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Seasoned Rookie – Making an Off-Road Video

 

Murph, the Seasoned RookieSeasoned Rookie with Murph, The Seasoned Rookie.

Only a few short months until the Melt! According to what Ive heard in planning sessions, its going to be bigger and than all the past events put together, maybe.

For the past two years, Jim Acker Dackerly Cambron has intertwined Zookin with his other passion: Video Production. In doing this he has put together some pretty awesome multimedia memoirs of our adventures. Jim spends an incredible amount of time on the entire process, starting with logging raw footage to shipping the hundreds of tapes to Zookers all around North America. These videos feature not only some of the wildest and more foolish points of the annual event, but also a very odd sense of humor interspersed between the stunts in the form of  segues featuring a star studded cast of, well, Jim.

At our recent monthly planning session, Jim looked up from his usual lobster dinner with a troubled look on his face.

ROOKIE: I know what you mean, man. Three days of this stuff gets old after a while.

CAMBRON: Its not that, Murph. Its this years video Im concerned about.

ROOKIE: Dont worry about that yet, Jim. We havent shot any footage yet other than trying to talk Larry into those new camera mounts for the Izook Helicopter so we can do aerial shots of the Extreme Rookie Blue trai..

CAMBRON: Thats just it, Murph. There IS no footage yet and I never know what I have until I get home from the Melt. Last years was especially challenging!

ROOKIE: Whys that? I thought it turned out fairly well.

CAMBRON: It did Its just that every year I want to outdo myself and make that years production even better than last years and people seem to share my enthusiasm since so many of them hand me their tapes before they leave the Melt.

ROOKIE: Wow that must be a challenge in and of itself that is, you being a professional video producer, you spend your days choreographing cameramen and calling for specific shots. Now youre switching over to putting together a production based on found footage not knowing what you have until its too late to go back and reshoot, right?

CAMBRON: Wait a minute, Murph. I think youre on to something. If only I could think of a way to

ROOKIE: What?

CAMBRON: Well, if only I could somehow find a way to reach out and coach our rookie videographers to capture professional-style footage, this years video could be even better than the one you showed me of Larry Harris teaching nude swing dancing!

ROOKIE: Uhh (Murph gestures towards stenographer taking down every word, even what he says in parentheses.)

CAMBRON: Oh, yeah Sorry. By the way, I lost my copy.

ROOKIE: Good. 

CAMBRON: So anyway, 

Shooting video: A tutorial

By Jim Cambron

Twenty years ago, computer video editing didnt exist.

Today, the average consumer can easily edit their camcorder video using a PC or Macintosh without breaking the bank. Now, home movies can tell the story of a great vacation or a birthday instead of being a boring sequence of unconnected scenes. Video clips can be organized into a logical sequence that tells a story. The bad camcorder scenes like the ever-popular view of your shoes -- can be edited out. Titles can be superimposed. Special effects can be applied. An epic saga exists on every camcorder video cassette -- unless all your video is out of focus, too dark, too light or any one of a zillion other things that makes a video hideously unwatchable.

The following are basic tips that, when used, will make the video you shoot better tell a story, even if you dont have a computer setup to edit your video.

 

  • Dont zoom for zoomings sake! Your camcorders zoom lens is there so you can have one lens for just about every kind of picture composition from a scenic wide-angle shot to an extreme close-up. Hollywood went through a period in the late sixties and early seventies where the zoom effect was used. Remember those episodes of Hawaii 5-0? Well, maybe you dont but I do TV Directors soon discovered that zooming from a wide angle to a close-up was an unnatural effect that confused or distracted the audience. Although it was a neat effect, zooming is not something the human eye naturally does. 

Click through for a larger view...     Click through for a larger view...     Click through for a larger view...

  • Tell the story with your camcorder. Start out with a wide shot. Zoom out to show the viewer where you are. Then shoot a closer or tighter shot of the action or point of interest in the scene. Finally, shoot a close up of the action to give the viewer a clear view of what is going on. This technique helps the viewer focus in on what you are trying to show. It is important that you spend a long time on each of the above scenes 10 to 20 seconds is good so the viewer can have time to absorb what you are showing him/her. The above process is often used in television news to let the pictures tell the story where did it happen, what happened, etc.  
  • Click through for a larger view... Frame the shot so that the object (in this case a Zuk) has more space in the picture frame in the direction that it traveling than where it has been. This kind of framing helps the viewer get a better idea of the direction of the action. It also lets you have a bit of shooting space in case what you are videotaping suddenly speeds up and you dont catch it immediately. Theres nothing worse than one-half of a rollover because you accidently let the Zuk you were videoing escape out of the picture!
  • Dont be afraid to start recording early Its better to get plenty of video before someone does something spectacular (or stupid) than to start recording halfway through a priceless shot. Look how it worked out for Sean DeVinney! (see above picture part of a video in which Sean really launches his Samurai off a jump and gets spectacular air) Video tape is reuseable dont be afraid to waste it!
  • Click through for a larger view... When shooting outdoors, try to keep the sun behind you. That way, the sun shines on what you are shooting and not directly into your lens. Looking at the example picture, you cant tell that this Zuk has a coil spring suspension because the sunlight overpowers the camera image sensors putting dark parts of the picture in even deeper shadow. Put the main light source (in this case, the Sun) behind you so that the light illuminates the subject instead of shining into the lens. Sometimes, this is not always possible so try to zoom in enough to get the sun out of the camera lens.
  • Use a tripod to get steady shots. If you dont have a tripod, brace your camera against something. You can use your body to steady your camcorder by holding it with both hands while holding your arms close to your body. This method can get a bit stressful when holding your camcorder for long periods of time, but it does work well.
  • Click through for a larger view... Time and date stamp WHO NEEDS IT? This is my biggest pet peeve. The time and date stamp is great for the first five seconds of recording. Sure, it identifies when the video was shot. But after five seconds, the time and date stamp gets in the way of the action! This example is the only stamped video that youll find in the 2002 ZookiMelt. The rest of the time and date stamped video I got was left on the cutting room floor because it covered the action! If you want to figure out when you shot a particular video, write it on the cassette label!

 

These are some of the basic things that you can do to make all your video great looking! (and guarantee that it has a fighting chance of being included ZookiMelt 03 The Video).

CAMBRON: One more thing, Murph: Make sure that you put a return address on your video so I can get it back to you! The simplest way is to point the camera at your face and say your name and address while recording. I STILL have video from last year that I would like to return to their owners.

ROOKIE: Anything new for ZookiMelt 03 The Video?

CAMBRON: Here at the Secret Labs of Mail-It-In Productions, we are perfecting our wireless Zuk-Cam system, which didnt work out very well last year. We should have all the bugs killed (or at least severely maimed) and I hope that those who will be driving with the Zuk-Cam will be sure to have sponsor signs on their dashboard just like the Winston Cup drivers have on TV coverage of NASCAR Racing.

 

Life is Good

Murph The Seasoned Rookie

 

07/24/10 08:19

 

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