Videography

One of my hobbies is videography. I've been interested in video recording for quite a while; probably since high school. At that time, I was involved with the school's audio/visual department. I do remember various times in class helping to spool a documentary program onto the film projector. As a junior and senior I would occasionally be asked to help with videotaping a high school sporting event; many times it was a wrestling match. Back then, the videotape was probably 3/4" or 1" tape and had to be manually spooled onto a takeup reel, and the recorder (or perhaps the camera) was only black and white. After college, I did buy a VCR and use it like most people to record a TV program. I even learned that a Hi-Fi VHS recorder was very good at recording audio at near-CD-quality. For a long time I aspired to do some video recording but I never had a camcorder. In November 2001, I jumped right in by purchasing the Sony DCR-VX2000. This camcorder records digitally to MiniDV tape and uses three separate CCD chips to capture the image. This camcorder is excellent in low light. I still have this camcorder, but I am considering trading up to a HDV camcorder such as the Canon XH-A1. I did acquire a handful of accessories for the VX2000, including a 20 watt video light, and a XLR audio adapter. Before I move to HDV, I will probably trade-up my video light. I'm looking at some of the hot-shoe mounted 100 watt lights. One of the primary reasons to use a video light is to help get a nice, clean image. A 3-CCD camcorder is inherently good in low light, but if the light level is very low, the gain will need to be increased or will be increased automatically. This means that the video image will have more noise. While this may not be too bad if you are going to watch the tape directly, the noise factor comes into play if the video will be compressed when making a DVD, or when making a video for YouTube or an Ipod. The compressors cannot distinguish between the noise and the rest of the video information. A very common variable bitrate encoder will use up a lot of bits just trying to encode the noise and it will have fewer bits to deal with the main content. Noise-free images with smooth tones are much easier to compress and will result in a much better looking video.

More to come............

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