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Video recommendations for the photographically impaired


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been trying to film my display for three plus years but each time the video turns out like it was filmed by a crack addict!  I have tried Flip's, Sony HandyCam, my iPhone.   Still the results are the same, even got a tripod this year but still not getting good video.  Suggestions/ideas?

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What kind of problem/s are you having with your video?


The HandyCam's is the best choice of what you tried, but if it's pretty old, it may not have a great image sensor. I bought a new DSLR last Summer, which I used to shoot my 2012 display (http://www.lightsondisplay.com/2012.html). The DSLR is a great way to go nowadays, since you get the benefit of a great still camera and video camera, and the ability to change lenses and get some great cinematic shots. The downside of the DSLR is that it's not as simple to shoot video as it is with a dedicated video camera, so it may not be a perfect fit for someone who wants to use it to cover family events, such as parties and sports. A DSLR does not have the ability to easily maintain focus while zooming, as does a video camera. Also, the viewfinder on a DSLR's not set up the same way as a videocamera, you usually need to add a monitor with an eyecup, especially if you plan to shoot outdoors. Most camera's, either dedicated video or DSLR, now have 30p (30 frame progressive) capability. You'll want to shoot in this mode to avoid any interlacing issues (jaggedy image), especially since the video will probably end up online.


You used a tripod, so your shots should have been stable and locked down. There's really no need to zoom while shooting your display, or much need to pan or tilt the camera. You also need to keep the autofocus off, only use it to get a quick focus for your shot. I lock down my camera at multiple locations and catch each run of the show, I then sync all the angles in Final Cut Pro and edit my video using the original music track.


One problem you may be having is the contrast between your lights and the surrounding darkness. If your trees or lights strings are far apart, and there's a lot of dark surrounding them, you may lose the color of your lights as the contrast between light and dark is too extreme. Year's ago, I added wall washes to my display to balance out the lighting and improve my videos. 


Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have any questions or more info about the problems you're having. 



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I'm also looking for advice/recommendations.


Sharon believes we need a better video camera, and since she also thinks we need more CCBs, I shalt not argue.


Since 2010 I've been using a Flip Ultra.  I'm not into buying a high-end model, but I'd like something better than the Flip and at least as good as what's in smart phones.


So what should I be looking at?



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You have to determine what your primary use of the camera will be. If you don't have a good still camera and you don't really plan to shoot any live events, a DSLR is the way to go. A Canon T3i or T4i with a zoom lens, may be a great place to start. You'll be able to shoot some great pics as well as great HD video. If you think you may want to use the video camera for family events, where you have to follow the action, zooming in and out and changing focus quite a bit, I'd go with a dedicated camcorder. There are quite a few options available under $500, either a Sony, Canon or Panasonic with SD card storage would be my choice. A video camera is more "point and shoot," where a DSLR will take some mastering to get it right, but give you more options in the looks you can achieve.


With either the camera or DSLR, you want to make sure the captured file format will work with your editing software and your computer has the horsepower to work with the HD material. You'll also want to get a decent video tripod, probably spending around $100.

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I watched a video hosted by Lightman awhile ago and the recommendation was the Canon Vixia HF M4XX series of  video camera, They are last years model , but I found an M41 ex rental on ebay for a reasonable price from Henry's. I am blown away at how well it records my lights. I've tried since I started with light animation in about 03 or 04 to get decent video usually borrowing as many differrent cameras that I could for the 4 weeks that my show runs. This years video came out very well even with out any human intervention, I just left it on auto and let it go. I recorded at dusk and into darkness great low light performance. I'm still experimenting with the manual settings and should be able to get great video of next years show. I haven't posted any video on line to view yet but I will try to get that done once I return from Mexico in a week. If I can find the above referrenced video URL , I will post it also.

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