6 low-cost tools for high-quality video
Producing quality digital video does not require a heavy investment in equipment and software. There are plenty of lower-cost tools - beginning with an iPhone - that journalists can utilize to create quality video without breaking the editorial budget.
I asked Claus Enevoldsen, who led the team from Next Issue Media that produced a series of videos for eMediaVitals from last month's South by Southwest conference, about the tools he used to capture and edit video from the event. I did some additional research as well to come up with these six affordable tools (along with a few higher-end alternatives) that journalists can use to create high-quality web video.
Claus used his iPhone 4S (starting at $199), which captures HD-quality video and hi-res photos. Publishers including the Wall Street Journal and Gannett are deploying iPhones to reporters for video newsgathering.
One of Next Issue's contributors, journalism student Efren Salinas, used a higher-end HD camcorder: the Sony HXR-MC50U (priced from $1,300). That's for serious videophiles.
Multimedia producer and filmmaker Adam Westbrook says videographers often underestimate the importance of good audio. "Audiences seem quite happy to tolerate poor quality pictures, but they will not tolerate crappy sound," he writes. In other words, invest in a decent microphone; the type will depend on what you're trying to capture.
For his SXSW interviews, Claus used an iRig handheld microphone ($48 on Amazon) for the iPhone. Westbrook recommends a "good quality clip microphone for interviews" or a higher-end Rode mic, which mounts to camcorders and HDSLR cameras.
A tripod or monopod to steady your images is critical, unless you intentionally want your videos to have that Blair Witch feel. Tripod pricing is all over the map, from a low-end Sony VCT-R100 ($34.99) to high-end, carbon fiber Manfrotto Sticks ($590 and up). For the iPhone, consider an xShot camera extender ($29.95), which is a great way to film yourself.
Claus used Apple's iMovie ($14.99) on his Macbook Air ("super easy to use"). Also popular among journalists is Apple's Final Cut Pro ($300). Efren used AdobePremiere Pro CS 5.5 ($799) for his SXSW videos.
What else do you use for video capture/production that you'd recommend to others? Please share your comments below.