Archive for May, 2011

Trying an After Effects Animation

Sorry it’s been almost a week, had a lot of stuff going on.  But now I am back.  After giving some thought I decided it would be worthwhile and fun to do an animation in After Effects CS5.  I’m going to be doing this because I need the experience of creating something and also to add a little flare to the next video I plan to do for my nonprofit.  So far it’s mostly been watching tutorials to find out what I want to do, but I have decided on one element and have started the necessary parts in Photoshop.  So here we go, it should be fun.


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Movie Mode (and guide)

Take a look at your camera that you have. Ok, done? Did you see if it has a movie mode? Most digital cameras nowadays do. Even 6 years back I got a small point and shoot that took video, granted it wasn’t very good video with less than VGA resolution.  But the way technology has improved most all point and shoots can now record 720p video clips. That is awesome, especially because it allows a lot of flexibility in video productions where you can smuggle a camera into a place you couldn’t before.

Another thing that is awesome is the video capabilities of DSLR cameras. with the right tweaking a person can have himself a cinematic quality video machine that doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as the bigger dedicated video cameras.  I myself have a T2i and I love it. The movie mode on it is not a gimmick nor is it a toy, but it is a tool that I can use to craft stories.  I myself am starting to be more comfortable with real life documentaries than with narrative, so this helps me out in a lot of ways. First is that I don’t have as much weight to carry.  Second, since it’s smaller it doesn’t intimidate people as much.  Third, I can take it anywhere.

For those interested in the flexibility of using DSLRs in producing video Koo of No Film School has a comprehensive guide on what you need to get started.  Just click on this link for The DSLR Cinematography Guide.

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The Importance of Education

My philosophy towards education has always been that “Knowledge is Power.” I guess I have School House Rock to thank for that, but in all actuality it’s true.  The more a person knows, the more that person can do, to better his life and the lives of those who surround him.  In the nonprofit I’m a part of, Help Cape Verde Africa, we stick to that philosophy.

Last year we were able to collect enough school supplies to assemble 115 kits, these kits just had the basics: pencils, pens, paper and folders.  But it helped children who weren’t able to purchase these items because of the poverty they live in. This year we collected more supplies, enough to make over 200 kits.  And we had fun doing it as well as you can see below in the video I filmed and put together.

So why do we do this? It’s kind of simple really, charity.  Charity is a word that is stronger than love, for if we have not charity we are nothing.  And we realize that these children over in Cape Verde will not be able to improve their lives and their families’ lives if they cannot learn the necessary skills that allow them to succeed.  Who knows if one of these children we help could become to Cape Verde what Napoleon Dzombe was to Malawi.

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Get a grip on your life (and camera)

If there is one thing that I don’t like, it’s running out of battery power in camera and having to switch out the battery.  On a DSLR camera that can be a huge pain, especially if you have your camera mounted to a tripod or a stabilizer rig.  To get around that you need 2 things, first is more battery life, second is an easier way to switch out the batteries.  If you’re looking for those two things what you need is a battery grip.

I own a Canon T2i and it is great, love the thing for pictures and video, but after getting frustrated I decided to buy a battery grip and it is amazing.  I bought a generic one, but still it holds two batteries at a time and is very flexible.  The door to change batteries is on the side, not on the bottom, so there isn’t any hassle.  Also as an added bonus there was a special battery plate that holds 6 AA batteries, so there is now one more option in powering my camera. Nice, what a deal. Not to mention that doing portraits is now easier as well since there is a button allowing side stills in the right spot.

So if there are any photographers or DSLR video guys that shares my frustrations, I recommend getting a grip on your camera. There are plenty of resources out there on this subject.  There’s this guy, and these guys, don’t forget this guy either.  Also I’ve added a video from Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter where he explains why it’s essential to have one.

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Future Proofing

Future proofing, the idea of investing in equipment that lasts so you don’t have to keep forking over cash for the latest and greatest gizmos that are always coming out.  I’m not made out of cash so I can’t always get what I want.  I have to be frugal with what I have, so the idea of future proofing is spot on.  And in one of the areas it is a must is in lenses.  Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter put up a video explaining why and which lenses he thinks is best to invest in:

So there you have it, get a lens that can be adapted to other bodies.  Sure you might miss out on auto-focus but for a video guy that isn’t a really big thing to worry about.

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Infinite White Backgrounds

A couple days ago I saw something really neat.  You know those interviews where behind the subject there is nothing but a perfect white?  Em the cheesycam guy has put together a post in collaboration with oliviatech that tells you how to do exactly that.

Good thing they tell you how to do this, real quick here’s the steps again:

Blow the highlights, overexpose the background

Keep the subject away from the background

Light the subject separately

Thanks Em and Olivia, I’ll have to try that when I get the materials. It might be awhile being a student who is strapped for cash but it will definitely happen in the future.

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Fundraising to test the soil in Cape Verde

So as a project that our nonprofit wants to do is to test the soil in Cape Verde.  What this does is it allows the native people to know  what they need to do to allow their soil to grow food.  Only 11% of the land in Cape Verde is suitable for farming because it’s very dry there.  As a result 82% of their food is imported, not a very comforting thought, just imagine if you were over there and all your imports got cut off for some tragic reason, there wouldn’t really be a way to survive.

So help us out, it would be greatly appreciated and you’d be helping to tackle a big problem.

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