Thursday, December 28, 2006

World of Warcraft & Office Space Commercial

The following particular commercial has been making me laugh lately.

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The concept is a familiar scene in a movie, Office Space, that almost has a minor cult following, and a familiar scene in this movie has been edited digitally to add scenes from the video game and the cardboard box and discs on the desk. It is pretty seemless. It's even more seemless than the DirectTV & Star Trek commercials and the ones like it that I also find funny.

It was bugging me each time I saw it, as I kept wondering which video game it was that Peter was originally playing. I found the movie and at about the 42 minute mark is when the scene appears and the character was originally playing one of my old favorites and there are cheetos on his desk instead of discs. Check out the quote from IMDb's Memorable Quotes from Office Space (1999) page.

[Peter is wearing shorts, sandals and a paisley shirt, with his feet up on his desk, munching chips and playing tetris on his computer]

Bill Lumbergh: So, Peter, what's happening? Aahh, now, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?

Peter Gibbons: No.

Bill Lumbergh: Ah. Yeah. So I guess we should probably go ahead and have a little talk. Hmm?

Peter Gibbons: Not right now, Lumbergh, I'm kinda busy. In fact, look, I'm gonna have to ask you to just go ahead and come back another time. I got a meeting with the Bobs in a couple of minutes.

Bill Lumbergh: I wasn't aware of a meeting with them.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, they called me at home.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Eighteen Year Old VHS Cassette Not Cooperating

This should be a good lesson to anyone who is confident that their old tapes are going to stand the test of time. This could also be a good lesson to those that scrimp on their media purchases, choosing cheap and easy over quality.

What do you do with a VHS Cassette tape that is eighteen years old and is not properly cooperating as you are attempting to transfer it?

The problem is that the image drops out from time to time. When capturing to my camcorder the image goes scrambled now and then. There is no rhyme or reason to where the video gets scrambled , it happens at different points in the tape each time I attempt to capture.

As we learned in a previous post here, You only need to back-up the ones that might be important some day. Check out the thread on Creative Cow for more on the story and the various recommendations.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Frequent Photo Flubs

In the interest of keeping up on articles about photography as well as bring you the latest news about video editing I wanted to post a link to an article on that goes over fifteen of the most common picture pitfalls, how to avoid them and how to work with edit pictures that already have these flubs.

You know the feeling: you've just snapped that once-in-a-lifetime moment, and you're already thinking about how big you want to print it. It looks great on the camera's LCD, and everyone in the room wants a copy of it. When you get home, you eagerly load it up on your PC, only to discover it's too blurry to even make out the faces. We've all been there.

It will be very much worth your time to read over the full article at - Frequent photo flubs: 15 picture pitfalls and how to avoid them. It might also improve your video too!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Andy-Warhol-Up Your Photographs

This tutorial I found deals with Photoshop and photographic art, not specifically videography. But I know many of you may dabble in both and I imagine that this could come in handy if you want to print your own original sleeves or DVD jackets. So here is how it begins.

If you are a fan of pop art and the work of Andy Warhol, then this is the Photoshop tutorial for you.

Immediately the article starts off incorrectly, because the methods can be quite handy even for those folks (like me) who are not a big fan of pop art or don't know who Andy Warhol happened to be. GASP! Call me a heathen if you must, I don't care.

The look is interesting, distinctive and eye-catching. And it looks like the result you get when you are done is definitely one you can stand back and be proud of. To get going start at Andy-Warhol-Up Your Photographs - Online Tutorial at Melissa Clifton page 1. Read through the entire tutorial first and then start again, choose a photo and have fun!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How It's Made Videos

Tutorials are great, but sometimes what someone really needs is to watch an expert build something and learn from them. Since there may be a lack of experts on the subject you are interested in near you, the next best thing is a video tutorial.

Have you ever wondered how certain things are made? Look no further! We have collected a bunch of how-its-made videos from around the web.

This inspires interesting ideas concerning how a video like this is made. Perhaps they should have a how-its-made video explaining how to make a video just like one on their site. Do you know a little about something besides video? Create a how-to video. Watch and learn at How it's made videos - Vidly.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Creating Light Streaks

If you watch television much at all -- and I know you do -- you have probably seen the latest commercial from Apple for the iPod Nano. Here is the video if you need to catch up a bit.

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You can also load it in a larger view by going to Google Video: iPod Nano. I don't know about anyone else, but this makes the Nano look a little bit like a Lightsaber and I immediately wanted to have one after I saw this commercial for the first time.

Then later that very same night, I stumbled upon this tutorial. I felt it important to share this interesting effect and how it was most likely done.

In this video tutorial, Creative Cow leader Andrew Kramer ( demonstrates how to create light streaks as seen in the new Nano iPod commercial.

Launch the tutorial by starting at Creating Light Streaks.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Google Video

Here are some recent videos from Google Video.

Thank you to Dylan Parker for creating this Google Gadget.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Wedding Videographer Tutorial by The VideoChump!

For the bride and groom to be, choosing a wedding photographer has always been a last minute task that should be researched thoroughly. In more recent times, the wedding videographer has become almost as popular and should be given as much thought.

In choosing a videographer, one that would be working on my wedding, I'd be most concerned with one thing, experience. The person behind the camera would have to prove to me that he's not practicing his craft on my special day, that he knows what he's doing and is capable of being creative as well as detail oriented. Many amateur videographers or those that are trying to get into the business start out by working on weddings, and like in most things, you learn from your mistakes. Unfortunately they make mistakes on somebody's wedding day, a day that unlike TV and movies, cannot be recreated.

Get familiar with the recommendations in the Wedding Videographer Tutorial by The VideoChump!.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Critique of Pool Hall Videos

I've been mulling over the idea of making a short clip with a pool table as the central prop. This brings to mind ideas about angles and lighting for the pool table. Here are three short videos I bookmarked for inspiration and reference.


Friday, July 28, 2006

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

This music video is simple and yet amazing for one amusing reason. The members of the band did this complex routine with the treadmills in one continuous shot.

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Update (2006/12/28): Wired News has a Year in Review in Online Video article that discusses this video among many others. Here's a good quote.

If the '80s was the golden age of music videos, YouTube has brought us into the silver age, where online videos reach an audience tired of having to wade through reality shows on MTV to get their video fix. Pop band OK Go rode this trend in late July, when its video featuring a killer combination of treadmills, low-key gymnastics and thrift-store fashion caught the attention of the online community. MTV, now the follower rather than the leader, booked the band for its Video Music Awards show.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Animusic - Pipe Dream

Here's another favorite recently rediscovered. This one is all computer animation. What's inventive about this one is the mixture of computer animation and music and the matching.

From the first Animusic DVD. Pipe Dream has been voted one of the 50 greatest animation projects ever (by 3D World magazine). A group of percussion instruments perform music by way of metal balls that fly out from pipes.

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I'm still trying to figure out the behind the scenes on this one. Did they program the video and match it to the song, or did they program the environment and instruments and then feed in the song and let the computer "play" them?

Either way... Enjoy!

George Lucas In Love

Here is another of our favorites. George Lucas In Love is an interesting twist on an existing story or fairy tale. Almost like a comedian's stand-up routine, it has a set-up, then a punch-line, all delivered with somewhat recognizeable characters and consistent with known plots.

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A full DVD copy of George Lucas In Love[ George Lucas In Love ] can be obtained for your collection.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Steady, steady.....

One of the characteristics of "real movies" is a rock-solid camera. It just doesn't move around much. And when it does move, the movements are smooth and flowing. Contrast that with most home-video movies where the camera is in constant motion - jerkily panning from side-to-side, tilting up and down, and often zooming in and out.

It makes sense - at least a little. Our home videos are usually shot with light-weight, autofocus, hand-held cameras that can be operated while standing, sitting, walking, riding, or even skateboarding. Zoom controls are right at our fingertips. When we're not shooting video, we don't keep our eyes fixed on any one item for very long; we constantly glance around the area, taking in thousands of details about our surroundings and deciding where to concentrate our attention. We start out shooting video a little bit like we use our eyes, constantly scanning the room for details. Is that something important? Zoom in to check, zoom back out when you want to see more. Tilt the camera to the side and you tilted the viewfinder at the same time. So the camera viewfinders show us an image that looks level, even though the camera is not. The awkward manner that we hold cameras scrunched up against our face quickly tires your muscles adding a tiny bit of tremor if you shoot for a long period of time. Mega-zoom lens on camcorders make matters worse because when we zoom to extreme telephoto to catch distant action, the narrow-angle of the lens makes even tiny motions large on the screen. Larger swing-out viewfinder screens can make matters even worse because we can now hold the camera out from our face, dangling it on the end of our arm.

When you are shooting video, you become part of the action. You are there with the camera held up to your face; you have the full context of whatever is occurring. Viewers of your video, on the other hand, are usually sitting in a chair, watching a screen. They can only see what you choose to show them. If you swing them around wildly, jerkily panning from side-to-side, tilting up and down, and zooming in and out, they'll just get dizzy and won't want to watch.

I have seen very few home videos that wouldn't benefit from less camera motion. (That includes my videos!) But you probably aren't going to buy a heavy-duty tripod, firmly attach your camera, and carefully level it whenever you set it up. Besides... that would negate many of the benefits of a lightweight hand-held camcorder.

So how do we stabilize our footage to keep the viewer from getting dizzy, and still remain hand-held and portable?

There are a number of things you can do to stabilize your video without toting a 12-pound tripod around Disneyland. First, get a good, comfortable grip on your camera. Spread your feet about shoulder-width apart; hold the viewfinder up to your eye, with your elbows bent. Find a comfortable way to look at the viewfinder - if your face is all "frowned-up," your video will also look unhappy. If your muscles are strained into an uncomfortable position, you will quickly tire and the minor muscle tremors will shake the video a lot. Only in rare circumstances does it make sense to hold the camera at arm's length with the view screen open - something guaranteed to tire your muscles very quickly. Adjust the diopter adjustment on the viewfinder so you can see the full image confortably. This is particularly important if your wear glasses or contacts. Decide to adjust the diopter on the viewfinder either for your corrected vision with glasses or your uncorrected vision - then always shoot the same way. This may require you to push your glasses up on your forehead to see the whole viewfinder, but your footage will look much better.

Now, are you comfortable with your camera in your hands? Are your muscles generally relaxed and not strained? Good! Now look for a place to lean against or to prop your elbows on. Even the most experienced shooters try to use some stationary object to help them steady the camera. Put your elbows on a table or railing, or lean against the wall, car or a street-sign. I have even rested the back of my right hand (the hand holding my camcorder) against the corner of two walls to help stabilize the picture.

Now that you've reduced much of the accidental shakiness, its time to decide what you want in each shot. Seems obvious, but most home video that I watch has the camera aimlessly wandering around the scene trying to follow often overlapping action. It pans to catch images of Katie feeding the ducks, jerks in a different direction when baby Mike crawls into the scene, then crash-zooms to cover the 6-year-old in the background swinging maybe just a bit too high, then zooms back out when a quacking duck gains the attention - and all in the space of ten seconds!

I'd probably like to see all of those things, but instead I get to see a tiny, shakey piece of each of those things. If you edit your videos, maybe you could edit out the junk, but then there's probably not enough of each shot remaining to keep my interest. It may be better to choose to tape 20-seconds of "Katie feeding ducks," even if it means that any images of baby Mike has to be video'd at a different time.

I once had an old camcorder that wouldn't let you zoom once you started recording - not sure it was designed that way or just so underpowered that there wasn't enough current to run the zoom motor while the tape transport was running. In any case, treat your video the same way. Frame the shot with the zoom lens, start recording, stop recording, then use the zoom to adjust framing for the next shot. As far as zooming while recording - Just Say NO!

OK - maybe you're weak and can't resist the siren-call of the zoom lever - then at least vow to use only one zoom in any shot. Zoom-in or zoom-out, but leave the tromboning for the sound track. Same goes for panning or tilting up or down - just say NO. Or at least pan only in one direction in any shot. And if you absolutely must pan to follow some action, be sure to lead. That is, stay ahead of the action, not behind it. Then at some point, stop, and let the person walk out of the frame - it looks much better than trying to follow them forever. If you pan back-and-forth, or pan to barely keep up with someone walking, you'll convince me you are still looking for something to shoot. Maybe you just didn't realize the camera was running.

Is the ultimate answer to use a steadicam or perhaps a 12-pound tripod? Maybe, but even if you can afford Steadicam prices, there is still a learning curve. Until then, relaxing, steadying against a stationary object, and carefully choosing your shots will go a long way to making your home video more appealing.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Firefox Flicks: Bring Firefox to life!

Open Source Video! Commercial evangelism! Cue the applause!

Fans of the open-source web browser Firefox have always drummed up support for their cause in a grass-roots way. Now there is a contest to create an airable commercial spot to get exposure for the better browser. Film students, amateurs and small to medium film studios are getting into the game.

Project Description

Create a 30-second ad, in any style (live action or animated,) that brings Firefox to life for the millions of Web users who have yet to discover Firefox and the better Web experience it delivers.

Project Summary

Mozilla seeks to expand awareness of Firefox among a broader audience for Web browsers: mainstream consumers who may have little knowledge of the value proposition for Firefox. To help increase awareness of Firefox among this target audience, Mozilla would like to produce a high-quality, innovative 30-second ad that introduces Firefox to mainstream Web users.

In line with its history and orientation, Mozilla is opening up the creation of its initial advertising creative to film/TV/advertising/multimedia professionals, students and aspiring pros as part of the Firefox Flicks Ad Contest.

The results of their efforts are being collected in one spot and being made available for downloading, reposting and sharing. Here is my favorite:


Please download the latest version of Apple Quicktime.

Source: Firefox Flicks - Wheee!

Update (2006/04/27): The Grand Prize winners have been announced on

Firefox Flicks Video Contest Winners Announced

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - April 27, 2006 - Mozilla today announced the winners of its Firefox Flicks video contest at the San Francisco International Film Festival. The winning videos were selected from nearly 300 submissions created by Firefox enthusiasts from around the world, who responded to the opportunity to help promote Firefox through short film.

View the full press release at

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Make It Interesting !

I really wanted to put an update or two on Colorburst last weekend. However, the yard and twelve or fifteen other things took priority and Colorburst fell to the bottom of the queue. But as I bagged the yard-junk from winter, I was thinking about the movie short titled "405" (See further details below).

Why is this short interesting to me? Looking at it structurally, it is a totally fabricated story of an implausible situation, incredible luck (for both main characters) and exciting special effects absolutely essential to the story. But the story was fun to watch and the technology was within reach of most people reading ColorBurst.

How do we take our home movies and make it interesting?

I haven't yet figured out how to translate the style and ideas of "405" to something already shot like "Jon's Violin Recital" or "Jimmy's Sixth Birthday" or "Linda at Scout Camp." That story kinda goes "Linda packed for Scout Camp; Linda rode to Scout Camp; Linda lived in a tent for a week; etc." Not necessarily a lot of character-development, conflict, tension, resolution, and/or interesting story-telling.

The few 'story' videos that I have done were based on fabricated stories around actual happenings - like "Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt" (which had trolls and quiz show games) - OR narrated stories of actual happenings - like "Band Video" (which followed the entire marching band season.) In both cases, the storytelling was hammered home by ME as the 'omniscent narrator,' -- not the world's most creative style! In any case, those videos required a LOT of effort to piece together a story from already-shot video.

Suppose we wanted to do an interesting video of something that we know will happen in the near future; "Mother's Day Picnic in the Park 2006". How do we build an interesting story, then shoot and eventually edit the video, all without turning the day into nothing but a major video production effort? After all, I'd like to be a participant as well as the video guy!

Here's one idea courtesy of oldest son:

OK, It might be considered a bit staged, and we'd have to have a bit of participant cooperation. Imagine a scene where all the players are sitting at the park bench after their meal is finished. The used plates and napkins ruffle lightly in the breeze to sad, somber music -- think Bataan Death March. Empty plastic soda bottle blows off the table. Maybe the day is cloudy, gray and overcast. As the camera moves in close to the picnic people's faces, they look unhappy and bored. Tapping fingernails, yawns and general slow fidgeting and sighs of boredom are evident. As the camera focuses briefly on young Olivia, she lightly slaps her hand over her eyes and forehead in boredom and sighs pitiably. Reese juts out her jaw and rolls her head from side to side. And so on .... 30 seconds or so...

Suddenly one of the moms literally jumps onto the scene from nowhere and runs right up to the picnic table with an excited grin on her face. "Hey everybody, don't look so bored!" she exclaims. "I've got an idea to rescue you from your doldrums!"

The family exchanges confused looks... What could this newcomer have brought them? They perk up and look back at the her expectantly. "What?"

"Water Balloons!" she cries jovially, pulling two engorged and dripping orbs from behind her back.

"YEEEEEAAAAHHH!!!" shout the family, as they jump up and begin handing out water balloons. The sun comes out...

[Cue fun driving light oldies rock music]

Everyone takes one or more balloons gently and they leave the picnic shelter in a single file line. At first they walk then more quickly, then jog and then cradling their handheld missiles closely, they begin to skip jovially. They go from place to place around the park, hugging their water balloons closely but gently. They smile huge comical smiles and wink knowingly at each other, or just stare lovingly at their little balloons. They hold them and stare at them or through them at each other (their faces showing in vibrant color) or at the clouds in the sky. They love their little water balloons and carry them everywhere for a time, going down the slide, swiinging on the swing, etc., etc.,...

Suddenly the music stops with a scratch and one of the other Mom's shout "STOP!" and the family gathers in a semi-circle, puzzled looks on their faces.

"What?" they ask.

"Well, I'm not sure, but I don't think we are doing this right."

"Huh? So?" the family asks her.

"Well, this isn't really all that fun. And I think people are staring at us." The family looks around and then looks back confused at their balloons. They scratch their head and think. They sit in silence and ponder this new mystery.

That is when, quite suddenly breaking the silence, the six-year-old drops her water balloon on her Dad's head!


The family turns, stunned. They exchange looks, clearly shocked and puzzled. Huh? What? But their puzzlement slowly and deliberately melts away to be replaced by smug grins.... as the music starts again, this time with a drum roll and ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

[Cue heavy metal]

WATER FIGHT! {this last scene writes itself and can be improvised}

Total "PRODUCTION TIME": 15-minutes.

In addition to better/more fun video, the production "gives us an excuse" to play and have a good time. Maybe that's the key.... just "give us an excuse" to play and have a good time. In 5, 10 or x-teen years, we'll have videos of us interacting and having fun and also images of what we were like at the time, how we dressed, what we did, etc.

It could be water balloons, bubbles, whatever. If the family is really adventurous, maybe a food fight. (Then again, maybe with your family you wouldn't have to stage a food-fight!) Just build a 'situation' with a trifle bit of drama/tension/whatever, then a resolution with us having a good time.

...basic storytelling 101... I should have thought of this... ;-)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

405: The Movie

The short film is a misunderstood art form. A long-time favorite of Colorburst Video would be the simply titled "405". The following video version is brought to you courtesy Google Video YouTube.

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Find out more about the original one and only 405: The Movie. If you are interested, you can also purchase the full copy of 405: the Movie405: the Movie along with loads of behind-the-scenes information.

Update (2008-01-02): Google Video went away, replaced with YouTube.

Friday, March 31, 2006

What is DRM?

As defined by, Digital Rights Management is ..

A system for authorizing the viewing or playback of copyrighted material on a user's computer or digital music player. DRM has centered around copyrighted music, with Apple's FairPlay and Microsoft's Windows Digital Rights Manager being the two predominant DRM systems. Video DRM is on the horizon as broadband Internet and more highly compressed video formats take hold. See FairPlay, Windows Digital Rights Manager and copy protection.

Wikipedia goes into greater detail concerning the general controversy.

Digital Rights Management is a controversial topic. Advocates argue DRM is necessary for copyright holders to prevent unauthorized duplication of their work to ensure continued revenue streams. Some critics of the technology, including the Free Software Foundation, suggest that the use of the word "Rights" is misleading and suggest that people instead use the term Digital Restrictions Management. The position put forth is that copyright holders are attempting to restrict use of copyrighted material in ways not granted by statutory or common law applying to copyright. Others, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation consider some DRM schemes to be anti-competitive, citing the iTunes Store as an example.[3]

Obviously, anyone who creates their own content, either music or video or even software should have the rights to control and profit from it's distribution. But where will the control be placed, in the hands of the consumer or the corporation?

Update: More About Digital Rights Management

2007/01/28 - Here are a few more resources concerning DRM that will help. Pay particular attention to the first link from concerning a call-to-action for everyone.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why Call It ColorBurst ?

Although ColorBurst Video has been around for a while, we've only recently added a web presence. Do a search for "colorburst" and you'll find lots of references. So why are we named "ColorBurst Video?" I chose the name some years ago as a deliberate play on words describing technical parameters of a video signal. The two words together also had the "feel" of brilliant, vibrant images that almost leap off the screen. Since we are all about using video to tell personal stories in a compelling way, the name stuck and we began using it on business cards and stationery.

If you are interested, here's a bit about the technical side: The color part of a television signal (chrominance) is superimposed on the monochrome or black-and-white (luminance) part of the signal using a subcarrier. Different colors are represented by the phase of the color subcarrier. When color television was being developed, there was a need to be sure that the monitor had a way to synchronize with the camera that originated the image. The colorburst is a very brief signal sent at the start of each line of the picture. In NTSC, it is 8 cycles of 3.579545 mHz with a phase of 180-degrees. (I TOLD you it was technical.) Circuits in the tv monitor use the signal as a known reference point to determine what color to display on the screen at any moment in time. You can find out more information about technical side of television at Tutorials on NTSC color television.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Why Home Video?

I have this theory that most of us bought a camcorder so we'd have a quasi-documentary of our lives (especially the good parts.)

In 20-years, DisneyLand or Mount McKinley will just be "a place we visited." What will always be more interesting is why we went to McKinley, how we got there, what we looked like, and what else was going on during the time we traveled to McKinley.

With that in mind I always chop-out more than I keep.

Some simple rules about what I keep:

1. TELL THE STORY - tell it visually, and only allow the dialog if it adds to the story. Its not a travelogue and its not just "Vacation Video;" its the story of your time and your life. Get the images of those people/things/places close to you!

Mount McKinley will still be there 10/15/20 years from now. You could go back or you can always buy postcards. What you'll really want 10/15/20 years from now is 'the Story of Us' planning, getting ready for, packing, driving/flying, getting lost, the hotel we stayed in (with that awful green swimming pool), Suzy after getting stung by the bee, having to dial 14 digits to get an outside line, the music we listened to (and the songs we sang), those interesting paddle boats/ski lodges/fireplaces, getting homesick (then not wanting to leave when it was time to go), the turtle we found, the trip home (and getting lost again), unpacking the car, etc.

In 10/15/20 years, you'll want a visual reminder of the old VW bus or yellow-AstroVan, and you'll laugh about that awful green swimming pool. The way baby Olivia's hair went into tight curls whenever the humidity went up will be a pleasant discussion for almost everyone except Ollie (as she likes to be called now.) That strange purple hairdo worn by little Johnny (who will be 6'3" by then) will be funny and might even invoke a, "What was I thinking!?!"

The painful bee sting will have become a darling piece of nostalgia, or maybe even a family legend. And Little Suzy will be married and have a Suzy Jr by then, who can't imagine how many freckles mom used to have.

2. Maximum Seat-time is 20-minutes - The preacher used to say he'd have trouble saving souls if his sermon lasted more than 20-minutes. It's unlikely your video will be of greater importance or interest. By keeping it short, you'll have to cut out the junk. Look at the Travel Channel, or MTV for some examples of how to hit the highlights in a short time. 20-seconds of screeching and gasping by Aunt Jeanne (after she fell into the pond) will be funny - two minutes would get tedious. But a few seconds of 'audience reaction' might be fun to look at, over-and-over. Remember the travelogue is really secondary to the people and "The Story of Us."

3. LONG-SHOT, MEDIUM-SHOT, CLOSE-UPs, CLOSE-UPs, CLOSE-UPs - Television tends to be an intimate medium and you're really trying to capture personalities. The cinematic practice of an establishing shot (long-shot) to provide the setting; a medium-shot to transition; then some close-ups is a simple and fool-resistant technique. My personal thinking is that you really can't have too many closeups.

4. Embarassing? Maybe, but NO REAL PUT-DOWNs - Editing is a judgement call about rewriting history. That strange girl with Goth makeup that cousin Tom dated really was at Thanksgiving dinner, even if they had a fight later that week and he never saw her again. Whether to show "Uncle Charlie's Mooning Incident," will depend on the circumstances of the accident and how Charlie really feels about it. (Even if he can't ever go back to that same church.)

If it is likely cause real pain, its better left 'on the cutting room floor.'

Oh, and did I mention lots of closeups.....

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Backing Up Is Hard To Do

  • Q - Should I make copies of my videos?
  • A - You only need to back-up the ones that might be important some day.

We're getting lots of queries about backing up home videos. And a lot of the readers are approaching the idea with some ill-advised logic: "I can compress video with MultiSuperGigaDivz Encoder and fit 10-hours on a CD! The specs say that it is DVD-quality and I put every tape I've ever shot on 50-cents worth of CDs I got in the clearance bin at WallyWorld. Then I erased and re-used the tapes." Well maybe not that bad, but a lot of people seem to think that digital media is "so expensive" that we need to penny-pinch with it.

At ColorBurst, we want to remind you just how valuable your videos are, and how they increase in value with age. I have a closet full of videotape shot over two-and-a-half-decades that represents the only moving images of that part of my family's personal history. Along with about 15,000 negatives, this represents a lifetime of images. They are, without a doubt, priceless. And the video I'll shoot at a friend's 5-year old's birthday party this weekend will be just as priceless particularly as it ages. Here's why - While she will have many more birthday parties as she grows up, this will be the only 5th birthday party she will have. When she graduates from Harvard, there will be no opportunity to go back and shoot video of her 5th birthday party to show at the graduation celebration. Perhaps one day, she'll fall in love, get engaged and marry. The videos her friends project at her rehearsal party won't have images from her 5th birthday party unless someone has copies from what I shoot this weekend.

Magnetic media stored carefully should last at least a decade or two I would think, and good CD-Rs or DVDs perhaps even a century. But technology will surely pass them by much more quickly. We need to back up our video in a robust form that is easily transferable to newer forms of technology as it comes along.

I know I've harped on this in the past, but let's not forget all those "disaster" kinda things that happen to physical media. How about earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, theft, vandalism, magnetic-pulse, and (for us Midwesterners) tornadoes! Add in broken pipes, mislabelling, forgetfullness, pets-in-heat, malevolent soon-to-be-ex spouses, and toddlers-spilling-liquid-substance, and all sorts of possibilities exist for damaging/destroying the physical media.

My family thinks it's wonderful because I'm often giving-out copies of videos on DVDs, and CDs full of still pictures. While I'm sure they enjoy the material, it also physically disperses copies of material that could never be replaced.

If I come home one day to find the fire-department hosing down the charred remains of my home, I know the insurance company will (eventually) help me replace my housing, clothing, furniture, and most of my video toys and goodies. I'd probably never be able to reconstruct a lifetime of images, but there are enough copies of the more important ones floating around that I could recover them.

You can buy name-brand DVDs for less than 40-cents each, and most PCs now have a DVD burner built in. Make DVDs of all of your videos, and spread them around.

"You only need to back-up the ones that might be important some day" (I do 'em all!)

Tech Musings - NTSC is not your PAL

Spend any time with video and you'll come across the four-letters "NTSC." Contrary to some beliefs, it is not an acronym for 'Never Twice the Same Color'.

From its early days, American television has 525 lines of information that is refreshed 30 times each second. NTSC color was designed so that it would not obsolete the thousands/millions of existing black-and-white television sets of the era (the 1950s).

If you are a real glutton for punishment, dig out some NTSC reference books and spend a month or three with information theory math. In just a brief dozen weeks or so, you too can learn about the complicated interaction between scanning lines, refresh rate, fields versus frames, signal bandwidth, luminance resolution, and other exciting stuff.

You'll learn how the color subcarrier was chosen to "fit in between" the parts of the bandwidth that are not used by the luminance signal; specifically, so that it would NOT affect the resolution. And why, until the digital era, that choice made recording a television signal so difficult. (The only change that occurred for the b/w set owners of the time was a slight adjustment of their horizontal hold control to compensate for the change from 60 fields/sec to 59.96...fields/sec.)

NTSC --> Natonal Television Systems Committee, a group that meets to develop standards for television.

Tomorrow - "Why French television is more of a PAL."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

From Our Mailbag

Dear Jim,

I have a pretty large project in mind, but have not a clue where to start! I have at least 10 hours of old home movie footage on about 12 vhs video tapes. I want to 'digitally remaster' the footage after capturing into Premiere so I have the best quality footage as is possible. I then want to output to DVD. All this is in the hopes of preserving my family's archival footage for the future, on a DVD-based format that will outlast any magnetic based tape (vhs).

  • Q1: Do I capture my vhs footage as mpeg2? or is this a conversion from avi after the event?
  • Q2: Is there a good 'cleaning up' tool or software that would suit my needs?
  • Q3: Is there a place I can go to get a tutorial - or even a book, using a particular piece of software?

I have scoured the web for a month and have looked at all manner of sites from police crime video tape to professional applications but all to no avail !!! Thanks for reading this and PLEASE respond if you think you could help with this mammoth task, thanx :: Tommy B.



I've been working on the same kind of project for a while - lots of planning time (thinking about) and recently, some real activity. Mine involves almost 60-hours of priceless home video. Some of the material is from the 80's using the early "home-video outfits" that consisted of a separate recorder and vidicon camera. Later versions involve VHS-C and even S-VHS camcorders. All sorts of birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other events; and numerous people who are no longer with us. Almost all of it was shot in existing light, some by a very inexperienced cameraperson (me). I started out with the goal of moving the images from the aging VHS tape to something more stable and durable. Also, I wanted to get it into the "digital domain" so that any future copies would minimize generation loss.

My opinion - it will eventually come down to how much money, time, and effort you are willing to spend to preserve your history.

Here's what I'm doing: First, I sorted the old tapes by date and divided most of the source material into 45-60minute projects. This is manageable from a hard-drive standpoint, and conveniently fits on a miniDV tape, VHS tape, and of course a DVD. I use a capture card to capture the analog audio and video to hard-drive (as an avi file).

The raw material is then opened in Adobe Premiere for clean up. I first go through and pull out all the real junk - start of the tape, low battery, crash-edits, footage (pictures of feet when someone forgot to turn off the camera), 8-minutes of the inside of the camera bag, and other distracting elements. Make this a project by itself within Premiere because you may choose to save the unedited version to DVD.

Then, you'll need to make some decisions here about how much you want to re-write history - I've been careful NOT to start editing out events and people. That boat you couldn't wait to get rid of in 1988, was the same boat you couldn't wait to buy in 1987! AND That Nehru Jacket you HAD to have might be embarassing to think about, but everyone will enjoy reminiscing about their crazy fad clothing. Save that footage of Aunt Jeanne's tumbling into the lake - someday even she will appreciate it.

Then I put some simple titles that indicate the event and date. You might want to identify any place or people that current/future generations might not know. I also put a billboard title at the beginning of the project to indicate the source of the video and any known technical information (camera, microphone, etc) and the date of this transfer.

Then, (and here is where the real time-cost exists) I tweak the video using levels and saturation controls in Premiere. This has to be carefully done on a scene-by-scene basis. There is significant time involved both in the tweaking of the controls and the rendering time, but you can greatly improve some existing-light video.

I've searched-there's no magic button, plug-in, or procedure that will make that wobbly hand-held old camcorder look as good as an $80K broadcast camera on a rock-solid tripod. You can purchase some plug-ins that might help here - Vixen or Video Finesse (and others) provide proc-amp type controls within Premiere. Vixen also has the ability to do some picture noise-reduction. Both tools used to have downloadable demos.

If you really want to burn some time, you could also try some audio filters and tweaks to accommodate those built-in microphones in camcorders. There's even the possibility of using a plug-in to stabilize that old hand-held video (SteadyHand?) You'll just need to strike a balance between improving the original camera footage and the amount of time it takes to finish the project. On the web and in numerous books, you can find hints and ideas to fix (or at least improve) specific problems with your footage.

Premiere allows you to output the timeline directly to DVD, but I prefer to output MPEG2 format for DVD authoring. While you're are still in Premiere, export some still-frames for your photo album and to use on the DVD case. I use Adobe Encore for authoring, but there are any number of good DVD authoring programs out there. If there is enough room on the DVD, I also store the project files, titles, and artwork used for DVD case and labels. Any notes I made during the 'production' go into a 3-ring binder.

Some of the 'major events,' like young Jon's Pinewood Derby victory, older son Jim's Boy Scout Eagle presentation, or the big Marching Band competition, can also be made into a separate program, complete with titles, graphics, music or narration.

If you want to be a real hero, you can make additional copies to hand out to some of the people involved.

One thought - Set yourself a reasonable timeframe to complete each DVD. Otherwise you might tweak your footage endlessly. One other thought - look at this as a long-term labor-of-love where you'll also learn a lot about shooting, editing, and enhancing your skills. It'll be a lot more fun!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Chroma Key

Special effects are usually associated with big name Hollywood blockbusters. However, one interesting fact that goes unnoticed by most people is it's common use in every day television, most especially news, weather and sports broadcasts.

My first notice of this was while watching football. For a few years now, a technology known as chroma keying has been used to paint the first down lines onto the field to better illustrate this otherwise invisible line for the viewer at home. This had many benefits, including making the game more accessible for people being newly introduced to the sport.

A computer system connected to all of the cameras in the stadium with reference points on the field automatically paints this unobtrusive yellow line onto the green field while keeping it from obscuring any players or objects on the field. The end effect makes it appear that this line is actually on the field at any time, though it's position will move constantly throughout the game.

More recently, I've seen it used commonly during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games during the speed skating competitions. The athlete's home country flag appears to be painted or projected in a static position on the ice in front of the starting line. A similar affect was used at the 2004 Summer Olympics to make it appear that a swimmer's country's flag was painted on the bottom of the pool in the same lane they were swimming in. Once again, the information is conveyed to the audience at home in an unobtrusive way.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -

Chroma key
A chroma key is the removal of a color (or small color range) from one image to reveal another image "behind" it. The removed color becomes transparent. This technique is also referred to as "color keying", "colour-separation overlay" ("CSO"), "greenscreen" and "bluescreen". It is typically used for weather forecasts. The presenter appears to be standing in front of a large map, but in the studio it is actually a large blue or green background.

It's also interesting to me that this is the primary technology used for the Lightsabers in the Star Wars Films, though this also involved an older technology called rotoscoping.

For more information, see the definition at :: Chroma Key.

More Information:

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Today, this blog has been started to help us build Colorburst Video which will be found at and Please be sure to tag this site for future reference. Thanks!