Well, I've had a few questions come in over the past couple days regarding my new shooting equipment and my editing software. Instead of responding back to all the emails, this blog post should just about cover all the questions that I can answer.
Disclaimer: I am not and audio visual master. I have never taken classes, courses, or had any real firsthand education on the subject. All I know is what I have read and what I have learned through personal experience. I may not be able to answer every technical question out there. I'm just a guy with a camera and a shop.
What I started with
This first picture is what I used up until recently for my videos. Nothing but a Sony Cyber-shot (DSCW290). It has a built in mic, no mic hookup. Best quality video is 720p (NOT HD). It can take great pictures at 12.1 mega pixels, but outside of good pics it is kind of lacking. Mic doesn't do a great job, video quality not the best and you have to be careful of the auto focus when shooting video (learned that lesson a few times). Had to buy extra batteries and memory card to shoot videos.
All in all. It worked. Obviously I did OK with it for the past couple years now. I feel that I shot the best videos possible with this camera, but they just were not up to the quality I wanted.
My video software up to this point. The free stuff: Windows Movie Maker . Yeah, I know, not the best software out there, but it is free. Honestly if you push yourself you can do some good stuff with the software, so its not the end of the world. You are limited though. No Pic in Pic, not video in video, can't separate video and audio, etc etc... You can manipulate the program to do some of these things, but its a major pain. Remember, its free software, get what you pay for.
What I got now
Lights: Adding lights is the easy thing. Proper lighting can make a huge difference in overall video quality and they really are not that expensive. I bought a set online for a grand total of $65. Set included two light boxes and stands, 8 x 45 watt day light Studio bulbs(4 per box, 6500k temp) (45w is 200watt equivalent), ability to turn 2 or 4 lights on at a time, and a nifty case(which I most likely won't use). You can also see in the first picture that the boxes have covers. These covers help spread the light more evenly, very important for a smaller shop like mine.
Microphone: This one was easy for me. I had a $100 Sony mic sitting around since college. I used it often with a mini-disc recorder in music school to record my self or group musical performances. I knew the mic was good, but with my last camera I had no way of hooking up the mic. So far, this mic works great in the small shop, though I still have to maintain a sense of direction. You have to speak in the general direction of a stationary mic to get a consistent sound, turning your head away is a no no. If I get brave I may step up to a wireless lapel mic, but for now this is working. Another catch is that you must always be sure the mic is turned on, it is self powered by an internal AA battery. Again with mic's, you get what you pay for, anything less than $100 is probably not going to be worth it, unless its on sale.
Software: Well this is where you can really drop some dough. Video editing software is all over the map and can cost hundreds of dollars, membership fees, etc.. I decided on Adobe Premiere Elements . In fact, I bought both the Premiere Elements and PhotoShop Elements together. There is a learning curve with this software, but Adobe makes it easy for you in the set up. I will leave it to you to check it out if you are interested. To much info to really go into on this post.
Overall, it will do everything I need it to do. It is basically an easier version of the software used by full on video professionals. It works for both PC and Mac.
Camera: Obviously the most important part of shooting videos is the camera. All the other things you get will help, but a bad camera is just that, a bad camera. I did A LOT of research on cameras, specifically video cameras. A lot has changed over the past several years, but it seems that companies like Canon are changing things for the better. I went with the Canon Vixia HF R52 camcorder, even saved money going with a refurbished one ($249.99 total). It shoots full 1920x1080 HD video, has a mic plug-in, built-in 32GB memory (can add SD card to make it a full 64GB), and has WiFi. It shoots easy, has a great LCD screen (which can point forward), and doesn't have to rely of the battery if you don't have time to charge it. So far, so good. Another big deal for me is how well it does on close up shots. And, if you are worried about megapixels, well don't. Video cameras and picture cameras are not equal when it comes to taking video. Video quality is more determined by the video sensor in the camera than by the megapixels. This thing shoots great quality video and is super easy to use.
So, that's it. That is what I got. If you have some more questions please ask below, that way everyone else can read them too.
I should also mention something else regarding a previous comment I made regarding making videos vs. writing blog posts.
For some reason it almost seems easier to knock out a short video than it does to write a blog, but that's just being lazy.
What I meant by this is that sitting down and trying to write is sometimes more difficult for me than shooting a video. What I didn't mean is that it is faster. Never get that into your head. Shooting a video is very time consuming, more than most would think. I can build a bookcase in a day. If I shot the same build it could take me up to two weeks, and that's just to get the video shot. Included multiple shots, stumbling words, wrong angles, redo's, close ups, bad sound retakes, etc etc... Then you have to sit down FOR HOURS and edit it, make it look cohesive, adjust sounds, add pictures, intro, credits, graphics, etc etc.... You can easily take 20 hours of footage and end up with a 20 min or less video. A good example is this: a short single shot 3 min video can take 30-45 min to edit and make ready for upload. And if you are quality conscious, you still will watch the entire thing through before you upload it. That's about the easiest video you could make.
SO , in short. Shooting videos is a labor of love. Most of us who do it don't make that much money from it, very few make a living. I am not into it to make a living, I just love making videos and like sharing my experiences with others.