New to camcorder(ing). Any advice would be appreciated.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ken thompson, Feb 19, 2002.

  1. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

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    My wife and I are now expecting a child. I went out and bought a camcorder so I would have time to practice with it before the day comes. I bought a Sony TRV17 and it seems like a decent piece of equipment. I've read the manual and played with it a little. It seems real easy to use. The picture is not a good as I expected but I'm not sure what I was expecting anyway. It seems to record a little dark when indoors. If anyone out there has any general advice on making decent videos (I've never so much as touched a camcorder before now) or advice specific to this camcorder specifically I'd sure appreciate it.
     
  2. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Ken...Like everything else, the key is to practice. Shoot a lot of film, of a variety of subjects; blank tapes are cheap, and you can always tape over the non-keepers. Pay attention to composition, lighting, and keeping the camera steady. Once you've gained some measure of skill, start paying attention to editing on the fly; nothing is more boring than an hours worth of people opening Christmas gifts. By the time junior arrives, you'll be in good shape.

    Once the youngster makes his/her/their appearance, pull the camera out often. Take a lot of everyday stuff in addition to 'occasion' stuff. My kids are 10 and 13, and they love watching old videos of themselves. Good luck!

    Jon
     
  3. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

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    Thanks Jon. I'm planning on becoming a camcorder freak shooting anything and everything.
     
  4. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

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    I can't comment on that model specifically, but most of the Sony camcorders allow you to adjust the exposure and have presets for different lighting levels. Might want to play around with those to see if they make a difference. Good luck.
     
  5. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

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    I believe you are right. I plan on checking that out. Hopefully those adjustments make real changes.
     
  6. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Best tips are:

    1) Know the features, such as shutter speed, effects, etc and how/when to use them. This can take a lot of blank tapes to figure out, but once you get it it will really improve the quality of your videos.

    2) Lighting

    3) get a tripod, and then also get one of those table tripod things; this will help a lot in keeping stable and also allowing you to get in the frame.

    4) If your camcorder allows Firewire out, get a firewire card and try your hand at editing. The secret to great home movies is shoot a lot, and then cut down to the good stuff. You never know what will turn out to be cute/funny/spectacular until you view the playback.

    5) you might also try composing in 16:9, especially if you already have a 16:9 RPTV. That way years from now, your videos will fill the screen of your widescreen TV.
     
  7. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    When taping, make sure to make movements slow and smooth. Hopefully the zoom on your camera allows you to control the rate of the zoom. Don't zoom in and out really quick and don't pan back and forth really quick. This is to make watching the video later enjoyable. Here's a little story:
    Several years ago when I was pretty new to the world of "camcordering" I taped a little adventure I was on so that my family could see it. I was not slow or steady with the camera and while my family was watching they all became so motion sick that my sister actually had to excuse herself to go throw up. [​IMG]
     
  8. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

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    Bill, beat me to my tip. When filming, if you think you are moving slowly and smoothly - GO EVEN SLOWER. [​IMG]
     
  9. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Real Name:
    Nick So
    My infotech class has a great tape on how to take good video when we needed to do our video project. Here is the stuff i remember:

    1. VERY HELPFUL - When taking video, imagine that your screen is divided into nine squares by four lines, 3 by 3.

    When filming a person straight on (like in an interview kinda), make sure the eyes are on the top horizontal line, and the face is in the middle column filling about 1/3 of the screen.

    When filming somebody facing the left, make sure the face is on or to the left of the left imaginary vertical line, and vica versa on the right.

    2. When panning without a tripod, aim to the 'end point' of the pan, so where you want the pan to end up. Then twist your body from the waist to the 'start point'. Then to pan, just slowly unwind your body to create a smooth slow pan.

    3. DONT OVERUSE THE ZOOM! The zoom is primarily used for cropping the video to the size for appropriate recording. Try to limit the use of any major zooms DURING recording, only use when it is stopped and setting up the frame for the next scene.

    4. Dont overuse the transitions. It'll just make it look kinda corny and ameturish.

    5. When taking live action, give some 'moving space' to the subjects. Say the subject is walking towards your left. Same idea as the interview framing. Keep the subject to either side column of your imaginary 9-square frame. So if the person is walking from left to right, keep the subject on the third-left of the frame, and if its going from right to left, do keep the subject on the third-right of the frame.

    Thats what i can remember from the class... If you want, i can send you the video I made for that class, its about 15 megs in DivX format.
     

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