Filmmaking Amateur | Playing With The DVX 100A (Day Two)

by Scott U
(Georgia, USA)

Yesterday was almost ruined by the Evil Cable Overlords. Trying to find the right cables to get my Panasonic DVX 100A to talk to my PC was a nightmare. Today was much better. It was a back-to-basics review of my video camera.

I realize the DVX 100A is an outdated 4:3 format, but I don't care. Not now anyway. It's the camera I've got and I've got to start somewhere.

A refresher course of the camera's menu options was entertaining. Making sure I understand how to make the camera do what I need it to do will save me from embarrassing moments in the field. I'd hate to have an interview subject sitting there watching me try to figure out how to adjust the gain and white balance. That would not instill confidence that the interview would make them look good.

So, as I weaved my way through the Panasonic's menu it began to feel like a reunion of sorts. I knew the camera and just needed to be reminded of why we were friends at some point in the past.

I left video about 10 years ago, only holding a video camera in my hands once a year during major Habitat for Humanity builds. The past 10 years have found me focusing more on my DSLR. Photography is great because it is so simple in its nature. But that simplicity in use demands results far beyond point and shoot exposures. Video production requires much more than "simply" shooting great images. Video production demands digitizing, logging tapes, writing, scoring music and an extreme knowledge of the subject. Photography's post work requires minor editing and caption writing.

But I digress. Today was about learning to simply shoot great images with sound. After playing with the DVX 100A menu and the different camera modes, I focused on making sure I remembered how to flip the right switches to capture strong audio. Sitting on my couch with the TV in the background gave me a perfect place to test our boom mic and lav mic. Determining the best settings to minimize the voices on the TV while focusing on my own voice, I was able to watch two episodes of Eureka (fun show btw) and learn at the same time. It's a good day when I can watch TV and learn too.

After several hours with the Panasonic, I feel as though I am ready to shoot real subjects with a real purpose without embarrassing myself in the field or at the editing desk. I know I'll have good audio while I am shooting which will give me more time to focus on the interviews at hand.

Tomorrow, I will digitize the footage I shot today. My wife had the Mac all day today and I have been promised time on the Mac to upload and review what I shot today.

I expect tomorrow to be frustrating. Editing software can be frustrating and tomorrow I will be using iMovie to make a short video with my test footage. iMovie is so easy even my sister-in-law who has no idea how to edit enjoys it. I have used iMovie before and found it to be anything but intuitive. It's very frustrating when a mother of five can figure out an editing system that confuses me. But I'm a trooper. I'm going to make sense of this Mom Friendly editing system. But I know I'll be walking around the house asking questions to the Mac Gods.

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