Rants of a Digital Bard

OMG! Who gave this idiot a blog?

Hours of video…

While in California we were only allowed to visit with my nephew for a limited time since it was important for him to get his rest.  So that left me with a lot of free time.  I spent some of that time visiting with my daugher, my granddaughter, aunt’s, uncles, my grandmother and old friends… but it left me with a lot of time to shoot video with my camera.

The weather was bizarre with lots of morning fog, burning off in the afternoon, but returning quickly as the sun went down.  So it wasn’t “typical clear California weather”.  Especially on the coast.

Still, I got lots of footage of beaches, boats, people on the beach, the desert, oil pumps, California farms and a bunch of animals from a visit to the Santa Barbara Zoo with my brother and dad.  Much of which is processed and has been uploaded to my accounts on Pond5 and RevoStock.

I learned a lot more about my camera and shooting footage for stock while on my trip, which I’ll share…

First, a critical missing item from my camera bag was a zoom lens.  I had an opportunity to shoot the oil rigs off the California coast but the built-in optical zoom in my HF11 simply wasn’t up to the task.  I have got to get a zoom lens for my camera.

I only have two filters at the moment, a UV filter and an ND8 filter.  I could have used a polarizing filter.

I am still having major issues with the wind causing camera shudder while filming with my tripod.  I really need to get a heavier tripod made for video.  Fortunately, I have learned how to use Mocha for After Effects to salvage my jittery footage.

I did try turning on the optical stabilizer in my camera for my tripod footage to see if it would compensate for the jitter and to a small degree it did.  But mostly it wildly overestimated the camera movement and overcompensated.  Resulting in much smoother jittery footage, but still jittery.

The Canon HF11 absolutely sucks when shooting video with poor lighting or at night.  I experimented with every setting and I couldn’t get anything that didn’t have a LOT of noise.  My daytime shots are beautiful, but low-light and night shots are barely watchable.  The closest I came to anything decent was using the Spotlight mode and I still had issues.  So it looks like I’ll need a different camera if I want to shoot at night or in low-light.

I need to shoot everything I can on a tripod.  I really suck at shooting steady hand-held video, even with the optical stabilizer on, my shots wander.  I’ve been looking over some plans for making a home-made steadycam, I’ll probably try that and see how it works out.  Once again, thank goodness for Mocha to fix things, otherwise some really good shots would not be very useable for stock.

Overall it was a great learning experience and I got over 400 useable clips for stock from my trip.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography, Videography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shooting footage with the Canon Vixia HF11

Here are some tips I have learned shooting footage with my Canon Vixia HF11, I hope others find them useful.

First, the camera is lite… Very lite… So if you are shooting outside with a tripod and there is any kind of wind, the camera is gonna shake.  It’s less noticeable if you are not zoomed, but once you use the zoom, it becomes very noticeable.  So get yourself a heavy tripod and/or weigh your tripod down to make it more stable.

Turn off the Digital Zoom.  Turn off the Instant Auto-Focus (IAF).  Turn off the Optic Stabilization (unless you’re actually filming hand-held).  None of these features are your friend.  The IAF is finicky and will constantly attempt to adjust focus even when it’s already correct.

Speaking of focus.  If you are filming a subject whose distance does not change, disable the auto-focus.  I set up my camera, point it at what I want to shoot, let the auto-focus find the correct focus, then use the joystick to disable it by setting it to Manual Focus.  If you’re filming a moving object that gets closer/farther from you or you are using the zoom, then you’ll have to leave the AF enabled.

If you are filming on a tripod, use the remote to start/stop shooting and zooming.  If you touch the buttons on the camera it causes a noticeable little shake.

The three most important accesseries are a GOOD Tripod, a weather proof camera bag and a 37mm UV filter to protect the lens.  After that, I’d get a DC to AC convertor for your car to use the camera charger (cheaper than a second battery), a lens hood, a polorizing filter, an ND filter and a wide angle lens.

July 10, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography, Videography | , , , , , , | 1 Comment