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Setting Up a Video Production Studio

If you want to make a lot of videos, setting up a simple video studio might be the most cost effective way to go about it.

Making video in a studio is easier, faster, and therefore a lot less expensive than making video using field production method.

Why? A studio is more permanent, so you don't have to take the time to set-up and tear down the equipment every time. More importantly, a studio production is edited live, which saves HOURS of post-production editing time.

Here is some advice and a list of the equipment you would need to set up a basic TV production studio.

A typical TV studio has three cameras on tripods with dollys (wheels) for easy maneuverability. With a good director and decent camera operators, three cameras could be made to look like one-hundred, so you do not really need more than three.

All three cameras are hooked into a machine called a video switcher. (Today you can get computers that operate like video switchers and also include graphics generators, but for the purpose of this article, I will just use the term video switcher.)

The video switcher is used to switch between cameras and edit your production live. This is the main reason why studio production is so much faster than field production. In field production, you use one camera and edit it later. Post production editing is extremely time consuming. At a professional level, edit time is estimated at one hour per finished MINUTE. That's sixty hours of edit time for a sixty-minute show. On the other hand, an hour-long studio program is finished at the end of the hour-long taping session.

Any and all equipment that creates anything visual is hooked into the switcher, not just the cameras. So if you have a graphics generator, a video tape machine or DVD player, or a special effects generator it also gets plugged into the switcher.

The director then adds and removes whatever video elements she wants, when she wants, using the switcher. Think of it as functioning like a router. This method is also called instantaneous editing.

A DVD player or videotape player is used to run video clips during the show. Next time you are watching the news and they switch from the anchor person to video of the crime scene, that crime scene video is a pre-edited video being played on a separate player.

Audio is handled much the same way as video. You have an audio switcher, which is usually called an audio mixer or audio board. All microphones, all music/sound effects generators, all audio sources of any kind are plugged into the audio mixer. The audio engineer mixes, adds and removes whichever audio source is appropriate at the appropriate time.
The output of both the video switcher and the audio mixer are then plugged into whatever device you are using to record your finished show.

If you've ever noticed the shots of the control room they use frequently in news programs before a commercial, it has an entire wall of monitors. That's not just to look cool. Each video source needs its own monitor so the director can see what the video source looks like before he punches it up.

A video studio usually has lights mounted on the ceiling, hanging off a metal grid. If you are setting up in a house this might not be feasible. However you can get small, simple ceiling mounts that do not require a grid. Or you can use lights on a stand, same as you would out in the field. They take up a bit of room, but sometimes it is the only way.
If you do have a ceiling grid, make sure you have electrical outlets on the ceiling too. You do not want light cables snaking all over the floor.

The control room, which is where the video and audio switchers are located, should be as sound-proof as possible. The people working in the control room need to have the freedom to talk to each other without being picked up on the microphones being used in the studio.

For control room to studio communication, a head-set system is used. Everybody wears one so the people in the control room can speak to the crew in the studio. The studio crew usually has to come up with some kind of "puff code" or "tap code" so they can answer back without actually making any real noise.

In summary, here is a list of the standard equipment needed for a TV production studio:

* Multiple cameras
* Tripods with dollys for each camera
* Multiple microphones
* Video switcher
* Audio switcher
* Graphics generator
* Lights
* Light mounts
* CD player
* DVD player (or videotape player)
* Cables
* Head set communication system
* Monitors for each video source

Once you have your studio set up, you can crank out polished, professional looking videos quite easily. If you are planning on making LOTS of videos, going to the trouble and expense of setting up a studio can definitely pay off in the long run.

Thanks for reading Video Production Tips
Lorraine Grula


Lighting For Video - Using Compact Fluorescent Lights

Quality Lighting is one of the basic cornerstones of quality video production. Any picture, video images included, are really nothing BUT light, so how your light looks will largely determine how your shot looks.

One of the newest ways to light your video production is to use the new, energy-efficient bulbs known as compact fluorescent lights. I believe there are many reasons why compact flo will soon become the bulb of choice in video making.

Compact Fluorescent lights (compact flo as they are nicknamed) are becoming popular as the new "green" way to light your home. You can find the bulbs almost everywhere now. Even before home use of compact fluorescent bulbs became popular, compact flo were being used more and more in video production. They have several distinct advantages over traditional video lights. The advantages add up to saving money and having an easier time during production.

Traditional video lights are usually tungsten halogen. They get HOTTER than a firecracker. You can easily burn your fingers on them. I even burned a hole in the wallpaper once when I bounced the light just a little too close to the wall. Oops.

Compact Fluorescent lights on the other hand do not get hot at all. They stay very cool and are much easier on the eyes. That feature, in and of itself, makes me want to buy some. Sitting under tungsten halogen lights is so hot as to be dreadfully uncomfortable. anyone sitting close to them will be sweating up a storm unless the room is very cool.

Plus, if you look directly at the burning light bulb, tungsten halogen are so bright they leave spots. These kind of bulbs heat up the entire room FAST. That leads to having to crank up the air conditioner, assuming it is not a noisy one. If it is noisy, then it stays off so you get better sound and everyone just roasts. No fun! Tungsten halogen produce almost as much heat as they do light!

In addition to staying cool, compact flo lights also use less electricity than any other kind of light bulb. (They don't waste any energy producing unwanted heat!) That's one of the biggest things that make them a "green alternative." Compact fluorescent light bulbs crank out an amazing amount of light for the wattage used compared to other kinds of light bulbs. You can get by with using about half the wattage you might normally need.

The light given off by compact fluorescent is nice, soft and diffused. The ones I have used are all colored balanced in the blue range, similar to sunlight. Standard fluorescent bulbs give off a green light so that is a big difference there. Compact flo would fit right in with sunlight and not mess up the white balancing of your camera like an orange tungsten halogen would.

Every compact flo light bulb I have ever seen is already diffused for you by the addition of white paint to the inside of the glass. That does not mean you never need to add supplemental diffusion but right out of the box you have some nice diffusion.

All-in-all, I think compact fluorescent lights are a fantastic addition to the world of video production equipment. I bet that guy whose wall I burned a hole in would agree.

Thanks for reading Video Production Tips. For more information on lighting and other video production topics, please visit my blog.

Lorraine Grula
Internet Video Gal


Video Scriptwriting: Making it Easy

The script is the heart of your video production. So what makes a good video script?

Concise, conversational and easy-to-read.

Video script writing is the exact opposite from technical writing or academic writing. Those forms of writing use complex sentences, ten-dollar words and are usually very wordy. That is NOT what you want with a video script.

First, keep in mind that a video script is meant to be read aloud. Viewers will HEAR it rather than READ it. Therein lies the major difference. It's called writing for the ear instead of writing for the eye.

On a practical level, it is also writing for your narrator. No narrator, not even the really good ones, can sound good stumbling through endless tongue twisters. Convoluted, run-on sentences are not only a nightmare to read; they are also hard for the audience to understand even if the narrator does manage to spit it out.

So forget everything you learned from those stodgy English teachers. (My best friend is an English teacher; that is not a criticism.) It's ok for video scripts to be full of sentence fragments because that is how people actually talk. If it makes sense when heard, then that is what you want. Just try reading an academic paper out loud. It would sound terrible and put everybody to sleep.

Which brings me to a very important point. The single best way to evaluate a video script is to read it aloud.  Reading it out loud will make any error stick out like a sore thumb.

If possible, have someone listen to you as you read and see how well they understand what you are saying.    Do not worry about using short, choppy sentences if that is what SOUNDS good. Inflection, tone of voice and pacing will have a lot to do with how well the script is understood and those things do not come through on paper.

Back when I taught TV production, I told my high school students to pretend they were speaking to a friend. If you wanted to tell a friend this story, what would you say? Write that down. Then, go back and modify it. Cut out the fat. Make sure the meat is prominent. Make sure the words you have chosen are descriptive, colorful, yet easily pronounced and understood.

Good writing is usually a process of rewriting. No one writes a masterpiece on their first draft. The first draft is just a starting point. Go back over it, multiple times if necessary, and make changes as you go.

Taking this approach actually makes writing easier because it takes the pressure off. If you are sitting there starring at a blank screen, thinking you have to come up with something elegant and brilliant, chances are your brain will lock up. If, on the other hand, you know you are going to improve it later, you will feel comfortable just getting down the gist of what you want to say.

Video script writing is a style unto itself. Remember too that whatever video images you use also convey meaning. Ideally, the video and the spoken narration work in tandem. So if your narrator say, "Political leaders spoke to the public," and you show a hot air balloon deflating, then you have added considerable meaning without relying on words. That's one of the things that makes video production so much fun! I shouldn't make so much fun of politicians. On second thought, yes I should!

Thanks for reading.
Lorraine Grula


Why Most Serious Photographers Are Ditching Film Cameras For The Digital Camera

Since digital cameras have come onto the scene taking pictures has been a lot more efficient and it has also become easier for the average person to take high quality pictures. Today, there are many different types of digital cameras to choose from. If you shop at electronic stores or Wal-Mart you will see digital cameras. Each camera offers something to the quality of the camera. This is the reason why picking one to buy is so hard. When you see what your choices are you will start trying to pick on out.

One of the comment problems that people have when they go looking for a digital camera is that they don't always find what they are looking for. After they buy the camera they then notice later that they could have done more research and bought something better.

It goes without saying that with the diversity in choices, buying a digital camera is not an easy task. Just as buying a car or house it is something you will want to have for along time to come, especially if you are really into photography. Some of the factors in buying a digital camera include cost, usage, and durability. If you want the newest and best camera out on the market today are you ready to shell out the money for it? Money and cost are big factors when buying a digital camera. It is known that quality comes with price, like anything you pretty much get what you pay for.

This isn't stating that the cheap ones are not good they just don't have the specs that others do. There are few cheap ones that you can get for a cheap price and some have a few specs as some others. You will need to shop around before you decide to buy one you are looking at. Even better you should save your money for the camera you really want.

Next you need to decide on what you will be using the camera for. Will you be using the camera for shooting family portraits? Or you might be trying to shoot some as the view as a professional? By knowing what your camera can do is what you need to discover first. So if you were to buy a home camera you will probably not get the picture you are looking for as if you wanted good shots. So it would be a waste to spend a lot of money on an expensive camera only to be used at home for personal use.

So since digital cameras can be quite expensive you will want to locate something that will last you a long time and won't break or become outdated quickly. You also might want some type that can endure heavy situations. If you happen to buy a nice camera you might want to get it a case to protect it when it's not being used. You should get one that is known for its picture quality.


Things You Need To Know If You Are Considering Fashion Photography School

Do you have a knack for taking photographs and a love for fashion? Perhaps attending fashion photography school is something you may want to consider. Fashion photography school teaches you how to use photography to take photographs that sell everything from perfume to clothing.

Fashion photography is not as easy as it looks. Many men dream of going into this field so they can mingle with beautiful models and take photographs of them. This is not what fashion photography is about. Fashion photography is an art form. The models may be lovely, but they can only look as good as the fashion photographer makes them out to be.

There are many tricks used in fashion photography. Lighting. Wind. Shadows. We see this on television whenever we watch programs about people taking photographs of models. But what people do not realize is that the photographer is an artist. He sees the model in a certain way and photographs her to portray this image he has in his mind. It is not unlike painting a portrait. In a way, he is painting a portrait. He is just doing it with a camera.

Each of us perceives different sights in our mind. Not all of us can see what the fashion photographer can see. This is why it is so important that he or she be proficient and serious about this art form. This is not just a way to take pictures, but a way to make art. Art that does not hang on walls, but is depicted on magazine covers and billboards and on television. But it is still art, just the same.

In addition to taking the best shots of beautiful models, a fashion photographer must be mindful of props and backdrops and locations. He or she will often take advantage of different situations in nature to create the most beautiful photographs. They will use natural and artificial lighting to make the image they have in their mind come to life.

Props are often used and are very important in the work of a fashion photographer. Fashion photographers often work for advertising houses or directly for magazines that are selling a certain product. The product must be photographed in such a way that it is desirable to the viewer of he photograph. While we often think of fashion photographers as photographing models, sometimes the models are merely the props. The real image he or she is trying to convey is the pillow, or the sofa, or the draperies. He sets the scene, like an artist, and makes it appealing to view.

Of course, fashion photographers first and foremost must know quite a bit about photography. Photography in itself is an art form. They must know about cameras, lighting and equipment. They must know when to shoot in black and white and all about color. They need to know which colors will be best for the model to wear in a certain scene.

This is not a career for men who want to meet models, but an admirable profession for a serious professional who has an eye for art, loves photography and has a deep admiration for fashion. It can be a very rewarding career, both monetarily and spiritually as it truly does give one the chance to express his or her creativity. If you are the type who loves photography and fashion, consider attending fashion photography school.


Online Video Marketing - What Style of Video Works Best?

Flashy videos sell better than boring, unspectacular videos.

That might sound silly and obvious, but as a video producer, you always have to question what the audience will respond to so you can deliver.

Should you spend extra time and money creating flashy graphics or just settle for the cheap and easy plain ones?

During my many years as a video producer, I spoke with hundreds of clients, bosses, co-workers and viewers of all stripes about what they liked or didn't like about a particular video. I've evaluated hundreds of finished video projects, often revamping them to make them better.

All that experience taught me that flashiness is what most impresses people when the video is short. Actually, I was often disappointed to realize how flashiness seemed to work irrespective of any other attributes the video had. Personally, I always favored high quality, in-depth content. Well... I had to learn that most people don't, which is why American Idol has more viewers than a PBS documentary on fish eggs.

Me personally, I love boring documentaries but I am in the minority.

Flashiness can impress people even if the video is lacking in other ways. Now keep in mind that I said flashiness works best in short videos. Something as long as a movie can be extremely flashy but will probably still bomb at the box office if the plot is a snoozer. But it's also true that the shorter the video gets, the more flashiness is a good substitute for "story."

Flashiness gives people the impression that the video is expensive and high quality. If they think that, they are almost guaranteed to perceive that the information contained in the video is accurate.

Flashiness also keeps people entertained. Whizz-bang graphics and spectacular visuals help keep people awake and attentive to the screen. Sound effects and music do too.


Back when I freelanced as a video producer in the Nashville market, I got to the point where every video I did was moving, shaking and jiving virtually every single frame because that's what people wanted. It made them believe my videos were sophisticated and valuable.

Flashy videos capture people's attention more fully. They are impressed and will automatically assume the video is quality. It's impossible not to get absorbed in it because FLASHY VIDEO WORKS!


So how do you make your video flashy? Start with some basics, like background music and a nice graphic open. Then, add some spectacular graphics that move. Movement can be accomplished through key framing during editing. You can get pre-made flashy digital backgrounds to use with your graphics. In fact, there is a TON of royalty free flashy video you can use without having to make it from scratch yourself. So even if you are using a very simple editing program like Windows Movie Maker that will not really generate anything too spectacular, you can buy some and import them into the program.

The bottom line is, you do not have to become a master at creating flashy videos by yourself. You can just buy them.

Audiences have been trained to think flashy = good. Just a fact of life folks.

Lorraine Grula
Internet Video Gal


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