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Discussion Starter #1
After cruising around youtube watching train videos by model train geeks the following needs to be said... :)

1) GET A TRIPOD.   I don't care how compact and discrete your video camera is, shaky, bobbling images are crap, in video.  Mostly, you're not shooting hidden footage for 60 Minutes...  For ground level layouts, there are compact mini tripods that work well - Slik has a good one.  Avoid the spidery flimsy junk sold to people who just bought  a cheap point & shoot.

2) Once acquired, USE the tripod.  (see number 1)

3) Don't want to carry a tripod when you're out at the next railfan or club outing?  GET A MONOPOD! A monopod will give you the needed stability while you're trying to get the train in view.  Get one with an adjustable head (or add an adjustable head) so you can angle it as needed for point of view and stability. Make sure its tall enough (and stiff enough) to be comfortable to view the viewfinder. There are good monopods that fold compactly, can hang from a belt loop, and can also be used for safely poking sleeping dogs or beating nerdhaters off.  Choose slightly robust over slightly flimsy.

4) Step back from the track.    People like to see the whole train, not 3 minutes of shaky, bobbly, blurry rivets passing by.  There is a generic sequence of basic shots for video that establishes detail within context, some need to learn how to use it.   The viewer can't see the detail when shot with a shaky, bobbly camera, and not when its going past the lens at 40mph.

5) Discover tripods and monopods work for still cameras too....

Professional videographers use tripods, monopods and inertial stabilizers for a reason...

Ok, abuse over...
 

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My middle ear and my eyeballs still haven't come to terms with one another... :D Hey, at least I didn't name names! (and I wasn't aiming the comment at MLS members specifically. Partly, my point is that many videos taken of rare trains (and models) may one day become part of the remaining historic record of some of them, and it would be a shame to retain less than what might have been.)
 

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A M E N !!!!!

We have a running joke in our newsroom regarding video from our Colorado Springs affiliate: They provide video three ways--steady, in focus, and the right color. Pick any two. :) (Usable audio is dependent on the alignment of the planets.)

Seriously, my wife got me a really cool bendable tripod from Radio Shack for Valentine's day that's great for setting up on uneven terrain such as a garden railroad. Now, if only the snow would melt so I can try it out... If you don't have a small tripod, fill a Ziploc bag three-quarters full with rice, and make a simple bean-bag support for your camera. You can set it on the ground, drape it over the arm of a chair, set it on a table, then set your camera on it for rock-steady shots. As one noted photojournalist used to say, "the world is your tripod. Use it." Press "record" then keep your hands away from the camera until the train passes. Long train? No worries, that's what editing's for. Some PCs and all Macs come with video editing software already installed. If you don't have any (or want something a bit fuller featured) you can download Avid's "FreeDV" from their web site. (The learning curve might be a bit steep, but it's good software.)

If you read my recent set of columns in GR on photography, the same principles for framing apply to video. Give the viewer an overall wide shot to establish the setting, then move in closer to show the details of the scene. (Think "wide, medium, tight")

Skip's point about these videos becoming historic records 50 years from now is right on the money. I was using some archive footage of C&S #9 a while back. It's "typical" home-movie stuff--shaky, marginally in focus, and not very well framed. But it was the only moving video of this locomotive that is known to exist. A co-worker walked by, saw the footage, and asked if our Colorado Springs affiliate had shot it... /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif

Later,

K
 

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6) Position yourself so that there is as much light as possible falling on the visible side of the train. There's nothing quite as useless as a picture of the shady side of a black locomotive. It's nearly as interesting as a swimsuit model with all her clothes on.
 

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Just like cropping a photo to eliminate the clutter that does not pertain the main purpose of the photo, please "crop" the video to remove the scenes that have nothing to do with the purpose of the video.  Unless the purpose of the video is the interminable wait for the train to show up, CUT THAT PART OUT!  There are way too many videos that begin with images as the camera is attached to the tripod, aimed, focused, re-aimed, adjusted, moved, shaken, stirred, wiggled, twisted, folded, spindled and otherwise mutilated and then 3 seconds of the train going by, followed by the reverse of the preamble as the camera is man-handled in an attempt to shut it off.  If you cut those parts from the video, you can increase the quality of the video and still keep it under the size limits of many of the web video storage services and impatient viewers will not cancel the download before the interesting parts starts.
 

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8) Try doing more shorter shots to tell the story.
Once mastered you can get a great effect without any editing.
Why people take 3 minute shots beats me, it is as if they have never watched TV. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif 
 

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Skip,
Why don't you come to the HAGRS show in June , in Kansas City and put on a video Clinic, that would be cool and I think alot of people would attend it.
I would be one of them.
Seems like you have alot to share, and it definately would be helpful. We can't all be "profesional photographers", but the ones that are could definately help out others, it's not like we would be out to steal your jobs, just to impress friends and family with our video skills.
And not have to listen to the "pros" whine about our videos.
Cliff

P. S.
Do you happen to know the torque sequence and spec for a small block Chevy intake manifold?
 

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Very good information.

I don't spend much time on youtube so..... What frame size is best?

What compression rate works best?

And what is the max size video you would download?

Craig
 

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Well, I guess I'm not going to watch the News in Colorado Springs. I was Program Director of a station in San Jose, California and the News Shooters were all frustrated artsy types, so all the footage came back with odd angles and lens flare and all the other things that you aren't supposed to do. Now days the big sin, in my mind, is the 2-second cutting. Wham, wham, wham...the cuts come at you so fast you can't keep up. Also the shaky handheld shot. As an actor, I did several episodes of Wild West Tech for the History Channel and the camera guys were forever wobbling the camera around on purpose. I asked them why, and they said it looked more like documentary footage that way! I said it looked more like crap that way, and they told me the producer wanted that style. What can you do? Get a seat belt for your recliner so you don't get knocked out on the floor is what! Look at as many videos of other people's trains as you can. Make note of what you think is right and wrong. What pleases you? What irritates you about the video. Then use your likes in your video and don't do the bad stuff.
 

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Posted By Sourdoh on 06/23/2008 3:44 PM
Well, I guess I'm not going to watch the News in Colorado Springs. I was Program Director of a station in San Jose, California and the News Shooters were all frustrated artsy types, so all the footage came back with odd angles and lens flare and all the other things that you aren't supposed to do. Now days the big sin, in my mind, is the 2-second cutting. Wham, wham, wham...the cuts come at you so fast you can't keep up. Also the shaky handheld shot. As an actor, I did several episodes of Wild West Tech for the History Channel and the camera guys were forever wobbling the camera around on purpose. I asked them why, and they said it looked more like documentary footage that way! I said it looked more like crap that way, and they told me the producer wanted that style. What can you do? Get a seat belt for your recliner so you don't get knocked out on the floor is what! Look at as many videos of other people's trains as you can. Make note of what you think is right and wrong. What pleases you? What irritates you about the video. Then use your likes in your video and don't do the bad stuff.




Gee??? "2-second cutting" seems like an eternity compared to what I have been seeing lately. I used to watch a PBS show called "Branson Jubilee" and the part of the show where they had a dance troup doing their thing would change the scene with the beat of the music... and switch back and forth between scenes of "non-dress rehersals" (everybody in leotards and workout duds) and "full-dress show" (full costumes)... I could not focus on anything well enough to tell if the dancers were any good... I have to assume they were lousy and this was just a way to hide that fact. If the dancers were any good they oughta sue the director for misrepresenting their talent!
 
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