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.


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