July 28, 2010

Guide to shooting better online video

canon vixia hv40
The Canon Vixia HV40.

Tips on video equipment, interviewing people on camera & more

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, videographers, educators, foundations, businesses, individuals. This is part of Creating Media, our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits and other organizations learn how to use and make media.

Guest post by Diana Day
Online Journalism Review

With the increasingly affordable equipment and editing tools available today, it’s possible to turn out professional-looking online video quicker than you’d expect.

You can hire an outside video producer, but we think the tools have become simple enough to bring in-house. Make sure you have the right setup before starting to film, and make sure to follow our suggestions below on how to conduct an effective interview.

Equipment you’ll need

Camcorders

The prices of high-quality hi-definition video cameras have plummeted in the past two years. Nonprofits, cause organizations and citizen publishers can choose from two basic types of camcorders:

• The Flip cam has revolutionized the way people capture and share video. You can get a hi-def handheld recorder for less than $200. (Cisco purchased Pure Digital, the Flip’s maker, last year.) Other options include Kodak’s Zi8 and the Sony Bloggie.

• There are an astonishing range of professional-quality video camera in the $450 to $800 range today. The Canon Vixia line is a good place to start looking. Another good choice is the Panasonic TM700K. Try this CNet camcorder buying guide to help you price, research and select a video camera within your budget.

Microphone

While you don’t need a top-of-the-line camcorder, you do need acceptable sound. A microphone for man-on-the-street interviews is very helpful and is a real improvement over the camera’s on-board mic. The following are specifications for a hand-held stick microphone. You should be able to find one at a Radio Shack or Best Buy for between $20 and $40.

  • uni-directional (cardioid) pick-up pattern
  • lo-impedence (ohm symbol) 600 ohms or lower
  • frequency response range: 50-100 hertz to 10,000-15,000 hertz
  • 1/8″ mini-plug or a ¼” phone plug with a 1/8″ adapter
  • 10-20 foot cord (shorter is fine, too; you might find it a pain to wrap up and store such a long cord, but it’s indispensable when you really need it; a detachable cable is OK)
  • No battery required

A lavaliere (clip-on) microphone for planned sit-down style interviews is a plus, but it’s not imperative if you’re trying to save money at the beginning. Again, you can find one at Radio Shack for $25. Some stick microphones available in the price ranges detailed above come with those cheesy little plastic stands, and believe it or not, these are fine for getting started. Just place the mic on the stand outside of the frame and shoot. Try to shoot in a quiet place to minimize audio distractions, and you’ll be surprised how well this will suffice to get you started. Continue reading

July 10, 2010

A quick guide to multimedia software

 

An overview of software for multimedia editing, video hosting & podcasting

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, educators, NGOs, citizen journalists, media makers. This is part of Creating Media, our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits and other organizations learn how to use and make media.

By Kaitlin LaCasse and Laura S. Quinn
Idealware

Want to get started using audio or videos to engage your current supporters and pull in new ones? There are a number of tools that put multimedia within the reach of most nonprofits. In this excerpt from the Idealware Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits: Fundraising, Communications and Outreach, we explore three related multimedia topics. First, we take a look at multimedia editing software, which can help you whip your audio or video files into shape for public distribution. Then we explore how video sharing websites can help you put your video into the world. Finally, we talk about podcasts, a way to let people easily subscribe to audio or video shows.

Multimedia editing

Multimedia editing software gives you the capability to create videos or audio recordings with a level of a polish that used to require a lot of expensive hardware. Good editing takes time and some skill, but a number of low-cost, straightforward packages put the tools within reach of any nonprofit.

With audio packages, you can edit interviews for length, cut “um”s and pauses, and add music or voiceover introductions. Both GarageBand (for the Mac) and Audacity (for the PC or Mac) are free, solid tools that provide all the functionality you’re likely to need. If you’re eligible for the Adobe donation program through TechSoup, you may be able to get professional-grade Adobe Audition for a $35 admin fee.

Adobe Premier ElementsVideo tools let you cut out pieces you don’t want, splice different sections together, and overlay graphics and text onto your piece. You might join an interview with a constituent together with scenes of your program participants, and put a title screen at the beginning — and even upload it to YouTube with a single click.

For Mac users, iMovie (free with the Mac OS X operating system) is a great editing tool for simple movies. The free editing software available for PCs, on the other hand — like Windows Movie Maker and Pinnacle Systems’ VideoSpin — can be difficult to work with, and often imposes insistent front-and-center ads or confusing limitations on supported formats. For PC users, a good alternative is Adobe Premiere Elements (pictured at right, $15 for nonprofits on TechSoup, or the movie editor is about $79 retail), which provides friendly features very similar to iMovie.

[Editors note: There are also a few online video editing options, including Jaycut.com (free), Motionbox.com (free), Moviemasher.com (free & open source) and Kaltura (fee-based and open source, though these solutions have serious limitations.] Continue reading