Over the weekend I finally did something with all the video footage i shoot. This was all shot at Lucidity Festival in Santa Barbara, back in April of this year. Why did I sit on it for so long? Well ever since my wife got me this Canon T1i, I’ve been super excited at the prospect of shooting 720P video with a nice lens, but without a mentor I always end up with several gigs of useless footage. I was starting to annoy myself with how much time I spend “living life through the view finder” with nothing to show for it. Finally some friends gave me a few solid tips:

  • Stop with the steady-cam act, dude. Take shorter shots. And try holding the camera as still as possible for 6 seconds or so, while shooting things.
  • When you get your clips into Premiere, set the in and out points for each of them, then try just dropping the whole mess into the project, if you’re confused how to get started. You’ll be surprised how much of it looks good already.
  • Shoot lots of B-roll. You’re documenting the event, not just the entertainers.
  • If you’re adding music to your production, sync the video transitions to changes in the music. And for the different sections of the song, try grouping similar clips.

The whole editing process went pretty fast this way. Only about 8 hours, in total. Dropping all the clips into Premiere like that was a fast way to get inspired. And it would have gone even faster if i hadn’t blown it with the daytime shots. Apparently I left my camera at a lower resolution so I had to upscale these shots, and you can really see the difference! Some of the close-up shots (like the first 4) were really shaky when scaled up, so I used Premiere’s warp stabilizer to calm them down a bit. Unfortunately this led to some distracting artifacts. As a solution, I added some free film burns, which is easy to overdo… but a subtle amount distracts you from the low-quality footage just enough to be passable. As a I final touch, I created a quick animated title by tweaking a text animation preset (basic position z) in After Effects.

I’m definitely open to pointers from any of you experienced videographers out there. I’m suddenly inspired to dig through my hard drives in search of more untouched video footage, although I doubt I’ll have enough usable material in them. Next time I go shooting I will try to remember:

  • Check my camera settings immediately to make sure I’m shooting HD
  • Shoot multiple angles of the same things, when shooting them. The scenes where I cut these back-to-back came out really sweet!
  • Shoot as much as possible right around dusk. The lighting was so amazing I can hardly believe the results.
  • Bring a small tripod for shooting close-ups and macro shots.
  • Ask more people to interact with the camera. These shots added a lot to the production, and were great to use just before transitions.