Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Monday, June 28, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Cam! (or, Don't Let Tech Get You Down!)

One of the great aspects of developing your social media brand is that you don't need a huge investment in hardware.  You don't need the best camera to get the best results.  I thought it would be valuable to our readers to share Andrew Tarr's experience of taking technical adversity and turning it around into real results.  He shares some valuable tech hints as well.  Enjoy his story!

A small group of friends and I have been shooting these nutty shorts for YouTube over the past month or two, mostly with my Sony Webbie HD, Sony's version of the ubiquitous Flip camera.   I like the Webbie because unlike the Flip, its lens isn't stationary; it swivels around so can see yourself in the viewer as you shoot. 

On our most recent venture, nobody could make it but me and my friend John. No problem, I thought. We'll just stick the Webbie on a tripod and shoot ourselves. Great.  So we came up with a cool idea, and off we went.  Well no sooner did we get our first two shots in the can, than my Webbie died.  No, not its battery.  The camera itself.  Dead.  "Bummer," we mused.  It was such a cool idea. We'll have to get together again sometime in the next couple weeks.  

But wait!  

I think my cellphone shoots video!   Well...can you really shoot an actual film with a cellphone camera?  It's one thing to capture your cat playing with a ball of string.  It something else to try to tell a story, with characters, and action.  But what the hell, we might as well give it a try.  So a minute later, our production was back up and running.  

With the video camera app launched on my T-Mobile G1 we picked up where we left off.  The G1 - the first ever Android phone - seems like a relic now, in the lightning-fast progression of cellphone technology. I mean it's over a year and half old!  But its video camera app does, in fact, work.  It shoots something like 15 or 20 frames a second (as opposed to "real" video, which is generally 30 frames a second), so it gives you a choppy, "security camera" kind of effect. But it's still actual video, with actual sound, and less than an hour later, we had every shot we needed.  

Next, I loaded the footage from my phone onto my Mac.  I had to buy a $20 card reader at Best Buy to get the footage off the dead-as-a-doornail Sony Webbie. The footage of course didn't match - the Webbie stuff looked MUCH better than the cellphone footage - but it kinda worked, in a weird way. switching over to the choppy cellphone clips after the 1st shot gave our movie some extra tension that's actually pretty cool.  So I used a program called MPEG Streamclip to convert both sets of clips into QuickTime movies, which I then imported into Final Cut Pro and started editing away. 

I added in some royalty-free music from (a great site for free music - free as long as you only put it on YouTube), and a few cups of coffee later, I unveiled our masterpiece to the world.  It's called "Toast", and you can find it on my YouTube Channel:  .  I hope you like it.  I also hope you Like it  (by clicking "Like). And if you can REALLY make me happy by SUBSCRIBING to my YouTube channel. I promise that not everything I put up there will be shot on my cellphone!

-Andrew Tarr, Reporting from Sherman Oaks, California

[Editor's Note:  when you do subscribe, add a comment and tell Andrew you saw him here first!]

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, what did you do about the dead Webbie? I had a similar problem with my Flip, but it was still on warranty and they quickly replaced it without question.