Make Your Own TV Show!

Make Your Own TV Show!


Format Facts

When buying a camera, here are some essentials to keep in mind.


Flash memory-based cameras are becoming increasingly popular,
and are less likely to break down than a tape-based cam, which contains more moving parts. The flash cameras typically connect to your computer via USB, and the file is copied off at the Finder level. Tape cameras, on the other hand, usually require a FireWire port and the use of a video editing application to “capture” the video, which takes more time and ultimately subjects the camera to wear and tear.


Standard Definition (SD) is 720x480, 30 frames per second. High Definition (HD) has two primary flavors: 720 (1280x720) and 1080 (1920x1080), and a few frame-rate choices: 60, 30, and 24 fps. You’ll probably want to stick with 30 fps, which is the standard for most video delivery systems.


Most cameras use a proprietary battery (you should always budget for at least one spare), whereas camcorders usually come with an external charger.


Hang around any pro video shoot, and you’ll quickly notice the audio person with a case full of microphones and boom assemblies (for hanging the mics right above the actors), as well as a field recorder. Study up on wireless microphones, or invest in a couple of inexpensive microphones (such as the Samson CO2 Condenser, $149 a pair, The Zoom H2 digital file recorder ($199, is an excellent choice for recording better-quality audio to be edited into the video in post.


2. Edit

Putting together a coherent video is not a simple task, and it’s one that requires some planning and common sense. Realize that making a show is a major undertaking if you want to end up with something that looks professional and polished. These tips should help you in the production and postproduction phases.



Yes, your camcorder has a zoom control. Here’s the basic rule about using it: Don’t. There’s nothing more amateurish than zooming in and out while someone is talking, walking, or doing just about anything. If you can’t reposition yourself when going for a close-up shot, pause the recording, zoom in, and continue recording. If you don’t want to stop capturing video, assume you’ll be spending time editing out the zooms once you’re at the editing stage. And remember that the audio capabilities of your camcorder are probably not going to cut it; you’ll want to consider microphones, booms, and a field recorder. You will also need a cheap clapper, which helps synchronize the camera-shot video and externally recorded audio in postproduction. Finally, get some lights, C-clamps, a decent tripod or two, and some large pieces of white cardboard for makeshift reflectors.


Logging Your Video

Take the time to clearly label and add comments to your logged video; your crew will thank you.


Once you’ve shot your footage, the most important step before getting down to editing is called logging, and it involves organizing the clips in the media bin of your editing software. Think of it as being the first step in the process of ordering—if you’ve shot scenes with the clapper, you’ll have a visual indication, embedded in the footage, of what goes where, and this is incredibly useful when dealing with the often large amount of video that needs to be distilled down to more manageable, bite-size chunks. A common mistake of novice videographers is to shoot all the video as one big chunk, and then chop and paste it in the editing software timeline. If you take the time to log your individual clips and organize them, it’ll save you time in the long run and makes the editing process much easier.


Decoupling Sound from Image

In iMovie, you can select the Extract Audio command from the Advanced menu, and then lay separate video down on top of the original audio track.


Starting Small

It’s tough to keep the action interesting for more than a few minutes at a time. Editing together a tight short will help you learn about pacing, timing, and visual continuity, and your audience will probably be willing to sit through about three minutes before losing interest and clicking away. If you can grab them in those first minutes, you’ll be able to hold them for longer. Create a storyboard to plan what you’ll be shooting. All you need are some basic storyboard templates and a printer, or a pad and pencil. Study movie trailers, which will give you a good idea of how story pacing happens, just sped up to condense the plot into a minute or two. If you’re thinking of a full-fledged episodic show, keep it to 23 minutes or less. Get into the habit of knowing that the pacing should be faster than you think it should. The hardest thing in editing is being concise.



You will be tempted to use these transition effects. You will resist.


Yes, there are hundreds of ways to visually move between different scenes, with wipes, 3D spins, and goofy effects that add nothing to the story, all of which ultimately make your whole production feel cheap. The best way to cut between shots and scenes is to just cut, an instant transition from one angle to another, from a medium or long shot to a close-up, and then back out. Fading to black or white is useful for changing locations, time frames, or acts of a story. Cross dissolves should happen in no more than a second or two; anything longer is going to feel unnatural and annoying. If you’re set on playing around with elaborate transitions, try to tie them to the story line in some way, and use no more than one or two of them in your production. In most visual storytelling, restraint is a good thing, and it will help you keep your audience focused on the story you’re trying to tell.


Titles and Credits

Here’s our demented self-produced movie title, done in Woody Allen’s favorite style.


Google the names “Saul Bass” and “Kyle Cooper.” Opening titles are an art form, and the best way to learn title design is to watch some of the masters at work. For your first projects, keep them simple, just like Woody Allen—check out the opening title sequence for any of his movies made post-1980; that’s the Windsor font, white on black. Elaborate typefaces bouncing around the screen are hard to do right, so concentrate on making the credits clean and legible. If you have Final Cut Pro, you’ll be tempted by the myriad creative options offered by LiveType, but remember, making good titles is like making soup: Add too much salt or spice, and the results will be too much for the typical palate. Same rules apply to title design, unless your name is Bass.




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"You can also switch down to 1280x720, if you want to work in standard definition."

WOW, that's some pretty high resolution standard def.


1280x720 is high definition video...


David Biedny

Indeed, that should read 720p Hi-Def, thanks for pointing out the error.

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