BusterHaus

Technic Video Tips (Videography)

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So, several people have recommended DaVinci Resolve. Looks like there are Windows versions in addition to Linux and Mac versions.  Looked up several reviews and Filmora looks like another popular package, but looks like it costs $ and is not free. 

Certainly not out for any freebies, the only reason a free option is enticing is because I am under no illusions that I will ever produce anything worth putting down big bucks for...... yet at the same time, like everyone else, it is fun to try and maximize my "hobby skills" - any Windows Movie Maker just isn't cutting it anymore. 

Thanks for the recommendations..... keep em coming.  In the meantime, I will look into DaVinci Resolve......

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On 2017-04-17 at 7:03 AM, nerdsforprez said:

Hey All,

   We have a topic for Technic Photography, but I don't think we have one for videography. 

I started one last year.  Maybe @Milan or @Jim could merge this thread into it, there's some good content here.

 

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14 hours ago, BrickbyBrickTechnic said:

Those are some really good tips. Could you just watch my most recent video and tell me how to improve? It would mean alot to me :)

Thanks.

I tried it... totally not my thing *huh*

I have something off topic to add, the truck needs the diffs removed. It would much improve its performance.

On video editing, I have nothing to add

Edited by Aventador2004

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52 minutes ago, BusterHaus said:

I started one last year.  Maybe @Milan or @Jim could merge this thread into it, there's some good content here.

 

Good call.  Sorry I did not see this

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14 hours ago, BrickbyBrickTechnic said:

@HallBricks when I open Davinci Resolve, it says "no davinci resolve panels found". Any tips?

No I'm sorry, I have never encountered that problem myself, mine starts up just fine so I'm afraid I can't help you. A quick search on Google didn't help either. 

I'm running DaVinci on a Mac, so if you are on another platform it might look slightly different. If you are a mac-user as well, I recommend downloading DaVinci directly from the AppStore. It's a simpler installation-process and future updates will be installed automatically. 

You can always try to reinstall the software, it helps sometimes. Good luck!

15 hours ago, BrickbyBrickTechnic said:

Those are some really good tips. Could you just watch my most recent video and tell me how to improve? It would mean alot to me :)

That's a nice video. You are shooting from different angels which makes it more interesting and the music adds a lot. 

The view is slightly out of focus when the drive train is demonstrated. You are probably holding the camera too close to the subject; next time try to have the camera further away and zoom instead. It might help, but when zooming it easily gets shaky if you holding the camera, so try using a tripod.

The focus is the only thing a think you could improve. Just continue making videos and you'll learn by yourself. 

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1 hour ago, BusterHaus said:

I started one last year.  Maybe @Milan or @Jim could merge this thread into it, there's some good content here.

I merged both topics! Thanks.

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I forgot to mention of a great website to get royalty free creative commons music. The website is called incompetech.com , it's got thousands of sound tracks all for free; thank you Kevin MacLeod!

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I hate when people use music from free libraries like that and don't put the small obligatory text in the video description. It helps the artist to be promoted but many people just ignore it :(

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17 hours ago, LXF said:

I hate when people use music from free libraries like that and don't put the small obligatory text in the video description. It helps the artist to be promoted but many people just ignore it :(

+1 I find that really annoying, it's actually a requirement with using NCS and royalty free music.

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Thank you everyone for all the useful links, specially those for music and sound effects!

I'm shooting family videos for the most part, not having much time to play with LEGO because most of my free time happens to overlap with a sleeping baby. Still, the time spent in learning to edit family videos has proven useful when filming and editing videos of LEGO models, so here what I've found so far:

Camera types and settings:

GoPro HERO 3+ recording at 1080p60 by default, 720p120 when slow-mo matters more than resolution ─ HERO 5 does 1080p120, yay!

Fujifilm XT-2 recording at 1080p60. Lenses: 18mm f/2 and 56mm f/1.2 ─ No LEGO video with these just yet, but I'm certainly itching to make one.

Shooting angles and framing: keep the camera low and level, see below.

Additional equipment you use: Feiyu G3 Ultra 3-Axis gimbal to keep camera level and follow panning smoothly. Long stick with said gimbal tied to the end, to keep the camera a few cm. from the ground without killing my back. Reducing vibrations and smoothing panning, this is the best thing I've found against motion blur.

Ways to attach action cameras like GoPro to your models: I use (and like) the "LEGO method" in Sariel's video.

Video editing software: Blender. It looks scary, and you really can't click anywhere (or press any key) without knowing what you're doing, but Mikeycal Meyer's tutorial made it all make sense and I'm pretty happy working with Blender now.

DaVinci Resolve looks great but I couldn't get it to work. After a few hours of troubleshooting, reached a dead end on Ubuntu Xenial (16.04).

Video editing tips: Learn about video codecs and experiment with several tools to find the ones that work best for you. Video editing may become easier if you transcode videos beforehand, I found transcoding mine to Xvid (at very high quality) makes working with them much lighter and faster, without degradation. It also makes it easier to do slow-mo. I've read that VLC works great for transcoding videos, but I settled for ffmpeg.

Royalty-free music sources: freemusicarchive.org which I found via makerbook.net/audio

Any other tips to make videos better: Edit audio to remove annoying noises, and also to slow down audio for slow-mo. I use Audacity and apply effects like Noise Reduction (for background / uniform noises), Amplify (with <0 db) to reduce other noises and Change Speed (for slow-mo).

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Most of what I do to create videos has been mentioned in bits-and-pieces here already, but I will give a complete list of what I do.

  • I normally take photos with my Canon 60D DSLR, but I use a small aperture and tripod, and that usually results in long shutter speeds (several seconds), which is no good for video where you are limited by whatever frame-rate you are shooting (eg. 30 frames/second).  Opening up the aperture to allow more light means that the depth-of-field decreases quickly, and there is more chance of things being out-of-focus.
    I've actually found that my smaller Canon IXUS 200 IS is better for shooting close video, but it only does 720p.
    I also have a GoPro Hero Session 4, but I am still trying to work out the best times to use that.
  • If I am going to do multiple shots, I will use a custom white balance.  Using auto white balance means that the video could have a different colour cast between each shot, which makes editing later more difficult.
  • Using other manual setting on your camera can also help to keep things consistent between each shot.  Basically I avoid any setting that has 'auto'.
  • If I want a static camera shot, of course I use a tripod.  Even the cheapest tripod you can find is better than nothing.  I have several tripods, and I think the cheapest cost me something like US$17 and is good enough for most purposes.  The other tripods that I have are heavier (good for stability), extend higher (so you don't have to crouch to look through a view-finder), go lower (so you can get some nice low shots), and have better tripod heads (allowing you pan smoother).
  • Having good lighting (whether natural sunlight or artificial light) is a must.  If you are shooting using natural light, shooting on an overcast day avoids the harsh shadows from the sun on a clear sunny day.
  • Usually the microphones built into cameras are pretty bad, so if you are trying to record audio along with your video, having an external microphone and/or audio recorder can really help.  I have a Zoom H1 recorder (US$100) and a TAKSTAR SGC-598 shotgun microphone (US$30).  These are fairly cheap, but do a decent job for their price.
  • As with the video, for the audio I avoid anything that has an 'auto' setting.  Lots of cameras will have an auto gain feature, but this just tends to make it harder to edit later as the noise floor keeps changing.
  • For most of my videos where I spend time editing, I will get rid of the captured audio, and add a soundtrack and record a separate voice-over (after writing a script).  I will normally record each line a few times so that I can pick the best version later.
  • I used to use Adobe Premiere when I had a job where I had access to the full Adobe Creative Suite, but since then I have had to find an alternative.  I wasn't able to get DaVinci Resolve to work on my PC for some reason, so I started using VSDC Free Video Editor.  The free version does all the simple editing that you would want to be able to do, but the free version doesn't allow you to see the audio waveform from any sound tracks, so it is hard to line the audio up with the video.
  • For one video, I did line all of my scene changes up with the beats of the music, but that was a lot of work as I had to find lots of clips that would fit exactly between the beats and not result in 'dead' parts of the video.
  • I use Audacity to edit my audio before exporting it and putting it into VSDC.  I have both open, and I adjust the video positions in VSDC, and then switch to Audacity to adjust the audio positions, and keep repeating this until everything is in position just right.  A bit annoying, but at the same time these are all free programs, and you get what you pay for.
  • When recording the audio, I make sure to include about 10 seconds of 'silence' at the start.  This actually contains the background noise, and this 10 seconds can be used to create a noise profile in Audacity, which you can then remove from the rest of the audio, which cleans up the audio pretty well.
  • For the audio, I will break it up into separate clips that can be moved around easily, and I remove all of the duplicate lines that I recorded, keeping only the best ones.
  • I also apply compression to the audio, which makes my voice sound louder, but doesn't cause any clipping of the audio.
  • I keep the voice-over and soundtrack separate so that I can adjust their volumes individually back in VSDC.
  • VSDC has some built in export profiles, and I use the Web MP4 Highest Quality profile to export my video for YouTube.
  • For any photo editing, I use Photo.Net, but I am thinking about trying out gimp.  I miss having access to Photoshop.
  • I used to use Avidemux to split/join up video and transcode it, but I can do all of that in VSDC now.
  • One thing that I don't like about VSDC is that it doesn't pre-render any of the video, so if you have a slow computer like I do, the preview can be a bit jumpy.  If you have a faster PC it should be fine.

That is a lot more words than I thought that it would be, but I hope that it helps.

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Seeing as it's been 10 years since I've uploaded my first YT video, I thought I'll share some experience:

  • Camera: for really good results you'll want a DSLR, but the trick is that most of these are built for photos with filming just being an extra option. The Canons all have this problem, for example: great photos, average videos. For an affordable camera that was built with filming in mind and offers really good price/quality ratio, I recommend Lumix G7 by Philips. It gets great results and can film at 4K, too.
  • Lens: zoom lens is pretty much a must, filming with a fixed lens is a huge inconvenience. The general rule is that the lower aperture of the lens (f), the better: more light comes through and you can get a decent image at darker conditions. Personally, I like to switch between regular zoom lens and a wide-angle zoom lens. Regular is better for photos, while wide-angle will generally make your models appear bigger, more dramatic, and thus work really well for videos, and give especially the small models a more massive appearance.
  • GoPros: first, there are many cheaper alternatives to the original GoPro cameras that will get you decent, if somewhat worse, results. Second, speaking as someone who went all the way from 3 to 5, I strongly recommend getting at least GoPro 4 Black Edition. Alternatively you can get GoPro 4 Session, which produces almost the same quality but no 4K resolution while being cheaper, smaller, and far more practical to use. As for the fifth generation, GoPro 5 Session is basically 4 Session with 4K resolution added, and the actual GoPro 5 has slightly improved image, built-in image stabilization, better mic, and most importantly a screen that shows you what the camera sees. It's also waterproof without the need for extra housing and it's got a GPS which allows you to record speed while filming and then put the real-time reading on the video (you'll need the free GoPro Quik app for it). On the underside, 5 is much heavier than 4 and has a different body shape, making it incompatible with some of the 4's accessories (lens cap, for instance).
  • Stabilization: filming with a camera in your hand sucks and should be avoided at all times. You'll want a tripod, and for filming close to the floor you should look into tripods for macro photography (best I've found is Velbon Ex-Macro). If you want to move the camera horizontally, there are three options: a slider, a dolly board (basically a camera mount with wheels), or the good old towel. No, seriously, you can get a smooth movement by simply spreading a towel on the floor, putting your camera on it, and pulling the towel gently but steadily. Finally, there are gimbals, which are useful mostly when you're filming on the go, meaning that you're moving and/or your subjects are moving. Gimbals are of little practical use indoors, but with some experience you can use them to great effect outdoors - keep in mind that they're best used with fast models that move dynamically. As for the brands, Feyiu-Tech makes excellent gimbals both for GoPros (e.g. G4S) and for DSLR cameras, and the GoPro's own Karma Grip isn't bad either, it just differs from regular gimbals in a couple of ways (no joystick, among others).
  • Lighting: the top level lighting is softboxes, at least two, ideally 3. A little lower in terms of quality we have studio lamps with umbrellas; they're cheaper and I strongly suggest using diffusing umbrellas rather than reflective ones when filming LEGO. Lighting is crucial, especially if your camera or lens aren't too good. Always try to reduce the amount of shadows; set your lamps so that one cancels the shadows from the other, and use diffusors whenever possible for soft, subtle shadows. Light tents aren't that great for Lego in my experience, but if you have enough room, you may want to try a light table.
  • Backdrops: a lot of people film on a piece of canvas, even a bed sheet, and I strongly advise against it. The texture always shows, and the canvas isn't 100% opaque, meaning that some colors from behind it usually seep in. A good but affordable solution is a paper backdrop, also called seamless paper backdrop. These come in long rolls of thick paper that you can quickly roll and unroll, they're available in many colors (I'm a huge fan on putting bright-colored models against dark grey backdrop), and they're smooth and mat, which makes them look great both on photos and videos. Look for backdrops by Savage company for really solid quality and great colors (https://savageuniversal.com/products/seamless-paper/). The paper backdrops are easy to set up, you can simply roll them down from a table or a couch, and when they get dirty, you can use an eraser or simply cut of the affected section.
Edited by Sariel

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@Splat sounds like Blender could make your life easier :classic: I don't know how to sync it with Audacity, but I haven't found it necessary just yet.

Damn, now I want a GoPro 5 :laugh:

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Davinci Reslove is rather powerful, I would suggest changing the render cache to smart, in the playback tab so it only renders certain clips not all clips, this improves playback speed and performance for viewing. I still haven't messed around too much with the nodes for color grading, though I think it is rather interesting, I wonder if there is a tracking option for text, as I know you can do color grading to motion tracking areas. I guess you could always use Blender for motion tracking to an object. Also the compositor for Blender allows you to do a lot of editing. As for one of my most recent projects I have been doing all of my work in Blender, rather than external image editing programs. Also Blender is a great tool for creating intros/animations and video effects. As I am trying to figure out how to create a glitched video transition effect, as all I can find so far for programs are paid extensions for them, though I will attempt to use a plane, and put my video as a material on the plane, then apply displacement and node effects to the plane to create the tearing/pixelation effects. Though the freedom with the cycles engine nodes allow you to animate effects for materials.

I know this is SW, but it is a more recent example of what can be possible with compositing multiple render layers solely in Blender.

33504677734_0a9b73cc31_c.jpgLego Star Wars Interdictor Class Cruiser render 1 by Tommy Styrvoky, on Flickr

Also for music I have recently been looking on Soundcloud, as there are a lot of smaller artists that have creative commons or royalty free music available.

Edited by Tommy Styrvoky

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4 hours ago, Sariel said:
  • Lens: zoom lens is pretty much a must, filming with a fixed lens is a huge inconvenience...

 Hmmm...as a general rule of thumb, prime lenses (Or "fixed" lenses) have a wider maximum aperture, or iris, then the equivalent focal length on a zoom lens. This is huge when shooting video, and many blockbuster films still rely primarily on prime lenses for this reason. For those of you who are not into photography, an example would be that my zoom lens at 50 mm has an iris (aperture) of f/4, (some light being let in) while my prime at 50 mm has an iris of f/1.4 (a tonne of light being let in) . This is a HUGE difference. Youc can see in the picture below, the zoom lens is on the top, the prime is on the bottom. they are both set to their widest aperture. You can see how much more light the prime would let in. 

640x1170.jpg

 

 Also, many prime lenses are known for having better image quality then the zoom lenses with equivalent focal lengths in the same price range, in terms of sharpness. this is partly because of the fact that the money you are spending is going towards better glass, and not a zoom mechanism. 

 The supposed disadvantage of primes is that they are inconvenient, but I think that having to move closer or farther away will force you to think more about composition and framing, rather than merely pointing and shooting! 

Edited by Myers Lego Technic

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I don't question the quality of the prime lenses. I'm simply saying that in terms of practicality, having to move the whole camera forward and backward to zoom in or out is a needless pain in the a**, at least when filming. Plus these days a decent zoom lens will give you a pretty great quality - I doubt a prime one would improve on it so much that it would be worth all the bother.

Edited by Sariel

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30 minutes ago, Sariel said:

I don't question the quality of the prime lenses. I'm simply saying that in terms of practicality, having to move the whole camera forward and backward to zoom in or out is a needless pain in the a**, at least when filming. Plus these days a decent zoom lens will give you a pretty great quality - I doubt a prime one would improve on it so much that it would be worth all the bother.

  True, in some cases I couldn't live without my 55-250 and my 70-300. A prime is only useful in portrait style photography where you have time for framing, or in events where the camera location is carefully set out head of time, and you don't need that versatility. With all things, there is advantages and disadvantages. 

Edited by Myers Lego Technic

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While prime lenses generally have wider apertures (eg. f/1.4), photographing Lego usually means that you are fairly close (within a few meters).  At these distances, a wide aperture results in a really shallow depth-of-field.  If you are trying to be artsy, this can be great, but if you are trying to document something you typically want more of the subject in focus, so a tighter aperture is needed anyway.

For example, using a Canon APS-C camera, with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens, and shooting at f/1.4 from 1.2 meters (4 feet) away, the depth-of-field is only 2.94cm (1.2 inches).  Everything outside that will start to look out of focus. (http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/education/technical/depth_of_field_calculator.do)

I typically use a Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 prime lens, but when taking photos to document Lego I stop it down to at least f/5.6, sometimes to f/16, just to get a better depth-of-field.

For video, if you want to stop down your aperture, then you either need to boost your ISO (and introduce noise), or you need good lighting.

PS.  The autofocus on my Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens stopped working recently.  :cry_sad:  Apparently this is a common problem with this lens.

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On 5/2/2017 at 7:04 PM, Tommy Styrvoky said:

Also the compositor for Blender allows you to do a lot of editing. As for one of my most recent projects I have been doing all of my work in Blender, rather than external image editing programs. Also Blender is a great tool for creating intros/animations and video effects.

@Tommy Styrvoky sounds you're pretty advanced in learning Blender, could you recommend some good tutorials for creating animations and video effects?

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3 hours ago, Splat said:

While prime lenses generally have wider apertures (eg. f/1.4), photographing Lego usually means that you are fairly close (within a few meters).  At these distances, a wide aperture results in a really shallow depth-of-field.  If you are trying to be artsy, this can be great, but if you are trying to document something you typically want more of the subject in focus, so a tighter aperture is needed anyway.

For example, using a Canon APS-C camera, with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens, and shooting at f/1.4 from 1.2 meters (4 feet) away, the depth-of-field is only 2.94cm (1.2 inches).  Everything outside that will start to look out of focus. (http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/education/technical/depth_of_field_calculator.do)

I typically use a Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 prime lens, but when taking photos to document Lego I stop it down to at least f/5.6, sometimes to f/16, just to get a better depth-of-field.

For video, if you want to stop down your aperture, then you either need to boost your ISO (and introduce noise), or you need good lighting.

PS.  The autofocus on my Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens stopped working recently.  :cry_sad:  Apparently this is a common problem with this lens.

True. I probably wouldn't buy a lens purely for Lego purposes though, and I was making suggesting for purely purchasing a lens to use with Lego partite, as 50mm is a good focal length. 

F/16? You must use a long exposure. 

 

Edited by Myers Lego Technic

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2 hours ago, miguev said:

@Tommy Styrvoky sounds you're pretty advanced in learning Blender, could you recommend some good tutorials for creating animations and video effects?

compared to others I feel quite novice, though I can suggest a few for lighting and basic animation. Here's a couple videos on lighting, as this is one of the most important parts for making renders look more lifelike. 

 

 

Here's a tutorial I did a couple years ago, I should make a new one this summer, as a lot has changed in terms of quality of renders.

 

Also I think this would be fun to experiment with, it uses photography to copy a real life object into a 3d modeling program, such as Blender.

 

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I hope there are some people here who know premiere well. Whenever, I add text to my videos and render them, the text never looks sharp. I use Premiere Pro CC 2015. I usually have my resolution set to 1920x1080, rendered in H.264 with a high bit rate, but the text never looks as sharp as it did when I used Sony Vegas Pro 13.0. I have used other render settings, and tried many different fonts, but it never looks crisp. Could it have something to do with the text settings or anti-aliasing? Oh, and yes I have googled it, but I can't seem to find anything. 

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