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Old April 28th, 2010, 08:54 AM   #1
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Mimicking look of iPad video

Hey guys. I have a client coming up that wants to shoot a "Guided Tour" video for their new website/product, similar to Apple's guided tour for the iPad.


Check out the one toward the bottom left called "Guided Tour". It's only about 2 minutes long. They aren't specific about angles, or camera movement or anything, but I'm assuming we will be shooting a computer screen for most of it.

My question is how would you light it? I grabbed my HV30 and filmed my iMac screen to see what it would look like. Looked alright, but there will need to be plenty of light covering everything else but the screen, so you don't see a bright screen with dark background, and dark person operating it. I'll also have to be careful not to put glare on the screen.

Although, seeing as how this will be for a website, and not for an iPad where you need to see the operator at all times, maybe I'll record actual screen footage to use for the detailed "how to part", and cut away to smooth slider shots from the behind the operator's shoulder every now and then, so the details of the screen wouldn't be as important, as it would just be cut away b-roll.

Any thoughts?

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Old April 28th, 2010, 11:15 AM   #2
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Sorry, but the answer is that there's almost NOTHING simple about these videos.

They are "state of the art" shoots where someone with vast amounts of experience and access to all the tools and expertise necessary bring them to bear to make great looking videos.

Some simple examples that give us the clue to what's really going on:

Notice the shot where there's a view out an open window in the scene. Notice that the exposure, color balance, and the preservation of the natural room's shadows are all organic and believable.

This is VERY hard to do without a grip truck full of gear and a whole lot of experience.

Also notice, as just another tiny example, that whenever they rotate the iPad, you'll see a composite of two shots. A starting shot and a completion shot. That's because the actual product in the completion shots is mounted on a stabilizing arm with a partial rotation mechanism in order to insure that it remains in a nice, square, fixed position relative to the camera once it settles into position.

That makes it easier to read the screen.

These are two among the 100 things done right in the Apple video - that makes them look so good.

They look professional, because they're clearly shot by professionals. Simple as that.

If you want to do something like this for your clients, but don't have the years of experience, the best advice is to subcontract with someone who DOES have this expertise. OTOH if you just need to get something kinda similar, you need to really go to school on your examples and try your best to understand what's happening.

Break down EVERY scene. Look at what happens and why. Look at what is bright and what is not. What moves and what doesn't. Think about what you need to do if the product is too bright, or too dull, or not colorful enough. How will you handle that? Do you need a hand model? A spokesperson? What about the environment surrounding the product? How far do you need to go to create that environment?

There are 1000 questions that every video project generates. And each shoot you'll learn new ones to ask.

Good luck.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 11:26 AM   #3
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Thanks Bill. You're definitely right about all of that. Apple videos are very clean and professionally done. I know it's not as simple as just shooting my camera at a computer screen.

I think more or less they just meant something simple in terms of concept, not so specific on visual style. They want a tutorial on how to use their new site, but want it to have more than just screen footage and a voice over.

So my main question was how to film a computer screen without making it look crappy... I guess as you said, there's no one simple way.

A better solution for getting the point across would be to have the company's spokesperson giving the rundown interview style. I can make that look good with lighting, and not have to worry about it looking like a cheap rip off of the iPad video. I can shoot that with two cameras, one close, one medium so I can cut in and out.

I'll also mix this screen footage of the site in action, so viewers can see what he's talking about. The third and last element will be smooth b-roll footage of him at the computer. Maybe use a slider and get some stylish shots from behind, or over his shoulder. This way the computer screen doesn't have to be shown in perfect detail like they do on the iPad video.

Completely ripping off the visual style of the iPad video, a video done by professionals hired by Apple, will just look like a cheap rip off. So it may be better to add my own style to it anyway. Any thoughts?

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Old April 28th, 2010, 03:08 PM   #4
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Shooting computer screens has always been difficult. Older CRT monitors can flicker. LCD screens don't suffer from flickering too much, but I've never been able to make the color come out right.

What a lot of people do, myself included, is make the screen area into a mask, use screen capture software such as Camtasia to capture all the action on the screen, and then composite the video file from Camtasia into the live action video. You'll have to do some motion tracking, but that's how its done for films and higher end video.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 08:07 PM   #5
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Shawn, thanks for the heads up. Just purchased Camtasia, looks great so far. I will definitely use this. (supposed to be $99 for Mac... got it for $10 via University software store!)
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