Consumer Video Tips

Nothing But Information on Today’s Hottest Consumer Video Gear, Tips & Tricks

Do You Want Better Audio on Your Canon 5D MK II?

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I’ve already written here about the Rode Video Mic. But what if you already have a pro mic? Can you hook it up to the 5D MK II? Yes. If it’s a self-powered mic, meaning it has a battery inside (usually a 9V) then you can get away with nothing more than a Pearstone LMT100 – Low to High Impedance Matching Transformer. These are under $20 and have an XLR connector on one end and a mini-plug on the other.

If you don’t have a self-powered mic, you have what’s known as a phantom powered mic. Then you’ll need something like the Beachtek DXA-6HD Dual Hi-Definition Audio Adapter. These are pretty expensive at around $330. But they do include 48v phantom power for the mic.

There are other manufacturers that sell this gear. If you have a favorite, leave me a comment.

Written by scottbourne

February 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Gear

Tagged with audio

Don’t Be A Fast or Jerky Panner

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Panning is a simple video term for a side-to-side camera move that sweeps across the action.

Most beginners have two challenges when they first learn to pan a video camera. The first problem is related to speed. Most people pan too fast. If you’re the poor viewer at home, and you see a fast pan across a scene, you might get whiplash!

When to pan too fast, it’s very disorienting to the audience. You also create problems for your camera and editing software. If you pan too fast, your camcorder doesn’t capture enough scene data to deliver enough keyframes for the MPEG encoder and the result is too many motion artifacts. (I’ll explain keyframes in a separate post.)

The other problem I want to mention is the dreaded jerky pan. In a perfect world, you will pan smoothly and evenly. One fluid motion from side-to-side is the goal. A herky/jerky approach full of fits and starts is very disturbing and jarring to the audience. Practice your pan before you hit the record button and time it so that it’s slow enough and smooth enough to properly capture the scene.

For smoother pans, try a fluid tripod head.

Written by scottbourne

February 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Tips

Tagged with panning

iMovie ‘09 First Test

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The director

I put iMovie 09 through its paces playing around with some cinema-like footage from the Canon HV30. You can see the results on

But this is more about my experience than the result.

I never could get my arms around iMovie 08 and abandoned it for the original iMovie HD. I thought then as I do now that a real timeline makes sense for editing. But in iLife 09 things have been changed enough that I can actually use the program. There is no timeline, but there is a precise editor that gives you a hint of a timeline when you need it. You also have more professional-style control over the finished product since iMovie 09 allows you to more substantively work with audio.

The right side of the UI contains different bins for transitions and effects, similar to the bins in Apple’s Logic Pro 8 audio app. Once you realize what these are – they are a joy to work with and make adding effects and transitions

Dynamic Themes (such as Bulletin Board and Comic Book) help add “polish,” but they were a bit limiting and there are only a few of them.

Stabilization works at about a 3-1 time ratio and doesn’t look good on longer clips. For short clips, it works very well.

I am trying to commit to using iMovie 09 on all of my projects. I am tempted to go back to iMovie HD because I miss the timeline and heck, there’s no learning curve involved. But I want to give iMovie 09 a chance. So I’ll report on my progress here from time-to-time as I become more experienced with the program.

Written by scottbourne

February 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Articles

Tagged with iMovie

Canon 1.7 Tele-extender Demo

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For those who wanted to see the difference in zoom capability using the Canon Tele-extender, I have posted a new video on Vimeo that shows you the difference.

Written by scottbourne

January 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Gear

Tagged with video

Canon Camcorder 1.7 Telextender Lens Unboxing

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Written by scottbourne

January 28, 2009 at 1:20 am

Posted in Gear

Tagged with camcorder lens

Which Video Accessories Do You Need?

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If you’re one of the millions who received a new video-capable camera or camcorder this past holiday season, you might be wondering which accessories you really need.

Let’s start with the basics. You’ll need video tape (unless you’re tapeless – then you might need memory cards – unless you’re recording to hard disk or CD – in which case you need nothing.

Be sure to pick up an extension cable (or two) and a power strip.

You’ll also probably need an extra battery. Most camcorder batteries are good for about one hour’s worth of recording time.

Next up, make sure you have a good mic if you can record audio from an external source. Likewise, you’ll need a pair of headphones or earbuds if you want to monitor audio in the field.

In my opinion, you also need a sturdy tripod and fluid head. This is essential if you want to get “locked down” steady shots. And the fluid head makes panning and tilting flow smoothly.

Now that we’ve covered basics, the next group is desired accessories. Here you’ll want to think about things like extra optics – wide angle and telephoto add-on lenses give your camcorder additional focal length, meaning you can get more creative with your shooting and framing.

You want to also make sure you have plenty of cables. Not all camcorders come with a firewire cable, yet that’s the most popular way to connect your camcorder to programs like iMovie.

Be sure to pick up a small video light. This will be valuable when you’re in dark light.

Finally – you’ll want a case to carry all this stuff around in. Try out several in person to make sure you get one large enough to hold all of your accessories.

What else should be on this list?

Written by scottbourne

January 26, 2009 at 1:55 am

Posted in Articles, Gear

Tagged with accessories

Canon HV30 Field Test

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I just spent a week shooting with The Canon HV30. It’s a small, but very powerful and affordable camcorder.

I selected this model for use on the Aperture Nature Photography Workshop based on the advice of none other than my pal, Alex Lindsay. Alex is the honcho at Pixelcorps and knows his stuff. He said the HV30 is THE camera to get, if you’re looking for a small handheld and you want to use tape. So I did – get it that is.

Now before I go on, let’s deal with the elephant in the room…

Yes, HD/DV tape is probably on its very last legs. I’d be surprised if in three years we see any new camcorders using tape – so I plan to buy up a nice supply when I see the end near. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by scottbourne

January 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

Posted in Gear

Tagged with Canon, Gear, HV30