Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Working on "The Feldman File" video podcast

After writing about video and new media for five years, I think that it's time to launch a video podcast. One of my objectives is to keep costs down as much as possible. Last weekend, I shot a test episode, where I learned a few things:
  • I suck as a host. Okay, let me rephrase that: I need to work on my on-camera presentation skills.
  • Audio recorded on a consumer camcorder quickly goes out-of-sync with audio recorded with an external recorder. I'm now experimenting with a variety of ways of bringing the audio back into sync with picture (using the audio recorded from the camcorder as a scratch track for identifying sync points.) Update, October 26th: Singular Software's DualEyes looks like the synchronization solution I'm looking for. It's a standalone application that can synchronize the audio track from a camcorder or DSLR with externally-recorded audio. It can correct for drift (the problem I'm dealing with) as well as align tracks in time. DualEyes currently only works on Windows, but a Mac version is in the works. At $149 (on special for $119 until October 30th) it's the most cost-effective solution I can find, and it requires minimum effort.
  • I'm trying to do everything with Apple's iLife '11, which may or may not work, and avoid having to buy Final Cut Studio or Adobe's CS5 Master Collection. Either one will cost me at least $1,000, even with upgrade pricing from Adobe.
  • You can get a ton of light out of inexpensive fluorescent fixtures. I considered LED lights, but their light falls off quickly, and even the least expensive "no-name" light panels are around $300 each. Instead, I bought a pair of Flashpoint Cool Light 4s from Adorama with four 45 watt compact fluorescent bulbs and stands for under $200.00. Each fixture throws the equivalent of 900 watts of light at 5500K. They remain cool, require no special power or separate circuit, and replacement bulbs cost all of $6.99 each.
  • I'm using a Sanyo Xacti GC-102 camcorder and an Olympus LS-10 audio recorder that I've owned for some time. The Sanyo is priced comparably to Flip and Kodak models, but it has a flip-out LCD that lets me see myself while I'm shooting to insure that I'm framed and in focus. There's a fair amount of low-light noise with the Xacti, so I need to wear lighter colors without patterns to cut down on noise.
My video and audio editing skills are a bit rusty, and I'm on a learning curve with the iLife applications. There are no third-party books yet available, and Apple's online help leaves a lot to be desired. So, I'm taking my time. My hope is to shoot a usable episode this weekend and release it next Monday. I'll post new episodes here, on YouTube and iTunes. In the interim, if there's anything that you'd like to see in the podcasts, please email me at len (at) feldmanfile.com.
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