This past weekend, my wife and I sat down and started to copy our old home movies on to the computer so we can make DVDs out of them. All went pretty smoothly (no, it didn’t) and we got finished really quickly (ha!). We bought a capture device from Wal*mart that actually works really well. So we came home and started copying our movies… Well, not right away. It took several hours to get my computer to see the device. The thing plainly said “Works With Vista” but they lied. They have a beta driver out for it that isn’t even signed…. It works, but when you plug the device in (it’s a USB device), the signed drivers install themselves, but they don’t work with Vista, yet vista doesn’t complain that the XP drivers were installed. That’s par for the course for Micro$oft, though.
So, we finally got around to copying movies Sunday afternoon. We learned a few very important things about home movie taking which I share here to help the entire public take better home movies.
- Don’t Record An Entire Party: If you are getting together for a baby shower, or some other get-together, don’t record the entire 2-hour event. I know at the time you are thinking, “Gosh, I want to remember this forever!” but you really don’t. Six years after the event, when you watch the ENTIRE video (without the ability to fast forward when you’re copying them to a DVD) you will be asking yourself, “Why did we record the entire thing? It’s so boring.” Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. My solution: Record the first 5 minutes, Record 5 minutes mid-way through, and record the last 5 minutes. Only record the entire 2 hours if you are planning to come right home and immediately edit it into a 15 minute recap of the event.
- Don’t Let Your Sister’s Boyfriend Record The Party For You: This also probably goes for a brother’s girlfriend. If you do this, you’ll get more video of your sister than of the party. I know he is in love with her and wants to pay attention to her, but you want the shower. And if your lucky, you’ll also see the other girls he is interested in at the time (if they are at the party). We got lots of video of the sister, and another girl whom this guy obviously liked.
- Don’t Let Your Husband Record The Party For You: If you do this at your baby shower, you’ll only get video of his wife and no one else. After suffering through two different baby showers (one recorded by the boyfriend, one by the husband), we have come to the conclusion that the videographer should be someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in anyone or anything. Grab a bum off the street and you’ll get better video than you would other wise.
- Don’t Record The Scenery/Surroundings: For instance, if you go to the zoo, don’t record the animals. If you’ve been to the zoo and seen the animals once, chances are that they will look the same the next time you go to the zoo. You should instead focus your video-ing on the people in the zoo and how they are reacting to the animals. The only reason you would record the animals is if you plan to NEVER return to the zoo again. One exception is when super-rare animals are at the zoo: Don’t record the camels, giraffes, elephants or tigers… every zoo has them and they never change. Do record the Pandas, Snow Tigers, new baby animals and any animal doing something that is crazy or gross. Last night, we saw on “Country Fried Videos” a orangutan munching on his boogies. Our last visit to the zoo, a silverback charged his zoo keeper. Those are the things you want to record. We wished we had more video of the people at the zoo. It was my nephew’s first visit to the zoo and my father’s last. We missed recording them and are sad now. Don’t Miss Out On The People: The scenery doesn’t change. If you’re on vacation, don’t take video of the awesome mountain gorge, get people looking over the gorge. Remember, home movies should be all about the people.
- Two Words: TRIPOD! You may think you have a steady hand… it doesn’t matter. But my camcorder has “Image Stablization”!… still doesn’t matter. If you can use a tripod, then do… Maybe invest in a monopod too! Nothing is worse than watching a bobbing video, or one that moves with the movie taker’s breathing. It’s particularly bad if you suffer from sea sickness.