Liveblog: Multimedia Lab on Videoblogging at BlogHer 07

Update: Here's the post-session handout provided by the Multimedia Lab crew.

The Multimedia Lab at BlogHer 07 is divided into two sections, video and audio. I'll be covering the video side in this live blog. The video group is subdividing into three, and the participants can move between the three speakers. The leaders of the video section of the Multimedia Lab are all members of the Yahoo video blogging group. Gena Haskett will cover storyboarding for vloggers. Cheryl Colan, producer of the personal video blog hummingcrow will offer tips on cheap ways to light video. Sleepy blogger Robyn Tippins, producer of the Gaming and Tech videoblog will offer tips she wishes she'd known when she started videobloggin.

Storyboarding Your Video
Gina suggests keeping three concepts in mind when you're storyboarding: noun, action, location.

You can use any media to storyboard. Try pen and paper, notecards, or screenwriting software like the free desktop program Storyboard Pro from Atomic Learning to storyboard your video. You can use a project planning sheet with video, audio, and transition sections. You can also draw into your plan what the action on the screen will be (which is often done for televised video). Stick figures are essential. You don't have to be a great artist to storyboard.

Gina asks us to storyboard a 30 second video on five video cards. The cards do not have to be fancy. Each contains a sketch and a word. Each acts as a mnemonic for a noun, action, location. But these don't have to be followed linearly. Using cards allows you play with the order, perhaps putting location before noun before action. Screenwriting software, like Story Board Pro also allows this flexibility.

Re transitions between shots: Gina suggests using only cross-fade and dissolve as transitions. Don't use the whiz-bang transitions like exploding stars, book turns, or particle dissolves, because the viewer on the other side won't see it as you do. Those effects are cheesy and take too much bandwidth.

If you're making an event or documentary video try to get information on what is going to happen. For planned events have a copy of the activities lists and check off what you want to be sure to record.

Make a shot list. If possible, try to get: a master shot of the activity, a general view of a person performing an activity, a close-up of that activity, and some footage of people just standing around that you can use for background.

Lighting your video
Cheryl Cohan is offering lots of practical tips for lighting.

None of her lighting equipment cost more than $9. She got most of it at a hardware store.

The most important tip is to learn how to white balance using your particular camera. Most cameras have a menu that you can use to tell your camera what is white, something our eyes do automatically, but you camera does not. Every time you move from inside to outside you have to redo the white balance on most cameras. Have the subject hold a white piece of paper and white balance off that.

You do not have to use three lights for every situation, but professional videographers ideally try to have three lights. The key light is the primary source of light, which comes from the side and is the brightest. On the other side, there will be shadows, so you reflect some fill light from there. And overhead there is a back light that hits the top of the head and shoulders of the subject.

Let's say you're using a webcam to film yourself. If you are backlit, you will be in shadow. Avoid this by moving so that light is coming from one side of you. Then use anything that reflects light to fill in the shadows on the non-lit side:

  • Cheryl uses insulating foam from Home Depot, which is silver on one side. The insulating foam comes in 4 by 8 foot sheets, but Home Depot will cut it for you.
  • Or you could also use flashing for a roof, but tape the edges because it is sharp. Roof flashing is not flammable, so you can put a light next to it and it won't catch on fire.
  • Or you can aim a clamp light at a wall and have it reflect off the wall back at your unlit side.
  • Or you could use a car windshield protector, which comes in gold to warm your subject or in white.

More lighting tips:

  • Try crumpling roof flashing or tin foil, cutting holes in it with tin foil, and clamping it in front of a light that is shining at a wall. This can make some interesting texture on a wall.
  • Always look at the result through your camera lens. If you see something you don't want to show, zoom in or move to hide it.
  • Indoors you can use photoflood tungsten lights from a photography store, to simulate daylight. But be sure to use gloves so the oil from your hands don't cause the light to blow up. Ouch!
  • To add a bit more light, you could get a small flourescent light or a small LED light from Home Depot that sticks on the wall. Just be sure to white balance the camera if you're using mixed lighting.
  • To make your subject look golden and glowing, white balance on something light blue.
  • Tell your subjects not to wear busy prints, and not to wear red. Have them wear a color that looks good on them.
  • To improve the way skin looks, use a paper lantern from Pier One. The paper diffuses and softens the subject's wrinkles. But be careful of using a hot light with paper to avoid fire.

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