I've been asked to create a promotional video for a local reception hall using existing footage and narrated by the coordinator. What tips can you give me to make this a better video?
There are many ways to approach a video project. One is to "shoot it all and hope for the best"—that is, you shoot without a script, and hope to capture the footage needed to illustrate everything the client wants to include.
A better approach is to determine what should be included. Work with the coordinator on a script. Use a two-column form with one column including the audio (music/voice-over) and the second describing the accompanying video. This way, you and the client can be assured that nothing is missing from the script while the project is still cheap—before the expense of production and post-production.
Next, record the voice-over with the client. This can be done on location or in your studio, but it should be done in an environment that's as quiet as possible, a sound booth being ideal. I record the voice-over using a camera. I watch the timecode and have the client read the script in natural paragraphs, noting the timecode on a copy of the script when a new take is required.
I'll give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down in front of the lens at the end of a good or blown take, adding a visual cue for easy identification while scrubbing the timeline in post.
Finally, record 30-60 seconds of nothing—just ambient room noise. This will be used to fill in gaps in the voice-over track of the final edit. A good habit to get into is to frame a shot of just the microphone while doing this. That way, if editing is being done by someone else, they have that visual cue.
Using the script, locate shots to use from existing footage. (I'm not a big fan of using client-supplied footage or stills. But if you do, make sure you have your copyright clearances in order; what seems fine to them may come back to haunt you later.) From this point, you can find areas of the script that may be missing footage and schedule with the client a date to come in and shoot the appropriate footage.
In post, lay down the voice-over tracks first. Edit for a natural flow. Fill in any gaps with room noise. You can lay down a rough video track, then music, or music first then video. I prefer music then video as it allows me to cut the video once, to the pacing of the music and the voice-over.
To wrap, add graphics and visual and sound effects, and output a timecoded VHS copy for client approval.
I'm in need of some cool music that doesn't sound cheesy, but avoids copyright hassles. Where can I find some?
This is always a touchy subject. One option is to negotiate a blanket license agreement with local musicians who compose their own material.
Another popular option is Gary Lamb music (www.garylamb.com ).
A newer option is Magnatune (www.magnatune.com ), a record label that takes the idea of shareware, mixes it with Linux, and offers truly affordable and minimal-hassle licensing. Other options include buy-out music from companies like Gene Michael Productions, Fresh Music Library, Energetic, and Network Music.
I hear that you recently crossed over to the other side (photography) and wanted to get your advice on photo-cataloging software. I've tried iPhoto, but I'm disappointed in its performance. Is there anything better?
Like the rest of the iLife suite, Apple's iPhoto is a consumer product that many novices (and some pros) use regardless. For me, it's all about control. As a pro, I want complete control over what I'm doing.
I used iPhoto once. It copied all of my photos to a directory that it chose, after I had already loaded all the photos into a directory that I had created for the photos in the first place. So now I have 5GB of photos taking 10GB of space.
Granted, it did what it was supposed to, and for the average user, this may be a good thing. All they have to do is attach a camera, and all their photos are automatically backed up to the hard drive.
For better control, try iView Media Pro. It rocks! Simply drag a folder to it, and it will create a catalog to all of that folder's media content. Not just photos, but audio files, video files, icon files, and even PDF files. Instead of duplicating the files, it simply creates a catalog of them. You can preview images, sounds, and even video clips right from the iView interface.
You can also use it to create and run slideshows (including video files) and even export a "TV-ready movie." You can instantly create Web galleries and contact sheets, and convert files between formats.
Are all you PC folks getting jealous? Guess what—it's cross-platform.