Because I know there are a few of you who prefer short & sweet, there is a concise list of need-to-know information regarding recording overhead videos located at the bottom of this post.
Starting the project of creating art videos was not easy for me! I understood it in theory (record, edit, post) but the actual how-to of filming threw me through a loop! Having seen multiple art videos (YouTube and classes, alike) I knew what I wanted to do, just not how to achieve the look. I tried to search the web to find out what my favorite artists online used to record their videos, but it was a fruitless quest. Not one result was available to me about which cameras worked best or where to position the recording device—and there were absolutely no tips or tricks on the process of achieving such a feat. So I now present you with the post I wish I could have found.
I knew step one would be to purchase simple video editing software, and I found a cheap one in town. It’s not the best thing by any means, but it works…for now. As for everything else, I just used items on hand. I had a nice camera—not camcorder—and a huge tripod to start out with, which I was using beneath a pretty terrible overhead light. After blogging for about a month and a half now, I have realized that having a less than ideal camera has begun to deter my creative spirit. Every video I made required multiple cuts due to quickly dying camera batteries, and having to adjust zoom per each cut was awful! It was simply not giving me the clean results that my inner perfectionist desired. Fortunately, I had the means to fix all of this!
Yesterday, I ran about town to purchase a camcorder and tripod, which would not consume a third of my desk. I am also now the happy owner of a desk light with natural light light bulbs. (The natural light light bulbs are a must have!) The camcorder can be used while plugged in, meaning no constant battery switching; the tripod is small enough that I no longer have to worry about inconsistent zoom range per cut. I’m thrilled to have a setup that makes my videos the (semi-)professional creations I’ve been so desperately craving! I now have a compact tripod that was aprox. $15, and a Cannon camcorder that cost me $250.
If you are trying to record an overhead video, the Canon Vixia HF R700 camcorder is perfect. It can stay plugged in forever, records up to 12 hours without stopping, and has a screen that will turn to face you, which means you can see the image you’re recording. It also has a function which allows the user to make the image mirrored, which isn’t a necessity, but stops you from trying to adjust your camera in the wrong direction when you image is off centered. If that doesn’t make sense, I’m sorry, but please know it’s got a neat feature that does a convenient thing for this specific use. I 100% endorse this camera if you are tying to do much overhead desk recording!
So here is a concise list of what I wish I’d known prior to attempting this project…
5 Helpful Hints For Recording Art Videos:
1. A camera with a battery life of an hour or more is a must have; a camera that can stay plugged in forever is a life saver!
2. If the camera has a screen to face you, it’s worth an extra $50. If it’s anymore than that, use a mirror opposite the camera to check your camera screen frequently. (Especially if the camera’s battery isn’t very good!)
3. You do not need a tripod that is taller than 40″. Ever.
4. Shadows will ruin all videos, and even the cheapest adjustable desk lamp is worth your money for this purpose.
5. Having natural light or white light light bulbs will make your videos 100x better looking.
6. The three most important features in a video editing software are 1) ability to adjust video speed, 2) ability to add and alter additional audio tracks, and 3) ability to rotate your video.
Now that I have a setup that I don’t hate, you’ll be seeing quite a bit more of me!! Until then, happy arting!