Shoot video on the iPhone

Looking at applications to shoot video on the iPhone

The standard camera app that comes with the iPhone 6 is pretty good for shooting videoas you have options to do straightforward video either at 30 frames per second or at 60 frames a second. You have to go into the system settings for the camera to set up the frames per second if you want to change from one to the other. The 60 frames per second will give you incredibly smooth video, but you do have to be aware that it does use up a lot of disk space on your device.

Apple Camera App

iPhone camera app for shooting slow motion

You also are able to use slow motion and you can choose between 240 frames per second or 120 frames per second. When the video has been shot you can set where the endpoints and out points are for the slow motion. So you can have normal speed video at the beginning of your clip followed by a period of slow motion and ending with normal speed again. It is easy to use and not difficult at all to get the slow motion video clips out of your device.

iPhone camera app for shooting timelapse

Very simple controls for shooting timelapse as the application works out everything for you. It is just a case of pressing one button and the timer starts running shooting off an image every now and then. I have used this while I was cycling on my bicycle and I even had the camera handheld. It worked out pretty good, but timelapse photography does work out better when you can have the camera held steady on a tripod. The application compared well to the HyperLapse application and I don’t really have a preference, one over the other.

Lots of other applications you can use for shooting video with your iPhone

Vine for the six second video


I haven’t really been able to get my head around this ridiculous six second video shooting application, service called Vine. You even have to use the phone in portrait mode while shooting your video. You hold down your finger onto the screen when you want to capture something. The idea would be to put together three or four very short clips. I have seen one or two innovative and interesting uses of this application. I kind of wonder how some of the people have managed to organise the sound for the video. You don’t get any editing features so if what you shot didn’t work out then you just have to shoot it again. In terms of video it is a little bit useless, but a little bit of fun. It is more suitable for a quick and silly social media type of video post. That is why the company was bought by Facebook. It says it all doesn’t it!

Video apps

Capture – An application for YouTube

The first thing that I like about this application is that it gives you instructions to turn the camera into landscape mode. If you haven’t done that then you don’t get the red button to start a video recording. It is very simple in the extreme with one button at the top for switching from the three rear facing camera to the front facing camera. Then there is another button for turning on the light in this video recording application from YouTube. When you have recorded a couple of clips you will see a button in the top right-hand corner that will take you to where you can do some basic editing. You get your timeline at the bottom of the screen and you can press play to watch through your video. If you tap on one of the video clips in your timeline you can do some editing. The only editing that you can do is to trim the start and end of your clip. Topping and tailing is the professional term. It is possible though to add some music do it and you’ll see a button at the top right which gives you access to the music you have on the device. Also you can choose from a small number of YouTube soundtracks. If you want to make a quick video of a longer length than you can get from Vine and have a little bit more control then this application isn’t bad. You can also add other clips to your timeline. You tap on the plus sign at the right-hand bottom corner and you get the choice of recording a new clip or adding an existing clip. The existing clips are from all of the videos you have on your device shot by whichever application and not just those you’ve shot with this Capture YouTube application.

The first time that I used this for recording video everything went well with regards the shooting of the video. Where I ran into one or two problems was when I wanted to upload to my YouTube account. It tried to do it three times, but it failed miserably. I was using the Wi-Fi at my home and I wasn’t trying to do is over mobile data. So I have no idea why it didn’t work, it certainly should have been okay. If you are uploading to YouTube you also get the option of sending to Google plus, Facebook or Twitter. You can add a description for the video. It is possible to add a contact, I haven’t tried that yet but I suppose it is possible then to send a message directly to one of your friends. I expect that it will link back to the video on the YouTube site. If the upload actually completed. You can also export to the camera roll.

In enhancements you have just two choices and that is one for colour correction and the other is stabilisation. The default settings for those were set at on and I have yet to determine if it makes any difference for example you might turn stabilisation off if you have the camera set onto a tripod. I plan to do some more experimenting with this application and decide whether it is worth spending more time using.

Creating video with Spark


Spark Camera for iOS is another minimal video shooting tool and when you open it up what you get is a big red button in the middle of the screen. On my screen at the moment I can see other circles to the right of this big red button and these are videos that I have already shot using this application. The video clips within that movie that you are working on and editing are colour-coded. So on this screen here I can see that the video clip on the left has three clips in it. One of the clips is colour-coded red, the other one is purple and then there is a shorter video clip that is in blue.

Going from Manhattan to Mars and back to Area 51 with your filters

To do some editing you tap on the large circle and you get into a screen where your video starts playing. The first choice you can make is if you want to add some sort of filter to the video. At the bottom of the screen you see a row of little dots and each of these represent different filters that you can put onto your video. The filters are named after a large cities such as Barcelona, Cairo, Paris which are different types of colour filter. If you choose the Manhattan filter, that gives you a black-and-white movie. You can go for a monochrome green effect called Area 51 or you can go really weird with the Polaris effects which inverts all of the colours. The Tokyo effect gives you the rotoscoping defect that I saw in that movie featuring Keanu Reeves. Then there is the other outer space filter which is a monochrome red and it is called Mars.

Tap the scissors icon to edit your video in Spark

To further edit the video you can tap on the button in the bottom right-hand corner which is a pair of scissors. The timeline consists of each clip being a circle and you can trim each of these clips by tapping on that circle. It comes up full-screen and you have another larger circle to work with. You get dots on the circle for the starting point and endpoint of your video clip. If you are working with short clips, as you should be, it works fairly well for you to chop off the bits of the start and the end of the video clip that you don’t want to use. Tap on the button with the checkmark and you go back to the screen with your timeline.


Spark and Instagram tightly integrated for sharing video.

Once you have done all of your editing which might include adding some music you can then hit the green button with a downward pointing arrow. This is to the right side of your screen and it will save your movie. After the movie has been saved you get a choice of sending it to Twitter, Facebook, as a message or an email. The red button in the centre saves the movie as an Instagram video and it gets saved to the camera roll inside Instagram. The application Instagram opens up and once again you get choices of adding filters, doing more editing and setting the cover frame for the video. The next option allows you to choose where you are sending it to. Well, it is going to Instagram already, but you can also send it to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and also Foursquare. It is also possible to add this to the photo map and to name the location. The integration between the Spark iOS video application and Instagram during the process is seamless to the point that I hadn’t realised that some of these settings I was working with, were actually in the Instagram application.

Has my imagination been sparked by Spark

The controls for this application were very simple, the interface was straightforward and easy-to-use. I liked that I have a number of options for sharing the video out and it seemed to work very well sending my video off to Instagram. I think I would rather use this Spark video recording and editing iOS application than the Vine application. It is great to able to choose how long I want to have my video and also having some editing possibilities.

Spoilt for choice on iOS when recording and editing video

In this article we have looked at just three of the applications that I have on my iPhone 6. I have a number of other applications for shooting video and editing of the video and I will be looking at these in a future article.

iPhone 6 shooting video in Ireland

Shooting video with an iPhone

The joys of travelling light with just iOS devices even when you want to shoot video. Last week I went on a trip to Ireland for four days and I took my Sony NEX 6 with me and you know what, I didn’t use it. I shot quite a few video clips on my travels and I also did some editing of those video clips and was able to publish them. The reason I able to do this was because I had my iPad with me and also my iPhone 6. I have the latest versions of these two devices and they really did cover all my needs for the trip.

Wide range of possibilities

With my Sony mirrorless camera I do have a large number of options. I can put on different lenses and there are one or two applications that I can use in camera including a timelapse application. I love the little camera and when I was packing my bags I really didn’t want to leave it at home. I thought that it would be a perfect opportunity to get some use out of it. It has been slightly less used of late due to a very busy period at work and I was looking forward to being a photographer again. So despite being short on space in my packing of the suitcase, I put the camera in there. I did feel it was going to be necessary to leave behind my larger zoom lens unfortunately. So what did I get doing with photography and video during my trip?

Slow Motion Video

It is so easy to always have a camera with me because I always have my iPhone with me. If I don’t have my iPhone with me then is quite likely that I will have my iPad with me instead. It just kind of works that way when I am doing the charging up dance with my iOS devices. Yes I am one of those people who is not afraid of ridicule when using an iPad to shoot a video or photos. Since getting the iPhone 6 I have been keen to try out all of the facilities with the new camera app. One of those new features has been the slow motion video. It shoots at 240 frames per second and is also gives you the ability to do a basic edit so you can choose where it goes from normal speed to slow motion. You can also choose to shoot at 120 frames per second to get a different slow motion effect. The slow motion that you can get with the Apple iPhone 6 is pretty good indeed. Choose the right subject matter for your video and you are going to get a good quality slow motion video to do what you want with.

Timelapse Video Shooting

Another area of endeavour with my new iPhone 6 is the timelapse photography. Just set the device in a place where it’s not going to be moved and you have some sort of action happening in front of you. While I was away on my trip I did a timelapse video of a tractor that was spreading muck in a field behind the house where I was staying. I also did a timelapse video in Dublin airport as I was getting ready to leave the country. I used the Apple camera app and it was very easy to set up. All I had to do was to choose timelapse from the camera choices and press the button to set recording. I left it for about 20 minutes or so and came back to find that the job was done. It’s very easy to then share the video out from the iPhone. I sent it directly off to YouTube making use of the really fast Internet that my son has at his house.


Hyperlapse from Instagram on the App Store on iTunes

Hyperlapse is an application which came out just before the iPhone 6 and the new camera app that came with iOS 8. It worked pretty well and as you would expect, it is nice and easy to set up. In fact it is so easy to setup there are only two buttons on the screen. This would make it much faster to get using. Faster than using the Apple camera app where you would have two first choose whether you are going to take an ordinary photograph, do a slow motion video or do some time lapse photography. With Hyperlapse there is just one button for starting it and another button for switching from the front camera to the back camera.

When you have shot your video you then get a choice of the speed. You can leave it as ordinary speed video or you have then the choice to go to 2 times, 4 times, 6 times, 8 times, 10 times or 12 times video speed. When you have the video speed that you require, you just choose the checkmark icon in the top right-hand corner. When using this application it becomes evident that you are shooting ordinary video which is then converted into timelapse video. This could be handy if you do want to use the standard video alongside the timelapse. Other applications do the timelapse by shooting still frames with a time gap in between. That way you don’t have the choice to go back to standard video.

It is pretty quick on my iPhone 6 to save the video once my choice was made. It can be shared to the usual suspects, such as Facebook, Instagram or Vine. I can also send it to other applications I have on my device such as the handy little video editing application called Replay.

Apple Camera App

So to get started you choose the timelapse operation for the camera at the bottom of the screen. It takes time to do this so that if you wanted to go directly into doing a timelapse and do it quickly, then you might decide to use Hyperlapse instead. When you press the button there is a little animation of a timer going around the red button which shows you that you are recording. That only other option on the screen is for choosing the front or back camera. When the recording is complete you press the icon on the bottom left-hand corner which takes you to your photos. Once again you have the various sharing options including YouTube and Facebook. There is also a small button with three dots in the middle of a circle which allows you to send your video to iMovie.

High Quality Ordinary Video

If you want to get the highest quality video, as in very smooth, then you can shoot at 60 frames per second on the iPhone. To get this setting to work you have to go to your settings on the iPhone. In the main settings you can scroll down to where it says camera. Just underneath where you can switch on the grid for the camera, you can also choose to record video at 60 frames per second. The only thing to remember with this is that it will use up much more memory space on your device. You can’t change the setting from within the camera app itself. It is now possible to send video that has been shot at this higher frame rate directly to YouTube.

Is it necessary to carry around a proper camera?

I am starting to think that it is not absolutely necessary to carry a DSLR or a mirrorless proper camera in order to be able to shoot good video. Obviously, there are always trade-offs using one way of doing something compared to another. Shooting with your iOS device is great because it is small, light and easy to carry and at the same time gives you good quality video. It’s all going to depend upon the type of videos you want to shoot. In situations where you have good light then the iPhone 6 is going to be a good choice.

Filmic app

Another App I will get using some time soon on the iPhone and iPad

On the other hand, there are benefits to using something with a larger sensor. It is going to be easier to get the bokeh effects that you would like to have in something more cinematic with a good camera and a good lens.

Easier to get the video onto the computer

On my Sony NEX 6 the video is stored in the AVCHD format which to a large extent is a pain in the arse. It is much easier to use the video formats directly available on the iPhone 6 and the iPad Air 2. You don’t have to worry about converting video to do the editing. It is possible to use an easier to export video format on the Sony (.mp4), but it is at a lower resolution.

Easier to upload the video to social networks

This is the big plus point for using an iOS device for shooting your video. It is so easy to take your video and to edit it and then to share it. While I was on my trip to Ireland I tested out the Replay video editing software. I wanted to do this mainly because I saw it being demonstrated at the recent Apple event. The software looks pretty good, it was impressive how fast it worked and it was kind of fun. I found that there was too small of a selection of audio that can be used with the video. There was a large watermark on the bottom right-hand corner of the videos which I would have to pay to get rid of. It was also possible for me to pay you one single fee to get all of the extra themes as well as getting rid of the watermark at the same time. In the end after using this application I felt I preferred to use software such as Pinnacle Studio or even to use iMovie to have more control over the video editing process. In any case, whichever editing software I decided upon, it was still going to be very easy to upload directly to YouTube, Facebook or in fact anywhere I wanted online. It’s not going to be the same high quality editing that you can get with an application like Final Cut Pro>, but very good for video editing on the go.

Easier for selfies

When I’m using the wide-angle lens on my Sony camera I can shoot a pretty decent handheld self video. Even though it is a very small camera I do notice the larger size and weight compared to the iPhone 6. I am even tempted to get one of those poles with a tripod mount at the end for shooting videos of myself. For video blogging, vlogging a setup like this could be just what I need.

iPhone versus NEX6

NEX 6 NEX 6 Overview NEX6B CE NEX6 Sony

Optical zoom versus digital zoom

It is all about the glass! The lens on the iPhone 6 is tiny and honestly not going to be anywhere near as good as the lenses that you can use on a proper camera. It is possible to get extra lenses that can be used on the iPhone, but the quality is still not going to be even halfway close. There are a huge number of lenses that can be used on the Sony mirrorless cameras. When I’m using the vintage Canon 50mm lens I can get superb depth of field effects, such as being able to pull a good focus.

Variety of applications

Apart from the Apple camera application there are a huge number of camera apps for shooting video as well as for photos. Some of these applications will add effects as you are shooting and some allow you to edit the video after the fact. A lot depends on what you are trying to say with your video. Do you need to use some special effect to try and convey some specific message and do you need to do it quickly? If this is the case then the iPhone and the huge variety of applications you can choose from, is likely to give you just what you need.

There are applications which can buy from Sony and I did buy one or two even though it is not that easy to do. The applications for the NEX cameras are more for the photographer side of things than for video. I have used the timelapse application and I can recommend it because of the configurability you have for setting up your timelapse. The Apple camera timelapse is much more simple in terms of what you can do with it. So if you need to have some specific type of control for your timelapse video, then you are best to go with the application that come with the camera.

Tripod mount built-in

It is pretty handy to have a camera that has a tripod mount already built-in. On the other hand with the iPhone 6 because it is quite light and small you can use other means to put it into a secure position. You could use elastic bands to secure it to the car rearview mirror to shoot your video in the car. Even just propping the phone up in a place can be a little easier ,especially when it is in a case. The timelapse video that I shot of the tractor whizzing around the field spreading muck, I was able to set that up by leaning the phone against the window. It is also possible to buy holders for the iPhone that have a standard tripod screw mount.



Horses for Courses

All in all, it was a huge success using my iPhone 6 on my trip to Ireland and I certainly could have saved myself some carrying of my Sony camera. It is much quicker and easier to whip out the iPhone and shoot video compared to using the camera. I do find though, that when I have the camera and I am planning to use it, that it is pretty quick as it is in my hand already. I have a wrist strap that keeps the camera in a good position and ready to use. For myself I think it is quite likely that I will continue to use both systems for my video shooting. It is the case that once you know the limitations and trade-offs for each of these ways of shooting video, you can plan or make a better decisions regarding which camera to carry with you. There are going to be times when I will take one camera and that will be the iPhone 6 and then other occasions when I will have both available to use. In any case, if I want to do a multi-camera shoot it is going to be very good indeed to have the iPhone in the camera kit bag alongside the Sony NEX 6.

Multi camera Video shooting

Shoot with more cameras

I was listening to a podcast, the Mac Power Users Podcast and they had a guy on there, Wally Cherwinski who was talking about using multiple cameras for a video shoot. I do have a number of cameras that I could put to a task like this and so I was quite interested. I have my own NEX 6 Sony mirrorless camera and my wife has one which is exactly the same. Then I still have the Canon Vixia video camcorder which I used to use for my videoing and which still works very nicely. Then there is the Canon 600D which I have been planning to sell but haven’t got round to it yet. I also can shoot video with my iPhone, but the trouble with that is that the storage space is extremely limited. Then there is the iPad and once again I would have similar problems with the amount of space available for the recorded video. Another possibility is to shoot video with my Samsung Galaxy S3, but to be honest I have found that this device not as good as I would like to be for recording video. The problem that I have with it is that sometimes the audio is out of sync with the video and that causes me some problems. Those problems would be even worse when trying to integrate that video along with a video from other cameras. Haven’t really used the Nexus 7 for shooting video, but I will have to give that a try and see how that works out. So as you can see it is not outside the bounds of possibility that I could do some multi-camera video shooting. I had already used the synchronisation features of Final Cut Pro X to synchronise audio and video. This is where I have recorded audio separately from the video camera and then matched the two together so that I would have the best audio to use with the best video recordings. This would be the first time that I would use multiple cameras and the syncing of them in order to get the effect like you see when watching a television programme and they are switching from one camera to another live.

Putting together a multi-camera video

The problem that you have to deal with is that each of the cameras are shooting from a different position and will have to deal with the available light in the venue. There can also be differences in terms of how the hardware reacts to the light. Fortunately there are ways of adjusting the video for colour casts and lighting in Final Cut Pro X. The other thing that you have to think about is the audio. Audio is vitally important within any video and you have to deal with getting the audio right on as many of the video recordings as possible. One reason for this is because you can let Final Cut Pro use the audio as part of the synchronisation process as it is the one thing that is going to be the same on each of the video recordings. What you then have to remember is that there are going to be differences in the level of the audio depending on where the camera is placed. I had one camera that was near to the speakers and so we picked up the audio very clearly and then there was another camera which was set to the back of the room and the audio recording was not nearly as good. Fortunately when I did the synchronisation of the video clips from the various cameras, the audio from the back of the room was good enough for that part of the job.

Camera Stabilisation – Two ends of the Spectrum

Cheap Steady Cam

Steady cam device

Steady camIn the spirit of frugal filmmaking I did have a go at making myself a small steady cam type of device. I followed instructions that I found on a frugal filmmakers website and I have to say that I’m not quickly good at this sort of home-made device. My engineering skills are not very good and the finished object only sort of worked. I don’t really have the sort of patience required to do this sort of job and I would be much better off to buy myself one of these devices ready-made. There are a number of these available from various places and from eBay, ranging from some that are quite inexpensive to some that are fairly costly. As with most things you get what you pay for and so if you want quality you might have to get the big wallet out instead of just using the small thin one. There are a number of Chinese manufacturers that are making reasonable looking steady cam devices and I saw one recently that would be suitable for the small size of camera that I now own, a Sony mirrorless camera and I am quite tempted.

If money was no object for a filmmaker

Then I would go for one of these new devices that uses electric motors to steady the camera on the gimbal. The latest one of these that I have seen costs around $4500 the DJI RONIN and if I had the cash I would buy one in a heartbeat. This is made by the same people that make the gimbal that fits onto the bottom of the quadcopters that people use with the go pro cameras. What you get is a frame that is like a sort of handlebars and the camera can either be dropped down from this, which is great if you need to get a shot from low down or you can have the camera so that it protrudes upwards. You have lots of versatility in terms of where you can position the camera height wise and also be sure that the shot is going to be incredibly steady. In the examples that I have seen they show the film in slow motion and I suppose that is because it shows the smoothness of the shot to the best effect. In the demo videos you see the cameraman running around following the fight scenes within a house or a footballer on a football pitch and the shots look incredible.

Ronin Features DJI

Costly for a frugal filmmaker – Great value for the professional

The advantage of using something like this is that you can get close up shots that are more intimate and could be just what you need for the emotion, look and general feel that you are trying to put into your film or video. Unfortunately I am not a professional filmmaker with deep pockets, but even so I would love to get my hands on one of these because I love any sort of technical gadgets. Looking at the specifications for this device it’s easy to see that you are getting good quality for your money. It looks like it would be sturdy enough to take the hard knocks of however many days filming and get the job done. One of the beauties of using an electrically controlled steady cam device like this is that it is easy to set up with the help of an application you use on your smart phone connected via Bluetooth. In the demonstrations seen in the video it looks incredibly easy and quick to set up.

Amazing technology and easy to set up

The DGI Ronin is an fantastic looking three axis stabilised handheld gimbal system is an incredible piece of kit. It has the three modes of use and also can be operated by one person or by two people. When operated by two people the second person can change the pan, tilt and roll of the camera so that there is even more precision available when using the device. You can put the small and light mirrorless cameras on it like the Sony NEX6 or even something as heavy as the Red Epic. The configuration is set automatically using the auto tune stability button and it works it out for itself the parameters needed for the weight of your camera. The DJI Ronin also has a power distribution box if you need to connect to other accessories such as a follow focus system.

AVCHD video editing in Final Cut Pro

Getting video out of the NEX-6 to work with in Final Cut Pro X

To a large extent it was much easier to work with the video clips taken with the Canon 600D as they were discrete files that could be identified, copied or moved and worked with immediately in Final Cut Pro X. Things are a little bit different with the NEX-6 where the video is recorded in the AVCHD format. When you connect the camera up to the computer in order to get the files off and you go to the correct folder within the camera system all you see is one file called AVCHD. There could be a number of video recordings within this file, but you still only see one file which grows as you add more videos to it as you shoot them. I have been using an app called Free AVCHD to Mov and there are others that you can buy ranging between 5 or 6 dollars to 50 dollars. Since using this app has been useful and does what it is supposed to do I will probably get the paid for version if I continue using it.

Free AVCHD to Mov

Importing AVCHD files into Final Cut

It is possible to import directly into Final Cut Pro X the videos contained within this AVCHD file, but there are advantages in using software to convert those videos into the Apple pro res format. It does take some time to convert these video files and you do end up with files which are quite large. I have been doing some testing on importing videos into Final Cut Pro using both methods, first of all copying the AVCHD file from the SD card onto my Mac and then using an application to convert that file into the Apple pro res format and also by importing directly from the camera into Final Cut Pro X. For professional work obviously you’re going to use the Apple pro res as there is much more information contained within the file and you will get a better final product. On the other hand when you’re actually using Final Cut Pro X with a file that has been brought in from the camera through the import tool, the video clip will come in as a H.264 and to be honest for the sort of work that I do it looks like it will be plenty good enough. I can save space by just working with the smaller files and as far as I can tell Final Cut Pro X works just as well with the h.264 files as it does using the larger professional codec files. So to a large extent it really depends upon what the final destination is of your movie. The stuff that I work with tends to get output to YouTube with the resolution of 1280 x 720 so it looks like I will be just saving time by not having to convert them.

QuickTime conversion

Convert AVCHD to movJust for fun I did a right click on the AVCHD file and saw that there are a few apps on my computer that will open such files. QuickTime was in there and so I gave it a go. I was given the choice of which video clip I want to see in and chose one of them. It opened really quickly and I was able to play the video. I then decided to export the movie and I could choose the size. I went for 1080p but there were other lower resolutions available too. I got a file that was 18mb in size with a data rate of 14.58 Mbits per second. Then I did a save and it saved out at the same dimensions but with a higher data rate of 25Mbits per second. Either of these files could be used in video editing software.

The file that came out of the Free AVCHD to Mov is 460MB and the data rate is 365.1 Mbit/s. Quite a difference! The audio was at a different sample rate and the frames per second 50. When I did a save from Quicktime the frame rate came out at 49.9 which isn’t correct and may or may not be a problem.

So you can convert the AVCHD video to .mov clips for free and even without downloading any extra software. When importing the video clips in Final Cut you get the better quality as you would get from QuickTime so it could be the best approach to take for video that will be going to YouTube.

I have read in the Apple forums where there are people who undoubtedly know better than I do have said that it is better always to convert to the Apple pro res format. With that in mind I will be converting some of the jobs that I do into both formats and testing to see what gives me the best end result.

Homemade Camera Dolly Slider

A slider or camera dolly

Using pieces of plastic tubing I made myself a cheap camera dolly which is suitable for rolling along a table or other flat surface. Sometimes though it can be a little difficult to find a handy flat surface to be able to run the camera dolly along in order to get that smooth moving shot. It is on these occasions where you might consider making either a slider or some sort of track that your camera dolly can run along. Here is a video that I just saw on YouTube which shows you how to make a camera dolly which will run along a couple of poles. It is a short video which gives you all of the necessary information about how to construct it.


How cheap is it?

In the video he reckons that the cost of this camera dolly is twenty dollars, but realistically you have to also include the price of the roller wheels. You may possibly have some roller skates in the house that you could use although you may not feel that your getting the best camera dolly by you’re using wheels that are pitted or damaged in any other way. In any case it is not terribly expensive to buy a set of rollerskate wheels from eBay or even from your local sports shop.

Doing a proper job of making the cheap camera dolly slider

I did notice that during the making process in the video that there were a couple of things that he could have done before other tasks in the making process. For example the ends of the polls could be cut first so that you don’t have too break it apart in order to do that and then remake it again. You don’t need fancy tools like a Dremel, it is probably more likely that you will have a file in your toolbox that you can use. It looks like that he only used one carriage bolt to secure the aluminium angle to the piece of wood and I would suggest that using two would be better. Also you might get a better looking job if you use a couple of good sized screws rather than the carriage bolts.

How long do you need to let it run

Using this design only gives you about 1 metre of camera run and that might be sufficient for what you want to do. On the other hand what you could do is to use some plastic tubing of the right size and be able to get a much longer camera run.

Off to the shops and then to the workshop

There is a little shop nearby that will have all of the ironworks that I need and I already have bits of wood that I can use. I have already seen that these roller wheels are available in the sport shop, but I will have a look on eBay to see if they are cheaper. When I have all of the bits and pieces that I need I will be hitting the workshop and wielding some tools. Expect to see some examples of what can be done when using one of these home-made camera slider or camera dolly tools.

Green Screen Studio

Chromakey with Final Cut Pro

I am fortunate to have a nice handy space in my house where I can have a green screen studio set up permanently. I bought a green screen cloth which was large enough for me to be able to cut in size and the other part of it I gave to my son who is a cameraman. The cloth that I have, I stretched over a frame to get any wrinkles and folds out of it and then I bought some LED lights to use for lighting the greenscreen. I find that when I do some recording in front of the green screen it’s very easy to key out the green in Final Cut Pro X. The LED lights that I have not really the best, but they do a good enough job.


My studio lighting for the subject which is usually me

I made some lights to fit into some soft boxes and I am very pleased with the way that these work. What I did is to buy a plastic board on which I could mount a number of light fittings. On one of these I added six light fittings so I can have six CFL bulbs and on the other one I added four bulbs. So the soft box that has the six lights in it I use as the key light and the other one I use as the fill light. To do some proper three-point lighting I should also have a light source to direct from behind the subject. I don’t have that at the moment, but it is something that I am considering getting. As it stands at the moment it works fairly well, but the backlight would give me a better separation from the green screen behind.

I fortunately have enough room in the studio to have my subject standing far enough away from the greenscreen. If you get too close, what can happen is that you will get some green spill from the reflected light. I have a marker on the floor that I use to know where I should stand and that also works well in relation to getting the focus set up correctly with my camera.

Getting good sound quality

One of the things that I don’t like about my studio is the fact that there are too many hard surfaces around which can distort the sound and make it a little bit prone to echoes. I have tried a few different microphones to record my audio. I started by using a Shure SM58 and used a converter to go from the XLR connector to a 3.5 mm audio into the camera. This worked fairly well, but did give me a certain amount of hiss that I needed to correct for afterwards. Not too much of a problem, although sometimes if you over correct the hiss, it will start to destroy the vocal sound that you are trying to improve.

The next microphone as I tried is a cheap Chinese shotgun microphone which in some ways worked better. Mainly it was better because it left my hands free for other use. The sound was also slightly better and less cleanup was required afterwards. Even with moving the microphone closer to me to get a better signal to noise ratio I was still getting a certain amount of room Echo with the recording. Now I have a different microphone, a lavalier microphone which is working out the best yet.

Amplifying the sound with a Zoom H2 recorder

As with the cheap Chinese shotgun microphone, I route the Giant Squid lavalier microphone through the Zoom H2 recorder. The reason that I do this is so that I get the benefits of the better audio amplifier of the Zoom H2. The audio amplifiers that you find in the DSLR cameras are really not up to the job. If I had the money available then I would consider buying a Juiced Link or a Beachtek which give better amplification and are made for the job of connecting good-quality XLR microphones to a DSLR camera.

Getting an teleprompter

I have already bought some applications to use on my iPad to turn it into a teleprompter, but what I really need is to get a piece of two-way mirror glass. With that glass I would be able to talk directly into the camera using the teleprompter. If I was to put the teleprompter iPad to one side of the camera then it doesn’t look like I am talking directly to my audience. At the moment what I tend to do is to not use any prompters and often I will need to have more than one take so that I get what I want to say correct. The specialist type of glass required can be a little bit hard to find, I haven’t given up hope yet though.

Do you have a green screen studio?

Leave in the comments section below details about how you have set up your own greenscreen studio. It will be interesting to find out how you have yours setup. As you can tell, due to money constraints I have to go the route of the frugal filmmaker and I plan to add bits and pieces to my set up as I go. The best items I have added so far have been the two soft boxes and also the microphone I bought from Giant Squid.

Keywords In Final Cut Pro 10

Final cut Pro X iconWhen you are working with a large number of video clips that you are going to be using within various projects you need as many ways as possible to help you organise these video clips.

When you import your media, the media will be added to your event library. This is the first level of organisation for your source media files. So the event in the Event Library is going to be a project or part of a project. When you’re looking at this event browser you can sort your clips in a number of ways such as the creation date, but you might also want to browse by the date imported, the real, the scene, shot duration or file type.

Sort out your Source media

It is worth getting to know all of the tools that are available to you for cataloguing and sorting your source media within Final Cut Pro X so that you can find what you need quickly when you need to put media into the timeline.


One of the ways to further sort your source media is to use keywords. Using keywords is a form of tagging and the best way to think of it is a way to add an extra layer of grouping certain video clips together. I would recommend that the tags that you use, don’t need to contain words that you’ve already used in the name of the file. You can already do a search to find those specific words. Where it becomes particularly useful is where you have, for example, different types of file, so audio, video and still images that you want to group together for a unique purpose.

Group video clips using Keywords in FCPX

You might have a keyword of green screen and this grouping of source media could include subject matter of all sorts, but if you had that keyword then you will make it very easy in all to find any clips that are shot with a green screen.

Screen Shot 2013 02 05 at 20 07 47
You can set a keyword that it will apply to the whole of the video and he also set a keyword so that it applies to only part of a video clip. So if you have a video clip that includes within the length of it some close-ups, some medium shots or shots of a particular person, you can then keyword those particular parts of the video. This could save a whole lot of time later, when finding sections within a video, you will not have to watch the video or scrub through the video in order to find what you need.

Keywords added automatically by FCPX Analysis on import.

Keywords can also be added automatically when you are importing video. If you are adding a folder with various sorts of media within it, you could have the folder name applied as a keyword to all of those bits of media imported.

If you are having the video analysed as it is being brought in there are some keywords that can be added automatically such as excessive shake. To get this to happen you just need to select the “Create Smart Collections at the Analysis” checkbox. This will let you find those clips with the excessive shake keyword.

It is even possible to use Final Cut Pro to find people and add keywords for you. The keywords that will get added to the video or still image will be one person, two persons, a group, close-up shot, medium shot and white shot. So it can be extremely useful to have Final Cut Pro create smart collections after analysis and depending upon the type of video editing that you are doing, it may well be that these functions will speed you up enormously.

How to move videos into iTunes

There are quite a lot of different movie Codecs and so it is not surprising that some people have a little bit of difficulty in getting their videos into iTunes so that they can view them. I have made a video showing how to convert files that are not supported by iTunes, so that you can bring them in and watch them, either in iTunes or on your iOS devices. So you can transfer files to iPad .

free applications


How to add movies to iTunes

If your file is in a .mov, .mp4 or .m4v, then it is a simple procedure of dragging the file from your Finder window into the sidebar on iTunes on the left-hand side. I have found is easier and more reliable to drag it into the area that has the word Library at the top of it. On occasions, I have also found it possible to drag and drop a movie file into the main area showing the other movie files available in your iTunes application.

Converting and adding files into iTunes

My all-time favourite application for converting files so that they can be added to iTunes, would be Handbrake. Handbrake is quick and easy-to-use, despite it lacking the drag-and-drop functionality for choosing the file that you want to convert. In any case, it is easy enough to go into the menu and file choosing system that is available and get the source file that you want to convert.

So you have chosen the file that you want to convert in Handbrake and the best thing to do is to use one of the presets. There are presets there available for all of the Apple devices and a couple of Android settings. It is also possible to create your own presets and to save them. I have a preset saved that allows me to save movies that are in the correct format, to send to YouTube. The Handbrake application is not complicated to use and after choosing the source file and the preset, most times you can just click on Start and away it goes. Sometimes you will need to just check to make sure that the file is going to where you want it to be actually saved. This is usually the case when you have saved a movie file to a different place than usual when you have used handbrake previously, to compress a movie file and this time you want the completed file to go somewhere else.

Other applications to get movies into iTunes

Another very simple application to use is one called Miro Converter. Once again there are presets that you can use to make sure that the conversion is correct for the device that you want to use the movie file on. There is also a checkbox on the converter that you can tick if you want the completed file to be automatically added into iTunes. You will often find that this application is very fast to do its work. Before you know it your video is converted and available for you to watch in iTunes. There are quite a few free applications for the Mac to convert your video files.

MPEG Stream Clip

This application is perhaps not quite as friendly as the other two apps I’ve already mentioned, but there are a huge amount of settings that you can use if you know what you’re doing. You could have a look in the Wizardgold YouTube channel for a recipe for using this MPEG Stream Clip application to suit the device that you want to have the movie ready to be viewed upon, that is one way to get you started. Either that, you could do some research and find out the actual requirements and set it up from scratch yourself.

free applications


the video converter tool that is used by Mac20Q

The application that I prefer to use, the one that is the go to tool for my movie conversions for iTunes is Handbrake. It is fast to convert files for you, and the quality of the output is just right as well. Another good thing about Handbrake is that you can set up a batch of videos to be converted. I would like to see the addition of some drag-and-drop abilities within the application, which would be particularly useful when wanting to set up a batch of movie files to be converted for iTunes. It would be just so much easier to get them into the application rather than having to do them one at a time. Just so long as you’re using the presets that you have available within Handbrake, then you can’t really go wrong.

Add a caption track to Youtube video

Screenflow version 4
We all want to get more viewers for our videos and one of the ways that you can do something to help your videos be found within YouTube, is to add a caption track. You will have already chosen a good title and added a good description to help the search engines find your videos. Now you can supercharge the search engine optimisation of your YouTube videos by adding more text that a search engine will just love with a captions track.

How to add a caption track to a YouTube video

Closed caption tracks

It is quite possible to add a caption track actually on the YouTube site, You don’t necessarily need closed captioning software. On the YouTube site it works fairly well and can be done reasonably quickly. There is a machine created closed captions track that will have been created automatically, but it will be complete nonsense and gobbledygook. If you are lucky there will be one or two sentences that it will have done the speech to text conversion that make any sense. Most times though you will need to rewrite the sentences completely. Or dictate them in using DragonDictate , which is my preferred way of creating YouTube closed captions.

Using the application ScreenFlow 4 to write your YouTube closed captions track

There is a new feature in ScreenFlow, in the latest version which has just been released, for creating a closed caption track. What it does is to split up the timeline into small sections and into each of the sections you put your caption text. You can type directly into a text entry box, you can paste the text in there or you can do as I do and that is to dictate. I like to use DragonDictate on my computer as much as possible, so that I can lean back in my chair, put my feet up and talk to the computer. So far it hasn’t started to talk back to me, well that is not quite true, if you count the text to speech that is available on Mac OS X.



Youtube closed captioning with ScreenFlow 4

In the video I show you how you can extend the length of a section, so that it fits with the actual audio is on the video. It is a simple action of holding down the command key and using the up arrow to make it longer and the down arrow to make it shorter. So far, with the videos that I have created closed caption tracks for, it has worked fairly well and has been very easy to use. I have found that it is slightly more comfortable and therefore faster using ScreenFlow to do this job, than it is to do the same job on the YouTube website.
Closed captioning software

Get more video views on YouTube by using closed captioning software

So there you go you have some tips now on how to add a closed-captioned YouTube track. The text that you have created is another way for Google and YouTube to find your videos and pass them onto new viewers that are searching on the search engines. You can easily use specialised closed captioning software that made specially to do that job. On the other hand if you have ScreenFlow which is a very good Mac video screen capture application , you can use version 4 to make your YouTube closed captions. Then if you don’t want to spend any money, it is perfectly viable to create a caption track on the YouTube website.

Is it worth adding closed captions on YouTube?

Now that I have over 230 videos on YouTube, it would be rather tedious to go back and add captions to all of those. Even if I used the best close to captioning software available. What I may do with the videos that I have uploaded already, is to look at the ones that are most popular and at a caption tracks to those. At the moment, the YouTube videos I have that are most popular are the ones about how to add movies to iTunes and the videos showing how to add review questions to iBooks author . If you’re wondering if it is worth the effort in adding YouTube closed captions, then I would say yes, especially if you can use closed caption software and DragonDictate.

%d bloggers like this: