Author: Fairley, Russ
Date published: March 1, 2013
In the time it took to type this sentence, about twenty hours of video content was uploaded to YouTube.
Incredibly, seventy-two hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. That's 3 billion hours of video watched by 800 million individuals every month, with 4 billion videos viewed each and every day.
Web video is pervasive across all facets of the social media space as well. Get this: 500 years of YouTube video is watched every day on Facebook, and more than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute. YouTube has become a source of entertainment, a school, a drum clinic, and much more. Basically, it's one heck of a powerful tool-and it's completely at your disposal.
Like drumming, video is a vehicle for personal expression. Just as hammering out beats, solos, and fills declares your personality and uniqueness through your instrument, video gives you an opportunity to capture, edit, and share whatever your creativity can drum up. Overlooked in the past due to entry barriers-primarily high cost and a steep learning curve-video production has become easier, more accessible, cheaper, and more fun than ever before. Getting started is as simple as making the decision that you want to create videos.
As the producer of more than twenty videos commanding more than 1.3 million views on YouTube, session great Josh Freese is a good example of someone who took the bull by the horns. "I got into editing and posting videos on YouTube after getting inspired by a bandmate at the time, [former Nine Inch Nails bassist] Jeordie White," Freese says. "I saw this thing that Jeordie made in the old iMovie, and it was basically a slide show with funny pictures and the Ken Burns effect, with music in there. I was like. 'I've gotta do it!' So he showed me how he made it, and I just started tweaking out by myself in hotels when there'd be nothing to watch on TV-you know, when it's 4 A.M. in Moscow and you can't stand to watch any more BBC World."
Deciding to make videos is the first step. Figuring out what kind of videos to make is the next. Settling on your message or end goal is key. While off-the-cuff clips can sometimes strike a chord with viewers (search "Josh Freese Johnny Depp joke" online), putting time into planning the production usually leads to the best results.
Of course, it's impossible to make videos without some gear. As with drums, there's an infinite number of possible setups for video production. But also as with drumming, how far you take it doesn't have to be limited by the gear you can afford-only your creativity will decide that. Let's look at some options to get you shooting.
USING GEAR YOU PROBABLY ALREADY OWN
* Your smartphone, tablet, or Web camera
* Household lights
* A sheet and some pushpins or tape
* Internet connection
With this setup you can go with the simplest of all techniques: Shoot it and post it. Nail your video in one take, with one camera- in this case your phone, tablet, or Web camera-and upload the finished product directly to YouTube, Vimeo, or your favorite video service.
To make the most of the simple camera being used, experiment with lighting and maybe a back-drop to make your subject-you-stand out. Also, without a proper tripod you'll have to get creative with placing the camera. You may need to lean it against some books on a table or tape it to something. Just make sure it's not at risk of falling once you start pounding away.
Even experienced producers still use this technique from time to time. On certain occasions, just getting something recorded is the most important thing.
For Under $500
* Small camera
* External microphone
* Free software such as iMovie (Mac) or Windows Movie Maker (PC)
With this setup you go one step beyond simply shooting and uploading-you will actually import your footage into an editing program. Simple and approachable, these programs allow you to organize your shots, add nice transitions between clips, create titles, and even use some special effects.
Good entry-level cameras by Sony, Panasonic, 3M, and others are available for under $250. Look for a model with a microphone input, and check out B&H or Adorama online to find an inexpensive tripod. Adding an external microphone to the camera will improve your audio immensely, and the tripod will give you stability and the flexibility to shoot at different heights and angles.
Another route for around the same cost is to use an iPad and Pinnacle Studio or iMovie for iPad software, which is available in the App Store. The iPad also has a new option available: shooting and editing video right on your tablet. Pinnacle Studio and iMovie allow for importing and editing footage and stills shot on the device's built-in camera, and they contain slick effects, titles, and transitions to dress up your production.
The Keys to DIY Video Production
So, you've got the inspiration, an idea for a video, and some gear. But before you say "Action!" there are some production basics you should keep in mind.
Learn your camera and how it behaves in different lighting situations, as well as in indoor and outdoor environments. Learn its settings, specifically white balancing, and its manual and auto modes. Read the manual! Most manufacturers actually include decent information about video and photo fundamentals.
Take the time to learn simple editing, titling, and graphics, at least with the software that was shipped with your computer. If you're feeling adventurous, Adobe offers a free thirty-day trial of its software. Try out Premiere Pro CS6; it's very powerful and pretty easy to use.
See what your subject matter looks like recorded on video, and make adjustments accordingly-move your kit, move the lights, clean the drums, kick your kid brother out of the room. . . .
Realize that you don't need amazing stuff to start out, or for each and every video. All you need is some patience, a keen interest, and the tenacity to stay with it. And don't forget to exercise a bit of creativity with your content. At the end of the day, whether you shoot your video with a RED EPIC or an iPhone, a boring video is still a boring video.
It takes a while to get proficient at shooting and editing, but many of the skills you possess as a good musician will translate well to video production. Creativity, tenacity, and a willingness to put time into something are all parts of creating effective video. But perhaps most important-and you need look no further than Josh Freese's productions for proof of this-remember to have fun!
For $500 and Over
* Computer audio interface
* Selection of video lights or lighting kit
* Multiple cameras
* Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 or Final Cut Pro X
* Footage-matching software
This is getting to be a pretty pro home video setup. The audio interface (M-Audio, among other manufacturers, offers a range of models) will allow you to record sound directly to a computer, and a selection of cameras (three GoPro HD Hero2 models is a good option) will give you multiple angles. Now you've got the ability to create a video that's a cut above most of what lands on YouTube.
If you don't opt for software that lets you sync up your audio and video (such as PluralEyes), you'll need to exercise some patience in matching up your clips. Josh Freese can attest to the effort needed to put footage in sync, having recorded some live performances with Nine Inch Nails on stage using Flip HD cameras duct-taped to his cymbal stands. "I think I used three cameras a night, over two nights," Josh explains. "Ofthat, I used four or five angles for the video. It was such a pain in the butt [to edit together], but in the end it made me a better editor."
Russ Fairley, owner of Russ Fairley Productions Inc., is an award-winning Web developer, motion graphic designer, and video producer with more than ten years of digital media experience. He is an Adobe-certified expert in Adobe After Effects and the founder and cochairperson of After Effects Toronto, Canada's largest After Effects group. Fairley has drummed for the band 5375 since 1991.