Friday, February 1, 2019

Creating my first professional looking video

Rant warning...

This week I completed SAIT's disappointing DSLR Video 101 program.

Class instruction relied heavily, too heavily, on bland PowerPoint presentations (with errors occasionally corrected mid-lecture), four thin module handouts, and YouTube videos that I could have accessed for free. The instructor also called upon an unsuspecting but accommodating classmate, a professional photographer, to basically co-instruct. Not surprisingly after two classes, he dropped the program.

The first class pretty much set the tone with the instructor geeking out with the students who already had some video experience. Leaving those of us who had no video knowledge to either tread forward on our own or ask the instructor questions after the lecture. So not everyone learned the same thing. During one of the class geek sessions, the Dragon RED 4K camera, a camera I could never dream to own, sidelined us a little. Still, while it was interesting to see on the website the films that were shot with it (I checked it out at home), I couldn't help but feel we were missing other things that could have been covered.

Module assignments had to be shot on the SAIT campus.  When one classmate asked why that was so, he was told that it was "the curriculum." He also dropped the class. There was no feedback on the assignments submitted, so no real idea if you were on the right track unless you asked the instructor during the next class.

During the video editing portion, using Adobe Premiere Pro, I learned more from the Adobe tutorials, figuring stuff out on my own, and co-classmates figuring stuff out on their own and sharing, than from the instructor's notes. The software ran so slow in class that I downloaded the trial version to my home computer so I could complete the editing before the final assignment deadline.

The redeeming feature of the SAIT program is the cool people I met. We floundered in the SAIT hallways playfully together as we tried to complete the assignments during the class times allotted.

Also not surprising, there wasn't a student evaluation at the end of the class. Here are links to a couple of the better YouTube videos shown by the instructor:
As I usually do when the instruction is lacking, I explored other means of learning and found the treasure that is the Studio Binder website. Studio Binder had everything covered in the SAIT program and more. And better! For free!

The Studio Binder page, "How to Make a Storyboard for Video and Film: A Definitive Guide," not only explains in detail about how to make a storyboard it also has online templates you can use to create your own storyboards (for free!). Plus brilliant video tutorials. There are other tutorials for basic movie-making needs like script breakdowns, shooting schedules, and call sheets. Did I mention it is free?

Another freebie I explored months before the SAIT program was "Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR" on, accessible through the Calgary Public Library's e-Library. Very introductory, still it covered things like how still photographers need to think differently when shooting video. Also, how to position the camera to get the needed shots and how to focus (it's different with video).

A YouTube search for "videography for beginners" or "DSLR videography tutorials for beginners" results in a ton of video tutorials. My favourites:
Long story short, if you want to learn how to shoot video with your DSLR camera skip the video program at SAIT and instead search Google, search YouTube, search the Library, and then go out there and shoot.

Here is my final assignment submission. Not proud. I had problems with my camera's sound (because I didn't know what I was doing and had calibrated the audio wrong). When I tried to reshoot the audio in the next class, the environments had changed from a near dead campus to one bustling with open house visitors. So I had to improvise with some of the background sounds. (One is a sound-clip of Sexy Bingo in the SAIT bar. See if you can spot it.) I hope to do better with practice.


Some books that I've placed on hold at the Library (keyword searched DSLR video and subject searched Cinematography):