Sunday, April 22, 2012

Desert Videos with the GH2

A couple of short videos taken with the Panasonic Lumix GH2, and processed in Lightroom 4 and Sony Vegas.

This one was taken during a hike in Borrego-Palm Canyon, within the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California. We'd intended stopping in the park a few days on the way to explore southern Arizona. But the desert seeped into our souls, and we remained for three weeks.

Finally moving on from Anza Borrrego, we drove north a few miles and spent a night in Joshua Tree National Monument. Here we were treated to a delightful rain storm as we drove through the park, passing through the Ocotillo Patch, Teddy Bear Cactus Garden, and the wonderful rocks in the vicinity of Belle Camp.

I love my Panasonic Lumix GH2. It combines a compact, do-everything well body, coupled with pretty darn good lenses that don't cost as much as an automobile. Besides capturing quality stills with all the control options, it also captures professional quality HD video. An interesting video feature of the camera is that with its 2X focal length factor relative to full-frame 35mm film, a 200 mm lens becomes the 35mm equivalent of 400mm. But wait, there's more! An option allows for doubling that yet again with full HD. That means shooting with an 800mm equivalent lens. Image stabilization helps quite a bit with the jiggles. I didn't carry a tripod on either of these outings, but the combination of turning myself into a human tripod, the in-lens stabilization, and software stabilization in Vegas resulted in some very usable and exciting footage. The clip of the quail at the beginning of the Palm Canyon video was treated with image stabilization in Vegas, but the second clip of the Mountain Sheep ewe is straight out of the camera.

I've enjoyed creating image and sound presentations for many years. I love it when the flow of images and the background sounds and music combine to create a synergy. The tools for doing this have come so far from overdubbing and splicing reel-to-reel magnetic tape, with bits of metallic tape stuck on to trigger a Kodak Carousel projector!

For these videos I got to dig into some of the video editing tricks in Lightroom 4. Though minimal, the developers got it right, and the tools are a great help in tuning up clips prior to pulling them into a full on video editor. In my case, the editor is the Sony Vegas Studio HD Platinum 11 Production Suite.

Lightroom 4, besides helping to keep files organized, provides a nice tool for trimming clips. This helps to reduce the file size when they are loaded into the editor, which on my system gets a bit cranky when overloaded with data. Although I am learning that short clips make for a more watchable video, I do like to let the camera roll - often good things happen when you do. Lightroom 4 allows for pulling just the sweet 8 seconds or so from a clip that may have gone on for a couple of minutes. Lightroom 4 also allows for some basic color and tonal adjustments of video clips in the Quick Develop section of the Library module.

Once I got the selected clips trimmed and tuned up as necessary in Lightroom 4, I exported them to a new folder, from which I grabbed them to import into Vegas. I've been using Vegas for a few years, and find it very flexible and powerful, as well as reasonably priced. Besides sequencing video clips, you can also add stills. Keyframing tools allow adding a bit of motion to them, either a slow zoom or pan, blending the stills nicely with the video clips.

I enjoy the process of finding the right background music and sounds. This is at least as important as the video clips to the final result. I will start adding in the sound once I have just two or three of the clips sequenced - it helps get me into the mood and inspired.

Speaking of background music, since my productions are merely for my pleasure, a few friends and family, and perhaps the three followers of this blog, I don't feel I am treading on copyright toes. Actually possibly helping along obscure musicians with a bit of a plug by crediting music sources.

1 comment:

  1. Tony, absolutely outstanding work! The videos and the editing are first rate. California State Parks needs to see your work, you might get a new job doing their PR work! Thanks for letting us see the parks through your eyes. George