone who knows his/her way around a mixer on the audio side, and you will be good to go.

Do not underestimate the huge amount of 'local' knowledge you will need, however. I would call for mates rates here, and see who offers to do it for you for (say) a really good single malt. There is at least a full day's work in recording a seminar, capturing that footage (this happens in real time, so figure same time again),. cutting out fluffs etc. opening and closing titles, mixing sound, adding music and effects. Then what? Has to be authored to DVD, ad so on. At least a full days's work. That's a lotta love.

Do you know any pros who are mates?

As well, the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User's Group:

http://www.lafcpug.org/forum.html

Good luck.

Have as complete a script as you can manage. From the script you'll be able to pre-visualize camera cuts, changes of position, cut-aways and special effects.
It's also necessary for audio and video editing.
You'll need the script before you need the hardware and software (which you should be able to rent).
Good Luck
Morry Katz

With all due respect Mike, I'd suggest walking away from this one. If there's "no budget to speak of," and you have no experience, then the odds of the finished product being something you or your client could be proud of are slim. It's no different from shooting a wedding if you've never shot one before. No matter how much advice anyone gives you, you're not going to do as good a job as someone who really knows what they're doing. If you hire a pro, all you have to concentrate on is the lecture itself, which will be plenty, trust me.

But let's say you're determined to do it. My advice would be to borrow or rent a video camera that outputs a digital file. Mount it on a decent tripod. Light your "set" the same as you would for color transparency film; i.e. keep the contrast low. Buy a clip-on mike so you don't have to rely on the crappy mike mounted to the camera. Make sure the room is quiet, with no AC, loud fluorescents or traffic in the background. Frame the scene, push play, sit down and talk.

The talking will be the hard part. It's like having a conversation with someone who does nothing but stare back at you. You'll need to compensate for the static framing and lack of cuts by performing. You'll have to smile more than you're used to, stay focused, work from a script, have visual aids, tell jokes, and generally do all you can to make your audience feel as if it's worth their time to keep watching.

Are you starting to get the picture? All of this performing is hard enough without having to worry about sound, lighting, editing, and more. On the other hand, it could be a hell of a lot of fun -- but only if you lower expectations all around, get help where you can, and keep the scope manageable.

Good luck. I'm looking forward to hearing about how all this turns out.

I'll echo the hire a professional advice, unless this will be an ongoing thing. The pro will be cheaper than buying the equipment and going thru the learning curve.

That said, I will echo the Canon HV30 and Final Cut Express advice. The HV30 has zebras for exposure - use them! It also has a 30p progressive mode, use that too. Audio is a big deal, you will spend almost as much for the wireless mic setup as for the camera.

For lighting, pretend this is a product shoot - you are the product! Big soft boxes would be an excellent choice.

Oh one other thing... The HV30 is a high-def camera, but go ahead and use it in standard 4:3 miniDV mode. This matches standard DVD's and will down rez well for the web.

"enliven it with some halfway competent effects"

No No No.

That's what you do when you don't have the shot , you don't have a cutaway , and the audio isn't interesting enough for a blank black screen.

Concentrate on the audio. Lighting helps too, but remember that the audience has a while to figure out what the head in question looks like , so "bad" lightning may be better than "good" lighting

Remember that commercial television production values exist to make the commercials look good, thus all the special effects.

Errol Morris does talking heads pretty well. Public Radio has established a recipe for narrative audio that is pretty hard to beat.

If you are going to work with someone , ask them if they can do "cuts only" . Chances are that anyone you can afford has a reel that shows off how they can use all the effects , whether it's a good idea or not , but maybe they aspire to work with someone of taste such as yourself.


Did I mention the importance of Audio?

You said opinion was OK right ?

"If you bought a Mac within the past couple years it should have some version of iMovie on it already."

Well I'll be damned.

Thanks.

Mike J.

I would definitely advise to find someone else to do it, unless you have plenty of time to spare. If there's no budget, you'll have to use friends, family, make somebody work in exchange for some of your prints, for a share of the profits!?, whatever. I am a producer, so maybe that's my inclination, but video, although it's not particularly difficult with today's equipment, still has to be learned. A simple project like this will end up eating plenty of your time.
Few suggestions:
a) Don't buy anything. It isn't worth it unless you're planning to do several productions. Rent, borrow, whatever. A consumer grade camera is good enough to make a video that is watchable on tv, even more so if your end product is video streaming or dvd. And you have to save your money for what really matters, your still cameras and audiophile equipment.
b)Rehearse, test, play and try. If you are using a videocamera for the first time, you'll have to learn how to pan, make it travel, focus, zoom etc. in style.
c) Lighting: HDV/DV is very good in low light, but it gets much better with some help, you'll need to prepare the theater, room... where you'll be recording. You light for movement, wich is the opposite to what you do on still photography, yet exposure, color etc. works the same way. You can get away with a lot of imperfections and defaults, since the eye can't really "see" a video frame.
d) If you are re-creating a seminar, it would we a good idea to use at least two cameras. Don't forget the white balance etc.
e) Sound: Some cameras pick good sound if you fit them with a good microphone, providing they are close enough to the subject. Ideally you'll need a microphone for each speaker, then another one if you expect attendants to ask questions, etc. But since your son is a musician, I am sure you can get some help in this part of the production. Wireless mics are widely available on schools, convention halls, etc. Ideally I would record sound on a computer, one track per microphone. Then you'll need to sync the whole thing. Boring.
f) Edit: Final Cut Pro is great: intuitive, light learning curve. We abandoned Premiere a few years ago, we found it way too unstable. We do use Avid also, but it's not as easy to learn. Imovie is a bit limited. You can do anything with Final Cut Studio's tools, including sound mix, color correction, titling, re-frame, re-scale, convert.. It's just hard to believe all you can do with an average computer and this software, specially if you've been fighting for years with it's analog equivalents. And so easily. I'll confess the first job I had in the industry was apprentice editor, I learned how to number dailies with a felt pen, we cut films on a moviola. I have accumulated lots of useless knowlegde I now need to forget.
By the way, shot plenty of cutaways, details, close ups, etc. A resourceful editor can save your film with a few shots of the hands of the speakers, the clock on the wall, reaction shots from the pretty girls and interesting guys in the audience, etc
If your output will be a DVD then everything will be compressed into mpeg4, and you'll need an authoring software. We use DVD Studio, but it's almost as difficult to learn as Photoshop.
Hope this helps...

One more comment: I watched a videographer edit one 30 sec. scene, with FCP - on a full Mac (not iMac). It took him 30 minutes!

Mike:
Focus on the script, like Mr. Katz suggests, think what kind of graphics you want. If you dont have a video camera you can always use the one on your iMac, not the highest quality but it well get the job done. Try to do it yourself, you will either discover that you like it or plain get someone els to do it for you. The way I would do it, is get additional light, in whatever form, as long as its all the same color, do all the talking head in parts. And then put as many graphics as you can to cover yourself from view. Like someone else said the audio part should be strong, so I really suggest getting a good external mic. Just be careful when you handle it during the recording.
I've done this a couple times for work and pleasure, don't worry to much about it, the only thing that you can be sure of, is that your next one will be better.

Good Luck.

Ramón Acosta

I was talking with a friend who is a pro photographer a few weeks ago about this very thing and she had chosen the Canon Powershot TX1 after discussing it with all her photographer pals. Basically she said that many photographers are now being asked to supplement their photos with video and that the TX1's ability to do good quality HD video on a flash memory card in a small camera package was really beneficial. She also mentioned that the high ISO mode was very nice and the small size made people feel more at ease when video-ing them (a major thing when you point a large video camera in most people's face). I guess many photographers she knows are packing along the TX1 to paying jobs to shoot some video clips to supplement their photos. I'm sure a larger and more expensive video camera would give a higher def video result, but if you're looking for something to supplement your photography in a relatively small and affordable package, this sounds like a winner.

There was also recently a mention of the current Canon consumer grade HD tape video cameras on Boing Boing that looked good

http://boingboing.net/2008/07/14/amazing-videos-shot.html

For learning the software (Final Cut Express or Pro, iMovie) I highly recommend Lynda.com. It is the educational bargain of the internet for almost any program you may wish to learn (including dozens of PhotoShop and digital darkroom related tutorials). I have found the video tutorials to be excellent. The first few video lessons of each tutorial are available for free to allow you to "demo" the service. The cheapest way for you to use the service would be to subscribe for one month ($25) which will give you unlimited 24/7 access to the tutorials. Check out the free ones and see what you think!

http://www.lynda.com/

Well, first off, you "work in the Mac environment", so you're off to a great start there, for all your post work.

People poo-poo the program that is already sitting on your Mac right now as you read - iMovie, but I have edited all my projects on it - http://jeffreypaulhoward.org/Pictures/ ... no, it isn't close to FC Pro, or what I would have at least would have rather had - FC Express, but for a straight forward, simple post project of a talking head seminar, if you don't have that big a budget, why pay to get something, you obviously had no thought to do, need, use prior, and most likely may never in the future... you have iMovie on your computer now, you're good to go.

I have done a couple talking head ceremonies, first off to remember, is as others have said - keep it simple. No stupid, annoying, 'look I'm a novice' use of fancy wipes, or effects that in no way go along with what you are filming. Basic cuts and fades.

If you're worried about keeping it interesting, remember those who will be viewing your video, will be doing so to see and hear whomever your talking head(s) is/are, if he or she can't keep that viewing audience's interest themselves, nothing additional you can, or should, do to try.

So it isn't visually stagnant though, a multiple camera setup is necessary. I have always done a three camera shoot, one dead center, and two on either ends at an angle to the stage. That way, one, usually the main camera, center, is solely focused on the speaker, the other two can be on others coming to and from the stage/podium/whatever. Or, to just do different type shots of camera two doing tighter shots of the subject... camera three doing random sweeps of the audience, to those listening. Just different views you can all piece together in post to make it more watchable, than just again a one camera, stagnant shoot.

You, being a Photographer, obviously the importance of lighting does not need to be discussed or lectured to about, and you will know how the scene should be properly and aesthetically lit... if hopefully you have some control over it.

Yes, audio is key, and will be the main deciding factor in your choice of camera equipment. Since you have again nothing fancy in mind for your end product, noting your saying something that can be viewed on a standard television or monitor, you don't have to worry about any fancy HD camera or equipment, just a basic NTSC DV video camcorder for video.

Audio again comes into play. Obviously do not want on camera mics being your audio input, but a line mic from the podium to your main camera one. Or if he or she is going to be a wanderer, as someone suggested, a wireless mic that they can pin on them and transmit back to camera one. Cameras two and three can use their on camera mics, to record audience/background noise/ambience... or just have their audio turned off.

So, renting the natural recommendation, opposed to you just going out and purchasing, especially if you go the recommended multiple camera shoot. Just make sure that whatever number of camera setup that you decide upon, that all the cameras are the same kind of camera, so as to keep a consistent look in the footage captured from camera to camera, for your final pieced edit.

For still photography, I am a Nikon man, but for video, I am all Canon. I would recommend the GL2, it's the lowend, standard video, prosumer DV camera of Canon's, where it will be more budget friendly to rent, but you'll be getting cameras that you will be able to have much more control over your exposure for video, and again most importantly - better audio input. For your main camera one, also rent an XLR input adapter to string your line mic into, or whatever mic setup you choose, into it.

Make sure you rent right along with the cameras, at least one additional backup battery for each camera, and/or if the cameras will be close to an outlet, a power cord to have them each plugged in while they are stationary, the batteries for before and after the event, so they can be shoulder mounted for wandering around to get crowd shots, etc., At least one good, multiple charger for all those batteries, to be good and fully charged for the event. DV tapes aplenty. Good, sturdy, smooth panning tripod for each camera.

Of course, if you do a multiple camera shoot, you'll need people to man those cameras along with you, assuming you'll want to be part of the fun videoing it. Either way, those people who know what they are doing, familiar with not only the camera themselves to know how to operate them, but also know how to shoot something... and that just leads to doing what the pros on here have said to you, and hiring yourself those pros who do do this to film it all for you... or at least, local college film students, or small local independent filmmakers who are always looking to make some extra cash. At least for the filming part... if you still want to do the editing yourself, which I recommend, since you were the one asked to do it.

One last thing about post, and editing it all together... you gave no mention of what this talking head seminar is about and who it will be of... let's just say that it's a Photographer speaking... if so, wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination that perhaps a slideshow of images will be presented... now videotaping them is of course something you can do, but better still, in post, editing in the actual image so it is clear, and better presented would be the route to go and more ideal, if you'd be able to have access to using them for so... which I would expect a Photographer would rather have their images shown as best as they can be seen, and not some unflattering video tape camera footage of it being projected on some screen.

Anyway... threw a lot at you there, sorry... just more tidbits for you to think of... and as with everyone else on here, we're always here to help if you want to follow-up upon, and/or ask something more, just need to contact us.

All the best to you, and happy shooting!
Jeff

I'll keep it short... don't do it yourself unless you really want to learn these things and it will happen more than once.

I don't wanna sound trite either, but I think I would do what I would do if someone asked me to photograph a wedding. Run. Run like hell in the opposite direction. Do not look back.

Mike, for computer quality, your fellow Pogue had a great review of the Flip video recorder. Bone simple. $150. Comes with bone simple editing software, and easy to upload to YouTube.

Disclosure: I'm not a video expert. I've shot/edited a 10min movie on 3/4 tape (12hrs of source material! Ugh). I don't own a Flip.

But hear me out. What it comes down to isn't the absolute "quality" of the source, but its emotional or educational impact. Think polaroid sx-70. Zupruder film. Home video. Car stereo. Holga. Lo-fi doesn't have to be lo-quality. I've shot good stuff on Leicas, Hassys, and Dianas.

It's easy to get caught up in the high-tech "best." There are many fascinating youtube vids that are as big as a post-it note that are much "better" than 99% of the ultra-sharp HD crap on TV. If this is for youself, try lo-fi, and get the equipment outta the way.

It's the interaction between you and your subject that's important.

Mike, Unlike some of your comments that have come before mine. I say video is much, much harder than still photography if you're trying to achieve the same level of quality.

I started an article explaining some of the things you need to know based on my 20 odd years of experience with consumer level video. I've done lots of video at least six tera bytes worth.

Here is the article... http://rvewong.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/hockey-video/

In that article one of the most relevant comments I made for you, is that video by itself is boring you must have a plan to spruce up the video, this does not mean fancy wipes and after effects. I am referring to the raw video.

Video is boring to make and boring to watch unless you add some talent.

Unlike still photography I regard video as work. It's hard and takes lots of time. Just think of a still camera taking 60 shots per second all of them of great quality technically. Then add in the fact the subject matter also has to be of quality all the time, and you will start to get the drift.


I also like one of the above comments about hiring a student and expecting great results. If you understand that one you're on the right track.

Hiring a pro is not necessarily going to get you what you want, He's got to have talent and that is rare.

If you budget enough time and do enough experimenting you will be pleased. Quadruple any of your first estimates.

Good Luck....

Having been in the TV business a few decades, I've got to agree with JPH: Hire it out.

Want to see a "photography expert" make a video suitable for a 3rd grade science fair? Check out Gary Fong's Lightsphere videos.

Do hire someone who will both shoot and edit the video and has lights and wireless microphones.

Take note: It will not be any more exciting than the actual seminar. You may want to re-shoot parts of it walking outdoors, holding cameras, sitting at your desk etc.

You can go into Photoshop and make the full screen graphics yourself and just give them to the editor on a disk.

I'd recommend that you get a copy of Ross Lowell's "Matters of Light and Depth". It will be worth the reading, even if you never shoot a single frame of video.

Before you spend a lot of money, either on equipment, or a professional, here's a suggestion that may sound a little off the wall but is probably worth a try: spend some time at YouTube watching some of the young video bloggers' videos. There's one I found called Community Channel. The young lady there says that she does everything with the built in camera on her mac and the imovie software that came with it. Some of the videos she has posted there are actually pretty entertaining.

Your chance to put a new spin on, "from zero to hero"

I've been exploring videomaking a little myself but am still mostly at the research stage. I've gotten Final Cut Express for my mac and I've been reading forums like DVXuser.com which was originally based around the Panasonic DVX but has since grown to embrace Canon, Sony and other prosumer options. I've found this forum is a great source of leads. As for a camera, I'm waiting for the new DVX replacement which is due in October, or so I've read. It'll record HD to flash cards, albeit with an AVCHD long-gop codec. Now if only some camera maker would put something like Apple's Pro-res codec into their camera, it would be an improvement over the limitations of HDV and AVCHD, or so I've gathered. Long GOP apparently means that the compression is applied over a Group Of Pictures (GOP) thus any rapidly changing situations can cause artifacts to arise if the compression setting is too low. That's shouldn't be a problem in your situation. I've also embraced the need for serious attention to audio if one wants to make nice videos. Essentially that means getting the mike off the camera in most situations. For longer distances that means wireless or else special cables of the sort that don't plug directly into the jacks of consumer cameras (like the Canon HV20 or HV30 for instance). Which means that unless you want to go to a more prosumer camera like the DVX (which is non-HD) or the Canon XHA1 (a popular low cost HD choice at about $3K), you'll need a converter/mixer box from someone like Beachtek ($200 for that). Anyway, all in all I look forward to delving into video and hope you have fun with your own little foray in that direction. Maybe you'll even write it up for us, once you process the massive avalanche of advice you've unleashed with this request. Just want you to know that I consider your blog and the Luminous Landscape site as THE premiere sources of online photo information, both technical and cultural. Thanks, Richard

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