Making the Cut: Demonstration Videos

This is one of the first demonstration style videos I did. It's about how to pin butterflies and moths.

This is one of the first demonstration style videos I did. It’s about how to pin butterflies and moths.

Some of my Twitter friends have asked me to give some tips about making videos. Since “Demonstration” style videos were the most requested (basically, one person requested), here we go!

So far, I’ve only done a few demonstration style videos, which include how to collect insects in different habitats and how to process those insects.
Despite my limited repertoire, I’ve learned some things along the way and would like to share =).

For those of you who don’t know, you can visit my YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/scibugs.

Table of Contents:
Equipment:
Videos in the Field
Videos at Home

My Equipment:

  1.  I use my Everio JVC Videorecorder for my recording. It’s a great little camcorder that I got about 4 years ago at this point. It has a built-in light, a screen that swivels around in case I have to film myself, and they’ve come out with shock and waterproof versions since I got mine. There may be others out there – but this is the one that was given to me and it works great for what I’ve been using it for.
  2.  For all of my video editing I use Cyberlink PowerDirector 11 Ultra (but they’ve just come out with 12). I got this one because it does all the things that I wanted for the three types of videos I make. I also got it significantly discounted  through UGA – so if you’re affiliated with an academic institution you should check if there’s a similar program for you to get cheap software.
    If you’re on a budget, for these kinds of videos you can use Windows Movie Maker or iMovie which are both free but operating system dependent.
  3. I didn’t have a tripod for the collection videos, but YouTube now has stabilization technology. It’s not as good as a tripod – but if you don’t have one lying around it’s pretty good.

Videos in the Field

My first demonstration style video where I show how to sweep net and things you can get from it.

My first demonstration style video where I show how to sweep net and things you can get from it.

I’ve done two of these videos,  Sweep Netting and Aquatic Collecting, and have run into some issues, but overall I was pleased with both videos.

The Challenges:
Filming
Weather/Conditions
Video Editing

1) Filming:

You should really find a buddy to help you film these kinds of videos *especially* if you want you in it at all. There’s only so much you can do with a tripod – especially if you’re trying to film insects. Carrying cameras, collecting gear, paying attention to the subject matter, and filming just becomes too much to handle.

Here’s a video I made when I was in Australia and it was one of the first videos I ever made! But I think it demonstrates nicely that a) the camera doesn’t always ‘see’ what you think it does and b) that you don’t walk gracefully.


(Made with Window’s Movie Maker ← this is important for later)

You should let your friend know what’s going on throughout each of the “cuts”. Communication is key especially if you’re filming small things, or you chasing things, or just you in general.

Go over:
° What’s the point of the shot?
°  Are you going to be in it – or should your filmer film the subject?
°  Cues for starting and stopping the film.
°  Let your filmer know if you want to zoom in on something and let them play with your camera so they know how far in your camera can focus.

Reminders: If you’re going to film things yourself the camera will bob along with you as you walk so it won’t look as polished. I didn’t have a tripod for mine so my videos are a bit wobbly – but you do what you can =)

2) The Weather / Conditions:

This guy’s a jerk (Q.Q)

Wind is just dreadful and the camera mics pick it up so well. And all the other things that are outside that you hear but don’t pay attention to (bugs, cars, birds, rustling leaves) will all be more apparent than you on the microphone unless your close.  Even slight breezes that you can’t really hear will pick up super well. Imagine trying to talk to someone on the phone and you can clearly tell the wind is blowing and you can’t hear them. Yeah, it’s like that over all your footage (x.x)

For example: You can hear my friend’s creek super well and me not so much in this short clip.
You might think that  clipping out extraneous noises is easy … but it’s not. There are some programs that  will do it for free but you need to record extra footage with nothing but the background noise

My video editing program does a pretty okay job at filtering out light breezes – but loud wind noises it doesn’t work so well. So, just be aware of your surroundings. Maybe take a few test runs.

3) Video Editing:

Video editing *ALWAYS* takes forever. If you’ve never done this before, you’re probably like “Yeah well … it can’t take that long.”
The Aquatic Collecting video I did – the actual video part is about 7 minutes. It took me over 6 hours to  edit the footage and put it together.

What my Video Editor looks like on the inside.

What my Video Editor looks like on the inside.
Pro Tip: Name your video files!!
Click to enlarge

Maybe I’ll say that again just in case. A 7 minute video took me 6 hours to edit.
Carve out an afternoon, a weekend, a quiet time with you and your headphones and no distractions. And to be quite honest, I really don’t like the editing process. I find it *very* time consuming, tedious, and frustrating. But – it is what it is.

I think the “Demonstration” style videos take the longest to edit because – as mentioned before – conditions aren’t perfect. Therefore, there’s a lot of splicing and moving around pieces.

Unlinking the video and the audio allows you to manipulate the video footage more.

Unlinking the video and the audio allows you to manipulate the video footage more.
Click to enlarge

For example, several video pieces didn’t focus on what I wanted but had good audio and visa versa. Therefore, I had to unlink the video/audio files from each other and re-piece together a coherent video file. You can see the clip here.

But the gist of it was that I first had to unlink the video and audio files.

Then I could realign the audio files from one clip to the video files of a different clip. This process of unlinking, realigning, deciding what went there, and making it match up took me about 1.5 hours for this one minute of processed video footage.

My video editor works that the files that are on the top of the timeline show up behind the files below it.

My video editor works that the files that are on the top of the timeline show up behind the files below it.
Click to enlarge.

Don’t forget to leave some time to add in titles, transitions, captions and music. You can find some royalty-free music here.

Video-Making at Home:
The Set-Up
Should I Record and Talk?

This is a much better setup to show how to do something that's small and fits instead of you instead of having someone else try and film it.

This is a much better setup to show how to do something that’s small and fits instead of you instead of having someone else try and film it.

I’ve made a couple of these, including Spreading Butterflies, Pinning Insects, and Pointmounting.
I find these a lot easier than the “outside” videos listed above. Everything is in a controlled environment, you can take pretty long takes without a bunch of issues, and if you have a tripod you can do it all yourself.

The Set-Up:
The first video I made – how to spread butterflies I didn’t know how to film it myself, so I had my fiancé help me. There were a few times he couldn’t get the camera in so you can see him move around.

For the pointmounting video I set the mini tripod in front of my chest – hit record, and just let it run as I pointmounted the insect. This worked much better than having someone else try and fiddle the camera in between your arms and you holding it when you need two hands. Just try not to bump the camera over into your project >.>

Should I Talk and Record?
It’s up to you. I don’t usually. I run over what I’m going to say in my head as I’m filming, but I wait until later to say what I’m doing. This is so, if you mess up talking you don’t have to redo your activity.

To record later, I use the buddy flamingo microphone. It’s a bit expensive, but I got it specifically for the lecture videos when my webcam and headphone microphone were picking up the sound of the fan running as my computer overheated (-.-) (nothing is easy). It’s a noise cancelling microphone and it’s really spectacular actually.

Another option, instead of unlinking, you can just mute the audio.

Another option, instead of unlinking, you can just mute the audio.

I then just use my regular webcam software that came with my computer to record me talking. I mute the audio file attached to the video  in the video editor and just match my voice up to what’s happening in the video and then add the music.

Again, if you want to add music for free here’s a place to download some.

The timeline in this video is much simpler. I just have a few audio and video clips I synced  together.

The timeline in this video is much simpler. I just have a few audio and video clips I synced together.
Click to enlarge

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: