The QiRanger Adventures

Posts Tagged ‘Canon HFS11

Travel Videos: Filming

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We’ve got our camera and conducted research out our trip… now let’s go out and film!

I will admit this is my favorite part of the process. I just love getting out of the apartment and going someplace new. Exploring every nook and cranny and seeing what I can discover.

When filming, my personal belief is to go hog-wild, but that’s because I have a lot of memory in my camera to record images with. I say this, because having too much footage is always better than not having enough. So when I’m exploring, I’m hitting the record button quite often. Most of the clips are only 10-30 seconds, but over time, they add up.

This makes things easier in the editing process. It’s during this time, that you can start filming yourself at the location. this is important, because people do really want to see you at the location. This is also a great way to introduce the location on film. I usually use a combination of on-camera appearances and voice-overs to narrate my films. It makes for a great mix. When filming yourself, I recommend bringing a friend or a tripod, so that you can get longer shots. It helps to create a size and scope of your special destination.

Also, change things up a little and shoot the same scene from various angles. This will allow more choices when putting the video together. You might even want to include parts of one scene several times. As I said, more is always better.

I was debating on whether or not to have a separate topic about microphones, but thought I’d include it here. Most cameras have crap microphones. A few of the consumer levels do have good ones (and I think the HFS11 does have a good one). But they all fall short when you start moving back away from the camera. This can really limit what you do in terms of setting up shots, but by no way, limiting what you can achieve. Just keep the following in mind:

1) When standing back from the camera, you’ll need to project your voice. Don’t shout, but speak loudly so the mic can pic you up.

2) Anything more than 6 feet is probably too far from the camera.

If you want to get an external mic, there are several options. Some are boom that go on the camera’s hotshoe. Others are wireless or hand-held options.  My recommendation is really do some research and get something that meets most, if not all of your needs, that won’t break your bank.


Written by Steve Miller

July 31, 2010 at 4:27 am

Travel Videos: The Camera

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The Canon HFS11

Back in the US, there’s a little thing taking place this weekend called VidCon. It’s a conference, unlike any other YouTube gathering in the past, because it isn’t a gathering. It’s a professional development conference designed to help YouTubers make it big online. While I’m not big by any means, I do get a lot of questions regarding how I make my travel videos. So I thought I’d begin a new weekly series explaining the process.

The first in the series, as you can no doubt tell by the title, is about cameras.

I think of of the pitfalls people get into when they decide to make travel blogs or travel videos, is that they go out and spend a lot of money on a camera. I cannot more strongly disagree with that line of thinking. Sure, the better the camera, the more features and better the images will be. However, that doesn’t translate to having better content.

Really spend the time getting to know your camera. Changing the white balance, shooting settings, and other features may take time to learn, but in the long run, can make a huge difference in the product you produce. I’ve shot videos with my Canon HFS11 and my point-and-shoot camera. Both produce great videos. Only invest in a high-end camera when you want to take your production “to the next level.” That means, you want to be semi-pro. If you’re shooting videos to chronicle your trip, there’s no need for a $1500 camera. A regular camera will do.

Probably one of the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a camera to shoot with is the filming rate. HD is all the rage these days, but isn’t a necessity. Choose a resolution that’s at least 640×480 and at least 30 frames per second (fps). This is key, since less than 30fps makes things a little hard to see when you’re moving the camera around. (Note: PAL is 25fps and Cinema is 24fps.)

If you do buy a regular camcorder, you may want to invest in a wide angle lens down the road. While these new HD cameras are great, sometimes shooting up close is quite difficult. for example, even with my long arms, it’s tough getting my face in-frame without a wide angle lens adapter.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to address them. I will not comment on brand recommendations, however. Most cameras will do the trick for everyday travel videos, and if you have specific questions about a model you’re interested in, I’m sure you this has the answer you’re looking for! That being said, if you have specific questions about the Canon HFS11, I’d be happy to discuss my experiences with it.

Next Week: Music

Written by Steve Miller

July 10, 2010 at 7:33 am

The process…

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The West Sights of Seoul video was posted yesterday. I have to say, that this was a great learning experience in video content creation. I say this for a number of reasons.

First, it marks the first time I’ve really used the features of my new camera. I’ve posted several blogs over the past month about me trying things out and getting used to the device. The thing that was really bugging me was playback in Final Cut. After doing the Busan Video, I found that I needed to make some changes.

You see in that video, I had the camera set to 7mp recording mode. While it creates great images, it’s only a third of the possible recording power. It really bugged me that I couldn’t use the full potential of the camera. So I went to the net and did some research on Final Cut and improving playback performance. What I found was quite illuminating.

By changing the playback settings to unlimited, I was able to playback the 24mp recorded videos without any problems. It also allowed me to work on the film without having to render each section as often as I used to do. Figuring all this out made a huge difference in splicing this video together.

Another question that often comes up is how I put these videos together. The first step in the process is figuring out where to go. Jo and I love going out and exploring new places, so that’s usually no problem. Once we pick a destination, we’ll also see what’s in the area and if we can hit that as well. Then we’ll sit down with our travel books and computers to pull up information about the sites and compare notes. Sometimes we even bounce back ideas and compare resources. For example, the sources I was using for this project didn’t have information about the museums, but Jo’s did. If we hadn’t been working together, I would have missed out on a great place to visit.

Next, we go out and shoot. I’ll have my notes with me and try to get everything in one take. Sometimes it works well… other times it doesn’t. With this camera, I can shoot a lot more video on each outing and then pick and choose when I edit it in post. When using a tape, I usually would record about 30-40 minutes of video. Now, I’m averaging over an hour… maybe two on each occasion.

I try to keep all my notes when I edit the video and put the topic in an order that makes sense. I’ll use transitions and lower thirds if needed. The latter is proving to be a real pain, as I usually find a few mistakes well after the video is complete and live. Since these things take a long time to correct, I don’t have the discipline to go back and fix them (re-rendering takes a few hours). I know I should… and it is something I’m going to be better about.

I’ve also recently found the best way to export as well. The West Sights video was an experiment, and while I’m pleased with the overall quality, it’s nowhere near the resolution that my other samples have been. So I’ll be reverting to that export process. In short, this video was exported using the “1290 x 1080 HD” setting rather than “HD 1290 x 1080”. The latter really pushes up the quality.

I hope you enjoy the video and this little explanation of my process.

Written by Steve Miller

January 27, 2010 at 9:50 am

The Round-Up

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This is going to be one of those blog entries that come in multiple parts.

PART ONE: When I took Mac into UBASE last week for the microphone issue, I thought they would simply replace it. however, they ran some checks and found nothing wrong with it. I was really pissed off and about to call Apple and request some mandatory action… then I did some research. Seems there’s something buggy with the past few versions of Skype causing microphone issues on Macs. I found a tone of TECH NOTES on the net. So I did some additional digging and found an older version of Skype (one where Jo and I didn’t have any issues) and installed that. So now we’re testing it out. Skype really does seem to affect the whole computer. Even iMovie will record static if Skype is open.

PART TWO: The whole UCC thing at school got a little more interesting yesterday. As I mentioned, the site was to go live on the 21st. As a good employee, I tried uploading my movies only to find out that a) the site was completely in Korean and b) I saw no login areas. I asked my boss what the procedure to get my videos online. Turns out the site still wasn’t live and won’t be until the 25th. UGH!!!!!!!

PART THREE: After two days of playing with the video files, the Busan Video is done! It was a fun little process and I think I’ve learned new ways of editing the new video files. I think I’ve even found a way to use the 24mbit recording mode and have the playback in Final Cut go well. The one thing that I will have to start doing is using an external drive to capture and edit the films. While I have about 60gb on my system, this project alone took up 23gb in files. Won’t somebody help me get a grant for a Mac Desktop system with a killer display and terabytes of storage???

Written by Steve Miller

January 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

Happy New Year!!!!!

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Pickled Goodness

By the time you’re reading this, you’re probably settled into at least your first full day of 2010. Jo and I have been enjoying the sights of Seoul since the New Year has started and I’ll be posting more about that in the days to come. But as 2009 was ending, we decided to make a trip into Seoul to see something that both of us thought might be interesting… The Kimchi Museum.

The facility is located in the basement level of the COEX Mall and is w3,000 to enter. I think that’s a bit pricy, since you can visit most of the palaces in Seoul for that price or less. However, we both like kimchi and thought it might be interesting to see what the folks in charge had put together.

The above picture is one of many large displays that show how kimchi is made and stored (during fermentation). The exhibit also chronicles the history of kimchi on the peninsula and has representations of nearly 150 different types of the dish. I found some of the historical pieces quite fascinating (the grinding mills), since they reminded me of tools used by Native Americans around the same time period.

Not only does the museum show the history of kimchi, but it also provides information on its health benefits. The exhibit finishes off with a large educational seminar room with a ton of resources about the types of kimchi Koreans have made over the years, a virtual growing experience, and a tasting room. The latter was my favorite, since kimchi is one of my favorite things about Korea.

Jo and I also took the opportunity to test out the new video camera. Thus far, I’ve been quite impressed with the HFS11’s microphone set-up, but I needed to play with it in the field a little more to understand its limitations. Usually on a project like this, I would have used my Zoom H2, but I really wanted to test out the range and sensitivity of the stereo mics. The result was conclusive… for all intents and purposes, the standard mics are good… but under no circumstances should the attenuation mode be used. It really kills the audio levels. In fact, when I post, boosting the levels up to +12db didn’t really do what I needed it to do in terms of audio clarity.

A more expansive camera review is forthcoming.


Written by Steve Miller

January 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm