A neophyte’s journey into video camera shooting & editing :-O

Roger’s Audiophile Tech Talk

I have pretty much a lifetime of audiophile recording & have seen all the changes in recording techniques in my 30-year pro audio career. Follow my blog & I’ll eventually explain how I recorded the music albums on Bobbie Jo’s web site (www.harpsingerbobbiejo.com) with the best of the classic analog all star equipment from the 2” 24 track tape machine, Neumann mics, Neve mic pre-amp, tube compressors & multi-band limiters plus the tricks of the trade from classic vintage gear to their modern contemporary counterparts.

A neophyte’s journey into video camera shooting & editing :-O

Although I’m fairly savvy with the audio side; video cameras, shooting & editing have been up to very recently, by choice, non-existent in my repertoire of handiness or ‘bag of tricks’. Up until just ‘fairly recently’, editing video required lots of pricy & bulky video equipment, just to make basic edits like simple cut & splices were very costly. Then when digital video editing came along the price dropped down to just over $100,000; now for less than $100 bucks you can get a program that does just about everything the $100K one did but way more user friendly.

Follow my blog & you will also see how I learn my way around the new video camera & video editing.

I am currently recording both multi channel digital audio & HD video at our live ‘Hipnautical’ duet performances… or until we run out of songs, but with over 330 songs in our songbook plus all the new songs we come up… I’ll have to buy a bigger hard drive soon;-)

The video is being recorded with our brand new ‘Pro’ HD Camera, basically a glorified handy cam but shoots at full 1920x 1080 60i; which means if your lighting & everything else is perfect you will get a decent video. We are lighting & contrasted-ly challenged at our gig’s venue & since it’s a ‘set & forget’ arrangement of aiming the camera from a tripod on a table & zooming in a bit to capture pretty much just us…we are at the mercy of the auto contrast.

We start our show just before sunset so during this time we are blasted by the full sun, even if it’s raining as it does often ‘up country’ in Maui; by the 2cd set it is totally dark so were at the mercy of the auto contrast…which has led me to pursuer my new digital video editing program with it’s Photoshop like tools to deal with hard shadows & glaringly bright computer screens, full on sunshine then later with me partially in a spot light & Bobbie in the shadows. (…it’s really a cozy venue, our neophyte video set up & lack of proper video lights leave us with image contrast challenges…:-O )

The first gig we recorded there was only one spot light sort of pointed at me which with the angle of the camera did not flatter the top of my ‘folic-ally challenged head’; a better camera position was dreamed up at this point. This spotlight has a sort of red cover that gives off a red glow to objects off center of the main beam. While compensating for the hard shadows & extreme highlights, this red glow often makes me look like I’ve been punched in the face or just came from an accident :-O

The color correction software tools came in handy as to save me from too much face bashed look & the shadow highlight tool gave us a decent image from an otherwise too dark & too light view.

By the time the sun went down but still had a glow about the place, the tropical plants just behind us outside looked nice with this amount of light but still there were serious shadows to contend with. By midway thru our evening it is totally dark outside, Bobbie’s ‘spot light’ is not working & mine is shining half on me & the rest on our bright & shinny mixing board with lots of lights that the video camera just loves to bring out in way over vibrant glare :-O

Just as I figured & hoped, editing video is very similar to working with photos in Photoshop; even the ‘photoshop jr’ programs for a fraction of the price do fairly amazing things for the mere mortal picture jockey or camera bug. The only difference is when one uses lots of processing to an HD picture & it takes a few seconds to crunch all that digital image data, the video editing software has to do all those contrast, vibrancy, exposure tricks & plus much more can be done to adjust contrast by having the software look before & after each frame to compensate ‘Temporally’ to give a smoother contrast adjustment as the video flows along. Then take into account that in each second there are 60 high res images at 1920x1080, so if it took a few seconds to process one picture, you can see that doing extreme processing will take quite some time for the computer to process.

With my new Mac Book Pro with the fastest processor & a Firewire 800 hard drive, a ten minute video with no processing takes less than 15 minutes to process with minimal edit tools or no contrast or color correction plug ins, but add on these handy tools & the process easily jumps to over a half an hour or way more depending on how hard to hit the processing. When having the shadow/highlight tool ‘look before & after a video frame in order create a smoother contrast correction…well, the 10 minute video clip will take over 1.5 hours. You have the option to make it look before & after longer than the 1.25 seconds I’ve chosen but as you can see it would take a very long time & rapidly reach the point of diminishing returns. With audio processing, I’m used to real time or faster than real time processing. This video editing with heavy duty processing has forced me to come up new hobbies while I wait for the processing to be completed, so that’s were I got the time to write this blog ;-)

Stay tuned for my next blog when I go into detail on the audio recording process of our live ‘Hipnautical’ duet performances.