There are several reports that, in combination with FCPX’s last update, you can now natively import XAVCL into FCP.
This update does not automatically give you 4K. There’s another step (purchase) which hasn’t been made very clear at this date, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon. However, if you want to record in XAVCL right now, you can.
18 June 2015
Ok, here’s the latest on the 4K update with a rebate available to the US market.
The 4K upgrade is here! It’s easy to install and Sony has the loyalty program. The box will have a sticker that tells users to visit a webpage where they get contact info for POSC…. gives you ‘inside’ access and can help you upgrade in 5 – 10 minutes. Sony wants to show their appreciation to early adopters of the PXW-X70 camcorder: End-user purchasers of PXW-X70 who took delivery of their product on or before March 31, 2015 and who purchase a CBKZ-X70FX 4K license key between June 15, 2015 and August 31, 2015 are eligible to receive a $300 mail-in rebate from Sony!
Like everyone else I was intrigued by the possibility of shooting 4K when I bought the X70 (4K upgrading coming out in June at a cost).
I say intrigued. It’s not that I really needed to shoot in 4K. When the 4K upgrade does come out, I’ll be interested to know if it has any improving affect on the camera’s native 1080 HD resolution by reason of the software. Otherwise, I’m not very inclined to go that way.
2. The 64 GB SxS Pro + card costs over £600 or $900 and will get you 32 minutes of record time (or less by some reports).
3. The 128 GB SxS Pro+ card costs about £800 or about $1200 and will get you an hour of record time (or less).
4. There is now a free plug-in for FCPX that will allow you to import off an SxS card, but the expenses don’t end there…
5. You’ll need high-end graphics cards and a 4K monitor. Your MacBook Pros and iMacs won’t handle the image processing without making you go mad. You’ll need the Mac Pro which was built for 4K. PC users will have similar hardware issues, particularly for graphics cards.
So what about these SDXC cards we all bought? Well, they’re good and they’re fast and you CAN record XAVC-L on them if you want to, but why bother if your output is HD? Is there some small advantage? Apparently there is if you’re into minutiae, but in the scheme of things I don’t think there’s any discernible difference or advantage–except your files will be larger.
Unless you’ve got money to burn, stick with HD. It will be years before the prices on 4K equipment and media become affordable for most, and for that to happen, 4K will have to be all the rage. And that may never happen except in a small niche group of producers.
On the other hand, as another commenter pointed out, if you shoot in 4K for regular HD export, that gives you a host of advantages in post production (image cropping, stabilisation without image size loss, etc). Some blogs are suggesting that clients are requesting 4K shoots for HD export. It gives the option of later re-issuing the same video in 4K.
The question remains for X70 users, will we be able to record 4K at 60mbps on an affordable SDXC card and edit using proxy files? It remains to be seen.
As I said in the original X70 review, if you want a 4K camera, don’t get this one. Get one that’s already ready.
When it is ready, I hope I will have to eat my words–‘cuz I think I’ll want to start shooting in 4K for 1080 HD export.
Flexlite–The Flexible, Dimmable, Versatile LED Light Panel
Just one more thing to get out of the way over the weekend and I’ll start putting together a review of the Flexlite LED panel.
Flexlite–the flexible LED panel
Like everything I review, I own it. And I only review it if I really like it. And I only buy it if I really like it anyway.
LED lighting is coming of age in the film and video industry. There are a LOT of good LED lights out there. This one was the only one of it’s type–the rest mainly being encased in aluminium housings of one sort or another.
But for sheer functionality without the weight and bulk, this may be the perfect solution for the run and gunner.
Innovative holder for use on light stands or even ‘selfie sticks/monopods’ for hand holding
You can snap in its holder for regular light stand mounting or even put it at the end of a selfie stick or monopod for hand-holding (say for fluid man-on-the-street interviews).
Or, using the velcro already sewn into its corners, you can velcro it to a surface or even to the inside of one of your existing soft-boxes (which I did). It’s brighter than the brightest spiral flouro lamp.
Dimmed to it’s lowest setting
What I intend to do is some testing to quantify its brightness and colour temperature.
I’ll also show it in use during an actual corporate shoot (nice to be able to sit in the chair with the viewfinder flipped so I can see it and simply dial in the correct exposure).
It’s also apparently quite durable. The fellow at the BVE show in London earlier this year threw it down on the ground while it was lit to answer that question when I asked it–and said he had been doing that all day long.
You can curl them up into a cylinder, wrap with rubber bands and drop into Chinese lanterns for 360˚ illumination.
Anyway, hope to get the review up within the week.
The other take-away from BVE London was an eye-opener for me. The world of color grading.
There’s a London-based outfit called SOHO Editors which is the largest pool of freelance editors throughout the UK and Europe. They also teach classes in London and Manchester in all the disciplines (editing in the major NLEs, Motion, After Effects, Divinci Resolve, etc.).
They had live presentations all day and I watched a few of them relating to FCPX and Divinci Resolve.
It was clear that these guys were top-notch. Teaching is a part-time job. These were industry professionals.
The first thing I noticed was that FCPX was their weapon of choice. Without getting into all of the reasons why, a point was made that was rather telling. FCPX is faster. Period. The speaker said that alone is the major reason why major networks and production companies are moving over. It’s economics. And that is the reason to no longer ignore FCPX. But what I didn’t know (and this was a bunch of geek stuff), FCPX is set up for the future to such a degree that many of the other major NLEs will be forced to majorly upgrade anyway. Changes are coming. FCPX is already there. And this, from a guy who ran the team of editors for the World Cup on FCPX: it is hands-down the best multi-cam editing software out there, bar none.
But I digress.
The hands-down best grading tool out there is Divinci Resolve by Black Magic. That was also made clear.
And the same guys who use FCPX for editing, use Divinci Resolve for Color grading (which works pretty seamlessly with FCPX).
I had NO IDEA all the things that can be done in grading. I was stunned. I mean I was gobsmacked, a quivering mass of jelly on the floor.
Talk about ‘pure frickin’ magic’.
Color and looks aside, you can practically re-light a damn set with Divinci Resolve.
Plus they pointed out that the FREE version of Divinci Resolve has everything the paid version has bar one thing: The De-noise tools. Everything else is there in the free version. And it’s really free. Not a trial. You can download it today right here.
What they were demonstrating was light years beyond anything I’d need to do in corporate videos–or weddings or anything else of that nature. But it was clear to me that I could make anything I produce look way better, no matter how well it was shot to begin with.
I was intrigued.
There’s one problem. You’re not just going to download it and ‘figure it out’. It will take some basic training. And that, with the SOHO group–who I would implicitly trust to get me up and running in either their one or two day course–is a few hundred dollars for a day or about $1500 for the more intensive two day course. They’ve got a 3 day course in the works.
I spent time time discussing my exact needs and trying to determine if I needed the one or two day course. I was pretty determined to work out a schedule whereby I could go down to London and do it at the earliest opportunity.
Then serendipity struck on Linkedin.
There’s a colorist in the U.S. who has just released a product called ‘Color Finale’. (It runs on FCPX Yosemite only)
There’s no mention, but I’d bet anything he’s a Divinci Resolve user and I think what he’s done is produced a program that has the most crucial tools found in Divinci Resolve. If so, I should be clear: Divinci Resolve is the bees knees and has everything you would ever want as a colorist. But clearly, not all of us need all those tools. Just as clearly, we could all use some of the basic magic available that goes beyond the scope of what we can do in our NLE of choice. And I think that’s what he’s done.
The really good news is that if you buy it by 3 March, you can get it for $79. After that it will be $99.
Furthermore, one of the things that Divinci Resolve has that is mind-blowing is ‘masking and tracking’. In Resolve it’s absolutely magical how easy it works. (say you change the color of a shirt in the background and someone passes in front of it–well, masking and tracking is how you deal with that and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do it easily in Resolve). Anyway, that feature will be coming to Color Finale in a ‘pro version’. However, if you buy it now, you are grandfathered in and you will get the future upgrades with no further charges.
So far he’s got a couple of good tutorials on his site with, undoubtedly more to come.
So…a few hundred dollars plus travel and expenses to London for a day…or $79 for a program that does everything I need to make anything I produce look better?
Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide is now live on Amazon as a Kindle eBook.
25 Chapters, 219 pages, 60 photos and illustrations, $7.77 /£5.05 (available worldwide). You can buy it here.
You don’t need a Kindle reader to read a Kindle book. Anyone can download the free Kindle app for pc or Mac right on the Amazon page (links below).
Along with the new book is a new blog Run and Gun Videography, which is both a supplement to the book and a developing resource for lone shooters and those just starting off in the videography business.
Run ‘n Gun Videography is the perfect primer for those starting out as videographers. It will get you off on the right foot.
The book was written mainly for lone shooters, small production companies and those just starting out in the business. You’ll find, however, that the information is equally applicable to class A feature films.
In my opinion you could either go to film school or read this book. Or read this book and get a hell of a lot more out of film school because you will have your priorities set straight.
It’s been out for three weeks now with 7 reviews so far between the US and UK. I don’t know these people, except through the blog, but I sincerely appreciate the time taken to post the reviews and look forward to more.
Here’s a sampling:
…Good quality cameras are readily available now on nearly every budget level. But if you want to get beyond “point it that way and hit the red button” skill level, you need advice and insight. And The Video Whisperer is the best I’ve found. In part, I freely admit, because I just like him. His personality and easy communication style are very relaxing and familiar. And I find that with that relaxed feeling, my mind is much more receptive to the information being given…
If you have a passion, just an interest, or simply a need to learn more and improve your skills with video cameras, I can’t recommend this book enough. What I think you will receive from it above all is INSPIRATION!
Absolutely worth every penny. The book has general “life philosophy/wisdom” as well as videography/cinematography/photography (concepts) sections, and specific detailed technical chapters, too. The main advantage of reading a book like this is that it comes from the pen of an authentic/original source, a professional videographer who has been earning his family’s bread for decades on videography. On a couple of videography forums I found a number of excellent comments, but I wanted a book that you can read from page one to the end covering practically every aspects of videography.
I am one of those people who watched the Sony NX30 camera reviews on YouTube a while ago looking for a new camera.
The first thing I noticed when watching the video was that Joe seems very sincere and it was obvious that he has years of experience in the video and film industry. I am just starting up my video production company and it was very assuring to hear that you don’t need to have a really expensive camera to be professional. Although I did spend £4k on a second hand one which I wanted….
I visit thevideowhisperer YouTube channel from time to time and this is how I learned that Joe has now written a book on the subject of videography.
I just bought this today and finished it tonight. Its a good honest book that really strips down the whole professional videography subject into core chapters. Its filled with really good advice that you can tell was earned in the field.
As I don’t have any professional paid experience yet, I was looking for this kind of book. Anything that can help me produce better quality videos for my future clients and possibly help to prevent me making silly mistakes is worth the asking price of this book.
As someone who is about to leave an engineering career to do what I always wanted to do, its good to find that extra little inspiration from a real professional in the game.
A good easy read, highly recommended for people who are thinking of going pro.
Professor M. Raja
…This book, thus, provides a whole wealth of practical and conceptual explanations that would be useful for all those who enjoy filming or hope to launch a professional career as cameramen/women or as film-makers.
I found it especially refreshing that the author first provides the fundamental and core concepts about larger practices (Read Chapter 2 as a great example of this) and then builds on that: this is what we do in our literary studies classes, where we encourage our students to learn the basics first and after that performing complex tasks becomes easier. It seems Joe has given his audience a kind of how-to-book that explains, beyond technique, the how and why aspects of the craft of videography!
This book will be highly useful to all those studying film or film production at college level and I, for one, am certainly going to recommend it as a possible text to the film department at my university!!!
Great read on fundamentals and advanced techniques of a solo videographer’s world. Easy to read and filled with practical info on lots of topics: gear choice, marketing yourself and your videos, interview tips, editing, what to charge for your services…. Written very conversational and witty, this book kinda feels like sitting down with a trusted mentor sharing his wisdom.
Price: U.S. $9.99/UK £6.52, but it is available globally, so depending where you are, either of the two links at the bottom of this page might ask you to sign into Amazon in your own country.
New: Run ‘n Gun Videography Blog
With the release of this book I’ve started a new blog called Run ‘n Gun Videography. It is meant to be a companion to the book in that part of its function is to supplement the book with sample videos relevant to certain chapters. Beyond that I hope to build it into a growing resource of information for lone shooters and small production companies with links to helpful information and relevant articles sent in by subscribers. You don’t need to have read the book to subscribe or to read the new blog, but in certain cases it will make more sense to have read the book. The blog is in its infancy, but I will endeavor to regularly update it with useful information.
I would sincerely appreciate it if those of you who do buy and read the book would post a review on Amazon once you’ve read the book. As most readers here know, we don’t tend to buy anything of this sort (be it equipment or books) without reading reviews first.
Please feel free to share the link on your own networks.
Also, feel free to write me directly with any questions or requests using the contact links at the back of the book or through this blog.
Most of you know how much a fan I am of the HXR NX30 and the first question many will ask is: ‘Does it have the same stabilisation?’
In a word, yes. Except it’s even better.
That 1″ sensor is 4K ready, which means it’s not just any ole 1″ sensor.
You can record in AVCHD like the NX 30, but it’s default is XAVC which is better than HD.
Currently not supported by all NLEs, including FCPX, but I’m pretty sure they soon will all be able to handle it as it’s a codec designed for 4K.
Not to worry. There’s a workaround for transcoding to ProRes using Sony’s Catalyst Browse program. Bit of a pain in the butt, but I wouldn’t sweat it.
I’m absolutely stunned by this camera.
My wife and I each have a Land Rover Discovery 300TDI because we love them so much. The engine is immortal and pretty good fuel economy for a 6000 pound car (35 on the highway). Battle tank reliable. I’d say the NX30 is the Land Rover 300 TDI. The X70 is the Range Rover. Cost a bit more (£1800) and about twice as big and twice as heavy, but it’s still on the small side, is easy to handle and carry and lightning fast to shoot with.
Lots of improvements over the NX30 (two card slots, ND filters, and lots of easy access buttons for various assignable modes, focus, exposure, shutter speed and more.
It’s the perfect run ‘n gun camera for all the reasons the NX30 is and more.
And yes, I’ll be doing a review in the next couple of weeks. Not just footage. This time I’m going to go through the camera’s layout and settings as well.
In fact, I think the book ‘Run ‘N Gun Videography–the Sole Shooter’s Survival Guide’ will be out around the same time.
Just wanted my subscribers to know I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth and there’s some good stuff coming.
For anyone interested, I did a short, crude test for my step-daughter who is planning on doing a short film that takes place wholly inside a car.
As it is a low budget film and even though she has access to a Red camera, I pointed out that due to the profile (length) of the Red, it wouldn’t be possible to do internal frontal mounting of the camera–or if so, due to its lens proximity to the actor, would require a wide angle lens.
I did a short test using the NX30 in full-auto using its Active mode stabilisation (which uses image processing in addition to its gyro stabilised lens).
Normally car scenes are shot with speed rail mounted cameras outside the car. (or they are shot static with green screen backgrounds). Because of the open window, car scenes are post-lip-synced which is quite an art and not all actors can do easily–especially children as would be in this case.
So I put the NX30 to the challenge.
I shot it in my Landrover 300tdi Discovery (1997) and recorded the audio with a Sony wireless lapel.
I wasn’t expecting great results on the sound (it would be better with direction microphones hand-held on booms from the back seat, but as mentioned in the video, even the lapel would have worked pretty good in a quiet car like the high-end Range Rovers or equivalent.
The camera was mounted on the dash on a guerrilla tripod and wired down. Nothing fancy. A suction mount to the windshield would have been better but I didn’t have one. (could get one for about £40 to do the job).
Turns out it did ok.
So here’s a low budget solution to shooting interior car scenes.
Note: While shot in full HD, this is a 720p upload. Try to watch it in at least that. This is the raw camera footage, untreated in post. (the filter tests at the end were done because my step-daughter wanted a ‘filmic look’, so I tried a couple of filters toward that end)
I feel bad. I’ve been promising this book all summer. Well, it’s written and edited and now I’m working on interior photos and illustrations. The cover is done though:
So here’s Chapter 14, ‘Notes on Music’ with a sample video to go along with it:
Some Notes on Music
Music, like anything else in a film or video, is a partner in the story-telling task. It’s a huge subject and there will be no attempt here to cover it in any great detail—especially since I am not an expert on the subject, but suffice it to say that you are more an expert than most if you just know that the purpose of music in a film or video is to help get across the message of the film or video.
That being the case, obviously the best music for a video would be music that is specifically scored for that video. After all, that’s how it’s done in the film industry and for good reason. It is necessary to know the lengths of scenes, the lengths of transitions, the emotional content of each scene and so on, in order to plan and write music that will do its job. You simply can’t have the ‘oh beautiful, happy day’ music come on when it’s supposed to be the ‘whatever you do, don’t open that door!’ scary music (unless you’re deliberately trying to induce heart attacks).
For the lone shooter and small production company though, custom music is probably not in the budget. That leaves you with production music libraries, and this is where I think too many videographers aren’t imaginative enough or just get lazy.
How to Choose Music for your Video
If you can’t have the music scored specifically for your video, the next best thing is to find some stock music that is generally of the right genre, the right mood and a fitting tempo for your video.
If you simply edit your video (with or without narrative) and then tack on some music, it’s going to come out sounding like elevator music. (It will do nothing for your video except perhaps annoy people).
The funny thing is, if you’re really clever and do this right, in the end it can sound like the stock music was written for your video.
Here’s what I do:
1) Determine overall length of video
If there is no narrative planned for your video (music only), simply determine what the optimum length of the video should be based on the content you will be using and then choose a suitable piece of music of the right mood and tempo of that approximate length.
In the case of narrative-driven videos, the first thing I do is mix the voice track of the narratives I’m going to use. That’s because I’m about to chop it up into a lot of pieces, so it’s best to have any audio work done first. You can always go in later to tweak various pieces of it at a later stage, but I’ve learned the hard way that mixing the audio before you start slicing it up is a big time saver.
The next thing I do is edit the interviews to create the narrative (which is essentially my script). Adding a few seconds for beginning titles (if any) and 10-15 seconds for end titles, that gives me an approximate overall length for the video.
It is not necessary at this point to add in B roll, or titles or to do any other fine-tuning of the narrative. By the time you’re done editing the video with the music, the length may change by as much as 15 or 20 seconds. So this stage simply gives you an approximate length of music to choose, and once you’ve chosen the music, it is going to inform and assist your edit.
2) Source the music
You have many choices of sources for obtaining inexpensive licensed music. I find it easiest to use various websites that provide this service because you can quickly narrow your search to type or genre of music, length of music, the tempo (beats per minute) and most sites allow you to listen to the music in its entirety.
A couple of the good sites I use are Videoblocks.com and Audio Jungle, though there are many more.
The better sites will enable you to narrow down the type of music you’re looking for (corporate themes, instrumental, children’s music, classic rock, new ages, etc.) while also allowing you to quickly listen to the song in its entirety.
Once you’ve picked the style of music you’re looking for the next thing you want to do is find only the songs of the same approximate length of your video. They can be a little longer or a little shorter.
Usually a site will provide a drop-down menu to help you sort music by things like ‘longest to shortest’, ‘shortest to longest’, ‘highly rated’, ‘most popular’, etc. Just go for the ‘short to long’ or ‘long to short’ and advance through the pages until you reach the section containing the length you’re looking for.
Now sample each of them one by one. Most of them you’ll discard within seconds. Some you may consider as possibilities, so keep some notes. In all likelihood you will find only one or two suitable songs for your video on any given site. If you’re not totally happy, do the same thing on other sites until you find your short list of songs, which you can then narrow down to the top two choices.
The nice thing about Videoblocks is that once you subscribe, you are allowed unlimited downloads of anything on the site (music, stock video and whatever else they have) for the entire year. I was grandfathered in on a very low rate a few years back, so essentially any song I like I just download. If there are two or three I think might work, I download and try them all. Even the current subscription rate makes it worth it and if you’re trying it out for the first time, they allow unlimited downloads for a period of time. The songs you download and don’t use may come in handy for another video later.
Since I use FCPX, I just put the songs into iTunes under a ‘video music’ folder, which I can easily access from within FCPX.
Anyway, by whatever legal means you get the music you will use for your video.
A note on corporate music libraries
This probably applies to more than just the corporate genre, but I must say that the musicians who create this stuff, for the most part, really know what they are doing.
Almost any song will have a beginning section that fits the length of a typical title sequence of your film or video before the song segues into its main theme. Also, during the course of a song (depending on length) they will generally have 2 or 3 variations on the theme either in terms of complexity of the arrangement, and/or pitch, and/or volume, and/or tempo. And each piece of music will all generally have a good ending where you’ll have your end titles or call to arms.
Probably knowing that editors will want to adjust the length of their songs to fit an edit, it is usually relatively easy to cut out phrases of music seamlessly to reduce the overall length, as each phrase or ‘cue’ of music has a consistent beat and some repeating element and can be taken out with each remaining end seamlessly attaching to each other.
Likewise one can cut out a phrase and copy and paste it in order to increase the overall length.
It takes some tricky editing to find the exact edit points where this can be done. You might not get it right at first, but by adjusting the edit frame by frame in either direction, eventually you’ll find the exact beat where your music edit suddenly becomes seamless. It’s pretty fun actually when you get it right. Makes you feel like a musician even when you’re not. (Apologies to the real musicians!)
This is why I said you want to pick a song of the approximate determined length of your video. Both the length of the song can be adjusted and almost certainly the length of your edit will be adjusted.
But now that you have the music, you can really start editing.
3) Editing with music
As mentioned earlier, the normal correct sequence for adding music is after the edit is done.
What I’m talking about here is the poor-man’s approach to music in which the process is done out-of-sequence when using music that was not written for the film or video. Specifically I’m talking about using the music as a guide or assistance to determining or adjusting many of your edits. The end result can be surprisingly effective (providing you choose an appropriate and fitting piece of music) in that it will seem as if the stock music you chose was written for your video—and that happens when various edits in your video coincide with beats or shifts in the music.
The more the pictures and music seem to match up, the more the music will seem to be custom. But more importantly, the more the music will actually be helping to get across the overall message of the video because it’s now no longer out-of-sync with or irrelevant to your video. If this is poorly done, or not done at all, music can seem distracting and out-of-place which causes a mild or major distraction from the overall message of the film or video which would be a violation of the purpose of music.
Once I’ve determined the rough length of my video and chosen the music, I then lay down the music track. I usually find that the beginning of the song is appropriate for my title. I also find very often that there are music beats or cues that will dictate the edit points for title changes if I have, for example, company logo, a main title and a subtitle. At this point I run the music to a level of about -6db and drop it down to about -18db for the start of the narrative.
This is where it starts to get really fun.
Since my videos are generally 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, I usually watch the whole rough cut at this point with the music just as I’ve laid it down. I am often amazed, even at this early stage, how certain shifts and changes in the music correspond to different parts of the video. It nevertheless gives me an opportunity to spot certain points in the music where significant video edits should occur. At this points I may place edit markers so that as I’m adjusting the edit from the beginning I can keep an eye on the editing timeline for the upcoming markers I want to align a certain part of the edit to.
At this point I go to the beginning of the video and start editing.
So far what I’ve got on the time line is a blank spot for titles followed by the edited narrative with no B roll* (footnote to define B roll). There may be certain parts of that narrative where I want to be sure to have the person on camera and I’ll either mark or just remember these. The rest of the narrative will be B roll that is relevant to what is being said (and which now covers my edits in the narrative). This is where the music will often help me determine the length of the various shots, which are primarily determined by the narrative.
Remember everything we’re doing in an edit is toward the forwarding of the message. The B roll must be relevant to the narrative—either directly supporting it or perhaps even counter-pointing what is being said. So the first consideration of the length of a B roll shot is the narrative itself (what is being said tends to dictate what B roll shot or shots should be used).
The second consideration of length is cutting it to the beat of the music.
If you go through the edit in this fashion you will wind up with a nicely integrated video with music that seems to have been scored for it.
But there’s a little more to the process than that.
You’ll find yourself wanting to make adjustments to the edit for various reasons. Once you start working with it you may decide to delete or shorten pieces of narrative that now seem irrelevant or redundant. You may then find your video is shorter than the music. I usually don’t worry about this much as I construct the edit from the beginning because I know from experience that I can always successfully, one way or the other, shorten the music to fit. (Or you may decide you have to add a bit to the narrative for some reason, but the same applies; you can always extend the music by repeating some portion of it where it won’t be noticed).
It is also at this stage that I tend to start cutting out “ums” and “ahhs”, hesitations and other aspects of the narrative that break the clean flow of story-telling or any other fault. But doing all this as I go along and trimming the B roll as I go and using the music as a guide to effective edit points, I finally wind up near the end where I have to start considering editing the music (either by lengthening or shortening) so that everything dovetails nicely at the end, be it a call to arms or end credits or both.
I mentioned earlier about dropping the narrative down to about -18db under the narrative. That’s a rough guide and is usually workable. You could wind up dropping it even lower in volume.
The rule of thumb is set your music track 12db lower than your narrative track. The real test is listening to the narrative with the music. You must balance it so that the narrative is clear and easy to understand. This is another reason that the audio mixing of the narrative should be done before evaluating the final level of the music. You additionally have the option of mixing the stock music to help separate it from the voice (more or less treble or bass, for example)
Now you do your final tweaking. If there are blank spots in the narrative where we are meant to be watching some activity or process covered in the B roll, you may want to bring the music level up unless some other audio or sound effect is more important at that point.
Once everything is tweaked and finalized, you will have a video with off-the-shelf stock music that not only helps forward the message and mood of your video, but will also seem to have been written for your video.
To be honest, sometimes your choice and editing of stock music will be better than other times. Occasionally it will be stunning. But one thing is for sure: It will always be a hell of a lot better than just schlocking any ol’ music onto your video without regard for these things.
(end of preview)
Here’s a recent video that’s in the category of music that I thought really worked out. This piece of music had various ‘chapters’ to it. When I heard it I knew it would work, because the video itself had various ‘chapters’ as you will see. I simply took the cumulative total of about 8 minutes of footage and cut it down, using the best shots, to more or less fit the music. In a few weeks I’ll upload another video to this post (as soon as it’s approved) that also had a great stock music fit–two pieces of music actually.
This video was a bit of a throw together for a fundraising dinner that was scheduled even though the proper narrative driven video wasn’t yet complete. Shot with the Sony HXR NX30, all hand-held.
I’ve decided to write an ebook expanding a lot on the sorts of things I post on this blog periodically.
Incidentally, the Video Whisperer blog was originally borne out of a desire to help new-comers to video production to understand some of the fundamental basics of the subject they might otherwise never have learned in film school or otherwise. Apparently quite a few folks out there have found the information useful and some have urged me to write a book.
Since I like to write, that invitation was all I needed (in addition to a little extra time to do it).
I wrote the first 5 thousand words at Heathrow a couple weeks ago, and a few thousand more in the odd late hour since then.
I thought I’d share the introduction to the book to test the waters.
If you’ve ever wondered where the name “Video Whisperer” came from, here is that story.
Run ’N Gun Videography
The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide
After spending most of my life working as a cameraman and director (both film and video) for a studio within a team setting, I decided to go solo as a video producer in 2008.
My wife Laury and I were living in Montana and my talented step-daughter Chloe was visiting us from England over the Christmas holiday. As Chloe was an aspiring singer/songwriter, we decided to check the local classifieds for a free piano that we could lug home before Chloe arrived. We found one in nearby Idaho, and set off across the mountains and fetched it home (a little Montana lingo there).
Within a few days of her arrival, Chloe had already written a new song…and I had an idea.
We dragged the old upright piano back out of the house, onto the trailer bed and parked the whole thing in the front yard (in the middle of ten acres of wilderness). We were due for a big snow storm that night so I instructed everyone to gather up some pine boughs from the surrounding forest of trees and place them around the wheel wells and hitch of the trailer. Then we draped some heavy-duty plastic over the trailer bed and anchored the ends in the existing snow to create a sloped surface from the edge of the flat trailer bed. Finally, we tarped the piano and called it a night.
The next day we awoke to 8 inches of fallen snow. The trailer was completely hidden under a thick blanket of snow. The piano appeared to be sitting on a small treed mound outside in the Montana wilderness.
That day Chloe bundled up and rehearsed the song at the piano under sunny blue skies in the crisp, dry sub-zero temperatures of our Montana Winter wonderland.
As usual and expected, some of the local deer came around during the day, this time to find a strange contraption in the front yard and a strange blonde girl making noises with it. They were intrigued and proceeded to nonchalantly forage for greenery in close proximity to the rehearsal, occasionally stopping to look and listen to the music—or to stare at Chloe, who knows?
And, of course, from a discreet distance (but closer than you might think) I quietly shot footage of the deer with Chloe in the background who was sometimes playing and sometimes turned on her bench trying to commune with her unusual audience.
That night another snow storm was due and we set my plan into play.
I set up a couple of discreet spotlights so that once night fell, the surrounding forest would be slightly discernible in what would otherwise have been a pitch black background. We covered the piano with candles which were to be the primary source of light at the piano. Then we ran an electrical cord out to the piano and plugged in a small electric heater under the bench.
Later that night as it started to snow, Chloe bundled up again and with one camera on a tripod operated by our neighbor and another handheld by myself, I shot Chloe’s first “public performance” of “Close to You” in the middle of a snowstorm.
The next day I edited it intercutting some of the day rehearsal shots of the deer “audience” and wound up with a very unique and magical music video indeed.
A few weeks later we had some guests over to dinner. Naturally Laury had me show them the video, so I started it for them and left the room. I came back toward the end of the song just in time to overhear one of them say “…Video Whisperer” I have no idea what the rest of the context was. That’s all I heard. And I thought to myself, “That’s it! Perfect!”. I immediately logged onto my computer to see if anyone had that domain name. No one did. So I bought it and everything related.
And that’s where the name “Video Whisperer” comes from.
Now, why tell this story here?
I came from the school of thought that camerawork should be “invisible”. In other words, the camera has a job do to and that job, that purpose, that mission, that contract, is to direct people’s attention into the story being told; to engage the audience’s attention and emotions with the greatest possible impact or clarity. You can get away with “fancy camerawork” (cranes, dollies, hand-held, etc.), but the moment you do it to call attention to your own camera skills, the moment you’ve distracted the audience into the technique that’s being employed in the story-telling, is the moment you’ve violated that contract.
There is a reason for any type of camera composition, still or moving, and indeed there is a purpose to composition—still or moving—in the first place; it all has to do with forwarding a message and directing the audience’s attention to that message with emotional impact. Veteran professional cameramen do this intuitively. To the film making professionals, the camera (or lighting, sound, sets, props, actors, costumes, makeup, directing, editing, script writing, special effects, sound recording and music) are all tools that are used together for that purpose alone. And to the degree that all these departments align to that purpose, there is a potential for a great film.
On the other hand you have those who do “fancy” camerawork for the sake of fancy camerawork. They shout “look at me!”. And when someone does that at a party, if you’re a charitable person you satisfy their narcissistic vanity out of politeness, or you quietly leave the room.
In my humble opinion, you’ll find that a whisper can be far more powerful than a shout.
For more than a year now I’ve been telling people on forums, etc. about izzy video.com.
When I first starting using FCPX it was obvious that it wasn’t just a “sit-down-and-figure-it-out” program. And I’m not very good at studying thick manuals.
But some people are and we count on them to put together tutorials that show us the fundamental basics in action.
There are many out there, as you all know.
I tried all the usual ones at the time and wasn’t very happy with any of them. Some were too long and drawn out, but most seemed to have an annoying aspect of the presenter trying to sell his own “brand”. By that I mean a bit too much time spend on being an interesting personality rather than just telling you what it is you want to know.
Then someone told me to check out izzy video.
I had a feeling that FCPX was simple and intuitive, but it was obvious that there were a few principles I’d have to grasp before I could run with it. My feeling was that this should be accomplishable in one day.
Izzy had quite a series of short tutorials on the basics of FCPX. More than a dozen I think. And they were free. But more importantly, he had me up and running and having fun in the very first day.
He didn’t pile it all on.
He took it step by step.
He wasn’t long and laborious. He was concise and to-the-point, easy to follow and listen to.
Then, for a ridiculously low fee, he had an “Advanced FCPX” course, also with tons of short videos, step by step.
With all that I happily edited for more than a year.
Then came FCPX 10.1.
It took Izzy a couple of weeks, but as soon as he announced the new FCPX 10.1 basic tutorials (he’s still got the original ones on his site if you haven’t upgraded), I sat down and watched them all straight through.
Boy am I glad I did!
Because I didn’t just learn about the new cool stuff that I wanted to grasp correctly from the outset, I learned a TON of stuff I didn’t know that’s been there all along. Easy stuff. Wonderful tools and short cuts. Great advice on work flows.
Hey, maybe everyone else already knew all this (but I doubt it).
FCPX had already doubled my speed and enjoyment of the FCPX editing process right from the start. But I’m sure some of you are familiar with the nagging feeling that you’re being a lunkhead about certain things, but just don’t know another way of doing it so you just carry on being a lunkhead. (I’m not the only one, am I?)
But now Izzy has just inadvertently helped me get some of the “lunks” out of my head.