Video 101

My first DSLR rig…

Apropos of nothing, a blog post from a well-thought out email for an aspiring videographer…
It’s a very exciting, dynamic, ALWAYS evolving field. For me, in addition to voraciously consuming “For Dummies” books in my early days, the Internet was an empowering aid for me. I DID receive a 2-3 hour crash course in basic video production techniques at a local cable access facility in my hometown of Buffalo, NY back in 1996. It was a prerequisite for getting a time slot on the station (in addition to having three shows in the can). I went on to produce 68 half hour episodes of a (VERY) poor man’s SNL called “My City Underground”. At this time, I was not even computer-literate, and did all of my editing on tape-based systems. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon some folks at a nearby private college who introduced me to non-linear editing. I was hooked! I’ll never forget the power I felt when I had my first home non-linear editing system back in 2002! So here’s a quick rundown of tools and resources…

Editing Tools
Apple Final Cut Pro – Though not my weapon of choice, this is the likely the most used editor in the Bay Area-which is very much Mac-centric. The de facto standard in the indie (and in some cases professional) film industry. (Though recently Apple released Final Cut Pro X which is getting slammed by users. It looks like many former staunch FCP defenders will jump ship to Avid or Adobe…)

2) Avid Media Composer – The premiere PC editing software. Pricey, but my editor of choice. (I did get 2 days of one on one training, courtesy of my previous employer.)

3) Adobe Premiere Pro – Until recently, the editor that elicited a snicker in editing circles. It’s finally caught up to the others and getting respect, and has the lowest price and easiest learning curve. The biggest selling point is it’s smooth integration with other Adobe Creative Suite products (Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, Encore, etc).

4) Adobe After Effects – Though not an editor per se, this animation app for video (and the web) is a MUST-HAVE application and skill for any video editor today and comes part of the Adobe Creative Suite Production Suite bundle. It’s used for all this related to motion graphics, including titles, special effects, etc. Like myself, many video editors get addicted to motion graphics after video. This is now my favorite software. (Apple’s equivalent is Motion. But even Final Cut  Pro users will tell you they prefer After Effects.)

Bottom line: I recommend Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Production bundle (even if you are a Mac user).

Local Resources/Classes
1) BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition) – Located up in San Francisco in the warehouse district, I’ve taken two classes here and the instructors are first rate and even make themselves (somewhat) available for questions after class. An annual membership fee of $55 gets you member discounts on classes and other events like screenings.

2) Digital Media Academy – They’re actually nationwide. But I took a week long After Effects course at Stanford a few years back. It was awesome. I’m pretty sure all of their local offerings are at Stanford.

I’m sure there are many others. But I’ve only been here in the Bay Area a relatively short time.

Online Resources
1) Lynda.com – A great library of tutorials for all things graphic (and more). You can sample a few videos in each course before deciding to pay for more. You can do month to month ($25) or annual ($250). Her print books are well worth the price too.

2) Video Copilot – One of my favorite sites. Andrew Kramer is the man to go to for special effects tutorials. He has lots of interesting wares, as well as free downloadable content.

3) DVInfo.net Forum – A great forum for advice, help, feedback, etc. Usually very responsive!

4) Adobe TV – TONS of great stuff here.

5) Motionographer – A great portal for motion graphics

6) Creative Cow – Another great resource for tutorials and help. Their print mag is free too.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but enough to get you started. There are also too many podcasts to mention via iTunes!

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