Thursday, December 13, 2007

DC-area resources for learning more about video on the web

DC Media Makers is a no-dues group of people who meet monthly to share tips and tricks for creating video for the web. The group is open to novices as well as more advanced video producers.

National Captial Area Macintosh Users Group
is a no-dues group that meets once a month at the Cleveland Park Library.

Virginia Macintosh Users Group meets in Arlington once a month.

DCTV, the local public access television station, right near the Brookland subway stop, teaches video editing classes.

Gandhi Brigade is a no-cost youth media organization that meets Saturday mornings in Silver Spring, Maryland.

For general purpose learning about videoblogging, there's no better web site than Freevlog.

Choosing the right microphone for your camcorder

When choosing a microphone for your camcorder, keep in mind that microphones in the $30 to $50 range can sometimes cause an annoying hum -- called 60 Hz hum.

I currently recommend a "balanced" microphone, such as this one I bought and have had good experiences with. Although this microphone costs $200, it's worth every penny.

Tips for choosing a camcorder

There are a confusing array of camcorders on the market today. Knowing which one to buy can be difficult. Often people buy more camcorder than they need -- spending over $1,000 on a camcorder for web videos -- where a $200 camcorder would work fine for the same task.

I currently recommend the Canon ZR800 camcorder, which sells for under $200 from BH Photo Video in New York. This mini-DV camcorder has a microphone input jack, which some of the other Canon ZR series camcorders do not have.

The best web site for camcorder reviews is

I recommend steering clear of any camcorders that use mini-DVD disks for recording video. DVD is a fine distribution method for video, but a poor acquisition medium.

YouTube videos created without a camcorder

Here are a few examples of YouTube videos created without a camcorder.

Moises Blanco teaching in the Takoma Park Computer Center.

Why I Love the Inkscape Drawing Program

I'd Like to Teach the World a Browser

Here is a nonprofit QuickTime created without a camcorder.

Audacity sound recording and editing software

Audacity is a free sound recording and editing program for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. It's a useful tool for narrating your web videos and multimedia. An alternative to Audacity is Apple's GarageBand software, which can be used for sound recording as well as music composition.

It's useful to note that uncompressed audio goes by two names -- WAV files and AIFF files. MP3 is an audio compression format that creates audio files 10 times smaller than WAV or AIFF files, without much loss of sound quality.

There are many ways of creating MP3 audio files using free software, including Apple's iTunes software, available for Mac and Windows. Better sounding MP3 have a higher "bit-rate" than poorer sounding MP3 files. Many people use 128 kbps as bit-rate for their MP3 files. Any bit-rate higher than 192 kbps sounds almost identical to the original uncompressed audio file. A bit-rate of 64 kbps (or less) sounds blurred or "muddy."