Serious Questions (I mean it) about making Videos from a Video Agnostic


Zen Snapshooter
I am starting to make short (<15 minute) videos of various topics/problems in my chemistry courses for students to use outside of class. (There are already videos like this out there, but there is enough diversity in presentation to confuse students who are trying to understand something technical for the first time.) I have been using Doceri on an iPad where I can write and just talk to produce a voice-over. This is quick and easy, but there is no way to edit the results. I had finally hit the point where I want to do more, and my pride in never using the video features of my cameras has now come back to bite me. So, I have some questions for those of you with video expertise.

The space: I will be shooting these videos in my office which has a combination of natural and fluorescent lightening. The action will be me writing on a six foot white board, which will be mounted approximately where these paintings and coat rack are now. As you can see, it’s a very controlled environment. The tripod is a nice Oben and should work just fine.

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1. I have two cameras with good video, i.e., the Fuji XH1 and the Sony A7Riii. Any suggestions as to which to use? The Sony is more capable, but the Fuji is certainly good enough and the Eterna film simulation is supposed to require little adjustment. Of course, issues like frame rate, crop modes, 4K vs. 1080, and other settings are a mystery to me. I look up what the mean, but it’s hard to apply this info my case.

2. I assume that I should have a dedicated external mike. Any suggestions? Bothe cameras have an available jack. Obviously, there are no issues like wind noise.

3. Neither cameras has a flip screen so I won’t be able to see what I’m filming. How bad is this given my controlled environment?

4. Anything special I should look for in a lens? I can makes anything from 14 to 50 e work by moving the camera back and forth. I only have a 35 2.8 for the Sony and the 35 1.4, 27 2.8, and the 14 2.8 for the Fuji.

5. Autofocus. Do I go for a fixed focus of AF-C? I suspect that the there will be issues with the board and being the target of the AF.

6. Anything I haven’t mentioned that will cause trouble?

I appreciate any help, expertise, wisdom, snarky comments, etc. you can offer. I do have some money to buy things like a mike or even a lens if needed
Manually focus the lens so that you and the board are in focus, and then make sure that your AF is off during filming.....nothing worse than watching a video of a static scene where the AF is racking in and out for no reason.

For everything else, you'll need to await the advice of someone who knows what the heck they are talking about.
Agree with Luke - switch off AF. You're not running and gunning, you'll be largely static.

The Fuji or Sony will be able to do an equally good job. You're not going to dive deep into detailed cinematography, camera angles, or difficult filming circumstances.

Stick with 24 or 25 fps, shutter speed of 50 or 60 respectively. Use an ND filter to adjust exposure.

You don't need 4K - the vast majority of people don't own 4K screens and your students will probably watch your videos on the phones anyway.

If it were me, I'd prefer a lav mic because it'll be unobtrusive and it will be easy to ensure that the mic stays close to your voice/mouth. It will also allow your hands to be free. Audio is crucially more important than visual quality - people are generally happy to put up with crap visuals as long as the audio quality is good, but it certainly doesn't work the other way round. Bad sound will horribly ruin the best videos.

The lens choice I'll leave up to you because that's an aesthetic choice and you have the photography skill and experience to know what's best.

If you have the cash, I'd invest in some lighting to give your videos some form of production quality.
I assume the ND filter is to get the shutter speed down to 1/60. I never thought of that before but a guess too fast a shutter speed might look jumpy. We have lots of lapel mics around so I can easily try one of those. Remember that it's really important that they see the white board since that's were the actual work is going on. I was afraid it would be difficult to get me and the board in focus. I guess I can stop down quite a bit if I actually have to consider an ND filter.
I'm wondering if it wouldn't be best to just frame the entire white board in your viewfinder. That will be the important part....the students don't really need to see you or everything else around the board. Maybe you should look at other similar teaching white board videos to see what works best.
Shooting 24/25fps with a shutter at 50/60 should mean everything is going to be too bright in a well lit room but I just noticed the specs on your photo above. I'd maybe want to turn up the ISO so that I can shoot at f/5.6 at least, to keep you and the board in focus. I'd prob go for the wider lens to make it easier to maintain deeper depth of field.
Man, I really need to dive into video and learn more. My wife would REALLY appreciate it - video would be incredibly powerful in her world (advocacy, community organizing, historic preservation, etc).
Man, I really need to dive into video and learn more.

There's a ton of instructional videos out there on youtube that can teach you how to make great video. But they're fragmented and can be a bit all over the place in terms of quality.

Philip Bloom is a well known figure in the video and filmmaking world, and he's a genuinely nice guy to boot. I've been following him on social media for about 10 yrs.

He produced one of the best online courses I've seen on filmmaking, in particular documentary filmmaking. It'll cost you about $200 but it's well, well worth it in my opinion. The important material you need/want to know is properly covered, he teaches and speaks in an easy-to-understand tone (assuming you already have basic photography knowledge which we all do on this forum), everything is well structured.

No I don't know him personally, nor do I work for him nor associated with him in any way. I am a filmmaking graduate myself, I keep an eye out for things like these.
Very cool! Thank you!!

And to you both, Philip Bloom has just released this: