One of my greatest pet peeves is the overwhelming number of amatuer manufacturers that emerged on the magic scene. Eight out of ten magic dvds are produced so poorly that attempted viewing will have you either writhing in your seat or wondering why your eye doctor has not informed you that your vision is failing. I am convinced that someone with forks in their eyes and severe arthristis can do a better job at video production than what I’ve seen on the market in recent years!
Having gotten my sarcasm out of the way, you will learn some basic fundamental techniques that will allow you to produce a quality video for your promotional package or instructional dvd.
We’ll start at the beginning with your camera. Never ever use a webcam for anything other than chatting! You will never ever get the quality you need from any webcam on the market! Digital video cameras have come so far down in price that they are affordable to almost everyone. While it does pay the professional to obtain the better home cameras called Prosumer Cameras, quality videos can be shot on lesser expensive models if done properly.
When purchasing a camera two important things to remember is to be certain that camera has an input jack for a microphone and an output jack for a monitor. While at one time these were common includes, it ain’t so anymore! A year ago I purchased the latest high-def camera from Sony. Much to my surprise, these two very important jacks were not part of the latest and greatest. Why? Apparantly, Sony realized that the pro guys were buying their high-defs as backup cameras since the quality was as good as the professional models. It became a money thing. They removed this common feature and forced you to buy the pro line. Good for them; bad for us.
The reason these two jacks are essential is simple…you need them! While cameras have built-in condensor mics, their use is not adequate for professional production and recording. While you can pay hundreds of dollars for a good mic, you can get away with something inexpensive for those on a tighter budget. Radio Shack has a wireless lapel microphone system for about $100.00. So long as the batteries are fresh, this will work well. The difference between a built-in condensor mic and an inexpensive wireless system is like night and day.
You need a monitor to simply see what the camera is or isn’t capturing. The small viewing monitors common on most video cameras will not give you a true picture. Utilzing a larger screen will make your job as director, cameraman, and producer that much easier.
Proper lighting, or lack thereof, can either make all the difference in the world. When we shoot a magic dvd over an hour is spent just on capturing the proper lighting. Lighting is an investment. There’s simply no way around it. Simple lighting packages can be purchased for under $600.00. Better light kits will cost $1500.00 and better.
The basic concepts of lighting are pretty simple. It consists of three lights; Key Light, Back Light, and Fill Light.