Our readers sent us their best work. Here are our favorites.
Once again, Videomaker readers showed us what they're made of, or at least showed us what kind of videos they make, by entering the 15th annual Videomaker/Panasonic Short Video Contest. Some entries were funny, some were poignant and some were downright dazzling.
We had some tough choices, but, after much deliberation, we've declared the winners.
Title: Mission Truly Impossible
Producer: Dan Coplan - San Francisco, CA
Prize: RoadWired Photo/Video Pro Camera Bag ($220)
Satirizing the old Mission Impossible TV show, Dan Coplan created this funny short. Great camera work and editing highlighted this video about stereotypical spies. Highlights include a funny bugs-in-the-teeth motorcycle shot and a message written on self-destructing masking tape.
Coplan shot footage with a Sony PD-100a 3-CCD Mini DV camcorder and used a Nady VCM-100 shotgun mike, CobraCrane jib arm and a Glidecam 2000 to help with the action scenes. He edited the project with Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects.
Streaming Video Award
Title: Goldberg's New York Bagels
Producer: Kalman Feldman - Baltimore, MD
Prize: Azden SGM-2X Super Cardioid Microphone ($300)
Kalman Feldman's Goldberg's New York Bagels is the first video from his newly formed production company. Sometimes shot in the middle of the night, when the bagels came out of the oven, the Web video brings the popular bagel caf to life. One viewing and you feel like you've been there.
Feldman shot eight hours of footage on a Sony DCR-TRV11 camcorder and edited using Adobe Premiere (learning it as he went) and Pinnacle DV500.
Best Disc-Based Video
Producer: Tommy Ferrell - Cruz Bay, St. John, U.S.V.I.
Prize: ADS Pyro PlatinumDV FireWire Card ($330)
Tommy Ferrell not only wrote the script and did the camera and post-production work, he appeared on-screen, playing every character in the production himself. By painting a large piece of wood green, Ferrell was able to tape himself in front of his makeshift chromakey screen. He then placed himself in scenes as two different people. Ferrell's creative camera angles and first-rate editing were excellent.
Ferrell used a Canon XL1 3-CCD Mini DV camcorder and Digital Origin EditDV software to produce Politics. He said he learned most of the techniques he used in the production of Politics by reading Videomaker.
Young Videomaker Award
Title: Open Fire
Producer: Colin Minihan - Port McNeil, BC, Canada
Prize: ToCAD SLIK 505-QF Camcorder Tripod ($325)
Colin Minihan, just 15-years-old, turned his passion for paint ball into an award-winning video. With urgent techno music and fast-paced footage in a jungle-like setting, Open Fire chronicles a paint ball competition.
He shot footage with a Sony DCR-TRV315 Digital8 camcorder and edited with Ulead MediaStudio Pro.
Though still in his mid-teens, Minihan has already created an anti-shoplifting video for his local police department. He got his start at age 7, when he strapped a camcorder onto a dirt bike.
Title: Montrose Ford
Producer: Skip Eavers - Montrose, CO
Prize: Photoflex CineDome Softbox ($430)
Though his local Ford dealer never used it, Skip Eavers created quite a flashy 30-second commercial for the Ford Expedition SUV. After constructing a J-shaped camera mount out of conduit pipe to hold the camera on low angles, he and a driver went out to a local canyon to gather some footage. He then used post-production tricks to attain a film-look, and add slow-motion, logo overlays and other special effects. The result was a polished commercial.
Eavers shot his footage with a Sony DCR-TRV10 Mini DV camcorder. He did his post-production work on Premiere.
With only six months of editing and shooting experience, this prize-winning spot was his first complete production.
Best Music Video
Title: Make Sweet Love
Producer: Nelson Nunez - Santa Rosa, CA
Prize: AIST MoviePack EXtreme Editing Software ($1,499)
Music videos was by far the most popular category in our competition, pouring in to us in reckless abandon. The temptation was to name several winners, but in the end, Make Sweet Love by Legaci stood alone on top.
Looking and sounding every bit as good as any MTV boy-band, Legaci's Make Sweet Love knocked us out with its camera work, lighting and editing, as well as the ballad's overall sincerity.
Nelson Nunez shot over eight hours of footage in six locations over six days with a Canon GL1 Mini DV camcorder. He and the band showed a lot of gumption, hauling a 200-pound generator and huge fans down to the beach for one shoot. Unfortunately, his plan to mood-light the beach with colored gels failed, as the bright sun overpowered his lights. A gold reflector was used instead.
Nunez spent two weeks editing the project with a Canopus DV Storm.
Senior Videomaker Award
Title: Jacob Burns: A Film Portrait
Producer: Frank Cantor - Katonah, NY
Prize: Tiffen Kata Camera Bag & Video Essentials Kit ($350)
Frank Cantor did an excellent job honoring the life of Jacob Burns, a philanthropist and businessman who began shooting film in the 1930s. When he died, Burns left money to help fund the recently-opened Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York. Cantor was enlisted to produce a publicity piece for the center. The poignant video includes slides, photos and old film shot by Burns himself.
Cantor used a Panasonic EZ-30 Mini DV camcorder, Final Cut Pro 1.5 and Adobe After Effects to create this winning entry.
Title: Passion Fruit
Producer: Jack Sekowski - Sherman Oaks, CA
Prize: Bush Contours, Hideaway Desk ($449)
Passion Fruit, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, is charming and whimsical, with an unexpected finish. The entire story is told without a single word of dialogue. The clever use of music and sound effects add to the video's appeal. Sitting on blankets in a park, two unnamed strangers flirt while sensually sampling figs, cherries, strawberries and more. The short builds to a comedic climax when one of them chokes and the other rushes to help. Oops! Watch out for that banana peel!
One reason for the lack of dialogue, Sekowski said, was that a nearby elementary school held a volleyball tournament during taping, filling his ambient sound track with cheers, claps and other crowd noise.
Passion Fruit was only the second video project for Sekowski, a film and screenwriting graduate. He shot with a Canon Vistura Mini DV camcorder and used an Avid video editor and ProTools audio editor in post.
Producer: David Speranza - New York, NY
Prize: VariZoom Lens Controls & Studio Style Kit ($777)
In Accessorizing, a wonderful comedy short, the viewer gets to eavesdrop on two women from the Upper West Side who run into each other while jogging through Central Park. Listening to the two gossip and chitchat as they run in place is a scream.
Speranza had to be quick on his feet during shooting, as a boom mike that tested fine in rehearsal unexpectedly picked up radio interference. He relied on a camera-mounted mike instead. Speranza shot with a Sony DCR-TRV310 Digital8, equipped with a 0.6x wide- angle lens adapter. He used a Pinnacle DV200 capture card and Adobe Premiere 5.1 in post-production.
Title: Soo Jerky
Producer: Danny Sayson - Richmond, BC, Canada
Prize: Pinnacle DV500 PLUS Editing Solution ($899)
Danny Sayson's beef jerky TV commercial may have only been 30-seconds in length, but it was good enough for second prize. The premise was simple, but effective. A beautiful woman opens the door for a date and finds a handsome jock-type who offers her flowers. She yawns and closes the door. Next, a second fellow, carrying jewels, comes calling. She closes the door on him as well. A third man appears, a nerd with thick glasses and bad hair, but with an armful of beef jerky. Her face lights up as she licks her lips and invites him in.
Sayson shot the commercial, which has been shown on local TV, with a Canon XL1 3-CCD Mini DV. He edited with in-sync Speed Razor 2000. His prize will offset an unplanned production cost; replacing his aunt's oak door, which broke under the stress of being repeatedly slammed.
Title: Intro to Humanities
Producer: Nathan Collett - Stanford, CA
Prize: Avid Xpress DV Editing Software ($1,700)
Viewing Nathan Collett's video made us want to sign up for Stanford University's Humanities course. The three-minute project seamlessly combined professional-looking footage of campus scenes, students and professors. Already performing camera and video editing for the school on a freelance basis, Collett took advantage of the opportunity to create this promotional piece for the humanities department.
Collett shot his footage with a Canon GL1 3-CCD Mini DV, and edited the project in 25 to 30 hours with Final Cut Pro.
Title: Find My Way Home
Producer: Seth Mellman - Princeton, NJ
Prize: Panasonic PV-DV901 Mini DV Camcorder ($1,799)
Our Grand Prize-winning video can be summed in one word: compelling. Find My Way Home chronicles the plight of the homeless in Trenton, New Jersey. Shot for HomeFront, a housing assistance organization, the documentary features two young women. One, an admitted heroin addict, breaks down on-camera when she describes her homeless plight. Another, a high school student, conveys the misery of not knowing where her next meal will come from. Seth Mellman recorded the footage while a HomeFront representative comforted the on-camera personalities. And when they started crying, so did Mellman.
Find My Way Home was shot with a Sony DCR-TRV900 3-CCD Mini DV. Mellman enlisted a Kenko 0.5x wide-angle lens adapter and a camera-mounted Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mike to acquire his footage. He spent a month of nights and weekends editing the movie with Final Cut Pro.
Nice job Seth. We applaud your work and we're pleased to award you our Grand Prize.
Until Next Year...
Congratulations to all of our winners, and thanks to all who entered this year's contest. There were many excellent submissions and each category was hotly contested. Each year the productions we receive get better and better.
We can hardly wait to see what's in store for next year! So keep producing those short videos, and be sure to enter them in the next Videomaker contest. Who knows, you may be one of our winners.