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Creating a web show and need help getting started

littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Hi all,

My name is Jason and I'm a novice video maker. Please forgive the length of this post but I am trying to decide on the appropriate camera/software combination for my next project. Let me describe what I'm planning on doing first and then I'll ask my question(s) afterward.

I am a musician with over 23 years experience and I've always wanted to teach. I finally got the idea to do an instructional web show where I talk about some of my instruments, provide demonstrations, explain some beginning, advanced and "extended" performance techniques, do some product reviews, etc. My goal is to make several 10 minute long episodes and post them to websites like youtube, bliptv and more. If all goes well, I'll continue to do the show for quite some time and I'll invite others to provide some of their creative ideas for discussion. I'll probably record most if not all of the footage in my basement and will edit everything on my macbook which I bought back in 2006.

After doing some extensive research, I think I've decided on a camera: the CANON FS200. I like most of its features and feel like it would an all around good camera for me to start with. I'm not really interested in doing anything in HD at this point and my show is going to be more about the content than stellar production values so I don't mind that the camera is SD. Also, considering my financial restraints, it's well with in my budget.

I've heard that the FS200, like many flash drive camcorders, records in .MOD which is hard to work with in most editing programs. I've done some research on that as well and I'm finding that there are ways to work around it. I currently have imovie HD but am looking to upgrade to another program.

So here are my questions:

1. Does the FS200 seem like a good option for the project that I've described? If not, do you know of another camcorder that might work just as well if not better around the same price? I think I'm sold on the FS200 but am open to other options. I prefer flash drives or hard drives to dvdrs and mini dvdrs.

2. Should I upgrade to iLife '09 or, like in question 1, is there a better alternative that I should be aware of? Please keep in mind my miniscule budget (around $500 for camera, software, accessories).

3. When I do finally choose my camera and editing software I will obviously need to start editing my footage at some point. What is the best format to edit in to get the most versatility out of it? In other words, I want to put these videos on the internet but I may also want to put them on a DVD for friends and family and I'll want them to look good too. I heard the .AVI is the best but very large and the MPEG is compressed and not very good to edit with. Is there a middle of the road and more importantly, well the format work with my mac software?

I appreciate any of your thoughts on this. I am totally new to this process and I just want to get started off on the right foot. I appreciate your time.

Best,

Jason Mullinax


futball8's picture
Last seen: 7 years 2 days ago
Joined: 09/22/2007 - 5:57pm

Jason,

Sounds like a fun project to undertake - good luck! A couple thoughts for you:

The FS200 is a good camera, however, the earlier version, the FS100, is $100 cheaper. The ONLY difference between the two cameras is that the FS200 A/V out jack can be switched to headphone out for monitoring audio. You may or may not use this feature, and if not, you may as well save $100 and get the FS100.

Audio is everything. Buy a lavalier mic to clip onto your shirt - I recommend the Audio Technica ATR35s. It's affordable ($30), works great, and has a 20' cord - more than enough to stretch to your camera - the FS100 and FS200 both have an 1/8" mic jack - it plugs right in and you're good to go. This will set your video apart from amatuer.

The FS series Canon cams are terrible in low-light conditions. You'll want to make sure your setup is very well lit to get the best picture quality. You don't need expensive studio lights, but a few cheap halogen work lights can do wonders when placed correctly.

Couple things to do first if and when you get your Canon FS camera: from your menu settings

1. Turn off the default widescreen mode, unless you plan on shooting widescreen, which I would not recommend. Set it to standard 4:3 ratio - this will give you black bars on either side of your viewfinder - that's it how it should be.

2. Turn on your audio level meter - this will show upon the bottom left of your viewfinder and will indicate that the camera is receiving an audio signal from your mic

3. The FS series has 3 recording quality settings, XP, SP, and LP. I always use XP, the best setting. A 4GB SDHC card will give you 52 minutes of record time in XP, 79 minutes in SP, and 129 minutes in LP, so buying a bigger card may be overkill if you're only shooting 10-minute videos.

I've always edited in Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, but I think iMovie would do fine. I believe you will have to convert your .MOD files for iMovie. A great free converter is MPEG Streamclip which can be downloaded from www.squared5.com - it will convert to many formats that can be imported into iMovie.

.MOD files are really just MPEG-2 files in a different wrapper, so the format you edit in is never going to be better than MPEG-2. In other words, if you convert your .MOD files to AVI or DV for editing, the quality is not going to improve over the original MPEG-2 .MOD file.Remember, DVDs are MPEG-2, so it's not a terrible format.

I've been using the FS series for several years and really love them - let me know if you have any other questions about the camera.


littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Thanks for the response, futball8. You've given me a lot of useful information. I was also thinking about getting this mic too:

http://www.amazon.com/Azden-High-performance-SMX-10-Condenser-Microphone/dp/B000GE403I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1248217193&sr=8-1

I figured I could try mounting it on one of those brackets that you can attach to the camera.

I'll look into the FS100 like you suggested but I do remember looking at it before and I feel like it was more expensive. Last time I looked at it was close to $500. Perhaps I was looking at an older webpage or something. Also, I thought the FS200 had a separate input for the microphone and the headphones and not just one jack. To be honest, it doesn't really matter to me that much as I am much more interested in the mic input.

Anyways, thanks again for the input. It sounds to me that I may be on the right track after all.

Best,

Jason


futball8's picture
Last seen: 7 years 2 days ago
Joined: 09/22/2007 - 5:57pm

Jason,

I just purchased 2 FS100s onlinefrom CompUSA for $199 each. These are refurbished, but like new and I've never had any problems with them. They come with a 3-month warranty, but you can add 12 months for $29.99. Here's the direct link:

http://www.compusa.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4523619&CatId=4450

The FS100 and the FS200 both have separate inputs for (mic) and(A/V out).On the FS200, you can switch (in the menu settings) the (A/V out) to (headphone out). You cannot switch to headphone out on the FS100. Check all the detailed pics on the above CompUSA page.

Believe it or not, I actually have the Azden SMX-10 mic and have been very happy with it. Like you said, you need to purchase a cold-shoe bracket to mount it to the camera - i get mine on ebay for less than $20.00.

A lav mic would be a little better for recording your voice talking, but the SMX-10 would be better for recording sound from your instruments. Maybe in the future you may want to look at recording your voice and the instrumentation separately,but for now, just the SMX-10 would serve your purposes well I believe.


BoPolatty's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/06/2010 - 8:16pm

Jason:

I have a somewhat similar background: I've been playing and recording music for over 20 years and am looking to start a podcast that includes mic techniques, recording tips, etc. I'm a big believer in lav mics for the talent and headphones for the soundperson/cam operator - unless you're doing it all at once by yourself!

I use APPCS4 and FCP to edit, but I also love Sony Vegas for how intuitively it handles audio. Depending on the instruments you play I'd imagine that a really good mic and maybe a small mixer would be on your Gear shortlist for the near future

.
The other main advice I could give would not revlove around gear, it would be in the scripting and planning. List a number of topics you would like to cover over the first 6 months, then take each one and research what your target audience would really like to know about it. Outline (at least) how you'll cover each topic, add notes about setups, examples, etc., and you'll be on your way to creating good content that really fills a need.

And send me the URL; I'd love to see what you come up with!

BoPolatty


littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Thanks for all the tips, guys. I ended up buying the FS200 the other day and I'm happy with it in many ways but there are a couple things that are really bugging me.

First of all, the .mod files are a pain in the ass to work with. I thought about upgrading to iMovie 09 so that I can just import them in without having to convert them but I've read some very horrible reviews about iMovie 09. It seems like a very basic meat and potatoes program and while that's fine, I need timelines and audio adjustments and things like that. Anyone have any ideas about the better (and/or cheaper) alternative? I use a mac by the way.

Secondly, I'm having some audio issues. I've tried doing some research online but I can't find anything about my particular problem. Basically, when I listen to my vids on the camera they seem to be fine but when I go through the process of converting the files to mpegs and then listening to them on my computer there seems to be some random audio dropout. It's not for minutes at a time or anything but it's more like for a split second the sound will cut out. It's always in the same place so I don't think it's a just a random playback issue. Is there something that I'm doing wrong? I haven't seen anyone else talk about this problem. If I'm going to be recording concerts and things I can't have the audio dropping out at all. I'm beginning to get very frustrated!

I'd appreciate any thoughts...

Jason


futball8's picture
Last seen: 7 years 2 days ago
Joined: 09/22/2007 - 5:57pm

Jason,

As I stated earlier, I've never edited in iMovie, however, I teach inseveral high school broadcasting classes that shoot with FS200s, convert the .MODs to .DV, and edit in Final Cut Express. We've been using that workflow for almost two years with never a hiccup. FCE is $160.00 from most retailers.

Also, for editing in iMovie, I would'nt convert the .MODs to MPEG. What program are you using to convert the .MODs? MPEG is generally not a good format for editing, period. Especially on MACs.

If editing in iMovie, I would tryconverting the .MODs to a Quicktime .MOV file.

Hope this may help in some way!


littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Hmmm. It was my understanding that .MOD was essentially MPEG. I'm using MPEG streamclip to convert and I'm basically changing the extension from .MOD to MPEG and then converting to .MOV. I've tried converting the .MOD directly to .MOV without changing the extension but the program doesn't seem to recognize it. I'm thinking about going with something like FCE. How does one convert the .MOD files to .DV? Does FCE do that or do I need yet another program?

Thanks!

J


XTR-91's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 12/06/2008 - 8:57pm

Modifying the extension of a file may change the way which a program recognizes it, but will not change the underlying codec. MOD, MOV, and MPG files are all a product of the old MPEG or the MPEG-2 (DVD based) codec - no more, no less. DV (also known as DV-AVI) is a largely stored video format with very little loss - extension for this format is .AVI.

"How does one convert the .MOD files to .DV? Does FCE do that or do I need yet another program?"

Depends on the version. Most version I've heard of support the MPEG-2 format, so you probably won't have to worry unless your version is older than v. 4.


littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Thanks for the input, XTR-91. I'm still curious about the audio dropout that I mentioned earlier. The files sound great on my camera but when I pull them out and listen to them in MPEG Streamclip there's split second drop outs that occur every few seconds.

I'm also having trouble getting my Mac to recognize the camera. Once I plug in it's fine (I choose the Printer/PC option) and the drive comes up on the desktop. I start having problems when I try to eject the camera. I drag the drive to the "eject" button and it goes away but my camera never says that it's safe to remove it. Sometimes I'll wait for up to an hour and then I end up just having to pull it the USB anyway. I don't like to do that because sometimes it erases my memory card. Man, I am having such a time with this camera!


D0n
D0n's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

Don not underestimate the power of iLife...

Here is a link to a project I made in iLife '09.

Garageband, imovie, iphoto.

http://gallery.me.com/lightexpressions#100749

I have aperture, photoshop and finalcut, but some projects don't need that kind of firepower, the easy integration and project sharing make ilife useful even for pro projects, and I use them as often as thier pro counterparts.

imovie converts your projects on import so i don't worry about codecs unless i have to, and then I use quicktime pro or finalcut to convert a finished project.


futball8's picture
Last seen: 7 years 2 days ago
Joined: 09/22/2007 - 5:57pm

Jason,

Help me understand a few things and I think I can help you. Right now, do you have to rename your .MOD files to .mpeg in order to open them in MPEG Streamclip or will Streamclip open and playthe .MOD files?

Further, MPEG Streamclip will convert to .DV just like any other format. It's right in the file menu: Export to DV....

I'm thinking back now to when I set up all the MACs for classroom use and I believeI installed the Quicktime MPEG-2 playback component. This may be what allows MPEG Streamclip to open .MOD files. Anyway, answer my first question above and that may reveal if the playback component has anything to do with it.

As far as camera connectivity goes, we always use an SDHC card reader - pop the card out of the camera and into the reader to transfer files. It gives a faster transfer speed and bypasses the annoying "power must be plugged in to transfer" feature of the camera.Card readers are less than 10 bucks at most stores.


littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Hi Don,

My main problem with imovie is that I want to be able to adjust audio in the video clips and from what I've read you can't really do that. I think I can live without the timeline and some other components but I would really like to be able to tweak certain vids if they're too loud or quiet to fit with the rest of the vids. I watched your vid and while it does look pretty good I'm wondering about what if you wanted to bring the volume of the music down so someone could talk over it. Is that even possible? Also, can I take a large clip and cut it into two smaller pieces? If I remember correctly, there was no way to do that in iMovie HD. Finally, I've heard that you can only export your files in one settingand it's only good for webstuff. What if I wanted to make a DVD?

Futball, I downloaded the MPEG-2 playback component and the last time I tried I believe the program failed to play the .MOD without me changing the file extension. I can try it again in a moment but I'm afraid to plug my camera in because I don't want to lose any of those files. I will take your suggestion and get a SDHC card reader. Is that a USB device?


D0n
D0n's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

"My main problem with imovie is that I want to be able to adjust audio in the video clips and from what I've read you can't really do that. I think I can live without the timeline and some other components but I would really like to be able to tweak certain vids if they're too loud or quiet to fit with the rest of the vids. I watched your vid and while it does look pretty good I'm wondering about what if you wanted to bring the volume of the music down so someone could talk over it. Is that even possible? Also, can I take a large clip and cut it into two smaller pieces? If I remember correctly, there was no way to do that in iMovie HD. Finally, I've heard that you can only export your files in one settingand it's only good for webstuff. What if I wanted to make a DVD?"

1) easily doable there are "Hidden" features in imovie '09 that allow you to set volume levels, ducking and voiceovers. Adding a voiceover is ridiculously easy. You can copy and paste adjustments from on clip to other clip(s).

2) right click (or control click) a clip and split it easy, or go to "Precision Editing" mode to get even finer control.

3) you can make a movie and publish it (in several resolutions or formats) to the media browser, itunes, youtube, movie gallery, or Iweb or idvd.

to make a dvd you can publish straight to idvd from imove or you can publish to media browser then from the media browser take it into idvd, other pro dvd suites, roxio toast etc.

you can also export it to final cut for more advanced editing.

For me it is a huge timesaver...


littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Thanks for the info, Don. Those are all good things to know.

Futball, I just checked and I am able to watch .MOD files in the MPEG converter and the audio dropouts are still present. They always occur in the same place too so it's not completely random. I haven't tried exporting it yet to see if it carries over so I suppose I'll give that a shot.


littlegreenjason's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 01/10/2010 - 11:00pm

So, I tried converting some of the files to .MOV and then watching them in quicktime and that seems to have fixed the audio problem. No more clicks or pops or drop outs. Odd....