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Old February 23rd, 2007, 11:58 PM   #1
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Filming Instructional DVDs - $10,000 budget and Critique of Current DV work please!

Long time lurker first time poster, nice to be here!

Here's my question for you. We film instructional DVDs and are always looking to step our game up.

Our first DVDs were filmed with a Canon XL1 and you can see the trailer by pressing play here: www.braidsbybreslin.com/dvd.html

Our most recent DVD release we filmed with a SONY A1U and you can see a clip here: http://www.braidsbybreslin.com/weave-preview.html (We filmed in 24P)

I want to step our game up even more. What would you suggest for a new Camcorder and Lighting Kit? We're converting our entire garage into a studio and would be confortable spending 10K but can go higher.

What do you think of our current film and how do you think we could do better?
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Old February 24th, 2007, 12:19 AM   #2
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Hey. Video # 1 - There were some cool elements to it, but way too fast. Even when it did the freeze frames, especially of the text on what you do, it blended in a bit and was almost so fast if you blinked, you would miss it. I didn't particularly care for the re-using of shots, some 3 or 4 times, but overall it looks okay.


Video #2 - Much better. That video was at a much better pace, more informational and overall a better sell IMHO. I actually got a feel for what it was you were selling. The encoding looks great too. What did you use for your editing / encoding?

It looks like you have some great ideas. Keep up the good work.
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Old February 24th, 2007, 12:36 AM   #3
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Hey Kit, thanks for the comments.

We do all of our editing in Adobe Premier and use DVD Lab Pro to create the DVDs. We edit the MPEG2 video within Premier. Is this what you were asking or did you want to know what I used to convert to flash, etc?
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Old February 24th, 2007, 07:06 PM   #4
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Congrats - and some ideas to consider

Ricky,

First off, nice job.

You're already getting ALL the basic stuff right. I can see all the visual detail I would need to learn. You're lighting, while basic, is doing the job really well.

Your camera work isn't flashy - which is EXACTLY right for this kind of training video. You want the camera to disappear and leave the viewer watching the JOB being done - not how "tricky" the video is.

So keep doing what you're doing in all the major areas. Simple and clear instruction is worth more than all the flashy expensive "tricks" in the book.

Now, if you want to upgrade the look without really changing it, here are some ideas.

You already have decent contrast between the subject (the hair) and the background (the scalp) - don't LOSE that. When you light, look at that contrast and keep it.

The hair itself with whatever product is on it is pretty shiny. So avoid small, hard light sources. Form the reflections, it appears you're already doing this.

If you want to go to the next level as far as lighting, I'd consider color balanced fluorescents. With 10 grand to spend, you could easily covert all your lighting to fluos - which will make the shoots MUCH easier on your talent.

I'd get a couple of 4 bank units and at least one 2 bank units. That should run you between $2k-$4k.

If the garage has overhead room, you might consider spending a chunk of the rest on a simple studio rail system like the ones from Manfrotto. They make it easy to move and re-position lights from above. They save a LOT of time on a fixed shoot location.

I'd set the four-bank as a back/rim light and use the 2 bank as front fill. By positioning the thinner light (2-bank) you could get a nice soft bar of light at the point in the "do" where the artitst is working.

Use the other 4 back with a color gel to do a background light on the far wall. When it's time for interviews with the artist, the two 4 banks can work as key and fill by just keeping the distance from one of them substanatially closer to the subject than the other - then use the 2 bank as your rim light.

That's what I'd do anyway.

Nice job, tho with what you're already doing.
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Old February 24th, 2007, 08:41 PM   #5
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Try to avoid putting the subject in really white shirts- they probably won't have detail in them when you film it. You can also have the opposite effect with very black shirts.

2- I have no idea about braiding, I'm a bowl cut kind of guy.


(Ok ok, just kidding about the bowl cut. But I'm not very attuned to hair styling.)
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Old February 24th, 2007, 09:31 PM   #6
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Thanks Bill, can you link me to what YOU would buy as far as lighting so I can get it?

Also, do you think we should just stick with the Sony A1U or move up on the camcorder?
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Old February 26th, 2007, 12:52 PM   #7
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Ricky,

Best strategy would be to spend some time on the www.bhphotovideo.com website and so some research.

In your situation (light duty use in a home-based studio) I think one of the Lowel systems would do nicely.

The exact lights will depend on whether you want portability or ONLY to use them as fixed studio fixtures.

The lighting will improve things all by itself.

Of course, improving the camera will also make a difference, but a less expensive but still properly working camera shooting a scene in great light generally yeilds a much better image than a great camera shooting in poor lighting conditions.

And since I imagine you'll have contrast/reflectivity issues with your typical shoot (head/hair/plus "product") I think color balanced fluors would be a good place to start.

As to the studio rail system, mine comes from a division of Manfrotto/Bogen. It's called the IFF Studio Rail system and I selected it because it wasn't as heavy or hard to install as the larger systems out there.

It saves me a lot of studio time since I can just roll lighting instruments around the grid and use the pantographs to move lights up or down quickly.

A search on "studio rail" should probably work there. I bought mine years ago through a local full-service photographic supplies store. (Still photographers use them as well as us video folk.)

Have fun. (And again, nice work on what you already have on your web site.)
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Old February 28th, 2007, 07:47 PM   #8
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Thanks Bill
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