When you need a digital camera for your visual production then have to go for a DSLR. The good news is that even some of the entry level devices are now very affordable while not sacrificing too much on functionality. Canon and Nikon are two of the most commonly used and popular makers and you will really not go too far wrong with either of them. Personally we have preferred Nikon for many years and we have got used to their functionality and software so it is our first preference of choice, and our main recommendation would be to look at the D3200 vs D5200.
At the high end of DSLR cameras you can expect to pay $4,000 + for equipment like the Nikon D3 or D4. But this can be pretty much overkill for the majority of projects. Of course, if you have very high end clients with large budgets then making that impression with your cameras may be worthwhile. But for most jobs an entry or mid level camera will be more than enough as they all have some pretty good basic functionality.
If you going for an entry level model then you should really consider the above mentioned Nikon D3200 vs D5200. They are very versatile and come packed with features that up until recently would only have been found in high end professional cameras. The great thing is that they will both record audio and HD video, so this reduces the amount of equipment you actually need.
At the mid level you should look at the difference between the Nikon d5100 vs d7000. The D7000 does give some extra umph that you might need especially if you are regularly working with low light conditions and difficult focusing situations. But all of the options will give you some pretty powerful equipment that will serve you well in pretty much all projects you work on.
No matter what your plans are for projects you will be taking on, you will need a DSLR camera, but as mentioned this does not have to break the bank. Entry level cameras are now so advanced that you can accommodate for even tricky jobs. You are better off saving some money on the camera body and spending the extra on some better quality lenses. You will really notice the difference there.
No matter what you are of visual production you plan to be working in there are a few things you will need. One of the most important things to consider is a photo and video camera. The great thing is that today you can buy digital SLR cameras that record HD video as well as photographs. This means that at the most basic level you will only need one camera to fulfill both jobs. Nikon has long been a favorite among photo and video professionals, and you do not need a high end DSLR. Most of the introductory cameras now come with enough features and power to do the job. We advise that you try to choose between the Nikon d3200 vs d5200.
Visual production is a very computer hardware and software intense process. Dependent on the size of the projects you take on you will require more powerful and feature rich equipment. These are the bear minimums:
- Video editing software
- Photo editing software
- Video/photo camera
- Projection equipment
Your budget will dictate a lot, but you have to make sure that you do not take on projects that you are not physically able to complete with what you have. Photo and video equipment is vital and you should not scrimp on this as it is at the core of what you will be doing.
All the above come with features and prices that widely vary and you will need to figure out exactly what you will need for each project. In some cases you may need a lot more stuff than you usually would, so you can always consider hiring some of these items to complete a job. This will allow you to take on much larger projects with a much lower budget.
One of the most important items you will need is decent video and photo cameras. As mentioned above, Nikon DSLRs are a great option and even the entry level ones will come with HD video recording ability. This will reduce the amount of equipment you have to invest in and reduces the weight of your gear bags. This is something that is often not appreciated, but it will make your life easy when you can simply switch between photo and video recording.
You will also need a decent tripod and there is a huge selection here. I would stay away from the cheapest models when you are starting out as they can be very flimsy and will not be as steady as some of the heavier models. Unless weight is really am important factor you should opt for a model that is a little bit heavier as it will be a lot more solid and stable, even in difficult conditions.
As business has changed over the years so has our approach to video and photo editing. There was a time when everything was done in Adobe software, and we certainly still use their suite of applications for a lot of work. But the great thing is that as our business has expanded so has our ability to invest in more technology to further allow us to become more creative. In this month’s post I want to point out some pieces of software that we have accumulated in recent years that we think is worth considering if you are working in the visual industry.
The first thing I want to talk about is Apple’s Aperture. When it first came out about 7 years ago we were not too keen, as it was just a nice way to organize photos but its editing features were only OK. But with several iterations there has been a huge amount of improvement, and we have practically switched all our photos to being stored in Aperture. It just provides for a great workflow system, and you can directly install plugins, e.g. Nik Software plugins, or open files in Photoshop if you need a little bit extra power.
Apple’s Final Cut Pro probably barely needs mentioning, and along Adobe Premiere is practically in use every day. We use both systems as some of our employees would have learned different systems, and we do not want to limit our ability to hire the most creative people.
One of our most recent additions has come through the Corel suite of applications. Due to its very reasonable price I decided to give it a go, just to have a larger set of tools to work with. What I have really come to like is the workflow process that is seamless and it really integrates photo and video editing in a great way. The Corel Draw Graphics Suite is probably something we will consider some time in the future, because at present a lot of that sort of graphic stuff and vector design is outsourced.
As our business grows so does our need for employees and different applications to better serve our customers. Fortunately there is a great deal of choice in the graphic, photo and video editing market allowing us to experiment with and implement new processes. This approach has served our customers really well and the feedback is very positive.
As part of our equipment pool we have several DSLR cameras and also a Sony HD camcorder. The camcorder is a semi-professional one and it gets used a lot. As we have ramped up the amount of projects we work on we have increasingly found ourselves in situations where the camcorder had to be in two places at the same time.
Rather than invest a huge amount of money in a second camera we decided to test run the Nikon DSLR cameras’ video recording functionality. The results have been mixed but overall we are very positive.
The first thing we discovered is that we needed to invest in some microphones which can be attached to the flash connector. This made a huge difference as the built in microphone is pretty poor. We also found that some of our older cameras like the Nikon D5100 the video quality was not great unless you were in perfect light conditions. However, on one of our latest additions the Nikon D7100 we were literally amazed by how great the recordings turned out.
To be honest I have no idea why we never tried the DSLRs before now, maybe it was because they were previously not up to scratch, but there have been some huge improvements in recent years.
So with the addition of a couple of microphones to our equipment pool we have managed to save ourselves the expense of over $3,000 for an additional Sony video camera. Now, for some of our most visually intense projects we still resort back to the Sony camera, and it is certainly the go to device when it is available.
However, it is great that we now have the flexibility to serve our clients much better. This recently paid huge dividend when we arrived on site with a customer to be told that they had decided to go with some video material after initially having decided against it. Had we not run the tests with our D7100 we would have probably had to delay that part of the project. But instead we simply gave them a quick quote for the additional work and then started with the project.
The client was so impressed with our flexibility that they have already booked us back for another marketing and promotion project that they will be starting in a couple of months’ time. All I can say is: Know your equipment!
One area where modern technology has advanced capabilities is in what VJs can now achieve with Software that synchronizes video with audio. Gone are the days where you had to plan long ahead and mix up a VHS tape for a nights worth of entertainment. Once that was done you had no real chance of making adjustments, not in a practical way anyway. But modern software and the advent of many digital video formats like mpg, there is huge potential there.
Vjs today can simply turn up at a club, party or corporate event and match up the videos that are projected onto screens with the music they are playing as they go along. But not only can you just go ahead and select music and video from libraries as they are queued up, but you can mess around with speed, direction and also the overlap. Software like Resolume Avenue can sit right on your notebook with your music library and you will have huge flexibility with how you sync up video with audio.
As a night goes on you will get requests for certain music that deviates from what you had planned to play, but this should not pose a problem to changing videos to match up. With designated software you can quickly transition from video to another with some pretty cool looking effects built in. This all adds to the visual effect on the audience and your customer will be very happy with the outcome.
Another great thing about professional VJ software is that you can have built in VJ footage that automatically generates moving and expanding shapes. This is similar to what is included in iTunes visualizer, and can be a really cool addition to evening’s entertainment. This is particularly effective at large events with large screen projections. Examples would be large out door music events and concerts. With relatively simple software you can achieve some incredible visual impact.
It should be of no surprise to anyone that websites have become ever more media intense. This has mainly been made possible through an amazing increase in Internet connection speed for the average household, but also through the increased speed in computing power. Media rich visual impact is now possible for every company, with relatively little effort. Whether you want a simple video to display on your website or you want a photo slide show to appear, or you want some very fancy looking flash animations, there are hardly any limits these days.
Embedding video in websites has become simpler than ever through sites like Youtube and Vimeo. With simple copy and paste code you can implement a video in any section of a site. But just because this part is simple does not can that such a project is quickly done. While the implementation is easy you still have to make sure that the actual video is professionally produced and of a high quality. If it looks very amateur then you will not have the same impact, no matter how good the web technology is.
To incorporate photos you can use simple slide show plugins that are available for pretty much all content management systems. You can also use Adobe Flash technology for photos, but Flash is something that is a bit more complex. Done right it can be a serious wow factor for a website and you can very powerfully combine photos, animation, videos and interactive menus to provide very unique visual impact to the visitors of your site.
Visual production is hugely important for modern website design. It is now, more than ever, possible to capture and wow customers and other visitors to websites by making an immediate visual impact. There are many tool necessary for such projects and you will find many explanatory and informative articles about some of the tools needed.
When you are trying to create a marketing and branding campaign then there are two areas of focus:
Obviously videos are crucial for most advertising campaigns that are TV or internet based, but you will rarely encounter a marketing project where photography is not a crucial part. Mastering this area can take years but getting the basics right will help you complete projects to perfection. The great thing is that there is a lot of overlap between photography and videography especially in the areas of composition and exposure.
You can encounter jobs that only require photography, but it rarely happens that a client only wants video. Most video material will be accompanied by photographs whether it is web based marketing material or on TV, there will be a request for photos to accompany the project.
DSLR photography has now become very cheap and affordable. You can still buy extremely expensive cameras that will put you back $5,000+ but most of the lower end cameras will now give you so much power and flexibility that it compares to professional cameras of just 4 or 5 years ago. For under $800 you can get some truly great devices. Nikon is one of the most popular camera makers and at Afterglowvp.com we generally recommend this brand. But Canon are just as good, it really comes down to preference.
For all visual producers it is a fundamental tool, just like a hammer is to a construction worker. It is rarely out of reach on any project and knowing your camera is very important. You should be able to pick up your camera at a moments notice and modify settings blindfolded as time is always money and you do not want to waste the time of a client. The more you use your camera the more you will be able to operate it without having to think too much about it.
Photography is really a visual design producers best friend and you should get very familiar with this piece in your gear bag.
We are in the process of setting up a guide to visual production and all the equipment that goes with it. This site will contain valuable information about hardware and software used in the industry that will help people understand different approaches. In the coming days and weeks this site will be updated so make sure you check back regularly.