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8 Tips for Making a Stellar First Video

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8 Tips for Making a Stellar First Video

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A broadcast photojournalist hosts this highly specialized guide to shooting dangerous storm footage. Technical tips, legal guidelines and aesthetics are covered. And for the newbie chaser: how to be sure your camcorders really recording during the big nature show.

Entry Deadlines

Whether you’re from Texas or not, the Dallas Video Festival is designed to boost the fortunes of all independent video producers. The Festival programs over 500 works each year, from an eclectic range of creators, and presents them during a four-day gathering in November. This year the organizers have added the new Lathem Award of $1200 for excellence in video art. For entry details and forms, contact Dallas Video Festival, 1405 Woodlawn Ave., Dallas, TX 75208; phone 214-948-7300; www.videofest.org. All entries must be received by Oct. 31.

If you think your video work is innovative and experimental, enter it in the Black Maria Film and Video Festival. The winning entries form a collection that tours museums, universities and cultural institutions in 20 states. The entry fee is $35 for works up to 30 minutes; $45 for longer videos. The entry deadline is Nov. 17. Contact the festival at the Dept. of Media Arts, Jersey City State College, 203 W. Side Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07305; phone 201-200-2043.

Quick Focus

by Karen Mele Director

Starry Night Games

Look! Up in the sky! Its an asteroidal occultation! How many times have you said those words and wished you had your camcorder handy? David Dunham, of the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA), wants to make sure you capture the next one on video. Although astronomical events, like comets, eclipses and occultations (the geometric alignment of an asteroid with a star) are virtually impossible to record with consumer gear, Dunham and his fellow IOTAns are hoping someone out there will have the right stuff at the right time. "So many people have camcorders now," says Dunham, "that the chance is great of someone being in the right place under the right conditions."

By videotaping the event, the asteroid enthusiasts hope to learn more about the size of the occulting asteroid, the existence of asteroid satellites, the diameters of stars, the existence of close doubles, and other related phenomena. The next occultation will happen October 19. For more information on videotaping it, call Dunham at 301-953-5609.

Videomaker Expo Celebrates Video Independence

Thousands of video enthusiasts attended the fourth annual Videomaker Expo East held at the Sheraton Stamford Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut in July. Matthew York, Videomakers founder and publisher/editor, opened the Expo with a keynote address in which he urged video producers to make a difference in their communities.

Major equipment manufacturers and retailers exhibited products and participated in panel discussions. A new panel each day discussed camcorders and VCRs, linear editing, and nonlinear editing. All discussions were well attended. Representatives from Canon, Sony, JVC and Samsung, however, were noticeably absent from the Camcorder and VCRs panel discussions.

On the last day of the Expo, attendees crowded the DraCo Systems booth hoping to win a free Casablanca Digital Editing System. The lucky winner, Mark Radcliff from South Carolina, was thrilled, saying it was the first time he had ever won anything.

Seminars covered all aspects of video production–from fundamentals to broadcast and cable distribution–for hobbyists, prosumers and industrial videographers.

The next Videomaker Expo, slated for January 22-24, 1998, will be held in Burbank, California. For more information, call 800-284-3226.

The Next Big Thing

On a recent summer afternoon in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a group of pro videographers gathered to shoot a television spot for The Boys and Girls Clubs. Except for one minor element, this professional production was no different than thousands of others happening all over the country that day. The difference was that this one was being directed literally by a minor–17-year-old Adam McFaddin Ballard.

"I knew him when I was VP of original production for the Family Channel," says Harry Young, president of Youth Entertainment Studio (YES). He worked with Ballard in the YES summer camp program in 1995.

Ballards first shot at a "real" production was his involvement with a YES summer program. The camp attendees produced a pilot for an urban teen drama, called "Nu School," with the help of Monty Ross, a director of Spike Lee films. Ballard returned to the camp in 1996, when attendees divided into teams and produced movies with VHS equipment. His experience with the production and distribution of last summers program, "Hip Hops Park" (described as an urban "Barney"), led to his stint as guest director for this summers PSA for the Boys and Girls Club. Although the spot was shot on film and edited on pro gear, Ballard also shot a behind-the-scenes piece on his Canon L2. Hell try to distribute the documentary on local cable systems.

"Hes a quiet kid but hes very tenacious. He just keeps moving forward toward his goal. His father says he remembers Adam as a child always playing movies in his head," says Young.

Ballard is preparing now for film school. Watch for his name to appear soon in the credits of some major TV and feature films. Meanwhile, the YES program continues to search out young people like Ballard, empowering inner city kids by challenging their creativity and equipping them with practical media production and marketing skills. For more information about the YES program, call 757-579-4496 or visit www.yesamerica.org.

Ulead Ships Next Generation MediaStudio Pro

The latest generation of Ulead Systems nonlinear editing program, MediaStudio Pro 5.0, is set to make serious advances on the categorys leader, Adobe Premiere 4.2. (See the September 1996 issue for face-off tests of Media Studio Pro 2.5 and Premiere 4.2.) In addition to an improved titler, rotoscoping functions, waveform and vectorscope, Ulead claims the 5.0 is faster at rendering than the similarly priced Adobe product. The companys Smart Render technology supports Intel MMX, Microsoft ActiveMovie and Direct3D.

The MediaStudio Pro package consists of five programs, beginning with a vector-based character generator that allows users to change the style, shape and size of any text or graphic. The paint program offers extensive natural media and particle-based painting, retouching and cloning tools. A built-in vectorscope and waveform monitor will ensure optimum color fidelity and keyframe control for managing and customizing compression, transitions and effects.

At press time, miro Computer Products, Matrox, Data Translation, Vectron and L.A. Vision had announced agreements to bundle MediaStudio Pro 5.0 with their video capture cards. Suggested retail price for MediaStudio Pro 5.0 is $595.

Viewing Race

National Video Resources (NVR) is compiling independently produced videos on the topics of race and racism for "Viewing Race," a curated collection that will tour selected libraries around the country. According to John Keene, publication and outreach coordinator at NVR, "Viewing Race" will combine essays, programming strands, discussion questions, resources, a bibliography and film festival directory. "We may post the great videos and films on our Web site," he says.

If youve produced a video that you think would be appropriate for "Viewing Race," send a one-page description of the work to John Keene, 73 Spring St., Suite 606, New York, NY 10012 or call 212-274-8080.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.