I use the time lapse setting on the GoPro, which creates images that are 2592 pixels wide by 1944 pixels high, though we care less about the pixel width and height, and more about the aspect ratio, which is all wrong for a proper video. (In fact, you can use this method for any still images you wish to finish as a video file.)
I start by compiling all the stills into a video file, and I use QuickTime Player 7 for that. There are other tools, but that’s what I’m currently using, and no the most recent version of QuickTime Player is hobbled crap that won’t work. (Hey Apple, how about fixing that?)
OK, we have our video file, but it’s practically square! Terrible! So let’s fix that…
To choose the best crop I usually do a screen grab of the image area, and then open that in Photoshop (or whatever) and size it to 1280 wide. The height should be about 960 (depending on how accurate your screen shot is.) Time for Math! 960 – 720 = 240, so we need to crop 240 pixels from the height. You can easily just skip this step and plug 120 into the top and bottom crop, but this step will let you easily make some other decision, like 140 and 100. As long as your top and bottom crop add up to 240, you’re good.
Sometimes I like to make a marquee that’s 1280 x 720 to get a better idea of the crop… Feel free to skip this step if you don’t need the precision I require in every single thing I do.
OK! Here’s the export window in MPEG Streamclip, where you can see I’ve set the size of the video to “Other” and plugged in the 1280 x 960 values. I then put the 140 and 100 values in the top and bottom crop boxes, respectively. All the other settings are what I typically use for MPEG Streamclip. (The one thing I tend to change which isn’t show here is the ‘Limit Data Rate’ value. But that’s a post for another time.)
Here’s our final video output at 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels high. Now, since we started with a video that was 2592 pixels wide by 1944 pixels high, we could actually get all fancy and just select a portion of the video to output at the final resolution. This involved a lot more math, but it’s a possibility, so I’ll leave it up to you to explore.
Now go make some time lapse videos!
You loved Printing Violations, and you tolerated Printing Violations (Part II), so we’re back again with another episode of Printing Violations, this time looking more closely at the health issues surrounding 3D printed cookie cutters.
Licensing issues are one thing, but there is a safety concern with 3D printed cookie cutters. Here’s a look at some of the issues. (All assume you are using a home 3D printer like a MakerBot, RepRap, Printrbot, etc.)
Is ABS or PLA plastic filament food-safe?
The answers range from “probably not” to “maybe” in most cases. If you use natural filament it will be free of coloring agents, which is a step in the right direction, but unless you are specifically buying “food-safe filament” don’t expect it to be food-safe. (Keep in mind that “food-safe” is something that will be determined by local health departments, and will vary depending on where you live.)
Then there’s the printer itself, and the environment it runs in. My printer lives in a basement where I do other crazy things like run a drill press, spray glue and paint, and generally make a mess. Would you want your cookie cutter manufactured in such an environment? What has the filament come into contact with before it goes into the machine, and what else has been introduced into the extruder as far as foreign materials? If you’ve ever read up on what it takes to make food in your home and sell it commercially, you’ll have some idea of the restrictions involved. (Wait, we aren’t selling food, right? We’ll get to that, be patient!)
Can 3D printed items be treated to be safe(er?)
If you’ve ever looked at a 3D printed object, you may notice the ridges. Since it’s built up layer upon layer, there are spaces into which food could get stuck. Of course you can try to clean your 3D printed cookie cutter, but don’t put it in the dishwasher! For PLA prints, the heat will either melt it, or deform it, or do some other nasty thing to it. ABS may be better, but you will still need to heat it enough to sterilize it, and hope you can get the crevices clean. It’s been suggested that acetone vapor finishing might be helpful. Helpful enough? Not sure.
Of course you could use your printer to make a mold and then make a food-safe cutter out of another material, but that’s not really a 3D printed cookie cutter. You could also try to coat your printed piece with a food-safe coating, but that’s a lot more work.
So why does all this matter? Because right now, there are people printing cookie cutters and selling them, and there are also people 3D printing cookie cutters, making cookies with them, and selling the cookies.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I love cookies. OK, with that out of the way…)
As mentioned, selling food you make yourself is regulated in most areas, and if you want to start up a business baking in your kitchen and selling the goods, you’re in for a lot of work. I know, I know, it’s all in the name of safety for the public, but there’s a crap-ton of regulations and rules you’ll need to follow. Many places require you to have a kitchen physically separated from your home. As usual, I am not a lawyer, I’ve just done a bit of research. From a maker perspective, we just want to make things! From a public health perspective, let’s try not to make anyone sick, okay?
And yes, I have indeed used 3D printed cookie cutters to make cookies (at least twice) and then gave those cookies to people to eat. No one died yet (that I know of.) I didn’t attempt to re-use the cutters though, so they were a one-time use item, which is probably safer than trying to clean them.
Advice: If you’re going to 3D print cookie cutters, use them only once!
Let’s say you create custom 3D printed cookie cutters and sell them on Etsy or some other site, you should probably include a disclaimer that they should be used only once, since cleaning them is an issue. (Safer yet, tell people they are NOT food-safe, and let them decide if they want to use them. Again, I am no lawyer! Consult your own lawyer!)
Now, as for 3D printing cookie cutters, and then using them to make cookies and sell the cookies, well… This may be worse, since you’re selling actual food that has been created using materials that are questionable as far as being food-safe. Once again, I am no lawyer, but you may need one after selling those cookies.
In conclusion, be safe, people. Many folks are fine with the idea that a piece of ABS plastic touches cookie dough for a second or two before it’s baked at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and others are convinced it’s insane to do such a thing. As with everything, there’s probably some middle ground.
Thanks for reading this, and keep making cookies!
(Big thanks to all the G+ers who helped me out with this. See the thread for more info.)
Yes, yes, we now have 3D printed guns, and our world has changed because of it, right? Right.
Andy Greenburg at Forbes has been leading the pack on the story of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed and their attempt (and success?) at 3D printing a gun. And OH NOES! Now other people are printing guns! And some of them are even improving them, but this should be no surprise. Hackers and makers see something that needs improving, and they improve it. When I saw the files for the Liberator the first thing I thought was that it needed work. After I talked to someone who is well versed in 3D printing and gunsmithing, they agreed.
I want to toss out this quote from HaveBlue again:
The one point I try to make (and that they generally fail to grasp) is that if it eventually becomes possible to download a file from a website, feed it to a printer, and have a fully operable handgun a few hours later, the technology will have already impacted our lives in far more incredible ways.
So has our world changed? Yes, I think it has… As I mentioned recently in Your 3D Printed Future, people have created open-source designs for mechanical finger prosthetics. Yeah, that’s pretty amazing. We’re not talking about medical companies charging thousands of dollars for mechanical finger prosthetics, we’re talking about a couple of really awesome people working together on this, and creating something you can 3D print yourself with a sub-$1000 3D printer.
What else is there? Well, bioprinting is progressing nicely. Boprinting sheets of skin for skin grafting procedures, bioprinting a replacement bladder, bioprinting replacement for missing bone for a human skull, and even bioprinting part of a face!
(The joke is that you’ll be able to print out a replacement hand for the one that gets blown off by your 3D printed gun. It’s only half of a joke, because it’s pretty close to being true.)
Now, back to the gun issue. I highly recommend the Hackaday post: The first 3d printed gun has been fired, and I don’t care. Right now the Liberator is little more than a zip gun, which is a simple (single shot) gun that anyone with access to a local hardware store could build. But don’t worry, you’ll be safe:
In late 2000, British police encountered a four shot .22 LR zip gun disguised as a mobile phone, where different keys on the keypad fire different barrels. Because of this discovery, mobile phones are now x-rayed by airport screeners worldwide.
Sigh… more security theater. Just what we need. Do we need regulation on 3D printers? No, just like we don’t need regulation on lathes and mills and hardware stores. So here’s the deal. I have the file for the Liberator, and I’ve held a Liberator, and I’m not a bad person, and I hope to never, ever shoot another person in my life. Why? Because that’s not the type of person I am, and that’s not the kind of world I want to live in.
As for the Liberator, it’s a crappy gun, and if you want a good gun for cheap, there are dozens of ways to get one, both legally, and illegally. And if you want to make one, there are also better ways to go about it than 3D printing one. If the novelty of a cheap, crappy, plastic gun intrigues you, go ahead and print one. Try not to blow your hand off in the process. Guns are dangerous, and even a well made gun can malfunction.
3D printing is all the rage right now, and the media loves hype because it means more attention, more page views, and more dollars. So yeah, go 3D print something, maybe a gun, maybe some mechanical finger prosthetics. Just follow this one simple rule: BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER.
I’m one of those people who say “I’ll publish that code later!” and then I get busy with other projects and never publish the code, so here’s me publishing the code.
I’ve provided the Processing sketch and related data files, as well as full applications (for multiple platforms) for those who don’t want to mess around with compiling sketches, and just want to download and run an application for their MaKey MaKey.
Could it use improvements? Of course it could! Feel free to make it better, and if you do, please share your changes with others.
I recently (temporarily) changed offices at work, and with the new office came a new door, and this door has no coat hook! Because I couldn’t drill a hole in the door or mar the surface in any way, I needed an “over the door” style coat hook. Ah yes, the classic coat hook. Adrian Bowyer made one back in 2008, so I decided it was time to make my own.
I took a quick measurement of the door to determine how wide it was. I then fired up OpenSCAD and made a bunch of “cubes” of various shapes and sizes, some rotated 90 degrees, but all in all, a pretty simple OpenSCAD model. One thing I did do was add in the “door” based on the measurement I took, so I could see how the coat hook would fit around it.
After compiling it in OpenSCAD, I exported the STL file, and at this point I usually use Gary Hodgson’s STL Viewer to take a quick look at the file and make sure it’s oriented correctly.
After viewing the STL file, I use Slic3r to generate the G-code, but hey, let’s check out the G-code while we’re at it! Joe Walnes wrote a great web-based G-code viewer you can use online, or download and run locally. If you want a somewhat improved version, Jeremy Herrman’s got a viewer and some code for you.
Well, after all that generating files, and viewing files, I printed the file. It worked out well! Here’s a terrible photo of it preventing my shirt from falling on the floor. Success! The magic of a home 3D printer pays off again.
Leave it to me to forget things! I forgot to mention that my Arc-O-Matic was mentioned in the book Make: Lego and Arduino Projects. Get to chapter 3 and you’ll see one of my photos.
I should mention that I have not actually read the whole book, I ended up loaning it to someone who is way more into LEGO and Arduino stuff than I am, but if you want more info on it, WIRED has a nice write-up, and you can buy it from Amazon or directly from O’Reilly.
John Baichtal (one of the authors) has another book in the works which I’ll have a hand in, but we’ll save that story for another time.
Remember Milwaukee Innovation Week? Sure you do, or maybe you don’t, it doesn’t matter because it’s been replaced/re-branded as Flying Car Milwaukee!
June is a super-hectic month around the RasterWeb! World Headquarters, and even more so in 2013, but that didn’t stop me from submitting a proposal to their Great Robot Showdown contest, and yeah, I got accepted, and I’ve got less than a month to finish building the robot I’ve proposed. There’s nothing like a deadline to get things done!
So besides getting a presentation ready for WordCamp Milwaukee that weekend, I’ll be attending the Flying Car Gala on Friday, June 7th at the Potawatomi Expo Center to show off my creation and hope it doesn’t burst into flames before the prizes are handed out.
If you’re not into robots but enjoy fashion, design, or film, there’ll be plenty of those things as well. (But seriously, if you’re not into robots, why are you even reading this!?)
There’s a ton of other stuff going on during the week, just check the events page. If you’re interested in making the world a better place, join out friends at Bucketworks for the BuildHealth Workshop. And if you happen to get in on the Innovation Factory Tours you may see me building the aforementioned robot at Milwaukee Makerspace.
(June’s my month… you may not be able to avoid me! Mwuhahaha!)
While some people focus on 3D printing guns, other are making the world a better place, improving the lives of those around them, and just generally being completely freaking awesome.
Robohand is focused on developing open-source designs for mechanical finger prosthetics. Thanks to Makerbot generously providing two Replicator 2′s to the project, we are now expolring the ways in which 3D printing can be applied to our efforts!
Check it out on Thingiverse, or the MakerBot blog. And you, 3D printer operator, don’t be afraid of making the world a better place, or at least trying. Using technology to improve lives is a good thing. We need more of that in the world.
Hey kids, it’s almost time for WordCamp Milwaukee again, and I’ve been invited back to speak on the topic of my choosing. Mwuhahaha! But seriously, I’ll be covering the importance of blogging to the Maker & DIY communities, and why you should… wait, I don’t want to give it all away. Come to my session… I’ll probably have lots of photos and some bulleted lists, and maybe a robot or a laser or something.
I’m amazed at the lineup of speakers this year. There’s over 35 people covering a wide variety of topics, not just WordPress, but design, web development, business, blogging, and, way more than I feel like typing right now.
And just for you, dear RasterWeb! readers, is a special discount code that features my difficult to spell last name.
The Road to Maker Faire Challenge is over, and I’m here to report that I will not be headed to San Mateo for the Bay Area Maker Faire.
Congrats to Greathouse Labs for winning the challenge! I was a little disappointed to see that Greathouse Labs has already been to a number of Maker Faires before and this was my one chance to make it to the Bay Area Maker Faire (the prize money would have made it possible) but hey, I was runner up! I get a sweet Maker’s Notebook and a one-year subscription to Make Magazine, so that’s pretty cool!
I do want to thank everyone for the votes, because it meant a lot and it really did help!
Since I won’t be going to Maker Faire on May 18th, 2013 I was planning on going to Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, but that may not happen due to some deadlines. (But you should still attend!) I am still planning on Maker Faire Detroit in July. I mean, we’ve got some racing to do.
(And as for those deadlines, they’re some pretty cool deadlines, but more on those later!)
Our original plan involved Vishal and Matt W. from Milwaukee Makerspace taking Red Lotus to the faire for a demo race of the Power Racing Series. We certainly did bring the car, but with only one other car there, which was non-functional due to a bad charger, we ended up just doing a few demo runs and show it off. I also managed to get it up on two wheels, though without any video proof, which means I’ll have to do it again at some point.
The other thing we brought was my Laser Kaleidoscope, which people seemed to enjoy. (I was also shamelessly asking for votes to get me to Maker Faire.) We had a table but really didn’t fill it with too much due to lack of space to bring anything big. We did give away stickers and buttons and showed some Power Wheels videos. It’s always fun talking to people about the maker movement, so that was cool.
I also got to meet John Baitchal, Adam Wolf, and lots of other awesome TC Maker folks including David and Laura and other members, but I’m not great at remember names. Oh, and just as we were going to leave on Sunday, Steve Hoefer from Grathio Labs. (He was in Iowa so drove up for the faire.)
The Hack Factory was a great space, with great people, and it was awesome checking out all the exhibitors and meeting many of the members. Hopefully some of them can make it down to Milwaukee Makerspace in the future.
Oh, you can find some photos over on Flickr, and yeah, I still have more to edit and upload.
Remember my Laser Kaleidoscope project? Well, I entered into into the Road to Maker Faire contest, and now I need your vote!
Help send me (and my laser!) to the Bay Area Maker Faire. Use the big bold button below to vote for my project. (You’ll need a Facebook account, but 98.483% of people who use the Internet seem to have one.)
But why should you vote for me? I’d like to explore making this thing into a kit that would teach people about things like basic electronics, lasers, engineering, and fun. I’m hoping a visit to Maker Faire will give me the opportunity to talk to knowledgeable people and learn more about building it into an actual kit you could purchase and build yourself. That’s the plan!
So yeah, vote… vote now, not later. And then ask your friends to vote. Did you vote yet? Thanks! I appreciate it!
Note: Voting is over! Thanks to everyone who voted for me… now we wait!
If you’re looking for me this coming weekend, don’t look in Wisconsin, because I’ll be in Minnesota at the Minneapolis Mini Maker Faire commonly known as Minne-Faire!
Since we’ve finally got Red Lotus working, we’ll bring that along for some Power Wheels fun. We’ll try to find some interesting projects from other Milwaukee Makerspace members to show off, and of course I’ve got a bunch or robots and lasers and weird things in my basement I can bring.
You should also look for Joshua of Brown Dog Gadgets, and while you’re at it, check out the Kickstarter campaign he’s running for a Folding USB Solar Cell. (I’m not sure, but it may be the most successful Milwaukee-area Kickstarter campaign yet.)
And hey, if you see me there, be sure to ask for a special prize.
I built this crazy Banana Pong thing with a MaKey MaKey for the Art Jamboree that Art Milwaukee does… here’s a time lapse video from the event…
The Apple Piano was about sound, as that’s been something I’ve been toying with in Processing for some time. With another Art Jamboree on the horizon, I set my sights on a classic video game… and bananas.
As usual, when I need a nice piece of clip art I head to OpenClipArt.org. This time I found a sweet looking bunch of bananas. I only needed one banana so a quick edit in Inkscape got me what I needed.
Wait, but why did I need these banana images again? Because a game of pong is pretty boring… unless it’s Milwaukee Makerspace Banana Pong! Controlled by real bananas.
I found a nice one-player Pong sketch written in Processing, but it was your typical vertical paddle movement, and I needed a horizontal paddle movement. I ended up rewriting the game a bit to turn it all 90 degrees so the left/right of the banana controller would make more sense.
(Disclaimer: If you know anything about me, you know that I believe in crediting people for their work. We’ve got a problem this time. I went through so many Pong sketches that somehow I lost track of the one I started with. I’ve searched for more than an hour and could not find my starting codebase! If I do find it, I’ll update this post to point to it. On with the story!)
Once I got the game working, I needed to add some fitting graphics, so what better than a take on the Milwaukee Makerspace logo with… bananas. (We’ve got a history of weird/wacky logos.)
One thing I learned was that bananas are not very tough! If you let people pound on your bananas for a while they get really mushy. I should have brought a lot more spares so I could swap them out more often.
Here’s a few photos from the event:
I decided to try my hand at this acetone vapor finishing method of making 3D printed parts smoother.
If you’ve seen 3D printed parts from a “fused filament modeling” printer, you know that there are tiny ridges in the prints. You can print at different layer heights for finer layers (and smaller ridges) but that increases your print time.
As you might be able to see in the image above, I placed a large glass jar on the print bed of my RepRap and cranked the heat up to 110° F. I had maybe 2mm of acetone in the jar. (2mm may not have been enough.) I waited until I could see the vapor cloud on the sides of the jar and then (with gloves on) placed the prints inside.
Here’s the results:
You can see an untreated print on the left, and a treated print on the right. The treated print didn’t get quite enough melting to smooth everything out. (And yes, these were a challenge to photography!)
Another one… the TARDIS on the left shows the ridges while the right one is smoother. Note that the smoothing worked much better on the outer edges, and not as much on the inset parts of the print. It sure does make your parts shiny, though!
I’m sure I’ll keep experimenting with this technique, and hopefully start to improve it.
I’m not an expert on dinosaurs, but the velociraptor is one of the more respected of their ilk (so I am told) and you really do have to respect such a clever girl properly, so I grabbed this velociraptor silhouette from OpenClipArt knowing that I’d find a use for it some day…
Since I can now easily cut things like paper and vinyl (did I mention I picked up a Silhouette Cameo) I opened the SVG file in Inkscape and exported it as a DXF so I could import it into Silhouette Studio.
Now, typically when I export DXF files from Inkscape for 3D printing or laser cutting I need to first remove all the curves by making them straight lines, like I did for my MAKE piece, but the Silhouette software doesn’t mind the curves.
A quick cut of the vinyl and I’ve got a Velociraptor stuck on my aluminum MacBook… but wait, there’s more!
Since I also had a test cut made with paper, and there was some pink foam in the workshop, and we were planning an aluminum pour at Milwaukee Makerspace the next day, I had this crazy idea to use my drill press as a makeshift mill and cut out a piece of foam in the shape of the velociraptor. (You may remember Kevin’s FEAR that was made in a similar fashion.)
I jammed the base up into the foam so the bit was sticking all the way through so I could just run it and not have to lower it. I was then free to use both hands to move the foam around and cut it. (My jigsaw broke last year, but even if it still worked, I don’t think the cutting area of the blade would have been tall enough to fit the pink foam piece I had.)
Obviously using the CNC Router at Milwaukee Makerspace would have been more precise, but I really didn’t have time to do use it. (This was all pretty last-minute.)
It worked pretty well! With the first attempt I used too large of a bit, but the second try turned out good. I ended up bringing both of them to the casting.
For the aluminum casting you need a box, so we built a box and attached some foam sticks to each piece. We used a glue gun, but you need to be careful not to melt or deform the foam too much. I’ve been told that using the glue gun before it gets too hot, or unplugging it and letting it cool before use might be helpful.
The wider sticks in the center of the body are mean to funnel the molten aluminum down to the piece, while the smaller stick on the tail is meant be a vent.
The next step was packing the pieces in petrobond, which is a casting sand with oil in it. You need to tamp it down and pack it tight. (Somehow I managed to do a pretty good job at this.)
Here’s the pieces fresh out of the box (after cooling of course!) There’s also a tiny bird up in the corner. We had a snake/worm shape as well, but somehow it disappeared in the process. Kevin (who helped me with all of this) then chopped my dinosaurs from the big chunk with a bolt cutter.
And here’s my (mostly) done Aluminum Velociraptor! I’ve still got some cleanup to do, and then need to decide how to finish it, but that’s another project, and yeah, I’m already planning some pieces for our next pour in a few weeks!
Big thanks to Bret, Matt, Kevin, and everyone else who helped make this happen. It was an awesome event, and pretty amazing to show up with some pink foam and walk away with a cast aluminum piece. (Here’s a short video of the event.)
Google Reader is dead, long live RSS!
I have a history with RSS, writing my first aggregator around 2000 (yes, in Perl) and over the years I got involved with RSS, aggregators, podcasting, videoblogging, and other things that all relied on RSS.
The real excitement for me in the area of aggregation development started in 2004 when Mr. Genehack suggested I look at FEED ON FEEDS. I did, and what followed was FEED ON FEEDS ala Bloglines, Feed on Feeds Unread List, More Aggregator Madness, Yet More Aggregator Madness and lots of time put into development of an RSS aggregator that fit my needs. I really enjoyed exploring new ideas and getting the functionality I wanted. (Mostly)
I wasn’t being paid to work on all this, it was just my “free time” project, and like all “free time” projects, the free time goes away and you work on other things. So it goes…
Eventually I moved to Google Reader and over time I got to love it. Like many, I use it daily. Daily. Multiple time per day. A lot. Back when Feed on Feeds was on my own server I’d use it at home on my computer, and at work on my computer. This was back in the days when people might have one computer, and use a desktop aggregator client. Some even had an “offline” mode, which was important back then because sometimes you were offline. (!?)
In recent years it’s become common to use Google Reader (with one of the many, many apps that used its back-end) on your phone, table, laptop, desktop, etc. I regularly used Reeder on my iPhone and iPad, and Google Reader via a browser on the 3 Macs I use each day. It worked, and I loved it.
Google is killing reader, and I’m not pleased. I could go back to hacking up my own code to build an aggregator, but I’m not excited about it anymore, and I’m out of practice with coding lately. It’s not something I want to do anymore. Google, I would probably pay for Reader. Others have said this as well. I’m sure this won’t change things, and it’ll still be killed (though I hope I’m wrong.)
So tell me Google Reader fanatics, what will you do?
PIY stands for “Print It Yourself” which is a little like “DIY” but involves things you can easily print on a home 3D printer instead of buying.
Remember last year when I made this hot shoe audio mount? Well, a few months back we picked up a Zoom H4n to use for some DSLR shooting, and for the quick & dirty stuff it makes sense to just mount the Zoom on the camera. I just printed another one of my mounts, added two nuts and a bolt, and had one we could use. They’re cheap enough that I could probably print 10 of them so we have spares on hand if needed and still come in under $20.
The story doesn’t end there though… at some point I was looking up specs on the Zoom and wanted to check out the accessories and came across the HS-1 Hot Shoe Mount Adapter. It’s basically the same as the mount I made, except it’s probably metal, and it’s about $20 for one of them.
So this time around it was the opposite of my GoPro Frame. For that one, I saw the frame on the GoPro web site and sat down to design my own. For the Zoom mount I ended up making my own before I even knew they had one.
This is the amazing world we live in now… where open source 3D modeling software allows you to quickly and easily design something, and open source 3D printers allow you to quickly and easily print them out.
PIY is the new DIY.
Every now and then I see a post that talks about photography, and how many factors go into the cost of hiring a “real” photographer (and by “real” I mean “professional”) so for my own reference in the future, I wanted to write up my thoughts on the topic of shooting video. (For our purposes today, assume you’ll be shooting a few talking-head videos for a presentation.)
I’m calling this “A Guide to Video for Smart People” because someone very intelligent, who I greatly respect, hired me to do a video shoot. Since, we had to talk about pricing, I figured I’d share some of my thoughts.
1. When you hire a professional, you get a professional.
What is a professional, exactly? It’s someone who uses pro-gear, and has the knowledge to use it. Someone who has experience, and has done professional shooting before. Someone who knows about shooting, and lighting, and pacing, and talking to talent, and audio, and composition, and dozens of other things you don’t even think about because it’s second nature after a while.
2. Professionals use professional gear.
Everyone’s got a camera nowadays, but there’s more to shooting than a camera. For a typical interview shoot you might have a camera, lens, lights, audio recorder, microphone, studio headphones, tripod, stands, spare batteries, spare cards, spare XLR cables, reflectors, and a dozen other things you bring on every shoot. I’m not suggesting you need top-of-the-line everything, but even on the low-end it can be $2,000 for a basic set-up.
3. Professionals are thinking.
If you haven’t had the luxury of scouting locations, you might show up and get a quick tour of the location so you can pick a spot to shoot in. When I walk into a room, I’m looking at the layout, the lighting, determining where all the outlets are, looking at the height of the ceiling, figuring out where the tables and chairs can go, etc. If there are windows in the room, is it cloudy outside? How will the changing sunlight affect the lighting during the shoot? And that’s all before setting up the tripod.
4. Professionals respect your work.
Besides taking the shoot seriously and doing a great job capturing the footage, a pro-shooter will make sure your work is preserved. Anyone with clients will know that even though you might provide them with files, there’s a chance they’ll come back a year later (or five years later!) and ask for it again. For a recent shoot the raw footage came out to be about 9GB of data. After editing it was about 30GB of data. That all gets backed up, and archived, and managed so that you can go back a year later and provide the footage again.
5. Professionals edit.
Even if the client thinks it’ll be quick and easy and there won’t be any editing… there’s always editing. Unless you’re just doing camera ops for someone else and they want the raw footage, you’re editing. So much DSLR shooting is done today with secondary audio that at a minimum there’s the syncing of audio with the video. Add bump-in and bump-out, a few cross-fades, choosing the best take, and render time, and you’ve got some time invested. (I’m not even getting into the copying, burning, and delivering of the work, but hey, that’s another aspect.)
OK, that’s part one of my “Guide to Video for Smart People”. We covered five points. There are more, but I wanted to keep this brief. The great thing about working with smart people is that they’re smart (duh!) so educating them to some of these facts shouldn’t be too hard to do. Chance are after the first shoot you do, they’ll get it, and it’ll be the start of a great (working) relationship. :)