Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Upcoming HD DSLR Video Classes

DSLR Video
Learn how to shoot quality footage and edit like a pro
I've created a new DSLR course through Sydney University (CCE) entitled DSLR Video to run August 20/27 and Sept 03, 2011. Check out http://cce.usyd.edu.au/course/dvid for precise details.
This is essentially a beginners class for all those lucky people with digital cameras that have high definition (HD) video features. Almost everyone is aware of HD Video, but few actually use it for anything other than snapping the odd clip when nothing else seems to fit the situation. To compound the problem, video editing has always been a complex process because you're not dealing simply with a 'moment in time', you are dealing with seconds, minutes and even hours! Plus, of course, you get camera stability problems, sound issues, and then there's the complexity of editing the stuff into a watchable format.

Here's an example of the sort of instant video you can make using a free video editing app and music downloaded (legally!) off the Internet...

In this class we begin by showing you a number of useful shooting techniques for capturing great video, the best in-camera video settings required, how to handle the footage once it's downloaded to the computer and of course, how to put everything into place to make that all-important video epic.
The idea behind this class is to allow students to create their own movie without a huge amount of prior knowledge; of photography or shooting of video. We also show you how to download and edit video quickly and efficiently so that, within the space of a few hours, you can create an eye-catching short movie that can then be burned onto a DVD or uploaded to the Internet.

Other topics covered include choosing the right input/output resolution, file formats and the correct codecs to make it all play well. We also look at the best editing software available, adding special effectstitles and captions, how to animate them, colour grade the footage and more...

Who's eligible?

Actually anyone with a camera that can shoot 1080p, 1080i, 720p or 720i HD Video. It doesn't matter if this is a DSLR camera or an HD-capable compact.

The best lenses to use for shooting video would be your standard 18-55mm standard zoom lens and any lens that has a fast (wide) aperture setting, typically f2.8 or f1.4.  It's fairly inexpensive to buy a fixed focal length lens like a 50mm lens, that has a fast aperture (i.e. f1.4 for Canon costs about $400). the reason for choosing a lens with a fast aperture is that you can shoot video footage with extremely shallow depth of field effects, something that's hard to achieve using a standard handycam. Here's a great example of how depth of field can really work creatively for the DSLR video maker:

Another piece of equipment that you will find extremely useful is an accessory optical viewfinder - like the Zacuto Pro Finder 3 - this allows you compose and frame video while using the LCD screen (about $400 from BH Photo and Video in NYC. Note, you can get cheaper models). Most DSLRs do not display video through the eyepiece.

Don't forget stability. Vital to good video - a tripod makes a massive difference to the clarity of the end product. A regular 'stills' tripod is fine but, if you can get your hands on a video tripod, one that has a specifically dampened action for smoother panning and tilting, this would be a huge bonus. These start at about $210 (Benro).

For the video editing component, expect to use software such as Windows Live Movie Maker (free! and available for Windows Vista and Windows 7) as well as Adobe's Photoshop Premiere Elements (about $120). Download this program for a month's free trial from http://www.adobe.com/.

Here's one of my first attempts at creating a longer video movie using footage shot during a 2010 CCE trip to Africa.

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