Maybe you don’t usually read Videomaker. Maybe you found this page because you are close to the person who does, and you thought you could find a gift here that that videographer would enjoy. Good thinking. On the other hand, perhaps you are the videographer who actually reads this magazine, and you’re looking for drop-able hints that could materialize in your own stocking this holiday season. Cagey. This piece is addressed to the thoughtful friend of the videographer, but the cagey videographer looking over your shoulder can also use these shopping/hinting tips.
It’s always a good idea to know your limits when shopping for gifts. If you set your budget first, this will focus your gift search and save shopping time. Fear not; there are worthwhile items at every price point, from lens tissues to (oh, please Santa, please) real-time nonlinear editing systems. So, before you leave for the video supply warehouse, set your price limit and stick to it.
You don’t need to break the bank to please your favorite video hobbyist. There are a plethora of low-dollar items that you can stuff in his stocking. You can’t go wrong with certain types of items: blank tape, laser videotape labels, extra camcorder batteries, cables, adapters, head cleaners, lens cleaners, new camcorders or VCRs and (dare I say it?) subscriptions to Videomaker magazine. Items like these are useful to virtually every videographer, regardless of specialty. (Nevertheless, you must make sure to get tapes and batteries for the correct model camcorder, the right size bag to hold the essential gear, etc.)
Videomaker Instructional Tapes
Videomaker magazine has helped thousands of camcorder users make better videos through its comprehensive, instructional line of VHS tapes. Basic Shooting, Sound Success, Video Editing, Lighting Techniques and Introduction To Desktop Video detail the fundamentals of producing quality, professional-looking videos. Only $12.95 ea. plus tax, shipping & handling.
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Shopping For a Camcorder, Microphones, Button Basics, Lighting, Filters, Composition, Handheld Camera Techniques (30 minutes)
Sound Success – Make better videos with the use of quality sound microphones and techniques. Microphone Types, Wireless or Wired, Overcoming Audio Problems Indoors & Outdoors, To The Post, Sweetening…Low Calorie With Music and Sound (30 minutes)
Video Editing REVISED! – The basics of tools & techniques that will give your video a professional feel! The Mechanics of Editing, Edit Controllers & Timecode, Improving Your Audio, Special Effects & Transitions, Editing Systems, Titles & Graphics (27 minutes)
Lighting Techniques – Techniques to help you shoot professional quality videos!
Light Theory, Tools & Terms of Lighting, Outdoor Lighting – Day, Outdoor Lighting – Night, Indoor Lighting – Day, Indoor Lighting – Dark Settings
Introduction To Desktop Video – Turn your computer into a video production powerhouse! DTV Genlocks & Titlers, PC Editing Packages, Animation Packages, PCs for Videomaking, Future of Video,DTV Magic
You can personalize your gift a bit more by studying the videographer’s types of projects and existing gear. A set of special effect lens filters (be sure to get the right diameter for the specific camcorder) would be a boon especially to a shooter without many special effects in his editing system; but not if he already has the particular lenses you give. Again, price is not the determining factor of a good gift. Even a full-blown real-time nonlinear editing system wouldn’t be right (hard to imagine, but work with me here) for a die-hard linear editor–or one who doesn’t edit at all. Does the videographer do a great deal of shooting indoors? Consider lights and light kits, gels or a tripod. Does she do alot of shooting outdoors? Consider reflectors, diffusers and wireless mikes. Does he edit with a linear setup (VCR to VCR)? What about a new character generator, special effects generator, audio mixer or video monitor? A nonlinear editor? Consider titling software, or various special effects packages that can plug into the videographer’s current editing software. The more you know about the person you are shopping for, the more personal the gift.
Once you’ve identified your price ceiling and one or more product types that would please, start shopping. Don’t shop for price alone: good warranties, greater durability, better features or better technical support are often worth a higher price for the same product. Quality, even in small items, will impress the gift’s recipient.
Compare before you buy. Go back over the "Gear" columns of the last 12 issues to find products released just this year. Read over "Benchmarks" to see what the editors have had to say about particular models. Review our articles on "how to shop for x" to focus your search. All of these are available also on our Web site (www.videomaker.com) and find-able by keyword (e.g. type in "microphone" if that’s what you’re looking for). Check our "Buyer’s Guides" to compare features and prices among models within a product category. The most current of these, along with all the other articles we published this year, are indexed toward the rear of this issue.
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Keep general shopping cautions in force when shopping for video gear. Check the reliability of your vendors, their return policies and warrantees. At the first hint of the "bait and switch" game, show them your back (hang up the phone). One more tip: protect your purchase by paying with a credit card. That gives you as much as a month to make sure the vendor delivers the right product at the right price. If he doesn’t, return it and stop payment.
Stephen Muratore is Videomaker‘s Editor in Chief.