How To Improve Your Videos Overnight

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Steerpike, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. I really enjoy reading your writing. An easy to read, comedic writing style with perfect choice of diction, truly relevant information and a consistent flow of thoughts, all presented by an evident subject matter expert. You sir, are THE authority for any production questions I have and a catalyst to my creative development. I commend your work, well done.

    -Patrick Varnavas
  2. That's gratifying to hear. I hate to say it, but my personal experience has generally been that when I start talking about the minutiae of movies, music, etc, people roll their eyes and say, "Why do you take this stuff so seriously?"

    Of course I've also heard from magicians that they don't need to know anything about cinematography because the ability to hit the ON button on a camera automatically makes them good enough. It's one of those weird ironies in life that many people will spend more effort, time and energy defending their ignorance than it would have taken to do the actual homework.
  3. Out of curiosity Steerpike have you seen The Virts video "Test Room?" When I watched this I was blown away by the quality and production, it is still my favourite cardistry video to date. They make use of many ideas you've been pushing in this thread, and also gave their whole video a serious Guy Ritchie (whom I love) feel. One thing they use a fair amount of is editing effects to make the visual coincide better with the audio, and I would like to hear what you have to say on that technique.
  4. Just watched it now. Would have preferred they show their faces a little more, but these guys obviously set about learning the actual craft of digital video, cinematography and editing. The camera was mobile when it needed to be, but cut when that was the better choice. Visual effects were limited to a desaturated shot and a rewind shot, but in context to what the music was doing.

    I'm okay with the camera cuts. The ultimate rule is, "Does it make the video look better?" If yes, do it.
  5. I've decided to issue a small challenge because it amuses me. There's no prize here except bragging rights and the nature of it is because so many of you guys post videos where you just so serious all the time.

    So here's your challenge: Take everything I've talked about here and try to make a video of your best magic with the soundtrack being what is arguably the happiest song ever written. What song? Easy.


    This is a song that demands you smile. Be happy, damn it! So take all this knowledge, make a video, and have fun with it!
  6. I like that idea very much, I'll definitely be making something.
  7. OK ! then this way it's going to happen as i juggled a lot with the same cause in the past but now all clear about how it's going to happen ..
  8. Just popping in to let everyone know that the list of freeware editing programs I linked to in the first post just got a whole lot better. No, not because they added anything. But because it just became a better deal.

    I've been a user of Adobe for some time, but the company just announced that they're switching to a rental model. All of their software is now a license that you rent on a monthly or annual basis, and the payment plans are needlessly complex. At best, you'll be paying $20US for a program I guarantee you won't use often enough to justify spending three figures on annually. At worst... Well, as an independent filmmaker I don't even want to think about that. The company see massive benefits for themselves in it, but that's more because they've spent years working with an ultimately unsustainable business model and are now going with a plan that's only going to piss off the customer base. Oh the big companies who use this will be fine once they get past the initial annoyances. Universities will have more technical issues to deal with, especially when it comes to network security. And the small businesses will be the ones most opposed to this.

    So there's your consumer advocacy moment for the day. Make a market statement by going for freeware instead.
  9. I'm looking forward in to it
  10. This is great advice, thanks much!
  11. Another tip that has helped me make decent videos. Simply ignore the camera. Forget that it's there. I don't even bother looking towards it anymore. I just make sure it has a view of my hands, hit record, and let it rip. Too many folks are focused on the camera and concerned either about an angle or the view. If you don't like how it came out, record it again :)
  12. Thanks for the great post Steerpike! Really enjoyable read and valuable info! :)

    Regards the above post, that's certainly one technique, but it depends on the situation. Sometimes in can be VERY powerful to look through the lens, sometimes it can be just as powerful ignoring the camera. A good rule of thumb in live performance situations is to treat the camera as another spectator, you always try and make sure that everyone in the group gets a good look at what you're doing, the camera should get an equal share.

    It really depends what the concept of the video is and how you want it to feel.

    In this video, it was supposed to be like I have this secret warehouse that I go to so that I can get away from the world and practice my skills. It's more fly on the wall and I only look at the camera once. It's also not too effect heavy, a nice grade a few cuts, that's about it:

    In this video however, it's very choppy, heavy on effects and there's a lot of engaging with the camera. It gives a totally different feel:
  13. And reshoot if you flub a word or whatever, don't just redo it during the shot!
  14. #34 Gabriel Z., Dec 11, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2013
    To SteerPike,

    What about Mismag822 he just focuses in on his hands. As a matter of fact many youtube magicians focus in on their hands. Their is nothing wrong with that , it's just a matter of preference. Why don't you work on your thesis a little more there buddy.
  15. #35 Steerpike, Dec 11, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2013
    What about him? He's a hack. That's pretty much the entire story.

    Appeal to popularity fallacy. You do realize that is precisely why I wrote this thread, right?

    That's like saying you prefer Burger King over actual food. Yeah, it technically is your choice, but it doesn't change the fact that you're still eating crap.

    Who don't you come up with a remotely intelligent argument and then get back to me?

    I didn't make this thread for you. I made it for people who actually give a **** about doing a good job.
  16. You are going to use a guy who exposes magic he did not create on youtube as your argument?
  17. Having done more research in the last couple of months, I'm walking back on my previous disdain for cell phone cameras but with a few caveats.

    1. Make sure you hook up an external mic to the phone because the onboard mic is going to be pretty awful.
    2. Keeping handheld phones steady for a shot is a pain and since you're unlikely to be doing magic while taking a selfie video, spend the 20 bucks on a decent tripod. Some have flexible legs so that can hang them from fixtures like sign posts. These are good if you plan to be out and about.
    3. Keep the memory in mind. Every year memory capacity gets a little better and a little cheaper, but you still have to be conscious of how much of it you're using when you're out in the field.

    I'd also like to address lighting for a minute. Lighting indoors is tricky. You want it to be bright enough, but not too much so. The ideal lighting to be shooting in is natural daylight. It looks good on all skin tones, the camera will pick everything up very effectively and if the sun goes behind a cloud it still works because there's still plenty of light to go around. If you're up for a real challenge, try shooting at magic hour. This is a window of about 15 minutes it sunrise and sunset when the sun is on the horizon and turns all the light into rich, pastel tones. The movie Field of Dreams shot many of the most important or dramatic shots at magic hour to give the film a more heavenly appearance.

    If you're shooting indoors, daylight CFLs in 60-watt and above will generally do. Have one closer to you as your "key light" and one further back and coming at you from a different angle as your "fill light" to prevent the shadows from getting too deep or sharp. You want your face to have definition, not crags. Some filmmakers will argue that you need a back or "hair" light, but I would say you really only need that if you're wearing dark clothes against a dark background.

    On that note, put aside any fear you might have of appearing gay and learn a little bit about men's style. If you're a woman and reading this, you should probably know this too. It's not as much of a problem across the pond, but here in the States we have a lingering conservative culture that's scared to hell and back of appearing not masculine enough. Get over it.

    First figure out what looks flatter your figure. If you're overweight, it's okay to sometimes not tuck shirts in as it smooths out your waistline. Don't wear sleeveless shirts unless you've got great arms. If you're skinny, don't wear baggy clothes to create an illusion of bulk as it just makes you look frumpy instead. This is all stuff you can learn easily.

    Also, please do not be afraid of color. It's actually much easier to figure out than you think. First look in the mirror and note your hair color and how light or dark it is. Then shower, wait 15 minutes and look at the veins in your arm. If they're a bluish tint, then you're a cold tone. If they're more greenish, you're a warm tone. Now compare that to your hair color. It shakes down like this:

    Winter: High contrast between cool skin tone and hair.
    Spring: High contrast between warm skin tone and hair.
    Summer: Muted contrast between cool skin tone and hair.
    Autumn: Muted contrast between warm skin tone and hair.

    If you're a Spring, your best colors are pale, soft tones. Black and white might even be too strong unless you have a darker skin color that can stand up to them.

    If you're a Summer, pastels are your friends. Orange and black less so. The stronger the color, the more it risks overpowering your skin and making you look washed out compared to your clothes.

    If you're an Autumn, you'll want to go with rich, muted earth tones and warmer colors like oranges and dark reds. Avoid jewel tones and monochrome black and white outfits. You can also rock olive for those pseudo-military looks if that's your thing.

    If you're a Winter like me, jewel tones are going to be some of the most flattering. You can also do pure black and pure white easily and also pink. Forget the insecurities for a moment and trust me on this one: if you're a Winter you should have at least 1 pink shirt. Try it. I guarantee you'll like it. Stay away from washed out and most earth tone colors like beige and brown.

    Check out some style blogs like Style Girlfriend and A Continuous Lean. Watch Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Netflix or Hulu. Get some books. Start a collection of pictures of famous people whose style you really like. The more you expose yourself to this stuff, the easier it gets. And you do want to take care of this. For better or worse, we are judged by our appearances and the better you look, the more seriously you'll be taken. This is doubly true because we're performers. We have to be bigger than the mundane.

    I want to wrap this up on a slightly sadder note. Due to the demands of my business and some personal disagreements with members of the site, I'll be going dark for a while. I need time to work on my career as a performer and to let time soothe some of the tensions that are making my experience here... not so great. If you really want to get a hold of me outside of this site, shoot me a PM here or (better yet) at Ellusionist where I still pull mod duty in my downtime. I'll keep the email alerts turned on and will pop back in to let you know how you can reach me. Otherwise, I won't be returning to these boards to answer questions or the like for the foreseeable future.

    Peace. And all that jazz.
  18. Thanks a lot ! this was very helpful!
  19. Thanks!
    Why I didn't find that earlier. That was great and I was little upset, because you didn't explained what's about lightning in videos, but then in the end of thread you did that too. Now my videos will be better, I hope so. :)
  20. A little late to the party...35 year voice-over professional here with a tip on what you say. Vocal crutches...they are really annoying...don't use them. Obvious things like "uh" and "Umm" sound really unprofessional and make you sound like a dork, and phrases that you use over and over, that you probably don't realize you use, need to be murdered. The most common phrases that I hear in like, 80% of all magic instruction videos are..."So what you need to do is..." and "What you're going to do is.." and "So now you're going to.." or variations on that theme. Think about it. What would change in what you're trying to communicate if you simply removed that phrase? Nothing, except you sound more professional and less like common street miscreant. So, instead of saying, "So what you're going to do now is, back palm the coin." Just say, ", back palm the coin."

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