Earlier this week, a CollazoProjects reader wrote:
I’d like to put more video on my blog but I’m a complete beginner. What software should I use for editing videos, adding music & text etc? Also appreciate any other resources you could point me towards to get started.
Heather’s question is a good one, and it requires such a detailed answer, we decided to write an article–or four– in response!
This is the first article in a series of four articles that offer you a crash course in boosting your blog with video. In this article, we talk about the gear you need to get started.
The second installment will share filming tips; the third will explain the intricacies of editing; and the final article will teach you how to upload, publish, and promote your videos.
Boosting Your Blog With Video: GEARING UP!
If you want to add video to your blog, you’ll need a video camera.
Wait- I know what you’re thinking: “Forget that I asked! I can’t afford a video camera!”
Don’t stop reading, though.
While there are top of the line professional video cameras that could drain your bank account in one fell swoop, there are also a couple of lower end cameras that will fit into almost any budget. My personal favorite is the Flip Camera, a lightweight, pocket-sized video camera with the capacity to film and store up to 60 minutes of footage at a time. At just $153.00, this video camera is cheaper than most digital cameras and will let you produce some fantastic footage for your blog.
The Flip has some serious limitations, but if you’re aware of them from the beginning, you’ll be able to leverage the camera’s strengths to capture quality video. The Flip works best when you’re in a situation where you can shoot close up. There’s a zoom function, but it doesn’t permit slow and steady user control; furthermore, the microphone is small and won’t capture sound that’s far from the camera itself.
The Flip is super easy to use with respect to downloading and editing. The camera has a USB device that plugs directly into your computer and allows direct downloading. The software comes with the camera and installs quickly. Once you’ve got your video footage on your computer, you can use Windows Movie Maker to edit your clips and produce a finished piece.
If you’re serious about developing quality video and have the budget for a bigger camera, we recommend the Canon HG10. This is a high definition video camera that’s a notch above the home video camera and a few notches below a professional video camera.
This camera has far more flexibility and capability than the Flip, but if you’re going to invest in a camera of this type, be prepared to buy a couple of non-negotiable accessories.
A tripod is a must– we’ve got hours of shaky footage that’s unusable because we shot without a tripod. You can purchase a very decent Canon tripod that comes with its own bag for about $40.
Another accessory you’ll need is an external microphone. While video cameras all come with built in microphones, you’ll be hard pressed to capture audible sound without an external microphone (also called a shotgun mike). We use an AZDEN camcorder microphone. Two notes about this microphone: 1. You’ll need batteries (and will ALWAYS want to do a sound check before you start filming to make sure your battery hasn’t died) and 2. You should always check to make sure your microphone is on before filming.
Our next accessory purchase will be a lavalier microphone, which ranges between $20.00 and $700.00. A lavalier microphone clips onto your subject’s shirt and permits you to capture the very best sound, close to the source.
The Canon HG10 comes with a software CD that provides you with the Corel Ulead editing system. It’s not the most intuitive editing system I’ve ever used, but the quality of video is certainly superior to that of the Flip. Check out our “House of Memories” video to see if you can discern the difference between the Flip footage and the Canon footage. (And you’ll see why we advise you to buy a tripod!)
Finally, once you’ve got all your gear, you’ll need a bag to put it in. There are fancy hard shell cases with interior padding that will keep your gear protected, but these tend to be expensive and are heavy to carry. We use a Baggallini padded valise.
If you buy any of your gear at a store, the salesperson will try to encourage you to buy lots of other gear, but these are the basics. You’ll be just fine if you start with these items and start testing them out. Over time, once you’ve decided what kinds of videos you want to make and why, you’ll develop a better understanding of the accessories you’ll want to buy to enhance your video production.
Movie man photo: Simon Pais-Thomas (Flickr creative commons)
Gear photo: lucianvenutian (Flickr creative commons)
Flip camera photo: rmphotog (Flickr creative commons)