How do I shoot good videos?
This is a frequently asked question for most do it yourself film makers. A few simple steps will really help improve the quality of your home videos!
Many people, after they have transferred their old analog videotapes to DVDs, want to make sure that videos all future videos they create, are of high quality. This blog entry will give some basic tips on how to improve your family videos. Some of the most common tips for how to improve your home video shooting skills:
05) Shoot with the “in camera” edit style. This means don’t overshoot. Keep your shots short and sweet.
04) Avoid “zooming in” without a tripod or some other stabilization device. This is a very common error that looks terrible.
03) Use a tripod, monopod, or some other form of stabilization device. This really helps your video look much better
02) Shoot is sequences. Start with a wide shot, then a medium, then closeup. This is the way your eyes naturally work when you are perceiving your environment.
01) Make sure that your subject is interesting. This might sound silly or obvious, but it’s surprising how often people shoot videos with no clear “center of the action”
I hope these simple tips help your home videos! As always, if you have some wedding videos on VHS that you need to convert (or anything like that ) in the Maryland or Washington DC area, feel free to contact me!
I’ve always been passionate about family videos. I’ve also always had a keen interest in television news. Beginning at age 12, I would borrow my grandfather’s video camera to document various family events. Later, I would go on to learn more about proper shooting and editing techniques.
Because of my natural interest in news and video production, I went on to work in the TV news business. Working in this exciting field, I am always being exposed to new ways to work with digital video. In my capacity as a video editor, I’m also constantly tasked with gathering and organizing large amounts of video.
Similarly, at Potomac Family Videos, I frequently organize large quantities of Hi8, MiniDV, Beta, VHS-C, and VHS videotapes to either DVD, MP4, Quicktime or other digital formats. Because I’ve been digitizing family videotapes for my own family for so long, it only made sense to do it for others in in the surrounding areas of, Mclean, VA, Washington DC, Fairfax VA, Bethesda, MD Chevy Chase, MD, Rockville, MD Potomac, MD and Gaithersburg, MD.
Once you have decided that you want to learn about video editing, you will need employ the proper resources. Luckily for you, if you’re reading this you probably
a. have internet access
b. live in the Greater Washington Area.
Not to mention, the Internet is a wonderful and constantly evolving place to learn how to improve your skills in the video editing arena. Free web-based video editing resources are easy to find, so if you are stumped on a problem feel free to shoot me a question. Also, don’t forget your best friend: Google.
So I’ve put together a list of both digital and brick and mortar destinations for you to hone your video editing craft:
1) Creative Cow: this website is a great resource for video editors, especially editors using Final Cut Pro
2) Fairfax Public Access Television has great classes for video editors of all skill levels
3) Future Media Concepts. If you live in the DC area and have the bucks, I highly recommend video editing classes in Avid Media Composer or Final Cut Pro
4) Community Colleges: Wherever you are, there is likely to be a community college with a TV studio and classes
5) Google. For the countless questions and issues you are likely to encounter, the internet-at-large has many if not all of your answers
As always, if you are looking for a video conversion company near the Fairfax or Rockville, MD areas, feel free to contact me and drop me a line!
Many of my clients, after they have digitized their videotapes (Hi8, MiniDV, VHS, VHS-C or Beta) to Mp4 files onto an external hard drive or DVD, want to edit their family memories into a DVD or web video for Youtube, Vimeo or Facebook. I provide Final Cut Pro video editing services myself, but for those interested in taking on the task themselves, I have some tips on how to edit a great family video. So I have decided to make a list of my top 10 tips for video editing beginners:
10) Have a clear vision in mind. Know the purpose and scope of your video.
09) Have notes on what should be included and what should be left on the cutting room floor.
08) Edit in sequences when possible. Start with a wide shot, then cut to a medium or tight shot
07) Keep you shots short. Generally, you don’t need to hold a static shot for more than 3 to 5 seconds for your viewer to register the visual information
06) Incorporate natural sound. Pepper your masterpiece with as much natural sound (laughter, pithy phrases, etc) as you can.
05) Use graphics where appropriate. (Many video editing programs have graphic templates that can help you make your project look more professional)
04) Use “title cards” or “lower thirds” to indicate when and where events in your video take place
03) Use music if appropriate. Music can really enhance the quality of a video
02) Stay short, sweet, and to the point. Nobody likes long, drawn out, or redundant, videos. Choose your cuts wisely.
01) Trust your instincts and make a great video!
As always, you can drop a line at my site and I’ll be glad to help out any budding video editor. If you are looking for a professional editing job in Maryland, I offer my VHS conversion services in Bethesda and Washington DC, as well as other nearby areas. Feel free to give me a ring!
I’ve been fortunate enough to make a living at doing what I love: working with video. So picking the top 5 video moments of my career is kind of hard! Although I enjoy almost every moment I work with video in my career, here are the top 5 highlights.
5. Traveling to Mexico to produce a promotional video about Solar Cooking
4. Traveling to New York to shoot & edit a video commemorating the bravery of firefighters on the 5th anniversary of 9/11
3. Getting to work with legendary television professionals Leon Harris, Arch Campbell, Alison Starling, and Cynne Simpson on a regular basis at WJLA!
2. Videotaping President Obama at a Georgtown University Basketball game
1. Getting to fly with Captain Willie 3 days a week and shoot from a helicopter at WBOC in Salisbury MD.
I love working with video so much that I help other people compile their top video moments too – my side company is called Potomac Family Videos. Through this company, I help others convert their video to a fully sharable, 100% digital format. It is one of the few video conversion companies in Maryland out there, and the only one with a personal touch – the same experienced editor picks up, edits and masters, and drops off your videos – me! Contact me through this blog if you would like to find out more.
It never ceases to amaze me when I think about what the world would be like without YouTube. As a video video editor you could say I have had a love/hate relationship with the website. In the beginning, Youtube emerged as a powerful tool that allowed us to search and find all kinds of media. The original quality of the videos however was very low.
Throughout the years Youtube has made vast improvements with regard to video quality and format upload variety. Youtube is now an almost indispensable tool for me as a video editor, both for uploading and downloading content. Also, it is very inspiring to see that the true power of YouTube is that it turns anyone into a video producer, singer or teacher. This was a job that was monopolized in the past in the hands of career professionals, and this type of empowerment across the world has led to a wide abundance of new content for everyone to enjoy. This “YouTube effect” is also helpful for my clients, as they can now share their new digital videos that I converted with friends and family across the globe.
Digital Video Gift Ideas
Something people ask me all the time is: “How do I make a gift out of my old videos?” I have a simple answer: use your old videos to make a digital scrapbook! Your digital videos can be the ideal gift.
After your VHS, Hi8, VHS-C, or MiniDV tapes are digitized to either the Mp4 or H.264 format, you can sort though your family videos and make notes of where the highlights are. I then can edit those highlights into a digital scrapbook using my Apple Final Cut Pro editing software. Once completed, I can put the digital scrapbook on DVDs, which can be given as gifts or uploaded to Facebook where family members can be tagged. It’s a great way to turn your precious video memories into a gift that you know your family will enjoy.
Benefits of giving away a digital scrapbook as a gift:
1) Completely customizable: your scrapbook can include whatever you want and it can be displayed in any matter you want!
2) Because this is a gift that is truly unique, you can show your loved ones how much you care.
3) It is affordable (especially for a VHS Conversion Service in Bethesda, MD) but the value is priceless!
4) Highly personal and always special
5) Easy to share with others
For more information about how you can create great custom gifts with your videos, feel free to contact me!
My Top Five Personal Video Moments
Part of the reason I love working with family videos is because I was lucky enough to come from a family that made many of them, and therefore I had a great amount of awesome personal video memories! When I was a baby my grandfather bought a VHS camcorder and would come to our home in Washington D.C. and tape myself and my younger brother Robbie. My parents went on to use Hi-8 tapes and then a VHS-C camcorder to document our family events at in Bethesda and Rockville, Maryland as my brother and I grew up. So here are my top 5 personal video moments:
5. My brother and I playing soccer in Olney, MD
4. My 12th birthday party
3. My sixth grade play “lil Abner” (I played Speedy McRabbit)
2. Our family’s European Vacation in 1996.
1. Me conducting my “make believe” orchestra shot by my Grandfather
As you can see, personal videos remain a huge passion of mine and I love taking my old family memories, converting and editing them to digital formats like DVD, and uploading them to Facebook so my family across the country can be there right along with me. If you would like to digitize your personal videos in Bethesda, Maryland or any nearby areas, feel free to contact me!
My Video Editing Set-up & Equipment
One of the decisions that I made early on was that Potomac Family Videos will never cut any corners and that all of my video transfers are of the highest quality. One crucial way to ensure the best video quality is to use state of the art video equipment and software.
After doing much research I decided to use Sony video hardware and Apple computers and software for all of my transfers. For editing jobs I use Apple Final Cut Pro and for DVD creation I use Apple DVD Studio Pro. While the pricetag for Apple products is a little bit higher, the quality of the product is also higher and as an Audio Visual Production specialist, I like having the best tools at my disposal. I now have six dubbing stations that are networked with my Apple iMac 2.7 GHZ, Intel I7 processor. This allows me to provide some of the fastest turnaround time for VHS to Digital dubs in the Washington D.C. area.
Ten, twenty, maybe even thirty years ago, you bought a camcorder and from time to time brought it out to preserve those special moments in your life. You may have recorded Weddings, Family Reunions, Birthday Parties, Soccer games, Bar Mitzvahs, Family Vacations and other events. Now, all those memories need to be transferred to a digital format to ensure their survival through video digitization. You may already know that sometimes the prospect of digitizing your family videos is daunting!
Perhaps your videos are not well organized and are in several different places. Maybe you haven’t labeled your videos and don’t know what’s on your tapes. Another common reason why people put it off is that it can be extremely time consuming to sift through all your tapes and actually convert it to a digital format – not all computers can handle this task. The longer you put off this important task the more likely it will be that they will degrade over time.
You’re in luck! Unlike competitors such as The Video Editor in Rockville, or any other brick and mortar Videotape to DVD or VHS to Digital company, I provide “The personal touch in Video Digitization.”
My Approach to Video Digitization
- I will collect all of your tapes, organize and label them, digitize them all, and you only have to pay for the ones you want to keep!
- I also will work with you to ensure that the format you preserve to is the right choice for your needs.
- I will inspect your TV and cable system or computer to decide whether MP4, H.264 or DVD are right for you.
- I also provide video editing services.
- I work with you at your house and at your leisure to ensure your videos are preserved and you and your family can enjoy your memories!
Contact me for information about your video digitization needs.