Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Turn the cameras off, back up all the way...

And if you get that song lyric WITHOUT looking it up on Google, then we would prolly get along just fine.

Regardless, I finally found some time in my busy schedule of underhanded dealings and magical madness to wax venomously about more video editing crapola. So far we have covered lighting and sound. Now you need to know what works best with that info I may or may not have crammed into your eyes.

A lot of people believe you need a hardcore HD camera to have nice video. Those people are so wrong it's their job. Sure you can drop a coupla grand on a real nice camera. If you have the money to do, then go for it. For those of us who are broke ass niggas, we must resort to e-bay and the like. However, there are some specs you should look for on a camera and they are just as easy as your girlfriend.

First and foremost, look for 3 CCD. This effectively means you have a special chip for each color that video displays in: Red, green, and blue. You sacrifice a bit of the ability to shoot in low light, but the color quality is superb. (of course if you read two posts back, you would know how to work around that.) There are a few hand-held mini-dv camcorders that illicit this function. If you get an older model, you can come out with enuff money to buy some cheap lights or maybe a nice ham sammich.

The other nice thing to look for in the camera department is Mic in ability. Now all of your higher end contraptions will have this. However a lot of the camcorders do not. The ones with 3 chip and mic in are few and far between. I personally started a crusade for the Panasonic PV-GS150 and thus far I have been fairly pleased with the results.

Fair warning: try to avoid (LIKE THE PLAGUE) the cameras that record to a hard drive. They are intended for soccer moms and grandmothers who want to record their little crotch droppings highlights and then put them on a DVD. Mind you these people have nary a braincell to call their own when it comes to video. These cameras exist for two reasons: 1). User friendly-ness and B). to PISS me off!!

Now there are a few that come with a dock station that allows you to capture the video thru a firewire/ DV cable. (Which I will probably talk about in my next post) This is merely a ruse. Do not fall for it!!

Now that I am over that, I also suggest you pick up a really good monitor to hook to your camera whenever possible so you can see what your video output is because the little LCD screens that come on most cameras LIE!! They lie so much, you female readers would sit on it's face if it was Pinocchio and chant, "Lie to me, tell the truth, now lie to me!!" (By the way I am just kidding. I know we don't have any female readers.)

So, by now you have figured out the best kind of camera to be on the lookout for and that I really need to get out more. The best way to be informed is to become informed. I tell you folks all of this out of love. Not love for you, but for the love of stop making lackluster magic videos!!!

Now go listen to more Tom Petty.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sound off like you got a pair!!

So yesterday, (For me anyway) we talked about lighting your video production and how to go about it the cheap way. Tonight, this morning, today, whenever you are reading this; we are going to discuss how not to sound like you are shooting your film in an empty living room devoid of taste or sound-proofing.

When we talk about cameras I will go into more detail about some stuff, but one thing to look for, aside from 3 CCD, is a mic in jack. This enables you to run ANY kind of microphone to your camera. Lapel, wired, even a PC microphone can be plugged in and used in a pinch. Personally, I prefer a boom mic type of set-up. It negates you having to hide a lapel mic.

While I am on the subject, there is nothing I hate more than seeing a wire running out of someone's ass or a big black spot on their white shirt. How hard is it to HIDE these things? Not very. Trust me on this!

(Goes off to eat a cupcake and calm down)

Ok so, take a microphone, strap it to tripod, borrow a jointed mic stand, hell hang it from the ceiling just out of frame. Get some headphones so you can make sure it sounds ok while you film. (or if yer alone to check the levels before hand) Do not EVER rely on the built in mic on any camera. It picks up too much ambient noise. If you are using a high end camera, get a shotgun mic that is mostly directional. They're not the3 best way to go, but they are more effective.

Ok so now you can be heard clearly and your voice is not drowned out by the noises of your neighbors fighting or your roommate banging your girlfriend in the other room. Now you need to "sweeten" the sound, as the kids on the street are now calling it. Again there are a myriad of programs at yer disposal to use. Even programs like Premiere and Final Cut has built in audio mixers for you to toy with. Applications like audition are good too as they are made to handle music files specifically. Mind you most of their clientele are just going to make shitty techno loops with them, but yer better than that... aren't you?

Anywho, a small smattering of autogate to remove the noise gaps between talking mixed with some compressor/expander/limiter action and yer good to go. (More or less) Just mix according to taste. (Headphones help. A LOT. You can pick up more nuances in tonal range using them. Things you probably would miss otherwise.) After that you are going to want to export the audio as a separate file, preferably in Dolby Digital Audio. Mind you this all depends on how far you are going to take your video production. This last thing is merely for the sake of DVD authoring. If it is for the intarwebz, then forget I said that last part. As a matter of fact, if your roommate is banging your girlfriend, then yer prolly too dense to run an audio editing program and you should just delete the last half of this entry from your mind to make room for other thoughts.. like, "mmm cupcakes".

Anywho, tomorrow I might be coerced into talking about cameras and what kind you should keep an eye out for. Until then, you might want to go punch the person you live with in the face, just to be safe.

You never know.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Video killed the magic star?

Now that you ask, yes I have been slacking a bit on my journal. Sorry kids, I have been working on a top secret project that has been SUCKING MY WILL TO LIIIIIVE!!! (Kidding actually it has been quite amusing) Perhaps I can satiate your lust for vengeance by showing you THIS amusing article I found on one of the forums I frequent.

However, this brings up a good point. The discussion of magic DVD's. Now I have no advice on how not to get picked up by the cops (aside from don't gank their shit) but I can tell you a thing or three that will make your magical videos look better, faster, and stronger than before. Perhaps you too can surpass the quality of crappy rushed-out-the-door how to's that looked like they were filmed by your step-cousin who just happens to have palsey. (Or Michael J. Fox, take yer pick.)

First thing you have to.. nay NEED to ask yourself is, "IS this worth putting out on video and charging gobs of cash for?" Chances are the REAL answer is Hell No!! but in today's world, that point is sadly moot. Since any asshat can pirate good video editing software, we are all pretty much at the veritable mercy of ambitious tools with good minds but terrible eyes.

The two real secrets to creating a professional looking video are sound and lighting. (Ok there is a third and that is a camera that doesn't suck monkey balls, but we'll get to that later. The camera that is... not the monkey balls.) Over the next few days I am going to sling advice your way about these subjects and possibly more.

Some people believe you have to spend a metric fuckton on a light kit so you can look good. Belay that and instead spend 50 bucks on clip lights from Wally World or Home Despot and maybe a couple cheap par-cans from a party store. While yer at it, head to yer grocery store and pick up some wax and/or tissue paper. This stuff works great as a diffuser. It will help prevent you from being washed out or there being hot spots on your props and your maybe even that receding hairline you forgot to put make-up on. For some ambiance, find some lighting gels as well. You can light normal everyday objects in your house and create your own Avant-Garde-Ikea-cheapass backdrop. See?

You might want to look into getting some cheap tripods or mic stands. Something you can clip them lights onto. You need to be lighted evenly on all sides and try not to cast heavy shadows on your backdrop if you can help it. (unless you are trying to be some artsy bonehole) Evenly lighting not only yourself, but your background, will add a lot to your picture. Don't be afraid to experiment either. If you have questions, READ A BOOK!! PErhaps even do some bloody research at the biggest library around: Teh Int4webz!!

One last thing you can nab to help out is black and white posterboard. Ever see some low paid grip standing off to the side holding a big white board during a video shoot? Well he is reflecting light onto the subject. It's a soft ambient light and not direct. Black is used to block out and absorb light (Duh). Grab some foam core board and perhaps some black felt. Attach the felt to the board so you have a black board and leave the white one alone for reflections sake.

All of this alone might cost you an arm or a leg (or someone else's if yer sneaky about it). However, with a little creative African American Engineering, you too can make even yourself look good. The best teacher is experience, so get out there and see what happens when you point this at that and turn this that way. Tomorrow (or sometime close to it) I shall speak of ships and shoes and ceiling wax. Of cabbages and kings!!

Or maybe just how not to sound like an idjit in a wind tunnel. You never really know with me I guess. Until then, just remember:

We're all the same color once the lights go out.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Pure cheese...

Sometimes I look elsewhere for inspiration to write about. After yesterdays silly ass BS post, I decided I should actually write about something. Instead of filling up Theory 11's server space, I instead have decided to force feed Blogger's maw with my verbal food for thought.

Ok so, what is a purist? This is the question at hand. I myself consider myself a bit of one... but only when it comes to certain aspects of my card magic. Sometimes I will devise a gimmick for an effect and try my damnedest to create a way to perform it without said gaffery. Mind you over the past few years I have created a few effects that work best with a tiny little gimmick used such as a double backed card.

I think what I would consider a trait of purism is the ability to do 80-90% of your magic with someone else's props. Their deck of cards, their coins, their swiss cheese, etc. Mind you there is the school of thought that it's not HOW you aaccomplish something, but the effect it has on the audience. If it's better to use 32 1/2 duplicates, then do it.

Magic, much like many other things in life, are personal preference. If you want to do something a certain way that's your yer choice and right. Sometimes other bastards (Read: Magicians) will say you should perform something a certain way using a certain move because that's what THEY would do. I say SHENANIGANS!! It's your thing, do what you wanna do. Be as pure as you want to be and I too shall stand beside you being as pure as I have always been...

like the driven slush.


Officious Seeing Eye Blog

And if you get that... yer nifty keen in my book.

So remember the posts I made a while back about changing up yer website content from time to time? Well somebody on this journal, (I won't say who), got bored enuff to toy with their site's front page a bit... with a videos page overhaul in the works.

This however, is not my point tonight. I just would like to point out that THIS...

is now merely a decoration in my house because it never got the reaction I thought it should.

That is all.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It was bound to happen...

Who sez there is too much much exposure on the internet?

Alas. Some people are just jerks.

Regardless, I got a great compliment the other day and I quote, "Bizzaro is the slapstick gothkid of magic". This ranks up there with the time Doug Scheer called me the "Gomez Addams of magic".

This brings to mind a quote I recently heard that was uttered by Ghandi. "Be the change you want to see in the world". I firmly agree with this and it applies to many aspects of life, including the performing arts. You can blend in with the crowd and pull doves out of yer ass the same way everyone else does... or maybe instead, you dress up like a dove and produce magicians!! (Don't laugh, it's been done) If you are sick and tired of seeing the same old tripe, then DO something about it. Sure you run the risk of being pigeonholed as a certain type of act. However, this makes you unique and the only thing worse than being talked about.. is NOT being talked about. - Oscar Wilde

So if you want to see some change, maybe you should get on the ball and make the line start with you. Besides, what's the worst thing that could happen?

Be the ball...