How to add timecode to RAW video from Canon 5D Mark-III with Magic Lantern Hack

Posted by ryanjackson on Jul 4, 2013 in photos, Shot-by-Shot Explanation, training, video

I’ve been shooting RAW video with my Canon 5D Mark-III for a long term project and it’s simply otherworldly.

If you haven’t heard of this yet, the Magic Lantern firmware hack for Canon cameras allows you to shoot 24 1080p raw pictures per second now. Think of it as a continuous 24fps burst mode of raw pictures.
You batch convert those raw pictures into TIFF files and then change the image sequences into super-duper high quality video. Your Canon DSLR can now hold a candle to the RED camera or Black Magic Cinema camera. (Minus the professional workflow of course).

You have the same quality, dynamic range, colour control and exposure latitude as normal RAW still photos but with video!
The only downsides are file size (90MB/sec!), the need for expensive 1000X CF cards and processing time.

A hidden downside is the lack of timecode and metadata for your processed video.

Here you can see how the .mov file created by the raw2dng app has a file creation date different than the original video.

Here you can see how the .mov file created by the raw2dng app has a file creation date different than the original video. I shot the RAW video at 8:42pm on June 20th but the ProRes video file wasn’t created until July 4th so it will be out of order in Final Cut Pro.

 

If you import a video file created by raw2dng the video lacks timecode and therefor will be arranged by the wrong time.

If you import a video file created by raw2dng into FCPX, the video lacks timecode and therefor will be arranged by the wrong time in your event browser.  FCPX is all about metadata and you don’t want the video times to be wrong when working on a long-term project.

So here is my current workflow….

Step #1

Delete the preview .mov file created by raw2dng and convert your .dng files into TIFs using Photoshop. You will now have a folder full of .dng and .tif files.

Delete the preview .mov file created by raw2dng and convert your .dng files into TIFs using Photoshop. You will now have a folder full of .dng and .tif files.

Step #2

I've written a simple Applescript that will batch convert folders with TIFF files into 1080p24 ProRes422HQ video.

I’ve written a simple Applescript that will batch convert folders with TIFF files into 1080p24 ProRes422HQ video. It is included in the .zip file at the bottom of this post. If you just use the .mov files created by raw2dng then skip to Step #3.

The file creation date of our video file is different than the original RAW file.

The file creation date of our video file is different than the original RAW file.

Step #3

Run my other Applescript which changes the file creation date of the new .mov files to match the .RAW files of the same name. This works for batch folders.

Run my other Applescript which changes the file creation date of the new .mov files to match the .RAW files of the same name. This works for batch folders. You can find the script at the bottom of this post.

 

Now the .mov file creation date matches the original .RAW file. The video file still lacks timecode though.

Now the .mov file creation date matches the original .RAW file.
The video file still lacks timecode though.

Step #4

Get the QTchange app for Mac. The demo allows you to do 8 files at a time or you can buy it for only $25 which isn't bad. QTchange will add a timecode to the video files based on the file creation date that we set earlier.

Get the QTchange app for Mac. The demo allows you to do 8 files at a time or you can buy it for only $25 which is well priced.
QTchange will add a timecode to the video files based on the file creation date that we set earlier.

Now when we import our converted video files the date and timecode are correct!

Now when we import our converted video files the date and timecode are correct!

 

I’ve put the Applescripts used in this tutorial into a zip file you can download here.  Feel free to share with credit.

The TIFF to ProRes422HQ script will need to be modified before you run it on your computer. Launch the AppleScript Editor app on your mac and open the file. Change the file path of the “.set” settings file to match the location on your hard drive. There is also a small Applescript to create a new settings file if you don’t want ProRes.

I couldn’t have done this without the fantastic resources of MacScripter and the Apple Forums.  Enjoy!

 

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Three ways to geolocate your D-SLR photos

Posted by ryanjackson on Oct 4, 2012 in photos, Shot-by-Shot Explanation, training

I love being able to geolocate my photos. Especially when the photos can be used for data mapping or interactive before/after projects.

Most smartphones like the iPhone have GPS built-in and can automatically geotag your images for you.

Turn on location services for your iPhone or enable the GPS on your Android phone to embed the GPS co-ordinates in all your camera photos.

But what about your D-SLR? New D-SLRs coming out will have GPS built-in but what about the camera in your hand right now?

Here are three methods I use:

Method #1. Get the location from Google Maps.

If you can remember exactly where you were standing when you shot an image you can just use Google Maps to find the GPS position afterwards.

Go to http://maps.google.com and zoom into the area you took a photo. Then Right Click (CNTR-Click on a Mac) at the exact spot you want and then select “What’s Here?”. The GPS Longitude and Latitude will appear in the search box.

Method #2: Just take a picture with your smartphone at the same location as your D-SLR.

Upload the image to http://regex.info/exif.cgi and it will tell you the embedded GPS info.
Once you have this Info you can map it with Google Maps.

You can then embed the gps location into your D-SLR picture by using exiftool.


Add “-overwrite_original” to the command or else it will create a backup copy of the image.

You can find exiftool for Mac or PC or Linux here.  Also try googling “Exiftool GUI” if you want a graphical user interface.

It may look complicated to use a command-line tool but it is actually very powerful. Check out this awesome tutorial on scripting Exiftool with with Automator.

This method is okay for one simple picture but isn’t there a better way?

There are two different ways to represent longitude and latitude: Minutes and Seconds or Decimal Degrees.

Go to http://boulter.com/gps/ to convert your GPS coordinates into decimal degrees.

Method #3: Sync a GPS route from your iPhone/Android to a batch of images.

This is the method I have been using lately and I like it. Mainly because I find the app to be very reliable.

Simply launch the EveryTrail app and run it for the day that you are taking pictures. At the end of the day you can sync all your photos with GPS Photo Linker.

How does it work?  
Basically the app creates a “.gpx” file which contains data like this: Date, Time, Lat, Long, Date, Time, Lat, Long, Date, Time, Lat, Long, etc.
GPS Photo Linker looks at the time each of your photos was taken and correlates it to the closest GPS point.

What you need:

1. Use the free GPS Photo Linker program on your Mac or GpicSync for PC  to sync your photos with the GPS track.
2. Buy the EveryTrail Pro app for you iPhone or Android phone.

EveryTrail.com is a cool online trail mapping site. It has a lot of cool features but we are only interested in creating creating a GPS route of our walk.
You can make a GPS route of your trip and then upload a .GPX file to the web to download and sync with your pictures.

Here’s the process:

  1. Download and install the app. I think you need to buy Pro version because the Free version doesn’t let you upload the .GPX files.
  2. Setup an Account in the App.
  3. Go into settings and change your GPS precision.
  4. Click “Start Tracking” under “My Map”
  5. When you are done, Select “Pause” and then “Finish”
  6. Upload the Trip to EveryTrail.com
  7. Now go to EveryTrail.com and log in with the username and password you setup.
  8. Click on “My Tracks”
  9. Scroll down the page and you’ll find a link to “Download GPX for your GPS”

Now launch GPS Photo Linker or GpicSync and sync your photos with the .gpx file. The program will automatically embed the GPS longitude and latitude in the photo’s EXIF info.

Here is another tutorial on this process.

This may seem like a lot of work but you will thank yourself in a month, year or decade when you wonder where you took that beautiful picture.

This process is also a HUGE time saver when you are shooting aerial photos and need to figure out what you were shooting after the fact.

 

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360-Video Talk at ONA2012

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 22, 2012 in 360 Panoramas, 360 Video, DIY, Game, GigaPan, timelapse, training

360-Video and Innovation Talk at ONA12 from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Andrew Satter @asatter discusses innovative video techniques. Ryan Jackson @ryan_jackson talks about his 360-video projects and an open discussion on video with the audience happens at the end. Enjoy! Sept. 22, 2012 at Online News Association annual conference ONA12 in San Francisco. http://www.ryanjackson.ca http://www.asatter.com

Ashley and I are driving back to Edmonton from San Francisco and I have limited internet connectivity so this blog post will be fully updated with links and quotes in a couple days.P.S. If you ever get a chance to drive the west coast, DO IT!

This is a super duper quick list of the links I’ll be sharing at the #ONAunconf Unconference session at the 2012 ONA conference in San Francisco

 

Try to do something different. NOT TV. “make something worth talking about” – Seth Godin.

-Multimedia — use best tool to do the job. … sometimes video, sometimes sound slides, sometimes panoramas, sometimes interactives.

– I want there to be a holodeck like on Star Trek!

-I want to have the news beamed into my brain like in the Matrix or Simpsons.


PICTURE
-We’re going to get there before you know it

Getting closer!

#1. put me there.
360 panorama Twitter CEO yesterday

I hate boring video
. Passive vs. Active. We will sit down and watch TV for hours (passive) but it’s hard to watch a 2-minute video online (active)

Make your videos active.

-Interactive Talking Heads

””

something simple…
Interactive Political Debate Video
-I shot video. Lucas Timmons figured out the API and he blogged
HERE how to do it.

Blog about shooting it

-28 mins of video here. people spent WAY more time on it than if it was just a normal linear video.
-think backwards. how do you wish you could watch long videos that are boring?
Immersive Video

Make videos immersive and interactive.


””
Blog post about shooting 360-Video.

Watch 360 Dodgeball Video on Edmonton Journal

Went viral. picked up by Gizmodo and got 10,000 hits in an hour. which 10k x 100mb video = a lot of bandwidth!
Slave lake 360

-took this tool I made and used it for something more serious and breaking news

“Google Streetvew” style 360 video tour

360 Street View Tour of Slave Lake after Wildfire Devastation
-got special access because this video could be used as a service to the citizens.
Blog post about making my own Google Street View Tours

The next year I returned and shot 360 Before/After Panoramas showing the reconstruction

Lucas Timmons created the map.
Blog post about re-shooting the panoramas from the same place.
-next year later i returned and did the exact same route. thank god for GPS. Lucas Timmons

-Next, combine those two ideas. Start with one project and build on it for the next.

360 election – Interactive Coffee with politicians


-how be used for something different. scarcity. interactive, put you there.
Interactive 360-degree interview with political leaders:

Blog post about interviewing politicians in 360-degree video.

Choose your own adventure game

Interactive 360 “Choose your Own Adventure” Tour of Edmonton Carnival

-Best viewed on iPad.
-now this is cheesy but think of it as a little town. You could do panoramas of a small town or neighborhood and make it so you go to each section and talk to people.
-360 video on a Roller Coaster

-Start with one thing and build build build on it.
-i use KRpano.
-interfaces with VR headsets and game controllers.

-360 isn’t for everything
-A LOT OF TIME.
-must be super duper interesting topic to get good ROI
-must be something worth looking around for.

TimeMachine

Collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University

-contacted them and collaborated

””
Zoom into video and move around in time and space.

-dodgeball again! 1st – viral…2nd. 360…3rd… time-lapse in time and space…
-URL and video screenshot

GigaTAG Facebook.

Also created a Facebook GigaTag so you potentially have 5,000 University students tag themselves in Facebook.

GigaTimeBot

Dynamic time lapse of CAPITAL EX
-every hour update video.
-just PHOTOS…

Robot tweeted every time it took a photo

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Ryan Jackson speaks on 360 Video, Panoramas and Immersive Multimedia

Posted by ryanjackson on Mar 20, 2012 in 360 Panoramas, 360 Video, Ryan's Life, training

I was invited to speak at VendAsta Technologies about the work I’ve done on 360 panoramas and video. It was really cool because I’ve talked dozens of times about photography and video but I’ve never given a full presentation about 360 panoramas.

As I explain in the video , I’ve always been fascinated with the Holodeck from Star Trek and we are slowly getting closer and closer.

As a photojournalist I always get to go to places and see things that most people don’t and I find that 360-degree panoramas with audio or 360 Video can help give you the same experience.

At the pace of technology today. What’s stopping us from being able to download a 360-degree video into our brains in the future?

We’re getting there faster than you think.

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Ryan Jackson speaks on photography and video at CUP2012

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 12, 2012 in photos, Ryan's Life, Shot-by-Shot Explanation, training, video

“99% Preparation, 1% Pressing a Button” Ryan Jackson, staff photographer with the Edmonton Journal tells the stories behind his photos and gives tips and advice to students. Failure is always an opportunity to overcome obstacles and win. Sometimes people burn down bridges to see if you can swim across. Recorded in Victoria, BC at the Canadian University Press Conference on Jan. 12, 2012.

Ryan Jackson, multimedia photojournalist with the Edmonton Journal speaks on his “I Was There” music video, the need for multimedia journalists, trends in online video, trends in technology, and tips for student journalists to experiment with video at their papers. “Will cats save Journalism?…. I don’t have all the answers.” Recorded in Victoria, BC on Jan, 14, 2012.
You can find the GoogleDoc presentation at docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhf88d7p_549m8mxppf9
and more on my blog at punkoryan.com/training

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Teaching video in Cairo Egypt

Posted by ryanjackson on Jun 26, 2011 in photos, training, video

I’m in Egypt for the next 11 days training the media staff at Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 how to do better video, photography and online strategy. What a way to spend my summer vacation from the Journal!
I’ll be posting way more pictures and video later as well I’m going to blog about what I taught at NPAC in the next month.

Here is a shot of the hospital. It really sticks out like a sore thumb because of the modern architecture. It is 100% supported by donation which is where I come in. I’m going to help them strengthen their image and help them tell their story.

It’s funny how when you are in a foreign land EVERYTHING is a picture. I wonder if I took an Egyptian photographer and plunked her in downtown Edmonton what photographic opportunities she would see that I ignore every day…

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Shooting 360-degree video with four GoPro HD Hero cameras

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 8, 2011 in 360 Panoramas, DIY, photos, training, video

First off, watch my 360-degree Video of the World Record Dodgeball Game at the U of A

So last year I shot this video of the University of Alberta setting a world record for most people playing dodgeball and the video got over 650,000 hits.

I’ve seen a few 360-degree videos out there but not as many as you would think considering how freaking cool they are.
Since 360-degree videos is pretty uncharted territory in the photojournalism world I absolutely had to take the challenge.

To shoot my 360-degree dodgeball video I used four GoPro Hero HD cameras on 1280×960 mode mounted vertically. This gives enough overlap to get a full 360-degree view as well the cameras are nice and small and light. Since the cameras shoot at 30 frames per second (actually 29.97) you can think of it as 30 still pictures per second which can be stitched together into panoramas.

The short version of this story is that I shot with four GoPros, extracted still images from video, stitched the stills together into panoramas then recombined them back into video.

For the much more detailed and nerdy answer read on….

I got tips for arranging the cameras properly at diy-streetview.org
I simply used a plastic leg from a table that was the same width as the naked GoPro cameras.
I used Gaffers tape and a lot of elastics to hold the cameras in place.
In the future I may build a proper aluminum box for everything.

Setting up a fifth GoPro camera in the catwalk to be used for an overhead view for livestream of the game.

I use a Telus Aircard pluged into a Cradlepoint CTR-379 wireless router for internet for livestreams.

Here was my shooting process.

Hit record on my Olympus LS-10 PCM recorder. Say “scene one” out loud.
Hit Record on Camera 1. Say “camera one” out loud.
Hit Record on Camera 2. Say “camera two” out loud.
Hit Record on Camera 3. Say “camera three”out loud.
Hit Record on Camera 4. Say “camera four” out loud.
Now that everything is recording I clap my hands really fast or yelp really loud so that I have a sharp audio cue that I can sync all the cameras with.

Some people say “You’re crazy for putting your cameras in a dodgeball game like that!”

I say. It’s not about the camera. It’s about the end result. A camera is a tool like a hammer. If your hammer breaks, you get it fixed.

Never let your camera get in the way of a good photo.

As soon as the game ended I ingested all my footage into my MacBook Pro.  It’s always important to get video up as fast as possible if you want to get a lot of views.

I just selected the first 60-seconds of the game and plunked it into Final Cut Pro. I created a large canvas and lined up the different cameras so that they overlapped a bit.

There would be very noticeable seams between the videos but I knew people wouldn’t mind the seams if they got to see the video asap. It took an hour to render the 60-seconds of video in Final Cut Pro and another hour to export it as FLV.  The game ended around 1:30pm and I had a quick and dirty 60-second version of the panorama up on edmontonjournal.com before the 6:00pm news on TV!   In comparison I think I had last year’s video up at the same time.

First year NAIT photography Student Nathan Smith was doing a ridalong with me that day and he was a HUGE help!  He also shot all these awesome photos of me. Thanks!

Okay now for the high quality version with properly stitched images.
For post-processing I created a new timeline in Final Cut Pro 7 with codec Apple Intermediate Codec and size 3840×1280.
Since the cameras are mounted vertically they are recording 960×1280 video. So 4×960=3840.

I find my audio sync point on each camera and set it to be the in-point for the video. I drag each video from each camera into my timeline and line them up so that all the audio sync points line up.

Once my video and audio is all synced then I select each clip and go to “File–>Export –>Export Using Quicktime Conversion–> Image Sequence”
Final Cut Pro 7 extracts JPEG still images for every frame of video. Each frame is about 1.2MBs and you are shooting about 120 frames per second.

That works out to 8.6GB of stills for each minute of video you shoot. Or 520GB per hour.

Since there are four cameras each “frame” of video is actually four pictures which need to be stitched together into a single panorama.

I organize all the images using Photo Mechanic and batch name them 0001a, 0001b, 0001c, 00001d, 0002a, 0002b, 0002c, 0002d, etc.

Then I used PTgui Pro to stitch all my panoramas together into equarectangular panoramas.

PTgui Pro has a great batch process where you can setup a template for your first panorama and then it will auto stitch the rest of the panoramas in file order. This meant that (0001a, 0001b, 0001c, 00001d)–>Panorama1.jpg , (0002a, 0002b, 0002c, 0002d)–>Panorama2.jpg, etc.

I stitched them together in the highest resolution so that each panorama would be 3561×1308 pixels big. About 5MB per panorama. You are now at 18GB per minute of video or about a Terabyte per hour.

This process took the longest. I had three MacBook Pro laptops and my home server all going at the same time. The laptops took around 12 seconds per panorama to stitch.

If you do the math that works out six hours to stitch one minute worth of panoramas together!

I basically had four laptops crunching for 24 hours straight to make all the panoramas.

Once the tens of thousands of panoramas were stitched together I used Quicktime Pro   File–>Open Image Sequence (at 29.97) to open all the still panorama images as a video. I then exported the video as .mov’s in Apple Intermediate Codec  3561×1308 at 280Mb/sec

I then created a new sequence in Final Cut Pro 7 with the same settings and dragged back in the .mov files and synced them with the .wav audio from my Olympus LS-10.

I chose about 17 minutes of footage in total to convert to panoramas and I then cut that down to the best 5 mins and exported as full-quality Apple Intermediate Codec.

I then used Adobe Flash Video Encoder to convert and downsize my video to FLV 2722×1000, On2 VP6, 2000kb video, 96kb audio which I find to be a good balance of quality to file size.  It took about 8hrs for my 2.6GHz MacBook Pro to compress 5 minutes of video into 2722×1000 On2 VP6 Flash video.

Here is my puppy Mr. Woofertons napping while I wait for my video to compress.

Once the video is done compressing into FLV I then used KrPano as the flash panorama player to display the panoramic video as a 360-degree video.

It’s THAT easy!  :)

I actually did this same process for my Murder of Crows time lapse last year  but this was way more intense.

Next time I do this though I will wire the GoPro’s together so that I can trigger them all at the same time. My Olympus LS-10 has a remote trigger port too so I should be able to trigger all four cameras and my audio recorder at the same time which saves time syncing the videos in Final Cut Pro.

There may also be a way to get KrPano to play .mp4 instead of .flv so I could use an Elgato turbo.264 HD to speed up exporting the final video.

You could also write a few simple Applescripts to speed up the file renaming and automate Quicktime Pro. This could eliminate the need for Photo Mechanic and manually moving files around.

What did all this cost?

Four GoPro HD’s would be 4 x $300 = $1,200
Final Cut Pro is $1,000
Quicktime Pro is $30
Photo Mechanic is $150
PTgui Pro is $210
Adobe Flash is $700
KrPano is $150

Cheaper than a $6,000 Ladybug camera and a better field of view and higher resolution than a Pano Pro mirror. Though a PanoPro would be much much easier to use.
As crazy complicated as this may sound I wouldn’t be surprised if whatever Smartphone we all use in a couple years will do this with a 99-cent app.

What I love about 360-video is that almost everyone who sees it is blown away. I love how it opens your mind to new and exiting ways to tell stories.

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iPhone Video Journalism Training with Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 2, 2011 in training, video

Ryan Jackson with the Edmonton Journal gives tips for capturing and editing quality video with an iPhone 4G or iPhone 3Gs for the purpose of video journalism.

Below is a screencast of me giving the presentation. 43 minutes total. I cover A LOT of stuff. Apps, technique, theory, shooting situations, editing and transmitting.

And here is my Google Doc presentation with all the links in it.

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Shot-by-Shot: Human vs. Horse Race – My Shooting and Editing Process

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 19, 2011 in Shot-by-Shot Explanation, training, video

Okay here is an example of what I call a spectacle video. In the media we do a lot of these. Someone is performing a stunt or doing something strange to get attention to promote something.

In this case they are racing a horse against people at Northlands racetrack to promote Northlands and a marathon.

These events make great standalone pictures but video is always harder because the stunt only last a few seconds.

You can’t just put a 10-second clip on your website and expect people to watch a 15-second pre-roll add then walk away happy. You need more than that. You need a story.

So how do I get a one-minute video from an event that only last a few seconds?

The same as anything you see on Mythbusters.

Teasing, anticipation, prediction, action, reaction.

Shows like Mythbusters are really good at taking something that only lasts a second like an explosion and dragging it out over a long period of time. Multiple cameras and slow motion help. But you can’t fill an hour of television with just that. You need anticipation, prediction and reaction to the event to really tell a story and make it interesting.

Here’s how I approach this video.

#1. I need A-Roll. A person of authority explaining what is happening today.
#2. I need B-roll to go with each thing that the interviewee mentions
Keywords: Horses, Humans, Media, Race
#3. I need to talk to the people who will be in the race. What are their predictions?
#4. The spectacle will only last a few seconds so I know I need more than one camera.

Camera 1: My Canon XH-A1 – This cameras has 20X zoom so I will put it at the end of the track.
Camera 2: Canon HV30 – I’ll put this camera at the beginning of the track and frame it on the starting gates. It can record 63 minutes to a tape so I just set it up and push record. Just leave it running.
Camera 3: Canon SD960 IS point-and-shoot camera that shoots 720p video. I set it up on a mini-tripod half way down the track and push record. Just leave it going.

Viewers decide if they want to keep watching a video in the first 10-seconds so I show the first 3-seconds of the race first to tease the viewer and hint that there is something cool coming. You better stay and watch!

I immediately go to by A-roll explaining what is happening today.

He's talking about horses so I show the only two horses that are on the track. Lame shot but it was all I had.

He talks about runners so I show the two runners that I see walking up.

I interview one runner and ask him for his predictions for the race.

This is a media spectacle so I show the other media there. Remember "say it and then show it". The media is mentioned in the interview so I show the media.

I interview the other runner and ask him for his predictions for the race.

Now I show the race. I have three cameras. One at the gates.

A second camera (a Canon Point-and-shoot on a mini-tripod) midway down the track to show the horse....

...followed by the runners....

Then my third camera is at the finish line. With my three cameras I was able to get a tight shot of the gates, a side view and an overall view.

Reaction. Emotion. High-Fives!

Followup reaction interview #1.

Followup reaction interview #2.

Ask the Jockey what he thinks. The end!

I get back to my car and ingest all the video footage into my laptop.

In Final Cut Pro:
I choose the A-roll “what is happening today”
I choose predictions “what do you think will happen?”
I choose the 3-second clip from Camera 2 and 3.
I choose the 12-second clip of the entire race from Camera 1. (yes the race only lasted 12-seconds!)
I choose the reaction clips “how was that for you?”

Plopped it together. Bam!

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Shot-by-Shot: Circus Camp Video – My Shooting and Editing Process

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 19, 2011 in Shot-by-Shot Explanation, training, video

This is the beggining of a series of posts I’m going to make on shooting video.

As a way of teaching what to shoot when making videos I will explain my thought process and why I captured each shot in a few different videos.

For starters there is my Under the Big Top Circus Camp video I shot back in August 27, 2008.

Here is my formula for something like this.

#1. Get my A-Roll (someone explaining the story)
#2. Get a secondary A-Roll (someone else explaining story)
#3. B-roll B-roll B-roll. You need 10X the B-roll than your A-roll. Visuals to backup what the A-roll is saying.

Think of it like this. The A-roll stimulates the communication side of your brain. B-roll stimulates the visual side of your brain. If either side is boring then the video fails.

My process for a video like this:

I get to the event and immediately find someone of authority that I can ask to “tell me what is happening today.”

Frame the person nicely using Rule of thirds. Looking into the frame.

Ask them:
-Would you please spell your name for me? (pieces of paper get lost. get them to spell it out on tape)
-Please tell me your name and title.
-Tell me what is happening today AND what is the funnest thing about it?
-Tell me what the kids say about it.
-Tell me why it is important.
-Anything else you would like to add?
-Please spell your name one more time. (has saved by but several times. can’t hurt to get it twice incase the tape drops out of something goes wrong the first time)
-Do you have a cell phone you could be reached at if I have any other questions?
-Thank you!

Okay now I have my main interview. I’m safe. I just need to talk to one or two kids to ask them about the camp and I’ll be golden.

Bam! That’s it for A-Roll. #1. Get a person of authority to talk about what’s happening today #2. Get one or two other people to talk about what’s happening today

Now I just need some interesting B-roll a.k.a. “visual sequences” a.k.a. “coverup shots” to go with my A-Roll.

During the interview I payed attention to keywords:
Physical theatre. Puppetry. Magic. Concentrate. Professionals teaching. Happy kids. Tight-rope walking. Juggling. Stilts. Confidence. Skills.

A simple rule to remember for video. Say it and show it. If your interviewee talks about something then you have to SHOW or ILLUSTRATE that idea.
I know I need shots to go with each of those keywords in the interview.

Two things to remember for B-Roll

#1. Wide-Medium-Tight
A great rule to remember when shooting B-roll is wide-medium-tight. You can triple your B-roll by shooting a whole scene, then come in tighter on part of the scene, then really tight on the most interesting part.
Now instead of one shot that you can only use for 3-seconds you can go 3-seconds wide, 3-seconds medium, 3-seconds tight.
Not only have you tripled your B-roll but your B-roll is also more interesting!

#3. Sequence-Sequence-Sequence.
Don’t just stand in one place and get a one-minute clip of a person doing something. That is boring.
Instead get short, tight clips of each portion of what they are doing and build a sequence of events. MUCH more interesting.

I break down individual shots below. Watch the video again and look for each of these elements.

Tight Shots from various angles are important. I start the video off with this frame because it is tight and interesting. The visual side of your brain is immediately interested. Always start your video off with the most interesting shot you have. People decide if they are going to stay on a video in the first 10-seconds so it must be impactful.

A wide overall shot of all the kids. It is good to start out with a wide shot to show perspective and give the viewer an idea of where they are. If you shoot everything wide-medium-tight, wide-medum-tight, wide-medium-tight you will always triple your B-roll and make it more visually interesting. Bring your viewer into the scene.

Now I go tight on an interesting element of the previous overall. Notice I have my lens set to wide-angle and I simply moved my camera low and close to the cylinder. It is always better to "zoom with your feet" than to simply use your zoom lens. You will have less shaky video as well it makes for a more visually interesting frame.

A "peak moment" B-roll shot where the kids throw their wands in the air. This becomes a generic b-roll shot that I can use to coverup the a-roll.

Nice tight shot of a kid. Tight faces and eyes show emotion. It never hurts to have a few tight faces for use as B-roll. They show emotion in the video. If you are always wide-wide-wide-wide then viewers never feel engaged in the story as much. This frame grab was actually front page main art of the Edmonton Journal newspaper the next day.

Okay here I show the instructor and frame it with the kids feet. I could have shot this wide and shown the whole kid. But do I need the whole kid? No. It is more about the instructor and keeping just the feet makes it more interesting.

Outdoor scene setter. This is a B-roll shot that you can always get and always use. Simply show the viewer where you are. You can grab this on your way there or your way out. Can never hurt to get a shot of the building and it always comes in handy for B-roll in your video.

A tighter shot of the same building. Signs are always useful B-roll. If you see a sign, shoot it!

Main A-Roll interview. Get there, ask for a person of authority to talk to. Move them close to a window with nice light. Choose an interesting but-not-too-distracting background. Frame them using the rule-of-thirds and looking into the frame. Lock your tripod. Put a mic on them. Ask them to "Tell me your name and title. Tell me what's happening today. What's the most important thing? Why does this matter? Anything else you would like to add? Spell your name one last time. A phone number if I have any questions? Thank you"

Wide shot of all the kids. I've shown the viewer where we are. If I stay on this frame though it will get boring.

Bam! Go tight on a kid. Get him reacting to something.

Bam. Go tight (or medium) on two other kids interacting and reacting with something. I've made three interesting shots by showing the room wide and then showing some tighter elements from within the room.

Wide shot of kids in the room.

Tighter shot of one kid. Shoot from down low to eliminate distracting elements and focus on him.

Bam! Show what he is doing! I could have just kept the camera on the whole kid for 5-seconds but instead I show the whole kid, show the top of him, show what he is doing. More interesting than a locked-off wide shot of the whole kid.

Tight face. Faces show emotion and connect the viewer with the story. When your interview subject in the A-roll says "the kids are happy" you have a face to show that.

Another interview for my A-roll. Frame him using the rule of thirds. Try and find a quiet, clean background that is not-too-distracting. Lock the tripod. Move to the side and ask "Whats your name and title? Tell me what is happening today? What is the best thing about it? Why do you come here? Anything else you would like to add? How do you spell your name and how may I contact you if I have any other questions? Thank you."

Sequence sequence sequence. Don't just shoot a wide-angle of the kid walking across the tight rope. Show them getting on, tight shot of the top of her balancing....

Tight shot (with my wide angle lens) of her feet. If I had just showed her whole body it would be boring. If I shoot her wide-medium-tight and get a sequence of her getting on, balancing and walking then I have more interesting shots.

Golden Moments. This is more of an editing than shooting decision but sometimes it is good to just show a few seconds of natural sound and natural action. Here the teacher and the puppet are talking and high five eachother. It's cute. You don't need A-roll talking over it. You can just show this cute moment and give the viewer a break from the interview to experience what it was like to be there.

The kid surprised me when he picked up his puppet and started talking with it. Sometimes kids are really lame to talk to and other times they amaze you with golden moments.

Sequence 1 of 7. I could have stayed back 10-feet and shot a boring wide-shot of the instructor and the kid but instead I went tight on his hands....

Sequence 2 of 7. Shot down low to clean the background and emphasize these two subjects interacting.

Sequence 3 of 7. Get a tight shot of him tightening the straps.

Sequence 4 of 7. Back up and get a shot of the instructor helping the kid up.

Sequence 5 of 7. Wide shot showing perspective and them interacting.

Sequence 6 of 7. Detail shot. Get down low and show the feet and stilts.

Sequence 7 of 7. Reaction reaction reaction! I would have liked to have shown the kid's reaction but the instructor was actually more excited than the kid so I showed that.

Third A-roll interview. I had the last two people facing left so I get this kid to face right. Switch it up and make it more interesting. There weren't any interesting backgrounds around so I just moved him into the hallway (where it is also quieter) and use a clean white wall. Rule of thirds. Looking into the frame.

Sequence. Show the instructor talking to the kid.

Show what the kid is doing....

Show him doing his thing. If I had just stayed back 20-feet and got a long clip of him doing this it would be boring. Going in tight each element makes it more visually interesting and you can build a sequence that tells a story.

Use your zoom to compress the image. A super-wide image of the whole classroom would be boring because you aren't focusing in on anyone. Going medium-tght on just a few kids makes them larger and more interesting.

Tight shot of a kid practicing. You've got to pick certain people and focus in on them or else your video is general shots of general people. Find characters for your video and focus on them.

Another overall shot. Here I kept the camera low and locked in one place and just let the kids walk out of the frame. Starting out people always move the camera to follow the subject. Instead keep the camera steady and let the subject move in and out of the frame. It is more interesting.

Shoot from up high. Just like with still photography you don't want to suffer from "5-foot 9 syndrome" and shoot everything from the same perspective. Shooting up high or down low can clean your backgrounds and make it more interesting.

Peak action shot of kids practicing for generic B-roll. I just stood in one place and waited for the kids to do something rather than constantly moving the camera around looking for action.

My end shot. Just showing the kids applauding. Seemed like a relevant ending.

Nameplate. It is important to have branding when your videos are published in multiple platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, your website, etc.

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