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Old January 17th, 2009, 03:35 PM   #1
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Frustrated! Venting!

I recently taped a lecture for someone for some 30-45 sec clips for his website. It didn't turn out all that well since there was a lot of camera movement since I was only shooting for clips, but the general clips he wanted were salvageable.

I realize that it wasn't the greatest thing in the world. There wasn't any time to prepare as it was done on the spur of the moment when I got back in town late the evening before, so I had to go with the background that was there, etc. So had there been more time I would have done more.

We did discuss that he wanted a wide shot with the audience showing, and also some variety. I did that. In retrospect, it wasn't the greatest shot - it would have been better going on on a MS cutting out the audience.

I asked him about that morning about the people in the video - the audience - regarding privacy,etc - thinking we would need to get contact info or permission or see if anyone wanted to be left out of the shot - was it okay to show them. He said no, that was fine. I pressed the point. He said no, that was fine.

On one clip, now he wants me to zoom way in and cut out the people because the one person turns her head and can be identified. Which makes the clip unusable for resolution issues. So we can't use it. Additionally, he does not know how to reach the people at the talk for permission, because they apparently just showed up. I find that hard to believe - the the organizer wouldn't know. He does'nt want to mess with that, fair enough.

In retrospect, I should have gotten everyone's contact info but at the time it wasn't appropriate to interrupt. Had I had more planning, I would have contacted the organizer.

I feel bad now that I can't get him the clip he wants but I don't have control over the fact that going in so far on the clip makes it unusable.

Maybe I should have just made the call - I don't like this wide shot and stayed on a MS or CU but that wasn't what we discussed.

He was also unhappy with the web clip (the good one) because it wasn't as sharp as it was when I showed up and reviewed it with him on his TV. He was watching the clip (as well as the MPEG review DVD) on his computer as well and commented that the clips weren't as sharp. I did my best to explain how the quality can be affected in different situations but I suspect I descended into technogreek as far as he was concerned, and didn't do a very effective job.

He said, I thought I was hiring a professional to do this and assumed you would know what to do. I admit the shot could have been better on a MS but it was what we discussed.

There was very little time to plan. People streamed in, he was preparing, he was busy, I was fixing an audio issue, he started his talk - even though i arrived early, I had to work with what I had.

I feel like i have let my customer down and don't know how to communicate the tech issues involved. In addition, I feel he is blaming me for things out of my control, like who turns their head in the shot. If I had the chance to do it again, I'd get everyone's contact info also. I should have known better and should have pressed the issue and gotten releases.

We had discussed me doing a second lecture, and I suggested we redo the clip then. He said that's a different type of lecture and the first one was what was important.

I'm disappointed also that this didn't turn out better. It was supposed to be a simple job.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 04:27 PM   #2
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On one clip, now he wants me to zoom way in and cut out the people because the one person turns her head and can be identified. Which makes the clip unusable for resolution issues.

Why not just track the face(s) and blur them (witness protection type stuff) so that you cannot see who they are and can still maintain the full resolution?
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Old January 17th, 2009, 08:19 PM   #3
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Hmmm. Possible. But I don't think it would work. The few audience people in the shot make up the bottom half of the clip, close to the camera, with him further up in the front talking, on a long shot. Most of the clip is the back of their heads.

My sense is it's not fixable at this point, short of cropping hte heads out and exporting a clip that would be way too small.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #4
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Okay, I just made a super long message and it didn't go through. HEre's to trying again.


Here's my idea: Does this person have their head turned for the entire clip that you're having an issue with? If so, then nevermind what I"m about to say. If not, then I would try slicing your clip, in the timeline, around the head turn. Leave the two cuts on either side of the footage with head turn as is. On the footage with the head turn, zoom it in to an MCU or CU of the speaker. This should look like you've "cut" to a different shot from a different camera, and then cut back to your WS. Yes, the zoomed shot will be soft, but you can add a sharpening filter to offset this a little. Or find an uprezzing program (or use your NLE's) and maybe try uprezzing the zoomed shot? Or the whole clip, if you have to zoom the whole thing in to crop the audience out.

On another note, your client sounds like "one of those clients." What I mean is, a low end client (whether he agrees with that assessment or not) who is not aware of the requirements/demands of quality video production, and thinks everything should just magically work out with no help or compromise from him. When I shoot, a lot of the time, these are my clients, so I know where you're coming from. I've learned over time, to an extent, when to blame myself when stuff goes wrong, and when to say "these people are morons, I did what I could, they get what they get." It's not always your fault.

Video production, even simple things, takes quite a bit of time and effort to be done well. Even something as simple as filming a lecture with one cam has quite a bit of prep time built into it. You have to find a good place to set the camera, make sure the audio's okay, however it's being handled, probably tape down cables for safety reasons, etc. etc. This in addition to last minute adjustments you have to make because of last minute changes or obstacles.

If this client called you last minute to do this, that's on him. There's only so much you can do with zero notice and prep time. Sometimes the only thing you can in these situations is get there uber-early. . .two, three hours even. I Know you probably didn't set up lights and all kinds of crazy stuff, but even audio and a camera can take a lot of time to get perfect. Now, if this guy wouldn't let you in 'til 30 minutes before the event, hey, that's on him too! Sometimes, they don't even know when you should get there! I've been screwed in the past 'cause someone says "be here at X:00" and I'm still setting stuff up when they start! So you have to use your judgment. But my main point is that there's only so much you can do before you have to throw up your hands and say "you know what, you're an ass, and you get what you get." (not literally, of course, but maybe in your head).
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Old January 17th, 2009, 09:31 PM   #5
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Unless you know what sound bites you need in advance, if you're going to be moving for different shots, you need two cameras so you can coordinate keeping one stationary whenever the other moves. If you have to keep moving the camera you will risk loosing shots and you have to tell that to a client that only wants one camera but wants you to move.

If you're recording is sharp the web videos should be sharp unless your client is giving you web clip specs that are very low data rate.

There's no reason why you can't motion track a face. It's not that difficult. A simple circle wipe or mosaic when the head turns.

Maybe you're promising things you can't deliver yet or don't realize until after the fact. I've had clients ask for things that just aren't possible without more money.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 09:36 PM   #6
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That's true.

Was your client also the speaker? If not, he could've stood near you and told you when you could get cutaways or change your shot up, etc. I did a shoot like this; a series of lectures over two days or so where the producer/my client would stand near as I shot and tell me at certain points "okay, you can get cutaways now".
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Old January 17th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #7
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I've shot quite a few lecture and seminars. I have some rules I live by.

Client/venue must give me permission to be in the room an hour in advance (at least) to setup or the client is informed that there's a risk that I may not be ready. Client pays for that setup hour too.

If the client wants audience shots then they either must have a notice on the back of the ticket or a sign near the door that a video is occurring and that by entering they grant permission. Sometimes if there's a mixed response we've had those who do not want to be on video, sit in a designated portion of the room that I will not shoot.

Client must give as much information about the lighting and whether I can have any control. If not, the client understands the risk of my having to shoot "gain up" in low light situations. Client also needs to inform me of any windows and arrange for them to be shuttered or blinds drawn during the shoot and that such windows should be away from the speakers.

If it's one camera only, the camera follows the speaker throughout. I will not shoot projected info because having to change exposure and possibly white balance back and forth is a recipe for disaster. The client can pay for an additional camera or provide the projected material to be added in post (and this certainly increases the hours/price significantly). If speaker walks in front of projected material my job is to keep the speaker as visible as possible, not the projected material.

If the client wants any camera movement beyond tracking the speaker and maybe a creep zoom, they're told they need a second camera.

For audio, I'll take a board feed and put a wireless lav on the speaker as well. If they'll be audience questions I can provide a mic on a stand that people can walk up to. If they client doesn't want that, I inform they'll have to live with shotgun mic audio for the audience and audience participation may be inaudible at times.

If they want me to shoot the audience they need a 2nd camera. Panning back and forth is horrible for many reasons (unless they absolutely do not care about quality but you need to inform them of that).
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Old January 17th, 2009, 11:43 PM   #8
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I recently taped a lecture for someone for some 30-45 sec clips for his website...one clip, now he wants me to zoom way in and cut out the people because the one person turns her head and can be identified. Which makes the clip unusable for resolution issues...
What format did you shoot the original in? (ie SD, HDV, etc)
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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #9
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What format did you shoot the original in? (ie SD, HDV, etc)
mini dv sd
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Old January 18th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #10
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You said you’re just venting so I don’t want to add to your frustration by submitting unwanted advice; although, you’ve received some excellent tips for future jobs.

But here goes some thoughts on helping your Web project and then some…

It sounds like you showed him uncompressed footage at the review. There’s probably not much you can do about the DVD (if there is, I’d love for someone to share) but I wonder if your compression settings for the Web version could be tweaked for a sharper look. We’ve got some members on this site who are “render for Web” monsters.

As for the unwanted face, the advice you’ve received here is solid, and if you are unsure about how to do it I bet many of us would be happy to get your clip and blur the face for you. It wouldn’t take much; it would be noticeable, but a subtle blur doesn’t have to call a bunch of attention to itself.

If it makes you feel better, next to weddings I think seminars are the absolute worst things to shoot. I did one with a friend (he tried managing his audio rig and two cameras--it was hilarious). I was in charge of the main camera and lighting. The talent was some realty motivational speaker, major prima donna, and another word that starts with a p. As I was flagging my light to get mainly him but not his projection he walked by me, and never slowing down he muttered, “You fade out my Power Point and I’ll shut you down.” I laughed and said I’d like to see that. After the seminar (which was four d*mn hours long) he told my friend, “Your 2nd camera person isn’t very nice.” I laughed again. He’d forgotten that old saying about not ticking off the sound man or the one who has the power to make you look good…or not. I’m kidding; I tried harder than ever to make sure he looked real pretty…

If you are alone in your work and agree to do more seminars, at the least you need a second, static camera on the speaker so you can get your audience shots. What uninformed clients see in their heads and what one camera can accomplish are generally two different things.

About the privacy aspect, the aforementioned notices on the doors has been sufficient for this area.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 06:10 PM   #11
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mini dv sd
So if your source is 640x480, then you should be able to crop up to 50% for the source if you use a web output of 320x240, if you zoomed (cropped) the footage by up to 50% would you be able to isolate the cameo? Would your client accept web footage that is 320 x 240?

Best wishes!
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Old January 19th, 2009, 10:08 PM   #12
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So if your source is 640x480, then you should be able to crop up to 50% for the source if you use a web output of 320x240, if you zoomed (cropped) the footage by up to 50% would you be able to isolate the cameo? Would your client accept web footage that is 320 x 240?
I'm not fully sure how to do this. The zoom was over 200% to isolate him speaking, since he's at the front of the room and I am cutting out the foreground of the picture.

If I crop it, it will export a little picture, with encased in a big black square representing the cropped area. I"m sorry for asking what is probably a very basic question, but how would I get around this?

I'm concerned also, that next to the good clip, the resolution difference would be obvious.

Regarding the other suggestions, thanks everyone, I'm working on those as well. I might try the blur issue also. However, my customer did remark that he thought it was distracting when the person turned their head and was doing something, while he was speaking. I"m guessing a blur might have the same effect and he might not like it.

Lorrinda, you know, just a little white balance tweak could show off your speaker's jaundiced and sallow skin... he just might be hitting the bottle a bit...
lol
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Old January 19th, 2009, 11:12 PM   #13
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Kell - I went to your profile page and it lists FCP as your NLE. I am a windows user and could walk you through on Vegas or Premiere Pro but I don't have 1 sec of experience with FCP. So now that i have the disclaimer set aside...

It has been my experience that most NLE's have similar enough interfaces that you can adapt training from one to the other with a little time or effort. If that doesn't work, you used to be able to download a trial of Premiere Pro for free and use it for 30 days. Since I don't use FCP or a Mac these instructions may be way off the Mark but if you can read beteen the lines it might be adaptable.

First I would start a new project with Web resolutions and progressive settings. If it is in Vegas, i would just change properties, in premiere i would import my current project into a new one with web settigns don't know if FCP allows those options. If not then render it out in a raw format (in win environ I would use AVI in Mac i don't know-Quicktime?) and import that into the new project.

Now you have 640x480 source material in a 320x240 project.

In Vegas i would pull up the event pan/crop window and drag the crop/pan frame to a size no smaller than 320x240 and adjust as necessary to frame the way I like. Vegas has a "stretch to fill frame" option that eliminates the black areas. In PP3, I would adjust the frame in the edit preview pane until I had isolated the part I need.

Check across your timeline and make sure you don't need to pan the frame as you go.

Render out at web resolutions and you are done. This is basically pan and scanning your DV footage to web resolutions, as long as you do not crop more than 50% or zoom more than 200% than you aren't stretching any pixels so no ugly digi zoom artifacts.

i hope this is helpful and if anyone out there is FCP and vegas savvy and knows of a quicker/cleaner/easier way to get this result please chime in.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 11:22 PM   #14
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...I'm concerned also, that next to the good clip, the resolution difference would be obvious...
I missed this on my first read. If you use the 320x240 option you will want to use it for all the web clips. 320x240 is pretty standard on web videos and should be acceptable for video in email inserts or video on a website with other content. If the intent is to deliver DVD res to the web or view fullscreen than 320x240 will not work because it looks awful scaled up to DVD res or fullscreen. You could try an uprez program like the one from Boris Graffics and uprez content to HD res and then pan and scan back to DVD rez but there is a good chance the footage could get artifacts after all that processing. Good luck and let us now what you figure out.

Another option I just thought of..can you create a second copy of your footage on a higher track and adjust the contrast/brightness until the people in foreground disappear and use a mask to open a hole (where your presenter is) down to your other footage, with an appropriate feather it could give the appearance of the light falling off as it gets to the crowd. Again without better knowledge of FCP or seeing your footage it is hard to figure out what to suggest...Best wishes!
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Old January 19th, 2009, 11:23 PM   #15
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I'm an FCP user and Bryan's idea can easily be adapted to FCP as he suggests.

Create a Sequence. Then go to Sequence/Settings and in General/Frame Size select the pull down and select Multimedia Large. That'll give you a 320x240 sequence. You'll then have full size source you can reposition. You can even do fake dolly moves or fake cut to close ups.

It's actually the same principle for shooting HD and editing in an SD timeline. That's why I recommend getting an HD camera even if you're delivering SD or even web sized video.

When you take a larger video and edit in a smaller timeline you've got lots of room to reposition, move, dolly. In fact if you do this you can even "move around" the camera even though you shot stationary. Heck this would solve your problem since you wouldn't have to run around to have different clips.
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