Monday, September 28, 2009

Experiment 11: from Still to Motion !





I recently invested in a HD camcorder (a Legria HF 200, twin of the Vixia HF200 in the USA) to get into stock footage. In this post, I will talk about my first impressions about switching from photo and video and the differences I came across during capture and editing.
  • Equipment and capture
The HF200 camcorder is surprisingly small and light (340g). However, it lacks a wide angle lens. Luckily, I managed to get down to a 31.6 mm (from 39.5 mm) without any loss of quality by adding a WCON 08B converter. Similarly, the TCON 17B brings the 592.5 mm to a 859.1 mm. When I shoot video, my SLR viewfinder is replaced by a very convenient multi-angle LCD screen. If a 8GB card is more than enough to record 10MP raw pictures, it is not so much for HD videos so I am currently using a 16GB class 4 SD card. The Legria comes short in battery life since I can record only about 1h of footage. Often the battery gives up before the card is full which never happened with my DSLR. Unfortunately, replacement batteries are much more expensive than for my DSLR as well…

Like in photo, I use aperture priority quite a lot and occassionaly speed priority. I almost always use manual focus (which is surprisingly precise on the LCD screen) to avoid changes in focus while recording footage which happen sometimes when focus is set to automatic.

Photo and video are quite similar but also very different. The big difference is that in video you have to predict the action and how it will play. If we take the basic scene of a autumn leaf on the grass; in photo, composition, control of the depth of field, exposure will be the main parameters before pointing and shooting.

In video, these parameters are still there but you have to compose also with external elements like the wind and the light that can sometime make your sequence more powerful.
While I do not really pay attention to the wind while taking pictures, I learned that it can be in video, your best friend or your worse enemy. Wind can give some movement to a static scene but also if you don’t have a steady tripod it can ruin all your footage.
In some ways, I found video more restrictive since you cannot do vertical shooting for example and it is, with the HF200 at least, difficult to change the focus while recording. At the same time, video brings more freedom since you can pan and zoom.
  • Processing time….
Instead of processing raw files, I work now with AVCHD which is a compressed format developed jointly by Sony and Panasonic.

I found out quickly that if the AVCHD format sounds appealing (you take your SD card from the camcorder and open directly files from it on your computer), its processing can be quite a headache. Few softwares are capable of rendering correctly AVCHD and its conversion can be tricky (files have to be converted to Quicktime, the format accepted by all agencies). I am still working on a standard workflow but I found out that scenes with fast moving subjects are the most difficult to render properly in Quicktime. Apparently it comes to the fact that I record 1080i (i stands for interlaced) and that computer displays are progressive... I am not sure that HF200 progressive mode is really true progressive so following some advices I will shoot interlaced from now on, the customer can easily deinterlace the video if needed.

It comes with no surprise that processing videos takes longer than processing pictures (even when doing HDR or panorama). Process a 20 seconds clip can take anywhere between 4 minutes and 5 minutes depending on what corrections are applied. It can last more than an hour if you speed up your videos to do timelapse.
Process AVCHD files definitely put my laptop (Core2Duo 2GHz, 3GB RAM) to the test….
Storage of raw footages can also be an issue so an 1TB hardrive should come handy especially if you want   to store these few GB timelapse videos....

  • Uploading
When it comes to uploading, there is a huge difference  between photo and video: if a 10 MP picture  weights between 3 and 5 MB, a 20 seconds HD1080 clip can be between 200 and 250 MB, the equivalent of about 50 pictures.... Uploading 20 HD clips can be a daunting task without a high speed internet access and I would consider that a 1Mbps upload speed is a minimum to have.
As I rather want to upload once, I use picWorkflow (referral link included) platform to distribute my videos across different agencies. Amazingly, once on the platform , my 200 MB clips are redistributed in a matter of seconds......

  • Final submission
Unfortunately, there is not yet an equivalent to the IPTC system for videos which means extra work: you have to copy paste title, description and keywords in each agency. Until such system comes up, the best option I found is to keep a document with all my metadata  and simply copy/paste the different fields from there.


  • Conclusion
Stock footage has definitely its technical challenges: processing and uploading are both much more time consuming than for photos. On the bright side, it is an opportunity to learn video capturing and editing. Also on the money side, there are much less submitters in footage than in photo, prices are higher so it might be a good time to enter before it is getting too difficult (see my previous post). At the time of writing, Shutterstock have 138,000 clips on line (with more than 8 millions pictures) and Pond5 200,000 clips. In January 2011, Pond5 has more than 510,000 clips, Shutterstock more than 230,000.

If you want start selling your footage online, I would recommend for a start  Pond5 and Revostock . My referral links are below!


Revostock footage



Royalty-Free Stock Video at Pond5






15 comments:

Luis said...

Hi.! Very interesting post but I found that your cam has a few problems that you show on post, what do you think about the D90, worst than your cam right, I have a D60..! I think it only do 720p..! Any sales?

cheers and thanks !

Laurent said...

I highlighted too much the problems I think:) the quality of images is very good I think, processing still a bit long but it is something expected:) No sales yet, will see next month....

Luis said...

I tried and haven't found your footage gallery on SS, can you link me!?

Laurent said...

Here you go, still more to come....
http://footage.shutterstock.com/videos.html?submitter_id=79294

Luis said...

Nice! I will continue on photography for now, but I think your are in the right move..! :)

I'm bored with 3D Studio, not a single sale, with more than 1000photos.. Their review is ok lol!

Peter Kremzar said...

Hmm. It's strange. I had my first sale on the first day as soon as my first set of 10 photos came online ;)

The Ultimate Geek said...

Your camera will shoot in progressive and I highly recommend that you shoot in progressive and not in interlaced. If you are shooting fast moving subjects, increase your shutter speed to reduce the 'motion blur' for a cleaner image. If you are driving around with your camera, get a charger for your car (their cheap), I don't have battery issues any more because I can re-charge the camera while I drive from place to place.

MicrostockExp said...

@The Ultimate Geek . Thanks for your useful comments, I got one of these car chargers and I found them very useful indeed:)
Regarding the progressive mode, I was not very convinced by it and I also read that it was not a truly progressive mode. A person working in a footage agency adviced me to stick to interlaced....

The Ultimate Geek said...

Whoever told you that doesn't know what they are talking about. The Canon HD camcorders shoot *true* progressive, it's just in an interlaced container which can confuse some software. But it does record actual progressive frames. Not only have I confirmed it with my own testing, but the spec sheet on Canon also clearly states that it's true progressive.

MicrostockExp said...

That's good to know thanks:)so would recommend shooting progressive for fast moving subjects and interlaced for stills?

Dave said...

Thanks for the info here, its good stuff. I picked up a Canon 7D for video, going to sign up under your affiliate link for Revostock. Fingers crossed it starts making something soon, lol.

-Dave
http://microstuck.blogspot.com

MicrostockExp said...

Thanks Dave,wish you good luck then:)
Do not forget Pond5 as well they sell well.
Nice blog by the way:)

Anonymous said...

As an professional editor, cinematographer and occasional buyer of stock footage I can only give one advice: FORGET INTERLACE! Shoot everything progressive or at least "psf" as some Sony cameras call their progressive-frame-in-interlaced-container format. Interlace is dead. LCDs and Plasmas don't display interlaced, they deinterlace internally, so why shoot interlace in the first place? Everything I shot or edited in the last couple of years was progressive, so If I buy stockfootage and have to deinterlace first, I throw away de-facto half of the resolution. Shooting 50p or 60p is good, but please no interlaced footage - 16mm, 35mm, RED, D21, Alexa, Genesis etc. don't shoot progressive. Effectswork and compositing is much easier with progressive footage, too. Maybe for newsreel-style stuff it still makes sense to shoot interlaced, but thats about it.

Florian

MicrostockExp said...

Thanks for the advice:) I indeed started shooting progessive several months back

Anonymous said...

Of course I meant that the professional cameras I mentioned don't shoot INTERLACED not PROGRESSIVE as I mistakenly wrote in the post above.

Florian